Category: Media Relations

“ … 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.



“There are three things that can happen on a forward pass – and two of them are bad.” – Texas Coach Darrell Royal

Wish it was that simple.

Did the ball “survive the ground?”

Did the ball “move?”

Did the receiver have “control?”

Did the receiver complete the “catch?”

Did the receiver have both feet in bounds?

Did he drag his back foot … but was the first one already on the chalk?

Does “one knee equal two feet?”

What is a “catch” anyway?

Better check with the video dudes/dudettes in New York. Is there “indisputable visual evidence” to overturn the call on the field?

And while we are waiting through 120 seconds worth of commercials, we come back and find out … the video review has not been completed.

Time for a “shot clock” for video reviews? If the review can’t be completed in one minute, then let the call stand.

Glad nothing else stops the flow of the game.

Orgy of Penalty Flags

Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs threw a penalty flag into the stands.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and removed from the game for his reaction to the yellow hanky.

Heck, Peters was just as frustrated and frosted by the number of penalties during a game as anyone else. The good thing is the fan, who caught the flag, was last seen taking selfies with his BROS.

The median number of penalty flags thrown during the regular season of the NFL was 13.2 per game, including on virtually every punt and kick return.

The Carolina Panthers drew the league low 5.2 penalties per game. The Seattle Seahawks were the highest, penalized 9.2 times each Sunday.

Thirteen-plus penalties per game come on top of a seemingly non-ending series of video reviews to ascertain the proper spot on the field, let alone determining what is and what is not a catch.

And even with all these penalties, there is no such thing as a “targeting” penalty in an era in which the number of concussions is exploding?

What is wrong with this league?

The NFL has created this monster, and now it needs to solve it in the face of flagging ratings (love the pun) and empty seats in overpriced stadiums. Who is going to pay for Jon Gruden’s $100 million salary?

The average fan has to devote upwards of four hours to watch a game. Life is too short.

If the author of Almost DailyBrett  had only 10 minutes to live, he would want it to be timed by the NFL …  That way he would have time for at least two microbrews before visiting St. Peter.

Guess what: 10 minutes in the NHL is very close to … 10 minutes. Ditto for World Cup soccer, even though “stoppage time” may be added. The NBA rivals the NFL in stoppages as a result of each team being given 10 time outs per quarter (slight exaggeration)

It would be helpful if one had an advanced degree in jurisprudence before watching an NFL game. It seems the league is searching for procedural perfection with its orgy of penalty flags and video reviews.

Is there sufficient “preponderance of evidence” present before we can move from first to second down? Time for an up-to-the-booth review brought to us by Microsoft Surface.

Does Microsoft really want to be associated with these maddening, endless video reviews?

Wasn’t the original purpose of instant replay to guard against game-changing “egregious” mistakes?

It used to be a passed football was complete, intercepted, overthrown, underthrown, dropped or trapped. And yes, there was the necessity for two feet down in-bounds in the NFL, and only one-foot down in college.

But that’s not good enough. Now we have to debate whether the ball survived the ground even though the receiver is five-yards, out-of-bounds before gravity kicks in.

It used to be the NFL’s overreliance on field goals was the reason the league was a boring counterpart to college football. That was before the explosion of penalties, reviews and “Dilly-Dilly” commercials.

Maybe with a little less emphasis on procedural perfection, the NFL can reverse the tide and its ratings can survive the ground.


“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.

(Washington Coach Chris Petersen) “should be thanking ESPN for actually having a relationship.” – MSESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit.

Really Kirk? You just personified the word, “arrogant.”

How dare Coach Petersen or any other mortal speak out against Made for Sports Networks/ Night Owl football games.

The Pac-12 and its $3 billion network masters have come up with this season’s not-so-subtle marketing spin: “Pac-12 After Dark.” The purpose is to provide Atlantic Seaboard and Midwest late-night programming for MSESPN and Fox Sports.

Better than infomercials, right?

What’s next for the conference: “Pac-12 After Midnight or Midnight Football Madness”?

Naturally, the three time-zone separation of the Left Coast and two hours for the forgotten time zone (e.g., Mountain) are a pure fact of geography. No argument. But does mean the Pac-12 should kiss the rings of the network masters?

More to the point, the late-night Pac-12 kickoffs make it oh-so-easy for the Football Pharisees on in God’s Time Zone (e.g., Eastern) to only focus on their anointed conferences: ACC, Big 10, Big 12 and of course, the ESECPN.

The Pac-12 champion has already been ruled out of the playoffs. Thank you Heather Dinich.

The Big Five Conferences are in reality in the Big Four Conferences.

Whattyathink Big 10 Joey Galloway and Herbstreit? Concur SEC Jesse Palmer and Rece Davis?

These nocturnal kickoff times (e.g., 10:45 pm EDT/7:45 pm PDT for last night’s USC vs. Arizona game) are rendering the “Conference of Champions” as virtually irrelevant when it comes to the College Football Playoff, but these games do provide entertainment before last call is proclaimed.

