Tag Archive: Dan Rather


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?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/07/13/daily-202-trump-is-the-disrupter-in-chief-in-an-age-of-disruption/5966a386e9b69b7071abcb23/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_daily202

https://www.wsj.com/articles/amid-turmoil-fox-news-holds-on-to-no-1-spot-as-msnbc-surges-1499601601

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31152849

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/anchors-bring-new-era-network-stability-article-1.1922051

http://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/

 

 

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“The man who reads nothing is more educated than the one who reads nothing but newspapers.” – Thomas Jefferson

“A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself.” – Joseph Pulitzer

Has there ever been a time in recorded history when past-and-present reporters have been so incensed?

Has there ever been a time in recorded history when past-and-present reporters have been so happy?

trumpenemy1

 

 

Donald Trump is good to the last drop, and reporters, editors and correspondents love it.

In the parlance of journalism, Trump is “great copy,” maybe the best story of all time.

Just like catnip, the media can’t stay away. They can’t help themselves. They not-so-secretly want to bring down Trump, and they want to bring him down hard. He in turn has declared war on the “failing” New York Times and the “Clinton News Network” (CNN) and several others.

Some First Amendment types have brought up the names of the worst despots (i.e., Stalin, Mao, Mussolini …) in global history, stating that totalitarian regimes start this way. These critics completely omit the inconvenient fact that dictators dominate their media and use it for their own propaganda.

Trump may be trying to control the media through Twitter and other means, but he can’t … and he is crafty enough to know that. When his tenure comes to an end, the media will have the last word.

An Adversary By Any Other Name Is Still An Adversary

As a press secretary for a Republican governor (e.g., George Deukmejian) in a blue state (e.g., California) during a time when it was “Morning in America” (e.g., The 1980s), the author of Almost DailyBrett confronted two adversaries on a daily basis: The Democrats in the state Legislature, and the political press corps.

Were these two adversaries officially aligned, and did they coordinate their opposition to our administration? The answer of course was for the most part, negative.

Democratic press secretaries really only have to be concerned with one adversary: Republicans. The media largely serve as their unofficial allies.

enemiesofthepeople

Keep in mind, the vast majority of reporters, editors and correspondents take a vow of poverty to work in the Fourth Estate. As a result, they are distrustful of those who espouse buy low, sell high. The media for the most part concur with those who see raising taxes and manna from the government as the solution to every societal problem.

Is it a stretch to suggest the media (i.e., NYT, WAPO, NBC News, CNN …) are an extension of the Democratic Party? Yes, but not that much of a stretch. Republicans instinctively look at the masthead or the source of any poll or assertion, and immediately discount it, if it hails from predictable liberal media.

Think of it this way, good-and-dependable government is contrary to the economic interests of the media. If government works and is grounded in a steady philosophy (e.g., Deukmejian years), the media is bored and restless … a bored media is a dangerous media.

Consider this question: If 999 planes land safely at DFW Airport and one crashes, which one gets the attention of the newsies? The media feed off crisis, chaos and dysfunction. Whatever you admit, acknowledge or concede will be printed or broadcasted 99 percent of the time … or does Almost DailyBrett understate the case?

And what has Trump given the media? A steady stream of chaos and controversy, which leads to “great copy” and “good dirt.” Let’s ask here and now: Are the media’s best interests consistent with the nation’s well-being? Does the media relish reporting about that one plane, which falls out of the sky, allowing them to cover it and generate good copy?

trumpenemy

If the answer is “yes,” does that make the media a friend, an adversary … or worse?

The great-and-late New York Times pundit, William Safire, ghostwrote these words about the media for largely inarticulate and disgraced former Vice President Spiro Agnew: “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.”

Is it good politics for Trump to take on the media, especially before red meat audiences such as the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC)?

According to Gallup in 2016, only 32 percent have a great deal/fair amount of confidence in the media, a decrease of 8 percent from 2015 and down 40 percent from the post Woodward & Bernstein era in 1976. Yikes! Guess that means that nearly 70 percent of Americans have a poor or no opinion about the media.

