Category: Conventional/Digital Media

“ … The past two years have radicalized me. I am increasingly troubled by how many of my colleagues have decided to abandon any semblance of fairness out of a conviction that they must save the country from Trump.” – Fox, Daily Beast, CNN, Washington Post media commentator/columnist/author Howard Kurtz, “Media Madness”

“The media have been harder on Trump than any other president” and they “feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged.” – Former President Jimmy Carter

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember being trained to be an amateur psychologist during his years in Journalism school at the University of Southern California.

Back in the Brady Bunch years, your author was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting journalism — not psychology — hoping to follow in the hallowed footsteps of Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Remember being taught “Reporting Public Affairs” by Joel Kotkin of the Washington Post. My assignment: Cover the 1977 Los Angeles Mayoral race campaign of California State Senator Alan Robbins, maintain a healthy dose of skepticism, and deliver a balanced, accurate report under deadline pressure.

Were those were the good days of American Journalism?

The media held Richard Nixon accountable for Watergate, obstruction of justice and his paranoia (did not attempt to diagnose his condition).

The rubbing elbows days with the Kennedys as played by Tom Hanks (e.g., Ben Bradlee) and Meryl Streep (Katharine Graham) in The Post were gone with the end of Camelot, and the “New Nixon.” The clubhouse door was closed.

The media was now separate and distinct from those they covered, even though both maintained a symbiotic adversarial relationship. One needed the other for reader/viewer access, and the other thrived on a steady stream of news and information.

Certainly, the media has always tilted to the left as any Republican press secretary will tell you. And that conclusion makes sense to this day. For the most part, reporters take a vow of poverty in the form of lower pay scales and less job security than their cousins in the largely well-paid public relations industry (e.g., “The Dark Side”).

These partisan journalists (oxymoron yes, but true nonetheless) have a natural affinity to the institutions of government. Any thrusts that bring into question the value and purpose of always expanding government (e.g., Reagan, “Government is the problem”) and Trump (e.g., Firing FBI chief James Comey) will trigger a vitriolic reaction from the Fourth Estate.

What is different now is that any and all vestiges of ostensible objectivity by the media to both sides of the great American political divide is gone, long gone. Reporters, editors and correspondents don’t even pretend to be fair anymore.

The media war – yes war — against Trump as a person and his ideas, policies, programs is exposed for what it is and what it has become.

The media is practicing unvarnished and unmitigated oppositional journalism.

America Has Only A Two-Party System

“A common refrain among Trump antagonists in the press is that they must resist normalizing his presidency. But in the process, they have abnormalized journalism.” – Howard Kurtz

The media is not one of America’s two political parties.

During the course of the life of your Almost DailyBrett author, the Republicans have controlled the White House for 35 years and the Democrats for 28 years. Political tides have roared back and forth (i.e., Goldwater debacle, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran Hostage Crisis, Fall of Communism, Monica, September 11, Big Short, Trump Upset …).

Carter Press Secretary Jody Powell complained in his book “The Other Side Of The Story” about how reporters prided themselves in being “fair to Reagan.”

Oh … for the good ole days.

The real question: Is Oppositional Journalism, actually Journalism?

If stories that favor Trump are irrelevant and tales that discredit Trump are championed, then what’s the point of the former when the media closes their collective ears and eyes?

In some respects — not all – the elite media types have threatened to give arrogance a bad name. And just as many are celebrating the journalism as depicted by Hanks and Streep, keep in mind those were the days of somewhat objective journalism.

Is there a chance that some in the Journalism community will take a moment and reflect about how oppositional journalism started, grew and mutated?

Is there a chance to turn back the clock in a good way? Let’s hope so.



“Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.” – President Donald Trump interview With the New York Times

Is there a difference between Journalism as a profession, and Journalism as a business?

And when push comes to shove, which side wins?

According to research firm mediaQuant,  Trump received a record advertising equivalent of $4.96 billion in earned media coverage from legacy/digital pubs/networks during the course of his campaign compared to $3.24 billion for Hillary Clinton.

That’s a $1.72 billion delta in favor of Trump-the-entertainer-turned-president for those scoring at home.

Four years earlier, Barack Obama garnered $1.1 billion in advertising equivalent coverage even with the bully pulpit of the White House. His challenger Mitt Romney generated only $700 million in earned media.

Almost DailyBrett must humbly ask: Does the media have a vested interest in Trump’s presidency, even though the vast majority of reporters, editors, pundits and correspondents detest him?