When will the Pac-12 Conference championship be decided? The answer is December 1 at 8pm  EST/5 pm PST in traffic gridlocked Santa Clara, CA on a Friday night.

And when will the other major conference games be played?

All of them are on Saturday, December 2: ACC in Charlotte, Big 10 in Indianapolis, Big 12 in Arlington, and SEC in Atlanta. The Pac-12 champion will be yesterday’s news … literally.

Thank you so much Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott for selling out the conference to the lowest bidder.

Grooving to Big 10 and SEC Networks in Pac-12 Territory

The author of Almost DailyBrett resides in one of the six Pac-12 states, so does that mean I can watch Pac-12 Networks?

If you subscribe to Charter Cable or Direct TV, the unfortunate answer is you can binge watch the SEC and Big 10 networks on the left coast, but not Pac-12 Networks. Reportedly, the conference has been in “negotiations” with these two providers for four-plus years.

What good is it to live in a Pac-12 state and watch Southern Eastern Conference and Big-10 sports? If a conference network is not available to its suffering fans, does the network make any sound?

And when our games are actually selected for broadcast for the major networks, you get to wait for the real major conferences to play their games before our nocturnal kickoffs.

Where Are the Pac-12 University Presidents?

Larry Scott was hired to shake up the sleepy Pac-12 commissioner’s office.

To his credit, he brought in the all-important Salt Lake City and Denver media markets with the accession of Utah and Colorado to the Pac-12. At this point the move appears to have benefited the two Mountain Zone schools with meager benefit to the rest of the conference.

The aforementioned Pac-12 Network is giving MSESPN and Fox Sports more reasons to avoid the conference teams with the possible exception of big market, USC.

The questions remain: Where are the Pac-12 university presidents?

Do they care more about television contracts than their students, alumni, student-athletes and fans?

Do they not comprehend the safety issues for thousands of people who are driving in the wee-morning hours after literally hours of libations and football?

There was a day in which Pac-12 games were played at civilized times including 12:30 pm, 1 pm, 3:30 pm and 5 pm, which allows them to be in the half-time discussions on the east coast.

Why can’t the university presidents deem that conference games will start no later than 6 pm PDT/PST and 7 pm (Arizona time in regards to the early fall heat)?

And while they are weighing whether selling out to the networks is a more pressing necessity than the basic mission of the university: educating students for the data-driven careers of tomorrow, they may also want to collectively ask the following Texas-ism:

Is Larry Scott all hat and no cattle?


Should the school

It was the agony of defeat … over and over again.

All throughout the garbage-time fourth quarter in South Bend, the voyeuristic NBC cameras kept focusing on the deadpan face of an obviously hurting 20-year-old college student.

He was anything Saturday but “So Good, So Cool, So Cal.”

The Associated Press pointed out that USC has already turned over the ball 19 times in eight games, emphasizing that 16 of these were committed by quarterback Sam Darnold.

There will be no all-expense-paid trip to New York in December.

Someone else will receive the Heisman.

There will be better days for Sam Darnold, maybe this coming weekend in Tempe.

He will celebrate his 21st birthday next June 5.

As a college professor, who once roamed the sidelines as a student football manager for both USC and Oregon in the mid-1970s, Almost DailyBrett must ask:

Are pre-season Heisman Trophy hype campaigns launched by university athletic departments/sports information offices in the best interest of a college-student/athlete, who is not old enough to legally order a beer?

Is the young stud ready for the plethora of writers, camera lenses, microphones and fawning stories? The media is absolutely superb at building up a celebrity; the beast is even better at crashing the new hero down to earth and stomping on him.

Some may contend these premature campaigns draw national media attention that carries over to the season and may lead to holding up the most famous stiff-arm in all of sports.

USC athletes need extra media attention in the second largest television market in the country?

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether more times than naught these athletic departments are setting up these young people, students at their school – most not ready for the limelight – for failure by the jury-judge-executioner media (e.g., MSESPN).

Believe it or not, these kids have to go to school, attend classes, submit papers, work on projects and take exams (okay, maybe not the University of North Carolina basketball team).

Your author knows as much as any other writer, how a mere university cannot control the Fourth Estate. If the folks in Bristol, Connecticut or Sports Illustrated wish to build up their list of Heisman candidates before the season starts, who is going to stop them?

Cats are easier to herd.

Halloween and The First CFP Rankings

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will not release its rankings for the real contenders for the sport’s four playoff spots until Halloween, safely past the mid-point of the season.

If the NCAA is “wise” enough to put off the hoopla surrounding who could be playing in the first semifinal at the Rose Bowl and the second in the New Orleans Superdome, then why can’t this august body put a kibosh on overactive athletic departments, exploiting underage students?

Many say: “Where are the parents?” Almost DailyBrett asks: “Where are the university presidents?”