The media relishes pointing out Trump’s approval rating of only 44.4 percent (e.g., Real Clear Politics polling average), but even the unpopular president is running 12 percent ahead of the post-Dan Rather-era elite media. Both Trump and especially, the media, need better public relations.

Trump has many sins to atone for, but he is neither the first White House resident to complain and disdain the media nor will he be the last.

One rule he certainly has violated was summed up beautifully in the 19th Century:

“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” – Mark Twain

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/426038.Joseph_Pulitzer

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/02/17/trump-calls-the-media-the-enemy-of-the-american-people/?utm_term=.8431a8b1b181

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/21/the-lefts-hypocrisy-on-trumps-enemy-of-the-american-people-comment/

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marktwain135280.html

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Nabobs_natter_about_the_passing_of_William_Safire_1929-2009.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/admit-acknowledge-or-concede/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/195542/americans-trust-mass-media-sinks-new-low.aspx

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html

 

“We got the bubble headed bleached blonde;  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

Big Government is broken.

The same is true with Big Media.bigmedia

The decline of legacy media – newspapers, magazines, television and radio – has been well documented.

The corresponding rise of digital native media – social media, blogs, news aggregators – has also been covered to death, including by Almost DailyBrett.

What is gaining increased traction is the loss of trust in Big Media – major newspaper mastheads (i.e., New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal), Big Three networks, cable news – as evidenced by the latest Gallup survey of 1,025 results, hailing from all 50 states with a 95 percent confidence level with a scientifically valid margin-of-error of plus or minus 4 percent.

The Gallup results are stunning: Only four-out-of-every 10 Americans have a great deal or fair trust and confidence in the media to report the news fully, fairly and accurately. Translated six-out-of-every 10 Americans have expressed a vote of no-confidence in the media.

In 1998 just 17 years ago, 55 percent had a great-to-fair confidence in the media. Today that number is down to 40 percent … well outside of the margin of error. Yes, the decline is precipitous and real.

Among younger Americans (18-49), the trust and confidence level in media is only 36 percent. There also exists a major gap between Democrats, whose trust fell to a 14-year low of 54 percent. Only 32 percent of Republicans express great-to-fair confidence in Big Media.

Gallup pointed to the former NBC anchor Brian Williams caper in which the celebrated anchor embellished on his experiences including being hit while covering the Iraq invasion in 2003 as the canary in the mine as it applies to the media’s loss of confidence.williamssorrydude

Not mentioned by Gallup was the totally fabricated and subsequently retracted “A Rape on Campus” by Rolling Stone.

The Gallup results effectively validate the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, which reported a continued decline in trust in media from 53 percent in 2014 to 51 percent in 2015. The eye-raising result was how 72 percent of Millennials gravitate first and foremost to search engines for breaking news and information.

And you wonder why Time Magazine is suffering from anorexia? And what happened to Newsweek, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News? Which traditional media outlet will be the next to bite the dust?

The media, which celebrates throwing digital, broadcast and printed rocks at the high and mighty, is under assault. What is the answer?

Maybe Big Media needs help from the “Dark Side”? Yes, Big Media needs better public relations … pronto.

An Adversary In Need of An Adversary?

Reporters leaving the profession to enter the growing ranks of public relations pros (flacks if you prefer) have quickly been labeled as joining the “dark side.” The premise is one is saying goodbye to objectivity and selling her or his soul to become an advocate. This transition was a career defining choice for the author of Almost DailyBrett.

Despite the animosity, media needs public relations pros for news and information. In turn, the PR pros need media – whether it be legacy or digital native – to get out their messages to stakeholders. In effect, they are friendly adversaries.

Now it seems that Big Media needs PR counsel … yes from those very same flacks and spin doctors newspapers, broadcast, news aggregators, bloggers etc. so despise.

Quite simply, Big Media has an unprecedented crisis of public confidence. Big Media relishes in setting the agenda for how we are supposed to think and what we are supposed to think about. Doesn’t this assumption of this precious responsibility strike you as being a tad … arrogant?

