Tag Archive: Alan Robbins


“ … 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

“Trump is right. It is the opposition party. Indeed, furiously so, often indulging in appalling overkill. It’s sometimes embarrassing to read the front pages of major newspapers, festooned as they are with anti-Trump editorializing masquerading of news.” — Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer

“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 its 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 emerged from the primordial ooze, grew and mutated?

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/sympathy-for-sarah-huckabee-sanders/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/from-affirming-back-to-informing/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/has-the-media-reached-the-point-that-it-can-never-cover-trump-fairly/

 

I didn’t give a particle about Hopalong Cassidy in 1976…

…and I really don’t care much about the fictional Old West shoot-em-up character now.

hopalong

My Journalism 101 assignment was laid out in a poorly mimeographed piece of parchment paper: Write a dreaded obit about the late-William Lawrence Boyd (1895-1972) and entice people to care about the star of more than 60 “Hoppy” films, who died with his boots on.

There was no passion, no emotion, just a piece of paper about someone who did not touch my life, and never would. I was also a college sophomore at the University of Southern California. The results of my “effort” were predictable as in predictably lousy.

As a result of this assignment and others, I earned a big fat and well-deserved “C” in the class. What was worse was the professor (who will go nameless to protect the guilty) pulled me aside and strongly suggested that I consider another career.

That was 35 years ago.

Fortunately, the next semester saved my major in Broadcasting Journalism and launched my career. I enrolled in Reporting Public Affairs with Joel Kotkin, who at the time had put his degree at UC Berkeley five years into his rear-view mirror and was the West Coast correspondent for the Washington Post.

kotkin

The year was now 1977, and there was a mayoral election in Los Angeles. Each student was assigned a candidate and a campaign. The candidates were the incumbent Tom Bradley, former California State Senator Alan Robbins and Howard Jarvis, who authored the landmark property tax-reduction initiative, Proposition 13, the following year. My assignment was to follow Robbins, who eventually lost the election and later spent a long time in a very bad place.

Robbins campaigned heavily on the Jewish West Side of Los Angeles and a young college kid followed him, and learned everything he could about his campaign. This particular USC student was a political animal and loved writing and reporting. Some were questioning Robbins’ Jewishness, prompting a heckler to yell out in a temple that “Alan Robbins is a goy.” Robbins snapped back, “Alan Robbins is not a goy.” This was full-contact politics on vivid display and I eagerly engulfed myself in this story.

I received an “A” in “Reporting Public Affairs” and my career was upwards to the right. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Professor Kotkin, who is now a fellow at Chapman College, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and others, and the author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.”

The reason why I am tapping back into history now is that I have taken up the Kotkin role, not his encyclopedic command of American political, geographical and demographic trends (I am not worthy), but his dedication to teaching students…and in at least one particular case giving a student a much-needed second chance.

Today I am a graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Hopefully in a year, I will be teaching strategic communications, social media, financial communications and media/analyst/employee relations to upper division students.

I need to keep in mind that a professor can cripple through her or his words the dreams of students. Suggesting out loud to someone who has the talent and skill sets to succeed in a given profession that they should look elsewhere is not helpful and may be even unethical. That’s exactly what happened to me.

Please don’t get me wrong. Tenured professors, associate professors, assistant professors, adjunct instructors and even lowly graduate teaching fellows are not there to be a buddy or a pal to college students. We are not there to be the university version of dandelion dads and marshmallow moms. The work world is hopefully over the horizon for these students and a boss or heaven forbid, a bosshole, can be worse, much worse than any professor.

Colleges and universities are the ultimate start-up. Students have dreams and aspirations. Not all classes are a perfect fit…certainly Journalism 101 with its lame Hopalong Cassidy obit exercise was not a good fit for me. Having said that, my lack of performance in that particular introductory class did not justify being told to choose another profession, such as selling insurance.

Words can be like daggers, particularly coming from a professor with an advanced degree or more. Sticks and stones may break my bones and words will never hurt me, which is true in most cases. At the same time, these ultra-critical words have major impact on impressionable young students trying to embark on a career path. Let’s offer constructive criticism where it is warranted, but more importantly let’s propel these students into the stratosphere so they can pursue their dreams and be everything they want to be.

http://www.hopalong.com/home.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Boyd_(actor)

http://www.joelkotkin.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Kotkin

http://www.joelkotkin.com/content/004-biography

http://www.joincalifornia.com/candidate/5796

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