The Journalism as a Profession crowd waxes nostalgic about the Jeffersonian quote: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

And yet Trump is catnip for reporters, editors, pundits and correspondents. They may grind their collective teeth, particularly because of his usurpation of Agenda Setting with his in-your-face comments, immediate rejoinders, and nocturnal tweets.

The Journalism as a Business side reflects the obvious fact that Disney runs ABC News; Comcast operates NBC and MSNBC; Viacom manages CBS; Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is the patriarch of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News; and CNN is the property of Time Warner.

These elite media are all run by publicly traded companies with corresponding fiduciary obligations to their shareholders: NASDAQ: CMCSA (NBC and MSNBC); NYSE: DIS (ABC), NASDAQ: FOXA (Fox News and Wall Street Journal); NYSE: NYT (New York Times); NYSE: TWX (CNN), and NASDAQ: VIAB (CBS).

Does the Trump outrage du jour feed a greater public interest in news and politics, thus driving up coverage, ratings, impressions and most of all, legal tender?

You bet ya.

Elite Media For Trump in 2020?

“So they (elite media) basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.” – Donald Trump in the same New York Times interview

The talking heads on Meet the Depressed, Deface the Nation, This Week, let alone the partisans on CNN and MSNBC, will categorically deny they have a vested financial interest in Donald Trump’s ascendancy.

Deep down they want to bring him down to a crashing end (similar to Nixon in 1974) and provide wall-to-wall interpretive coverage of the carnage.

The result 43 years ago was Gerald Ford. The outcome this year would be Mike Pence. The “Bleeds It Leads” culture can tolerate virtually anything, except boredom.

Donald Trump provides the legacy and digital media outlets with unprecedented 24-7-365 outrage.  They are pontificating, bloviating and expecting only the worst from the Donald. Consider the projection from the “economist” below:

“If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.” – New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the day after Trump’s victory.

In 2017, the benchmark S&P 500 finished up 22.46 percent; The Dow Jones, increased 25.08 percent and the tech/life sciences NASDAQ advanced, 27.09 percent.

Want to take along Krugman to Vegas?

More to the point” Wanna bet that all publicly traded media companies, owning America’s elite media, also recorded positive years benefitting their shareholders?

To top it off, their respective corporate tax rates were reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent as of yesterday.

And best of all for elite media, there is little doubt that Trump will continue to be “good copy” for months and years to come.

Is Donald Trump the gift that keeps on giving?

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” – Walter Cronkite, CBS anchor from 1962-1981

When asked what sports historians would take away from his record (e.g., five home runs) performance in the 1977 World Series, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson paused and humbly proclaimed: “The magnitude of me.”

What about the “magnitude” of former CBS anchor Dan Rather?

The question is particularly relevant today as former CBS anchor Dan Rather is attempting a relevancy comeback at 86-years-old.

With his new book, “What Unites Us, Reflections on Patriotism,” Rather appears to be trying to escape the embarrassing details of his bitter 2005 termination … err resignation.

More to Almost DailyBrett’s point: Should Rather be seen as The Father of Affirmational Journalism?

Affirmational Journalism? Do these two words constitute an oxymoron?

Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Rather) is the mirror opposite of Informational Journalism (e.g., Cronkite).

Under the tenets of Informational Journalism, a news outlet will sift through the relevant facts and information – including both sides of every story — and deduce a logical conclusion for readers or viewers to decide.

Is there any wonder that Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America in 1972?

The esteem for American Journalism peaked in 1976 at 72 percent (e.g., Gallup survey), shortly after Woodward and Bernstein’s Pulitzer Prize reporting and the demise of the Nixon administration. The same poll revealed that public trust for the media plummeted for four decades to 32 percent in 2016.

What happened to the days when the vital First Amendment mission of the media was to inform and enlighten?

Enter Rather as the successor to Cronkite in the CBS anchor chair in 1981. Shortly thereafter, the seeds of today’s Affirmational Journalism were planted.

Certainly, there were outlets in 1972 and beyond that editorially represented the left (e.g., New York Times) and the right (e.g., Wall Street Journal), but the news pages of these publications were essentially straight.

Rather: Keynoting the GOP National Convention?

“(Rather) stepped on his own dick.” – Ronald Reagan, 1988

Two celebrated incidents involving Republican presidents (not Democratic) clearly demonstrated how Rather’s aim was to “affirm” preset narratives, not to totally “inform:”

  1. His rudeness against then Vice President George H.W. Bush in a cataclysmic 1988 live interview, which included Bush reminding the world that Rather stormed off his set one year before, when a U.S. Open tennis match ran too long.
  2. Rather’s ill-fated 2004 60 Minutes piece (e.g., Rathergate), confusing the fonts of an IBM Selectric with those offered by Microsoft. The forged 1972 document reportedly proved that President George W. Bush received special treatment as a member of the National Guard. Alas for Rather, the letter was written with a Microsoft font.