It doesn’t matter whether a student seeking the NFL degree attends a heavily covered traditional power (e.g., USC Heisman campaign for Sam Darnold and Matt Barkley) or less heavily covered sometimes power (e.g., Oregon with the Joey Harrington Times Square billboard and Marcus Mariota), the respective athletic departments/sports information departments need to remember the football team represents the university … not the other away around.

Football is a team sport. Yes, everyone knows a quarterback is the most equal-of-the-equals and has the best chance of holding up the Heisman hardware, but the trophy is not presented on a Southern California beach in August.

The 12+-week season is a grind. This year’s team may not be the same as last year’s team. Conferences abound with college towns and trap games. College football is much more unpredictable than the brand played by the National Field-Goal League (NFL).

Sam Darnold is talented, but clearly does not have the hogs in the offensive line or the skill players beside him. The Trojans are good, maybe the best in the Pac-12, in a down year for the conference. The league will not send a team to the playoff unless there is dog-eat-dog chaos in the other conferences.

Hopefully, Darnold’s parents will be wise enough to steer him to return to USC for another year. He needs the time to work on his game, hit the books and earn a degree in communications. There may even be a Heisman Trophy and the NFL dollars in his happier future.

Wonder if the USC Athletic Department/Sports Information Office can dial back the P.T. Barnum/Donald Trump hype and let a good college kid be a good college kid?





“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.




“We lost because of Clinton Inc. The reality is Clinton Inc. was great for her (Hillary) for years she had all the institutional benefits. But it was an albatross around the campaign.” – Clinton advisor/friend to the authors of “Shattered.”

“I love Hillary. I think she has a right to analyze what happened. But we do have to move on.” – Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota)

Is it smart personal public relations for Hillary Clinton to write “What Happened,” an angry tome about her unfortunate 2016 campaign?

Think of it this way: Is there a PR and marketing counselor on this planet, who would have the gravitas to talk her out of writing a book, way too many will regard as “boo-hoo-hoo”?

More to the point: Would the Clintons actually listen?

Your author can’t remember a general election loser of a modern era presidential campaign writing a here’s-what-went-wrong book so soon after a bitter defeat.

Jimmy Carter wrote “Keeping Faith” in 1982 and Barry Goldwater penned “With No Apologies” in 1979. Both were memoirs.

Undoubtedly “What Happened” debuting today will become an instant New York Times best seller, directly benefitting the Clinton family fortunes … but there lies a key problem.


Almost DailyBrett believes Hillary could provide mentorship to candidates who follow, if she would publicly acknowledge her own critical mistakes: setting up her own personal server, putting her name on the masthead of the Clinton Foundation, giving three speeches at $225,000 each to Goldman Sachs, not addressing the woes of millions in the fly-over states, and essentially having no overriding message to justify her candidacy.

Behaving as if the presidency is simply my turn underestimates the collective intelligence of the electorate, especially tens of thousands who feel left behind, disdained and betrayed.

Let’s face it, Hillary’s “Stronger Together” campaign motto will not make historians forget Kennedy’s “New Frontiers,” Reagan’s “Morning in America” or more to the point, Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”

She spent way too much time in safe coastal enclaves with Katy Perry and Bruce Springsteen, and cancelled her only general election campaign stop to Wisconsin. Instead of tailoring her message to address the growing electoral populism, she repeatedly railed against the character deficiencies of Donald Trump.

The only problem with that approach is you can’t beat someone with no-one. Where was the alternative?

Pointing Fingers

“We owe him (Trump) an open mind and the chance to lead.” – Hillary Clinton, November 9, 2016

Political journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes were given access to the Clinton campaign operations with the anticipation of a book, intended to provide chapter and verse about Hillary Clinton’s historic breaking of the greatest remaining glass ceiling of them all.

Instead,“Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” provided a  radically different story, the biggest political upset in American history.

Hillary said all the right things in speaking to her millions of supporters the morning after, but reportedly was angry in her follow-up conversations with friends and compatriots.

Almost DailyBrett thrives on political campaign books, and will read this one as well. One would hope there would be more self-reflection, acknowledgement and taking personal responsibility by Hillary for what went wrong.

One anticipates the book will bore into the FBI (Comey), KGB (Putin), KKK (Trump). We already know from early reports about the book that Hillary takes particular aim at Bernie Sanders, who she does regard as a Democrat. Looking back to last year, Sanders tapped the mood of the electorate when he said the system was “corrupt.” Trump talked about a “rigged” America to the detriment of the lunch-pail crowd with high-school diplomas.

They vote too.

Hillary offered the status quo, the third-term of Barack Obama.

Personal public relations are the most important of all when it comes to individual branding and reputation. An angry book from an incensed candidate less than one year after a devastating defeat is most likely going to come across as sour grapes.

It will undoubtedly make the Clintons even richer as well her publisher, Simon & Schuster.

But will we be wealthier in our knowledge about what really went wrong with Hillary’s campaign, and why the fireworks were cancelled and the glass ceilings at the Javits Center and most of all, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, are still standing?


“ … 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.


%d bloggers like this: