Tag Archive: Communication and Society

“It (Trump acquittal celebration) was dark because he’s made clear that his mind is dark. This is somebody in deep psychological distress right now. Self-pitying, insecure, angry. He doesn’t accept abstract concepts like right or wrong, like morality or immorality, like true or false. He recognizes what is good for him in the moment.” — New CNN White House correspondent John Harwood

Right or wrong? Morality or immorality? True or false? Does this dispassionate interpretation say more about Donald Trump or John Harwood?

To his credit, Harwood earned his bachelor’s degree in history and economics from a good school, Duke University. Alas, he did not earn a bachelor’s or better yet … an advanced degree in psychology (e.g., study of mind and behavior) or psychiatry (e.g., study of the treatment of mental illness).

With that undeniable information in mind, Almost DailyBrett must ask: On what basis is Harwood able to appear on elite national television and “diagnose” the president as being “in deep psychological distress?”

The day after President Trump’s oh-so-predictable-for-months easy acquittal by the U.S. Senate, POTUS #45 was last seen happily displaying the front page of the Washington Post, conjuring images of Harry Truman holding up the 1948 Chicago Tribune headline: “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

No reporter, editor, anchor, correspondent ever questioned Truman’s psychological fitness, so why is it open season on the present incumbent?

“I have asked this question a number of times in (the media) describing the president’s state of mind, he’s angry, he’s unhinged and all of these negative attributes, prescribed by the arm-chair psychologists in the media.” — Long-time media analyst for the Washington Post, CNN and Fox News Howard Kurtz

As far as Almost DailyBrett knows, the only elite media commentator with any academic credentials to credibly analyze a public figure’s state of mind is the late Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer. He earned his M.D. in Psychiatry from Harvard University in 1975.

“Trump is right. It (elite liberal media) 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 as news.” — Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

And they are self-anointed psychological and psychiatric analysts as well.

Never Took A Psychology Class In College

Almost DailyBrett holds two academic degrees, a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting journalism from the University of Southern California in 1978, and a master’s degree in communication and society from the University of Oregon in 2012.

Your author went on to become a political reporter, a gubernatorial press secretary, a semiconductor industry communicator and a university professor in public relations, corporate communications and investor relations. Having said all of that, there was never even one class in psychology or psychiatry, much less a degree in either subject.

Unlike Charles Krauthammer, we know Harwood does not have a degree in either of these subjects along with certainly dozens and dozens of elite media practitioners.

If that is indeed the case, why do they believe they are qualified to publicly diagnose — without violating the medical privacy HIPAA — psychological impairment of a certain offending politician?

And with this precedent established will they (reporters, correspondents) make similar mental fitness conclusions for others in the future, who are not part of the their political party?

Could this practice be based upon simple unbridled arrogance as well?

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly analyzed the empirically demonstrated loss of public esteem for the elite media during the course of the last four decades-plus as demonstrated by the Gallup Organization.

Are elite media adding to the political division in our country?

With only 41 percent nationally approving of their performance (less than Trump’s approval rating), including only 36 percent of independents and 15 percent of Republicans, the answer is obvious.

And when a White House “correspondent” and other elites goes way beyond their pay grades and training to question the sanity of a “vulgar” and “vindictive” president, is there any wonder why the esteem of the media has taken such a nose dive in our center right country (e.g., median voter)?

You don’t need an advanced degree in psychology or psychiatry to understand why.







Oregon will never be confused with Tuscany.

In Tuscany, thousands wait in line for hours to check out Michelangelo’s “David.”

In contrast, somebody in Oregon is named, “David.”

In Tuscany, one can queue-up for hours to admire Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” standing in her perfect sea shell.

In Oregon, one can find sea shells at the coast, not sure about Venus.

Frances Mayes’ book, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and the movie with the same title tells the story of an American (e.g., actress Diane Lane) in search of a life change, and a little love too.

She made a totally impractical, impulsive decision. Seemingly on a whim, she bought a classic “fixer-upper” in Cortona, Tuscany and lived to talk about it. The book’s story and the heroine, who took the ultimate plunge, set off a series of similar decisions as literally hundreds of upper class Americans rushed to Central Italy to buy their own Italian villa in the sun.

Reportedly, some even asked the locals for the Italian word for “cappuccino.”

The author of Almost DailyBrett eventually made the trek to Tuscany with his new bride, Jeanne, to celebrate our honeymoon. We stayed in a 12th Century Italian villa on a bluff overlooking Il Duomo de Firenze, but we resisted the temptation to buy the Torre di Bellosguardo.

That does not mean your author is innocent when it comes to rash, impulsive decisions. In 2010, I came to Oregon at 55-years-young in search of a master’s degree, Oregon football games in the fall, and maybe a little love too.

The impulsive part comes into play when one asks: Why would a middle-age widower (being kind here) decide to buy a three-bedroom, two-bath 2,000-square-foot “tree” house for himself and his American shorthair feline, Percy?

Wouldn’t renting make more sense, particularly when one contemplates widespread academic prejudice: my chances of landing a teaching job at University of Oregon after graduation would be next to none? Renting easily made more sense, except for the George Carlin “stuff” factor.

Carlin’s comedic monologue about the never-ending acquisition of “stuff” (i.e., beds, dressers, chairs, tables, washer/dryer, fridge …) results in a predictable crisis. Can the author of Almost DailyBrett downsize from a 2,200-square-foot Monopoly (ranch-style) house in Northern California to a 1,000-square-foot apartment, and still find sufficient space for his stuff?

Let me interject right now: your author does not do orange metal doors surrounded by Berlin Bunker concrete (e.g., storage units = unintelligent loss of legal tender).

So what did all of the above make me? A displaced Californian with equity to transfer, looking for a tree house to display his stuff, and live and study as well … Under the Oregon Clouds.

Spider and The Fly

On more than one occasion, it has been questioned why would a single-at-the-time, follicly challenged mature dude acquire a 2,000-square foot house with a deck, hot tub and occasionally serving prosciutto and melon with Sangiovese? Was my Eugene house the human equivalent of a spider’s web, looking for “some little girl to fly on by” as suggested by Mick Jagger in The Spider and The Fly?

Almost DailyBrett will piously declare the primary purpose for the turn-key Eugene house with next to zero backyard maintenance was to serve as a place to study, research and finish a master’s degree in Communication and Society. The next steps were finding a full-time teaching gig. The wonderful new wife came later, even though my eyes were always surveying the horizon for both.

The aforementioned Jeanne became Mrs. Brett on her own recognizance, and yours truly was offered a doctoral fellowship to Arizona State University and a tenure track professorship at Central Washington University, taking the latter position.

What that on-the-one-hand and on-the-other-hand decision meant was transporting my new bride, two alley cats and our  “stuff” to a townhouse in Ellensburg, Washington and renting out the house Under the Oregon Clouds. That plan worked for two years until the renters (e.g., Stefanie and George) decided to move.

Considering that our move back to Eugene was not coming anytime soon, we made the decision to sell the house Under the Oregon Clouds. Think of it this way, a house is bricks and mortar or some variation of that theme. We can always buy another house, another day maybe with sun above. Right?

And yet, the house did not sell as the rain fell during the winter. The house Under the Oregon Clouds is quirky (e.g., it has character). It has three flights of stairs, a car-port instead of a garage (for your stuff). Das Haus ist nicht für Alles.

It did not sell. We couldn’t be happier.

Someday, we will once again visit the 12th Century Firenze villa Under the Tuscan Sun.

More importantly, we will surely move back to that special tree house Under the Oregon Clouds.





The omnipotent NCAA is being dragged through the legal muck, kicking and screaming …

The mental image of former University of Washington president/now NCAA chief Mark Emmert wiping mud off his lapel brings a wide smile to the author of Almost DailyBrett.



The time has finally come for the NCAA and/or the Big Five Conferences to wake up and smell the espresso.

Student-athletes are soon going to be paid, totally and completely ending the romantic, but unrealistic notion they are dedicated amateurs only playing football, basketball, baseball, track, Parcheesi etc. for the love of the game and the greater good and glory of their respective university.

Those days are over.

Questions remain: How are athletes going to be paid, and what about Title IX?

The NCAA is Appealing (e.g., buying time)

Earlier this month, federal Judge Claudia Wilken found the NCAA was colluding to restrain trade. Predictably, the NCAA billable-hour attorneys are appealing. Good luck.

The NCAA also recently granted special autonomy to 62 schools, who comprise the Big Five conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC), setting in motion conceivably a more powerful successor to the NCAA. It will be a sad day when judge, jury and executioner NCAA is finally laid to rest (okay, not really).