Microsoft was not founded until 1975 – three years later. Oops.

Dan Rather was exposed for his eagerness and glee to accept any “fact” that fit a preordained narrative about George W. Bush and his National Guard service. More importantly, he and his producer, Mary Mapes, were terminated at CBS for practicing Affirmational Journalism, which sought out tidbits (e.g., the forged letter) that affirmed and fit the story and excluding those (e.g., Microsoft font) that did not.

Rather’s mission was to “affirm” through selective reporting the predisposed reigning political philosophy of elites residing east of the Hudson and within the confines of the Beltway:

Democrat John Kerry was good; Republican George W. Bush needed to be excused from office.

Today, the list of affirmational elite media on the left is long: New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC. The list of affirmational media on the right is shorter: Fox News.

Whether these major media outlets reside on the left or the right, their mission is to affirm, sustain and enhance entrenched narratives that advance a chosen political philosophy.

Is Dan Rather solely responsible for this movement toward affirming, whether through interpretation or presenting, preordained narratives? No. There are others.

Is he the poster child for affirmational journalism and with it a record 32 percent low in national esteem for the media? Almost DailyBrett is making that assertion.

Affirmational Journalism Schools?

As a college assistant professor in a school of communication, the author of Almost DailyBrett worries that future journalists will be trained to seek facts and figures that fit a preconceived narrative, and ignore those inconvenient points that potentially contradict the “story.”

Are the ends of supporting an adopted political philosophy more important than the means of not presenting both sides of a story? If that is indeed the case and we are no longer informing the public about the positions of both sides, can we call this behavior Journalism?

There are some of us who yearn for the better days of a free-and-fair media.  The Fourth Estate can potentially come back; just the same way Rather is trying to revive his tarnished reputation.

Can the media return to the days of Informational Journalism? Or is Affirmational Journalism here to stay, contributing to and hardening our divided society for years to come?

Maybe if the media moves to adopt the model of Walter Cronkite — not Dan Rather — we will all be better off as an American society.

We can only hope.

“I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world.” Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Move over English.

Is coding rapidly becoming the new universal language?

Can coding proficiency be the answer for chronic voluntary male non-employment, and all the societal problems that come from too many idle masculine hands?

Certainly, Tim Cook has obvious motivation in advocating coding widespread proficiency. Apple always needs the best-and-the-brightest when it comes to geeky engineers (redundant).

Nonetheless at least one-third of all in-demand jobs right now require some form of computer coding. Why not make this necessary skill, compulsory in all secondary schools, colleges and universities?

Consider the recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute projecting that 15 percent of the global workforce may be required to change jobs in the next 15 years (or worse, lose them) because of coding-driven automation.

McKinsey projected that 75 million to 375 million workers will be required to change occupation categories while another 400 to 800 million could be displaced by automation and will be required to find new jobs entirely.

Which side of the fence does one want to be standing? Do we want to elect to kick off in the javelin throwing contest (learn coding) or receive (hope for the best)?

Get the point?

More Important Than English?

“If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I’m not telling people not to learn English in some form … this [coding] is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world.” – Cook speaking in Paris

For the longest time the dead-tongue Latin phrase, Lingua Franca, equated to English being the universal language of business and commerce, including the one used by air traffic controllers regardless of the flag being flown below the control tower.

For example, the Georgetown University Law Center reportedly is packing classes in coding for those who aspire to practice before the highest courts in the land, including the Supreme Court.

When it comes to seeking out key words and concepts in Supreme Court rulings, there are times when Google Search just doesn’t cut it … but coding does.

Instead of income redistribution from achievers to others to achieve social justice, it may be more vital for the public and private sectors to encourage the study of computer programming to narrow the income gap or at least to prevent the divide from growing larger.

How’s that for thinking outside the proverbial box?

Getting Idle Men Off Their Collective Derrieres

“It is impossible to imagine any earlier generation in which such a huge swath of prime-age men would voluntarily absent themselves from the workforce, living instead on the largesse of women they knew and taxpayers they did not.” – Nicholas Eberstadt, American Enterprise Institute

Eberstadt in his “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis” concluded that 32 percent of working age men are voluntarily not working, choosing instead to live off the largesse of working women or some form of government assistance (e.g., three/fifths are on disability).