And what about the notion of media elites and how they are there for you … always for you? Brian Williams was on the front lines … even when he wasn’t. Dan Rather wore traditional Afghani robes and became Gunga Dan. He was also part of the celebrated caper involving forged documents, exposed by bloggers, purporting that President George W. Bush received favorable National Guard treatment in 1972. Both Brian and Dan permanently lost their anchors chairs at NBC and CBS respectively.cbs2

There is also the issue of the media elites learning to the left with the notable exceptions of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. They piously declare the obvious is not true, even though the massive evidence points the other way. Do you really think it was a wise idea to donate $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation fair-and-balanced George Stephanopoulos of ABC News? And let’s not forget the $600,000 per year paid by NBC News to Chelsea Clinton for four reports.

Let’s face it: It will be a long-and-hard fight for Big Media to restore the trust and confidence of the American people.

Maybe the answer lies with the word, objectivity. How about a systematic effort backed by actual level-playing-field reporting – not just sanctimonious pronouncements of being fair and balanced – that begins the multi-year effort to prove that Big Media gets it when it comes to its obvious perception problems? The Economist continues to thrive namely because it is intelligent and equally offends those on both the left and right.

Most of all how about a little humility? Do you think that is possible, particularly those that occupy the Big Anchor positions in God’s Time Zone (e.g., EDT)?

Naaahhhhh!!!!

http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/30/media/media-trust-americans/index.html

http://www.gallup.com/poll/185927/americans-trust-media-remains-historical-low.aspx

http://www.scribd.com/doc/252750985/2015-Edelman-Trust-Barometer-Executive-Summary

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/75000-in-charitable-donations-or-massive-conflict-of-interest/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/chelseas-nbc-600k-tv-gig-and-aspiring-journalists/

 

 

 

“In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl.” – Mark Twain in his 1880 essay, The Awful German Languagegermanbeauty

What do you call someone, who speaks three languages? Trilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks two languages? Bilingual.

What do you call someone, who speaks one language? An American.

Not my favorite guy, but the last of the three rhetorical questions posed by deposed CBS anchor Dan Rather to the National Governor’s Association meeting in Chicago hit me right between the eyes.

The year was 1989. It was das Jahr die Mauer fällt. That was also the year the author of Almost DailyBrett made a resolution to learn another language, German. Die deutsche Sprache was one of the hottest languages in the world as the Berlin Wall came down and the soon to be reunified Germany started to project “soft power.” German was once again in vogue.

Certainly when it comes to romance, German with its guttural sounds (see Schmetterling above) will never qualify. The closest word in this category may be Gemütlichkeit, which conveys a sense of coziness, a warm fire, an Alpine meadow, a beautiful hike in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald).

I’m Happy That You’re So Sad

There is also Schadenfreude, which roughly translates, “I’m happy that you’re so sad.” Keep in mind that Schadenfreude is also one of the German language’s many compound nouns, making it virtually impossible to play Scrabble in German. How about Arbeitslosigkeitsunterstützung or unemployment insurance?

With a language as tortured as German in which all nouns must be capitalized, is it any surprise there is really no German word for public relations? The closest translation is Öffentlichkeitsarbeit or work with or in the public sphere. If you desire an even longer German compound noun, how about the word for Germany’s public relations miracle from 1945 to present day: Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder?

German is far from the hardest language on the planet to learn (i.e., Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese or even Hungarian), but it is certainly not the easiest. Der, die, das, die (nominative case); den, die, das, die (accusative); dem, der, dem, den (dative) and des, der, des, der (accusative) are all the ways Germans say the word, “the,” depending where and how “the” falls in any sentence.

In English, the word,“the” is “the.” Simple.

And let’s not forget irregular and separable verbs in which a prefix gets thrown to the conclusion of the sentence and with or without the prefix at the end, it changes the meaning of the sentence. For example, rufen means to call and anrufen means to call by telephone … rufen is conjugated, and an is placed at the end of the sentence.

Do you really want to make that phone call?

To get on the Autobahn with no speed limit in long stretches, you follow the Einfahrt, and to exit you follow the Ausfahrt. That’s a lot of Fahrting for one ride on the Autobahn (compound noun).ausfahrt

Similar to Spanish and French (and presumably many other languages), German articles (der, die, das) must be correctly placed before the corresponding masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.