The real issue is the NFL and NBA exploits the colleges as their no-cost to them, minor leagues (e.g. no Durham Bulls, no Toledo Mud Hens). The NFL draws more than $8 billion in total revenue, and pays its players nearly $4 billion. The NBA attracts more than $4 billion and distributes half of that amount to its players. The universities of the NCAA generate $10 billion in revenue (donations, tickets, merchandise etc.) and provide tuition, room and board to its players.

That’s all folks.

The argument is the players (e.g., football in particular) are risking injury and schools are selling their likenesses in video games and jerseys, so why shouldn’t they have a cut of the action?emmert3

The purists, who are trying to stem the inevitable tide, claim that these athletes are receiving a free-college education and that means something when you factor in the cost of college, particularly private schools (e.g., Stanford, USC). Almost DailyBrett must ask the question: Why is it appropriate to provide scholarships and stipends for noted academic types and not athletic contributors?

Fully Paid Out-of-State Tuition/Stipend

Four years ago this week, a moving van arrived on my street in Eugene, Oregon.

Yours truly was being offered a fellowship by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Translated: UO was waiving out-of-state tuition, providing family health care and paying a monthly stipend for little ole me to pursue my master’s degree in Communication and Society. In return, I served as a teaching assistant for five quarters.

Now let’s ask the question: Why can’t student-athletes, who provide services to the university above-and-beyond regular students, be offered stipends?

The Economist suggested increasing financial aid to cover the full cost of attendance for student-athletes; guaranteeing scholarships for as long as players need to graduate (e.g., six years is reasonable); paying for all sports-related medical expenses; and letting athletes sign their own marketing deals.


Serving as a student manager for the University of Oregon and University of Southern California, I know first-hand that football teams are paramilitary organizations. Allowing the best players to sign their own marketing deals (e.g., stud quarterbacks, running backs, wideouts) would end up creating cliques and would divide teams between the haves (skill positions) and have-nots (linemen).

The more equitable solution would be to follow the suggestions outlined by the stately Economist  (e.g., cover full costs, guaranteed scholarships, paying for medical expenses) and the equivalent of academic stipends for all student-athletes, hailing from the major genders (e.g., satisfying Title IX).

The University of Oregon announced last week that it was picking up the costs of insurance premiums for the families of four football players, who chose to stay in school and postponed NFL paydays. The risk of injury is the same in both the college and pro games.

The payment of insurance premiums is just a start to compensation of athletes.

If teaching assistants on fellowships are making extraordinary contributions to a given university, there are logical reasons to offer the same to student-athletes for their role in expanding the brand and encouraging the best and the brightest to attend great universities.









Gladys Kravitz: “Why would anyone wanna bang against a wall?”

Abner Kravitz: “Simple. It feels so good when you stop.”

Can’t tell you how many times I have heard that particular exchange, especially on the rubber-chicken circuit. Was really surprised to learn that the line originated from the 1960s sitcom “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York being repeatedly snooped upon by nosy Gladys and her husband, Abner, played by Alice Pearce and George Tobias respectively. http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0025460/quotes

My purpose here is to not once again reveal my age (the program ran on ABC from 1964-1972) or to take a walk down memory lane, but to touch upon my recent connection with a four-letter “F”-word, one that has an “a” for the first vowel and rhymes with amber ale. Let’s face it, when it came to finding a follow-up job when my P&L (profit and loss statement) collapsed at Edelman Public Relations, well I F’d…Yep, I F’d big time.

The fact that many others were in the same boat (pardon the tired cliché) really doesn’t make it any better. Misery may love company, but you were still miserable…To top it off, you make those around you miserable as well.

I was literally pounding my head against the wall and quite frankly it didn’t feel very good. In one case, I interviewed with a company 17 times only to receive in the end a terse two-line, kiss-off e-mail from a staffer in the HR Department. What’s ironic is that this company, which will go nameless, was chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 10 places to work. Really? http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2010/

Twice I was the first runner-up to the crown only to be humming Burt Parks music in the back of my head as the flash bulbs fluttered for my competition. Can relate to Jennifer Flowers when she uttered, “Close, but no cigar” recounting the difference in her relationship with a former president compared to Monica Lewinsky.

My pursuit was even the subject of a MarketWatch story earlier this year and while the publicity was good, the result was still the same…that is until I stopped banging my head against the same wall. What did Albert Einstein say about the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Instead of continuing my uphill battle in the face of a bleak job market as a white, Anglo male just north of the half-century mark, I made a life changing decision and in doing so, embarked on doing something I wanted to do as opposed to something someone else wanted me to do.

The decision was to sell my Bay Area house in a very difficult real estate market, transfer my equity to a lower-priced region, buy a house outright, drive down my cost structure, commute three miles each way and pursue my master’s degree in “Communication and Society” at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Before I go any further, I realize that not everyone can follow-in-my-footsteps, nor would they necessarily want to. Many have family commitments; spouses with jobs; children in school; no desire to ever see an academic setting ever again; or in many cases their place of residence is under water. This latter scenario is just way too common and incredibly sad.

At the same time, student enrollment at Oregon is at a record high of 23,389 or about 1,000 over last year with a freshmen retention rate of 85 percent. No doubt the unprecedented success of the football team playing in the BCS National Championship Game on January 10 is a factor (everyone loves a winner), but the economy weighs in here in a big way as well.http://uonews.uoregon.edu/archive/news-release/2010/11/university-oregon-has-record-enrollment-strongest-freshmen-retention-st

If the economy has decided to take two or three years off, then maybe we should do the same. Why not use this time to improve ourselves, mentally and physically? Read the best and the brightest. Learn a new language. Get in the best shape of your life. Teach the next generation. Help others. Use some of this absorbed knowledge. Be a better person.

Gee, I hope that I can do that.




the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; sereneness.


(usually initial capital letter ) a title of honor, respect, or reverence, used in speaking of or to certain members of royalty (usually prec. by his, your, etc.).

1400–50; late ME serenite < L serēnitās. See serene, -ity
—Related forms

o·ver·se·ren·i·ty, noun

1. composure, calm, peacefulness, peace.

1. agitation.

At the risk of providing dreaded and universally scorned too much information (TMI), I can say the shock that comes from being diagnosed with prostate cancer really puts life clearly into focus. For me, it set up a huge decision: surgery or radiation. I will spare you the details, other than to say I chose the former and found peace in the fact that I made a conclusive decision. I have never looked back. And best of all, I am living (preferably for quite some time) as a result of my decision.

The same is true with my recent decision to accept a generous and gratifying Graduate Teaching Fellowship offer from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication http://jcomm.uoregon.edu. This fall, I will begin my quest to receive a master’s degree in “Communication and Society” with an eye on the possibility of teaching the next generation of strategic communicators.


There are incredible positives that come with this decision, and yet it was not an easy call. I have been laboring in the PR vineyards for nearly 30 years, in the public sector, with two trade associations (trees and chips…go figure), a publicly traded technology company and an international public relations firm. Continuing down this path either as an employee or serving as my own employer was definitely a consideration, but instead I made a decision to do something completely different.

The fact that I have made the decision has provided me with clarity. I know what I am doing. I know with certainty what is my new goal in life. And I answered this particular question: If I don’t take this step at 55-years-young, when the heck am I going to do it?

Heading north to Oregon, I know there is an excitement that comes from learning and teaching on a major college campus. I also know that I will be 2x the age of the average graduate student. Macht nichts!

One thing is certain: There are no guarantees. Will I be able to parlay an advanced degree and experience as a teacher’s assistant into a teaching position at the university level in two years? Only time will tell. I do know from experience that I enjoy teaching. I have been privileged to most recently serve as a substitute instructor of MBA candidates and undergraduate communications students at Santa Clara University http://www.scu.edu/, teaching both financial communications and integrated marketing.

Now I am devoting the vast majority of my attention to my $700,000+ business, namely upgrading, pricing, marketing and (hopefully) selling my Bay Area house. That is only half of the equation as I have to make a critical buy or rent decision in Eugene. The reason that I even raise this overall subject is that I know through experience that senior communicators can find serenity in this uncertain world through making a decision and living with that decision.

The job market is going to remain tough, but not impossible, for months to come. Greece, Spain, North Korea and who knows, maybe even Albania, will provide even greater impetus for those who want to oversell the market. But do any of these external considerations really make a difference when you know what you want to do and when you want to do it?

Isn’t there an Oregon company http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nike/language_select/ that extols: “Just Do It?” 

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