Their daily modus operandi may consist of 5.5 hours of video games, internet, binge television, eating, drinking and opioids. The bi-products of these idle hands are obesity, alcoholism, crime and drug addiction.

Conversely, the good news emanating from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about an overall unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, points to a coming/already present labor shortage.

There are jobs out there, dudes.

Oh … you don’t want to put on that blue vest and work at the big-box store or the green apron of a barista? The service economy is not for you? Women are better than you when it comes to serving customer?.

What is a realistic answer?

How about coding? If you can work the TV remote and the video-game controller, you obviously have some level of primitive knowledge of the magic of binary code.

Can you imagine the increase of our national competitiveness if we can prod even 1 million idle men off their duffs and into the classroom/training center to learn coding?

Maybe there should be a national public relations campaign to convince idle men that coding is not only cool, but masculine too.









“Donald Trump is like a vampire; he never sleeps.” – Bill O’Reilly

To be accurate he does sleep a tad, and nocturnally he tweets a ton to 40.6 million-plus recipients.

During a late-1980s visit of Almost DailyBrett to Sardine City (a.k.a. The White House Press Briefing Room), there were wire-service reporters, who drew the short straws, and were assigned to Presidential “Death Watch.”

Translated these graveyard-shift members of the Fourth Estate were expected to be poised and ready to report, if the president passed away in his sleep. Fortunately, the media was never required to write/broadcast about a president expiring in the White House living quarters.

It was quite simply one of the most boring jobs on the planet … until 10 months ago.

The “Death Watch” reporter now has to be glued to her/his mobile device/laptop for the next 140-character-or-less epistle(s) from the Tweeter-in Chief @realDonaldTrump. In the last two years, his Twitter handle has generated 36,100 tweets, ranking the president at #22 worldwide, ironically one place in front of … The New York Times.

As it turns out the political class now needs to be aware of what Trump is tweeting at 3:20 am EDT, and there appears to be little if any advance warning for even his allies (e.g., Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) or objective/non-objective adversaries.

Trump has introduced widespread insomnia to the denizens of the Potomac, and also media/pundit types east of the Hudson. At the same time he has usurped the elite media’s role in setting the agenda for America’s national conversation.

It’s time to state the obvious:

Instead of the elite-media (i.e. NYT, WaPo, Big Three nets) framing national issue discussions under Agenda Setting Theory, Trump has stolen this mantle through his frantic and many times undisciplined tweeting.

For better or worse, Trump is setting or preempting the agenda and the elite media doesn’t like it one little bit.

The First Social Media President?

“Think of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats or Ronald Reagan’s television addresses. More recently, presidents have used the internet to directly reach the public, making journalists increasingly irrelevant … “– Northeastern Associate Communication Studies Professor Greg Goodale

“Increasingly irrelevant”? Those are fightin’ words.

Considering that Twitter was founded only 11 years ago, it stands to reason that President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to dabble with tweeting. Having said that, did Obama’s tweets ever rise to the level of newsworthy stories, much less threatening elite-media Agenda Setting?

There is a new sheriff in town and part of the reason he is occupying the White House is directly linked to his provocative and disruptive tweets. Not only does Trump set the agenda, he can also shift, preempt and deflect the 24/7 news cycles with subjects of his choosing.

Some contended the elite-media’s cherished role in Agenda Setting would be eroded by widespread public participation in social media (e.g., 10.3 million tweeted during the first Obama vs. Romney debate in 2012).

Instead, research has demonstrated that reporters/correspondents/pundits use Twitter to silently collude with each during a 21st Century presidential debate. Instead of weakening Agenda Setting Theory, the media role in setting the agenda was actually enhanced through second-screen group think.

Whether the elite media should be charged with deciding what issues should be the subject of national conversation is debatable. What is not the subject of dispute is the fact that Twitter has become Trump’s most reliable bully pulpit.

Is Trump provocative in his tweets? Absolutely.

Has he interrupted the elite media setting of the national discussion? With relish.

Has Trump stepped on his own legislative/political agenda with his tweets? No question.

Has Trump in far too many cases to count been undisciplined in his use of Twitter, attacking both friends and foes? The case is closed.

Does the elite media absolutely grind their collective teeth and literally hate Trump’s Twitter use most of all? Is the Pope Catholic?

Will the 46th President of the United States use social media? Did FDR hold radio “Fireside Chats”? Did Kennedy and Reagan excel on television?

Social media tools are here to stay. As Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen coined, they are game-changing “destructive technologies.”

And similar to nuclear devices, Twitter is at the fingertips of one Donald John Trump.

“The president of the United States tweeting negative things about your brand (e.g., ESPN) in an environment where you’re already at risk and you’re already on a downward trend, it’s just not what you want to see happening.” – Stephen Beck, cable TV consultant

“ESPN is about sports … not a political organization.” – ESPN President John Skipper

ESPN proclaims itself as “The Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

If that is true then why are so many labeling the troubled network: MSESPN?

Why is an ESPN anchor (e.g., Jamele Hill) taking to Twitter to call the president of the United States as a “White Supremacist” and a “Bigot”? Sounds like politics, not sports.

With the likes of Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher filling up TV screens at other networks, does the avid sports fan tune into ESPN for affirmational political commentary?

Do you think more than a few of ESPN’s remaining viewers may not necessarily agree? More to the point, don’t they just want to watch their game of choice, and check out the highlights on “Sports Center”?

Predictably, Trump replied via his own customary tweet, reminding the world that ESPN is losing subscribers in a fast-and-furious way (e.g., 100 million in 2011 to 87 million now).

Time to sell the stock, Disney shares in particular?

Almost DailyBrett needs to ask a basic question: Why is the so-called “Worldwide Leader in Sports” becoming embroiled in politics when the nation is the most divided since the days of the Civil War?

Does the Bristol, Ct., network appreciate that contrary opinions may actually exist west of the Hudson? See 2016 Electoral College map for details.

Some have questioned why the network presented the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner, provided sympathetic coverage of Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem, moved Asian announcer Robert Lee out of the broadcast booth, fired conservative two-time World Series winner Curt Schilling, while not terminating Jamele Hill for her presidential broadsides?.

This commentary is not to suggest that ESPN should not cover provocative sports issues (e.g., O.J. Simpson parole hearing), but one cannot fathom the arbitrary direct shots by a sports network anchor at the commander-in-chief.

Analysts have stated that ESPN’s well-documented troubles are a product of market factors including widespread chord-cutting and the growing acceptance of streaming video. Okay. Then why potentially exacerbate the loss of 13 million viewers by angering millions of viewers, who may just happen to be conservative?

There is a reason why Fox News is the consistent ratings leader in cable news, easily beating MSNBC and CNN in the Nielsen Ratings. Why tick off huge swaths of the public?

“Ballmer and Butthead”

Almost DailyBrett earlier questioned Sun Microsystems founder and chief Scott McNealy’s obsession with Microsoft, who he saw as technology’s evil empire.

Thinking he was so friggin’ clever, McNealy drew laughter when he labeled Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates as “Ballmer and Butthead.”

He also raised eyebrows for making these brash comments while his failing company harbored a $3 per share price. Alas after 28 years, Sun Microsystems went into oblivion having been absorbed by Oracle in 2010.

The connection with ESPN is that a company needs to appreciate its raison d’ etre. What are a corporation’s bread and butter? What is a firm’s brand? What are the meanings of the logo, signage, colors, fonts and style?

Southwest Airlines is “The Low-Fare Airline”; Nike is “Just Do It”; Apple is mainly the iPhone as reaffirmed last week. Sun Microsystems was Java script and servers, but the brand sadly degenerated into becoming synonymous with McNealy’s sophomoric punch lines.

ESPN is the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.” Does it want to be the worldwide leader in left-of-center sports commentary? If so, the network will become a niche player instead of the market-share leader in sports programming.

The adults at Fox Sports will then take over that leadership position, leaving MSESPN to cater to its chosen core of left-of-center “sports” fans.




“ … Y’all sit here, y’all trying to interview people during their worst times. Like that’s not the smartest thing to do … like people are really breaking down, and y’all are sitting here with cameras and microphones trying to ask us what the fuck is wrong with us.” – Houston Mother to CNN covering Hurricane Harvey

“We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond, who comes on at five. She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. It’s interesting when people die. Give us dirty laundry.” – Don Henley, Dirty Laundry, 1982

The author of Almost DailyBrett was present at more than his fair share of fires, floods and earthquakes, first as a reporter and later as the press secretary for former California George Deukmejian.

Regardless of the particular circumstances or magnitude of the disaster (e.g., 1989 Loma Prieta 7.1 intensity earthquake), one thing was always certain: The media was out of control, and had no sense of proportion.

The media eventually becomes obsessed with who is responsible, when it just can a combination of geography (i.e., flood plains, seismic faults, hurricane paths) and the ferocity of Mother Nature. Many times no one is at fault, but with the media someone must be the scapegoat – the higher in the political strata, the better

The pattern begins with the media focusing on the particulars (e.g., time, epicenter, Richter scale reading, number dead, number wounded, damage estimates, how to contribute to disaster relief …). This information is vital to the public, and demonstrates the power of the media at its finest.

Predictably, the media grows bored with the mere reporting the facts and inevitably the hunt begins for who is responsible – even when no one is responsible. The attitude changes from reporting the news to an all-effort to assign blame.

But that’s not all.

Next up is the effort to interpret the news, offering their expert opinions, and to become part of the story by portraying the “human tragedy.”

The media for years has been guilty of placing a live camera lens and a boom mike in the face of someone is obviously grieving and suffering – maybe the Houston mother and her children having the worst day in their lives – and asking how she feels right then and there.

This footage is considered to be great television in Atlanta or New York, which drives ratings and in-turn, precious advertiser dollars. What may be great television to network execs (e.g., CNN) is seen by many as cheap exploitation of those who are suffering by simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Do these victims deserve a little consideration and sympathy before the boom mike and camera is thrust into their faces? The Houston mom called out CNN in a graphic and profane way for having absolutely no consideration of her feelings, and the suffering endured by her children.

Will CNN and its rivals ever learn a lesson about sensitivity and empathy as a result of this shameless exercise? Almost DailyBrett will take the “under.”

Redefining ‘Disaster Porn’

“Can we film the operation? Is the head dead yet? You know, the boys in the newsroom got a running bet, get the widow on the set! We need dirty laundry” – Dirty Laundry, Don Henley

The conventional definition of “Disaster Porn” reflects on those who try to economically exploit a crisis (e.g., September 11, Boston Marathon Bombing) with special t-shirts and hats to demonstrate solidarity with the responders and victims. In reality, these are arbitrage opportunities disguised as cause marketing for those who only look to profit off misery.

But what is the difference in making a buck by selling t-shirts and hats on one hand, and thrusting boom mikes and microphones in the face of grieving people while broadcasting live to drive ratings on the other hand?

Almost DailyBrett is not necessarily equating making a cheap buck off the sale of disaster event hats and t-shirts with the exploitation of misery by the networks and labeling both of them as “disaster porn.”

Having said that, there needs to be a process in which the network asks off-camera with the full-calm assent of the victim to a live or taped interview before the interview takes place.

How about it, CNN?

Sure beats being scolded on national television with an F-bomb for emphasis.


The BMW Museum and BMW World are located directly across from each other at the headquarters of the luxury auto/motorcycle designer/manufacturer in München.

Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., Bavarian Motor Works or BMW) adopted the tag, keeping faith with the “Rule of Three”: The Ultimate Driving Machine.

Based upon the company’s expert use of the English language and conceivably the home German Sprache as well, BMW achieved the much desired marketing goal of less is more.

Translated, BMW was able to deliver a compelling message to its target audiences (i.e., customers, media, shareholders, suppliers) using an economy of words. At the same time, each word has purpose with a powerful amplifying adjective to enhance the corporate brand and to drive sales (no pun intended).

And for the most part there is little repetition of words and no clichés (see “solutions”).

Here is how BMW at its museum describes its legendary design and engineering prowess:


Let’s breakdown BMW’s 101-word statement by sentence with a focus on carefully selected nouns and powerful modifying adjectives. The Almost DailyBrett (ADB) commentary follows each sentence.

“At BMW, designs are created by people for people.

ADB: The brand is immediately identified. Short, punchy attention-grabbing opening.

“In an inspiring culture of dialogue, a wide variety of disciplines, expertise and experience are combined to become an unrivaled creative force.

ADB: Skillful use of the Rule of Three: disciplines, expertise and experience. Powerful adjectives modifying concluding noun – unrivaled creative force.

“The common goal is to achieve the perfect harmonious development process for designing a vehicle.

ADB: BMW designers and engineers work as a team, using “the perfect harmonious development process … .” All organizations seek out skillful team players.

“The unique feature of this process is the internal design competition.

ADB: The “unique” feature is “competition” in internal design. As Martha would say, creative tension is a ‘Good thing.’

“It ensures the power of innovation is always present.

ADB: “Power” and “Innovation” are two of the most vibrant words in any language

“Only a strong team with a professional approach can successfully complete this demanding competitive stage.

ADB: This statement misses no opportunities to present compelling nouns with enhancing adjectives: Strong before team; Successfully before complete; Demanding and competitive before stage.

“Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection and a passion for every single detail are the key elements in producing a successful design.”

ADB: Rule of Three once again – Commitment, enthusiasm, perfection. Pathos or passion for every single detail. Key modifying elements. Strong verb: producing. Successful before design.

Let’s face it. Marketing in the 21st Century is far too many times subject to clichés or lazy combinations of buzz words.

For example, FedEx shamefully took the overused “Sustainable” and the mind-numbing “Solutions” and came up with … you guessed it … “Sustainable Solutions” for its ad about how the package carrying company’s planes and trucks protect the critters in the forest.


How’s that for green washing on steroids?

Less is More

“The way in which information is exchanged so quickly has forever changed the way in which people want to consume information. They demand that things be condensed into 20-second sound bites. With complex problems, this is exceedingly difficult, but to be an effective communicator and leader you need to be able to condense complex items down to the core and be able to do this quickly.” – Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister.

Certainly, BMW is not the only company on the planet that makes the most out of the least number of words. Having said that, BMW is mindful of Prime Minister Blair’s admonition, which is particularly relevant in our microscopic-attention span, texting culture.


Here are the nouns that BMW chronologically chose to tell the story: Designs, Culture, Dialogue, Disciplines, Expertise, Experience, Force, Goal, Development Process, Features, Competition, Power, Innovation, Team, Approach, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Perfection, Passion.

Now let’s examine the adjectives – once again in chronological sequence – to amplify the nouns to present BMW’s engineering culture: Inspiring, Unrivaled. Creative, Perfect, Harmonious, Unique, Internal, Strong, Professional, Demanding, Competitive, Successful.

Almost DailyBrett is fired up after reviewing that list.

As an assistant professor of public relations, investor relations and integrated marketing communications, your author knows the bottom line is to tell the story, and to tell it well.

BMW achieved this worthy goal in just 101 skillfully chosen words and bolstered the legendary, iconic brand as well.


It’s been all downward-to-the-right for the media since the days of Walter Cronkite.

Quick: Name the Big Three Network anchors?

Can’t do it? Join the club.

Oh have times changed.

In 1972, the revered anchor of the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite, was the most trusted man in America.

In 2017, do we trust Sean Hannity of Fox News to be “fair and balanced” with the news?

Do we trust Rachel Maddow of MSNBC to be objective?

Do we trust the latest political “comedian” on Comedy Central to be thoughtful?

Do we trust what we read on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook to be accurate?

Fair. Balanced. Objective. Thoughtful. Accurate. Those were all words that applied to Cronkite. Do they apply anymore?

As Almost DailyBrett mentioned before, the public gave the media a 72 percent approval rating in 1976 and only 32 percent in 2016.

Gallup’s surveys reflect a corresponding slide by Democrats, Independents and particularly Republicans in the past two decades.

In 1997, 64 percent of Democrats reported a great deal/fair amount of trust in the media. In 2016, that figure declined to 51 percent, a 13 percent drop.

For independents, the erosion in the last 20 years was 53 percent (just above the Mendoza Line) to 30 percent last year, a 23 percent decline.

For Republicans, 41 percent of GOP voters expressed a great deal/fair amount of trust in the media in 1997. That figure was 14 percent in 2016, a stunning 27 percent erosion in two decades.

In a match-up between CNN and Donald Trump, 89 percent of GOP voters expressed confidence in the president while only 9 percent sided with the number three cable news network.

Is there any plausible reason to optimistically hope these results will improve in the Trump era?

For CNN, it has now dropped to number three in a three-way race of major cable news outlets having been surpassed by liberal MSNBC for the number two slot behind No. 1 conservative Fox News.

Liberal? Liberal? Conservative?  What happened to honest brokers of information?

From Reporting to Interpreting?

Want to make a slow Friday night even slower? Watch “Washington Week in Review” on PBS in which reporters interview … reporters.

It used to be that reporters/correspondents covered the news. Now we are all entitled to their “interpretation.”

Remember what Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” said about opinions? Every reporter, editor, correspondent has one and you are privileged to hear what they have to say. Instead of covering the news makers, they see themselves as the real news.

Except … this Donald Trump character seems to get in the way, particularly with his nocturnal tweets.

Should university journalism schools abandon teaching the quaint notion of objectively informing the public that desperately wants straight news?

How about simply declaring the stakes are too high to be truly objective, and encourage future reporters/correspondents to openly display their partisan instincts and guide the public in affirming their own deeply held political philosophies?

And then journalists can write and broadcast about the deeply divided nation they helped foster.

Should journalism schools endeavor to generate more of the likes of Dan Rather and Brian Williams? Almost DailyBrett doesn’t need to regurgitate how the two elite former champions of CBS and NBC respectively brought lasting shame to the media.

What strategies should schools of journalism and communication adopt to restore professionalism to the profession? Surely the task is worthy, particularly bringing objectivity back into to the classroom discussion.

Is it time to inform the public once again?

Will we know that journalism has recovered when the next Walter Cronkite becomes the most trusted man/woman in America?



These are not the best of days for American reporters, editors and correspondents, let alone journalism schools.

The American media is running eight points behind Donald Trump in national esteem.

This Gallup result was registered before CNN’s Anderson Cooper conjured up the impression of the president taking a “dump” on his desk. Ditto for the network’s Kathy Griffin holding up the image of the decapitated head of Donald Trump.

The glory days of Walter Cronkite, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are clearly in the rear-view mirror. The era of CNN and conjured presidential excrement and bloody heads are upon us.

More to the point, Newsweek ist kaputt. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is gone. Farewell to the Rocky Mountain News, The Tucson Citizen and so many others that depended on Gutenberg’s printing press for far too long.

Let’s face it: many Fourth Estate types (i.e., reporters, editors, correspondents, anchors …) are looking for jobs, any job that keeps them in the business.

The good news is China is hiring. The bad news is China is hiring.

Should these journalists succumb and work for Chinese-government-sponsored and operated media?

Dollars are dollars. Yuan are yuan. Right?

Ketchum, Putin and $55 million

Before getting knickers in a twist or bowels in an uproar, consider that Almost DailyBrett has posed similar questions about the august public relations profession, namely Ketchum PR.

For years, Ketchum served a provocative client, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to the tune of $55 million cumulatively. The ostensible mission was to promote the Rodina’s “economic development” and the country as a great place for “investment.” The fact that Putin was behaving as one would expect from the former head of the KGB appeared to be irrelevant to the brass at Ketchum’s New York headquarters.

Reportedly Putin eventually terminated the nation’s contract with Ketchum, which may have been a blessing in disguise for the New York based agency. No longer would they have to register as foreign agents for Putin’s public relations nightmare in which he wasn’t going to accept Ketchum’s council anyway.

The advocacy side (PR) of the great communication divide is not the only one with moral dilemmas to confront. The same applies to the objective side (Journalism), particularly with so many journalists out of work or soon-to-be beating the bushes for another job.

According to The Economist, China expanded the number of foreign bureaus for its government-controlled main news agency, Xinhua, to 162 by the end of 2011. China’s goal is to establish a total of 200 Xinhua bureaus by 2020.Considering the many American media outlets are shutting down, does the Xinhua expansion – doubling its number of correspondents — provide new opportunities for employment?

Also consider that China completed the rebranding of its television network last year and has announced the formation of CGTN (China Global Television Network) to rival the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera to spread China’s “voice” and to “showcase China’s role as a builder of world peace.”

Just as Ketchum would be tempted to dismiss the concerns about Putin’s Russia with “a client is a client,” will unemployed or soon-to-be-out-of-work American journalists regard a potential opening at Xinhua or CGTN (e.g., major DC bureau) as “a job is a job”?

In a way that sounds just like the Yuppie Nürnberg Defense — “I was only doing it for the mortgage”  — as preached in the Christopher Buckley book/movie, Thank You For Smoking.

The author of Almost DailyBrett remembers the days at USC journalism school, and the protracted discussions about objectively and Joseph Pulitzer’s mantra of “Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.”

Is Xinhua or CGTN, objective?

Are the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC or CBS objective, let alone MSNBC or Fox News? Many journalists employed by these institutions are miffed that  their “objectivity” may be somehow compromised by their employer’s corporate parent (e.g., NBC owned by Comcast).

What happens if your media employer is owned by the largest nation of earth, run by a single party, and established as part of that country’s $10 billion annual investment in soft power?

If objectivity and fairness are part of the personal DNA as a journalist, would she or he be predisposed to resign if the “editor” wanted to censure/delete submitted copy if it ran afoul with China’s policy toward Taiwan, the Dalia Lama, Tibet or some other hot-button issue for the totalitarian state?

Would the same journalist be comfortable that her or his objective copy was universally regarded as self-serving China propaganda by the vast majority of readers and viewers?

Some may be tempted to rationalize accepting a position with Xinhua or CGTN and following their “editorial” dictates as a job is job (e.g., Yuppie Nürnberg Defense).

Other journalists may not have these same flexible morals.

If the choice came down to aiding and abetting Chinese propaganda or maybe finding another job, maybe the journalist should even consider wearing a green apron instead?

“Was that a grande latte or mocha?”



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