As noted above, clever Mark Twain pointed out German is the only language on the planet that makes a turnip, feminine, die Rübe, and a young unmarried girl/woman neuter, das Mädchen and das Fraulein. Translated: the actual gender of the noun may not matter in determining the article that precedes it.

There is also the issue associated with the fact that many Germans do not believe you can ever learn their language. Go to Berlin or München and ask a question in (near) perfect High-German and more times than naught, you will receive your answer in English oder Englisch.

The good news: they understood your question. The bad news: they are still convinced you will never learn German.

Why Learn German?

“ … People know that you get further in a country if you speak the local and the official language and not just English. For networking and approaching clients, and partially also for business communication, knowing German gives you an additional advantage.Ulrich Ammon, author of The Status of the German Language in the World

Let’s face it, when it comes to learning German, many will instantly equate the language with charming memories, such as Blitzkrieg, Luftwaffe, Achtung, U-Boots, Messerschmitts, Fokkers and dozens of other militaristic terms that harken back to two world wars and the Holocaust.

That’s why it was all the more surprising to learn that German is being offered to 14-to-15 year-old students in Israeli schools or more than 20,000 Israelis have moved to Berlin, the once capital of the Third Reich.

What has changed, particularly when only 104 million of the earth’s 7 billion-plus inhabitants are native German speakers? One answer is these native speakers equate to the 4th largest economy in terms of GNP and the world’s most proficient export machine.

Germany will be eternally tarnished by memories of the Nazis and the Holocaust, but its leadership in the European Union, its popular and consensus-oriented Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its (soft power) powerful export driven economy has made it a land of opportunity. Partially as a consequence of its postwar guilt and its aging population and declining workforce, Germany has been more than generous in opening its borders to those fleeing from Iraq and Syria, and is expected to accommodate 800,000 refugees by the end of the year.schmetterling

Reportedly, there are 15.5 million present day students of die Deutsche Sprache, up 4 percent in the last five years.

Should you become one of them, you will soon be able to translate: Der kleine schöne Schmetterling hat durch den grünen Wald geflogen.

Yep, that is one beautiful little butterfly that flew through the green forest. Pass the schnapps!

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21663257-once-language-schiller-and-goethe-then-hitler-german-hip-again-sprechen-sie-power

http://www.dw.com/en/why-the-world-should-learn-german-and-why-germany-should-care/a-18236069

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlATOHGj9EY

https://www.cs.utah.edu/~gback/awfgrmlg.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Awful_German_Language

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/latest-3000-migrants-cross-austria-33650547

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21663228-refugees-germanys-chancellor-brave-decisive-and-right-merkel-bold

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/germanys-road-to-redemption-shines-amid-europes-refugee-debate/2015/09/10/00955630-57f0-11e5-8bb1-b488d231bba2_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “All I’m saying is that the idea that there’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else is true.” – Former President William Jefferson Clinton

What is it about that Clintons that draws elite media into their gravitational pull?

Last year, we learned that Brian Williams’ (remember his heroic military exploits?) NBC News provided Chelsea Clinton with a $600,000 annual salary for four news reports. Wonder why Chelsea of all people landed this big-time six-figure job with the left-of-center network?.

This week (no pun intended), we read that ABC’s chief anchor and This Week host George Stephanopoulos made three donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling $75,000, but did not report these contributions to either the brass at ABC News or more importantly to his hundreds of thousands of viewers.clintonstephanopoulos

Why not disclose that you were ostensibly assisting the 501 (c) (3) foundation in championing AIDS prevention and battling deforestation, George? You do care about these subjects, right George? Is the Clinton Foundation the only non-profit addressing these issues? Why not write checks to other NGOs?

PR pros have long urged clients to adopt a policy of radical transparency. They would urge you (George) to be fully transparent in your financial contributions to your former employer, William Jefferson Clinton. Instead George, you took the stealth route until you were indeed caught by news aggregator, POLITICO.

In the aftermath of disclosure by the media, Stephanopoulos issued the de rigueur apology and ABC circled the wagons and defended their guy, but the damage was already done.

Can we now reasonably expect that ABC News will fairly and accurately cover the Clintons, including probable Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, when its chief anchor and former Clinton disciple knowingly hides his contributions to the massive Clinton Foundation?

Keep in mind, the Clinton Foundation is not your grandfather’s 501 (c) (3). It is not even the Carter Center. Instead, it does some good on the surface while deep down it is an avenue for those who need “advice” and cherish “access” to and through the Clinton’s, and make a nice donation to save Haiti as well.

ABC, NBC …

Power corrupts, and absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord John Dahlberg-Acton

Guess that absolute corrupting power applies to the ultimate gatekeepers, big-time media.

Almost DailyBrett questioned the decision of NBC’s brass to hire Chelsea Clinton for the outrageous sum of $600,000 per year, even before the Brian Williams implosion. Chelsea departed NBC prior to her mumsy throwing her proverbial hat into the presidential ring. Still the questions persist: Why Chelsea? Did NBC practice “checkbook journalism”? And once again, can we now reasonably expect that NBC News will fairly and accurately cover the Clintons, and by extension the Clinton Foundation?chelseanbc4

Another question that comes to mind as the presidency is an open seat in the 2016 quadrennial cycle is whether the networks and other left-of-center media can be expected to even be remotely fair and objective in covering the Republicans.

Whattyathink George Stephanopoulos?

Whattyathink Brian Williams?

Whattyathink Dan Rather?

ABC and NBC are not the only sinners in this drama. CBS lost its objectivity virginity when it comes to favoritism of the Clinton’s favorite political party with the infamous 2004 Rathergate and the phony military documents about George W. Bush’s National Guard duty. The documents were exposed as forgeries; Bush was re-elected and a bitter Rather decided to spend more time with his family.

This week, we learned the University of Virginia is suing Rolling Stone magazine for deliberately doctoring a photo of Associate Dean Nicole Eramo to make her appear to be a villain in the now-retracted 2014 “A Rape on Campus” story.rollingstonestory

The sensational account that came after the deliberate attempt to target a wealthy fraternity on a rich campus has been labeled as “impact journalism” by the Washington Post.

One must wonder what other forms of “impact journalism” the media elites have in mind.

Can hardly wait to check out the coming plethora of stories that “objectively” cover the Clintons.

Wonder if there will another standard of reporting for those who dare to disagree with Bill, Hill and Chelsea?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2015/05/14/george-stephanopoulos-donations-to-clinton-foundation-immediate-crisis-for-abc-news/?wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/15/us/politics/george-stephanopoulos-discloses-gifts-to-clinton-foundation.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/05/george-stephanopoulos-discloses-contribution-to-clinton-207120.html?hp=rc1_4

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/philanthropy/24491-the-philanthropic-problem-with-hillary-clinton-s-huge-speaking-fees.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2015/05/13/lawsuit-against-rolling-stone-claims-doctored-photograph-cast-dean-as-villain/?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/lying-to-the-new-york-times/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/chelseas-nbc-600k-tv-gig-and-aspiring-journalists/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/youre-so-vain/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/its-like-deja-vu-all-over-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/impact-journalism/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/lordacton109401.html

http://rove.com/articles/585

 

 

Mumsy always proclaimed: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

As a parent and based upon my own childhood experiences, I know that youngsters with strong points of view often draw negative responses not so much for what they are espousing, but for the obnoxious manner in which they are offering their opinions. The same even applies for those humbly or not-so-humbly applying to become the leader of the free world.

Does this suggest that philosophy doesn’t matter? Is command of details and facts still necessary for leadership? Does this mean that gaffes are irrelevant? The answers are, no, yes and no.

Obama And Romney Square Off In First Presidential Debate In Denver

Philosophical consistency directly applies to satisfying one’s political base and more importantly for enthusiastic GOTV (Get Out the Vote) campaigns. This electoral season is a GOTV year on steroids with very few truly undecided at this late date.

Having command of one’s facts and understanding wonkish details equate to essential gravitas. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin failed this test four years ago, and most likely will never be taken seriously as a legitimate presidential contender.

Staying away from a major blooper, not just a mere malapropos (e.g., “You didn’t build this,” and “Binders full of women”), can be political curtains even for an incumbent president.

Gerald Ford’s nationally televised brain fart in his 1976 debate against Jimmy Carter was most likely fatal to his chances: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.” And given a chance to recant, he doubled down on his stunner: “I don’t believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union.”

Absent not satisfying partisans demanding philosophical fidelity, candidates failing to demonstrate gravitas or uttering embarrassing gaffes, the commanding factor for winning in the courtroom of public opinion comes down to look and feel. How do you present your case, and is the public comfortable with the prospect of watching you night-after-night on television for the next four years?

Consider those who failed when it comes to style points during the past few decades. Are you dispassionate (e.g., Obama in debate #1); do you utter exacerbated sighs (e.g., Gore in 2000) do you mockingly laugh at your opponent (e.g., Biden in this year’s VP debate) or do you have Lazy Shave dripping off your face (e.g., Nixon in 1960).  Sighs matter.

Writing how the debates really matter this year, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote: “…In the days afterward … Mr. Biden seemed to slip, because the national conversation didn’t move off his antics—the chuckles, the grimaces, the theatrical strangeness of it all. A draw, or a victory, began to seem like a loss.”

Conversely, a presidential John F. Kennedy displayed youthful vigor, a plan for the future in his critical debate against a more experienced Richard Nixon. Presence and poise mattered. Twenty years later, there were legitimate concerns about Ronald Reagan’s intelligence and whether he could be trusted with his finger on the nuclear trigger. In his one-and-only debate against President Jimmy Carter (“There you go again…”) he answered these doubts and issued an indictment against a weak incumbent, rhetorically asking whether the majority of the public was better off than it was four years earlier.

Heading into tomorrow’s night’s final debate on foreign policy, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are locked in a statistical (e.g., Real Clear Politics) tie. The partisans have fully bought into their champions. Barring an off-night, a line for the ages or a major gaffe, tomorrow’s nights debate really boils down to temperament and presentation. Yes, the outcome revolves around not so much to what is said, but how it is said.

And the split screen can mean as much, if not more, than the primary screen. The camera is everywhere and as Dan Rather once said, “The camera never blinks.” How does a candidate visibly react to less-than-pleasant (and often inaccurate) commentary about his positions, policies and programs? Is the candidate confident in the face of withering criticisms or arrogant, pouting, smirking and/or condescending?

Likeability matters.

The same applies to any job seeker in these difficult times. Can you accept criticism? Do you display confidence as opposed to cockiness? Are you bringing your “A” game? Are you fully prepared? Do you really want to be on the stage? Are you the consummate team player?

The last question pertains to “fit.” In an economy with 23 million unemployed, underemployed or simply giving up the hunt for a job, personal intangibles can be the difference between being hired or being the first runner-up (first loser). It can be the decider between promotion or demotion. Or it can be the difference between being employed or let go.

And how you deport yourself, particularly in an advocacy role? It’s okay to be offensive, just as long as you are not “offensive.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444734804578065023315500416.html

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/28/opinion/brazile-debates-overrated/index.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html

When has it been a bad day?

When your secretary calls and tells you that Mike Wallace and the “60 Minutes” crew are waiting in the lobby.

mikewallace

In my case, Mike Wallace was on the phone.

I was the press secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian in the late 1980s. The State of California had a well documented problem with its Victims of Violent Crime Program, administered by the state Department of General Services.

The idea behind the program was simple enough. After the courts came down with guilty verdicts, the perpetrators of violent crimes (i.e., rape, assault, robbery at gunpoint) were compelled forfeit assets to help pay restitution to their victims. The only problem was that these assets were getting tied up in miles of red tape for more than a year, adding to the anguish of those suffering the aftermath of these horrific crimes.

The embarrassing nature of this underperforming program was fodder for our political opponents, who openly questioned how a law-and-order Republican administration headed by the former Attorney General could have a Victims of Violent Crime program that simply wasn’t working. The controversy became the subject of statewide headlines.

Fortunately, the state Department of General Services under increased oversight of the Office of the Governor quickly reduced the case backlog and the average time period for payment to crime victims dropped from one year to six months. Further steps were being taken to reduce the waiting time to only 90 days. The criticism eventually started to subside as reporters moved on to other “good dirt” stories.

One of the justifiable criticisms of CBS’ “60 Minutes” news magazine is that it typically jumps into stories too late. The Victims of Violent Crime Story had already turned the corner, righted the ship…or whatever metaphor applies.

That is when Mr. Wallace gave me a call. I was listening to that famous voice that I heard since I was a teenager. I can still hear that resonance in my sleep. Mike Wallace was demanding an interview with the governor. I was thinking, “No way Miguel,” but my voice was telling Wallace that I will work on it. I even asked about his time schedule for the interview. I was so helpful.

The 60 Minutes interview was unavoidable. If you do not cooperate, the network will simply set up an ambush interview and my boss would be the target. We offered General Services director Tony Anthony to face the music. Wallace and his team accepted Tony for the interview.

It was my job to conduct preparatory “hot box” mock interviews with Tony to prepare him for Mike Wallace. The first thing I did was apologize to Tony. My technique was borrowed from then-Indiana head basketball coach Robert Montgomery Knight: Make practice so horrible, the game was relatively easy in comparison.

I played the role of Mike Wallace. Tony played Tony. Our strategy was simple. The Victims of Violent Crime Program is not what we wanted it to be. Yes, you are right Mr. Wallace. We are upset with the program’s performance, and we have already brought the backlog down to six months…but that isn’t good enough. We need to do more. And this is what we are doing. We will not be satisfied until we bring the backlog to a reasonable 90 days from application to delivery of restitution funds.

wallace

The modus operandi of Mike Wallace was to start a fight on camera. Our response was to avoid the punches, agree on camera and shift the focus to the future. The strategy worked. The “60 Minutes” piece included predictable interviews with victims of violent crime, who were justifiably frustrated and disappointed with the state’s administration of the program. We agreed with them, and state ex-cathedra that we were already seeing results to make this program better.

The Mike Wallace story ran. Tony did well in his unenviable task of facing Mike Wallace and the “60 Minutes” cameras. It really helped that Tony was a good guy and came across that way on camera. The damage could have been worse. We cooperated. We prepared through “hot box” mock interviews. We had a message. We had a plan. We delivered that message.

Upon Mike Wallace’s passing last night, one can safely conclude that he is a CBS legend in the same arena with Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid. Alas, I cannot say the same for Dan Rather(gate).

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57411010/60-minutes-icon-mike-wallace-dies-at-93/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/mike-wallace-dies-veteran-journalist-and-former-60-minutes-interviewer-was-93/2012/04/08/gIQAwzIu3S_story.html

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/edward-r-murrow/this-reporter/513/

http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=sevareideri

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18563_162-5170556.html

Johannes Gutenberg got into a fight with Gordon Moore … and lost.

Considering that the lifetimes of these two innovators, visionaries, inventors are separated by more than five centuries, Gutenberg’s loss is obviously figurative — but a defeat nonetheless.

gutenberg

As anyone even remotely familiar with the history of Journalism knows, Gutenberg is regarded as the first European to use moveable type in 1439 and is credited with the invention of the printing press. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg

Conversely, Moore, one of the founders of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), is universally hailed in the technology world for “Moore’s Law.” In its simplest form, Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors that can be placed a piece of silicon real estate doubles every 18 months. This “law” has been 100 percent accurate since its inception in 1965 and in some respects has been even conservative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Moore

Why are these two luminaries from completely different backgrounds and eras joined at the hip when it comes to a discussion of Journalism? The answer is that Gutenberg represents Journalism’s past and Moore, the industry’s future.

Gutenberg’s printing press led to dawn of modern Journalism and even the anachronistic labeling of the profession, known simply (and most likely, always) as “The Press.” Over time, printing presses enveloped the world, morning and evening papers were produced, delivered to doorsteps by an army of news carriers in dilapidated cars, Sting Ray bicycles or sold at downtown newsstands.

This high-cost (in many cases monopolistic) business model worked for decades and led to the development of some of the most famous mastheads on the planet. Even the Gray Lady each day offers, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

What happens when the day inevitably arrives that all the news (or at least the lion’s share) is no longer printed? That’s where Moore’s Law enters the equation.

moore

Moore’s Law essentially says that complexity and functionality increases every year-and-one-half. The tyranny and the serendipity of his theory is that each succeeding generation of devices — let alone breakthrough applications — are better, faster, smaller and consume less power.

As a result, the mainframe computer spelled the end to the IBM Selectric with its novel correcting tape. Mini-computers retired the mainframe. PCs and servers vanquished mini-computers. And the PCs started talking to each via millions of miles of fibre-optic networks or even wirelessly. And now Internet content (e.g. news, information, voice, data, video) is being delivered to tablets, cell phones and digital readers. What is the next Killer App? It’s out there.

Clay Shirky, 46, who teaches New Media at NYU, in his Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable takes issue with the kickers and screamers, trying desperately to cling onto a traditional newspaper business model that no-longer works. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Shirky

“Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know, ‘If the old model is broken, what will work its place?’ To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the Internet just broke.”

Essentially Shirky is saying that those who are refusing to confront the digital facts of life are, “demanding to be lied to. There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.”

If you apply Shirky’s commentary to those still clinging to the tried-and-true print journalism business model, you would say they are have already passed denial and are situated somewhere between anger and bargaining with depression and acceptance still to come. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_K%C3%BCbler-Ross

Some of the bargainers will even point to Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion purchase of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones news service in 2007 as an example that validates that the old business model lives on. Looking more closely, even this acquisition confirms that digital ones and zeroes are changing Journalism forever. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Murdoch

murdoch

Murdoch bought the globe’s largest newspaper, the industry’s most valued brand and with it, a record 1-million-plus paid Internet subscribers. He also acquired the publication most closely connected with the 95 million Americans constituting the “Investor Class” (and millions more international investors). The impressive growth in day traders and retail investors largely resulted from the invention of the Internet, the availability of online digital investing tools and the dot.com euphoria. Murdoch bought a brand. He bought an Internet savvy audience. And he tapped into the Investor class. He did not buy a printing press and an antiquated business model.

“Society doesn’t need newspapers,” Shirky concluded. “What we need is Journalism…When we shift our attention from ‘save newspapers’ to ‘save society,’ the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.” And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.”

So what works today? If you look at Journalism through a supply-and-demand prism, you can safely conclude that the demand for fair, complete and objective information is there and quite possibly has never been greater. The question comes down on one of supply; exactly how will this supply be provided to the public?

One answer comes in the form of 24-7-365 news networks, such as CNN, Fox News, BBC and others that can instantaneously cover any flash point in the world.  There is no such thing as the first edition “going to bed at 11 pm.” Another related response comes in the form of specialized around-the-clock broadcast networks, such as CNBC for global financial news, ESPN for sports, E for the Entertainment business, VH1 for music and the list is almost endless.

Some contended that the golden age of radio ended with the proliferation of television in the 1950s and 1960s. Whatever happened to these social critics? Radio is enjoying a renaissance, particularly when you consider that sociological impact of longer commute patterns and the almost kinship between motorists/public transportation riders and their “drive-time” companions.

The Internet has served as the backdrop for a growing array of bloggers, some of them written by very serious journalists weighing-in conclusively on politics, government, business, sports, entertainment and the environment. Their names are famous within their appointed disciplines such as the Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, RedState, The TMZ, Gizmodo, RealClearPolitics, TechCrunch and the Silicon Valley Watcher.

Social media is still in its infancy as LinkedIn debuted in 2003, Facebook, 2004 and Twitter, 2006. Imitators or pioneers with brand new approaches and business plans will inevitably follow. The net result is that the average citizen has an unprecedented ability to self publish. If you don’t believe this contention, then just ask Dan Rather who “retired” as a result of bloggers and the 2004 Rathergate controversy.

The future of Journalism does not just rely on machines that are either plugged into a wall or are battery-powered handheld devices, albeit the trend toward receiving our content electronically – radio, television, PC, hand-held – grows with every passing day.

Satisfying the insatiable and growing public demand for news and information lies with professionals who in the words of another NYU Professor, Jay Rosen, have the authority to say, “I’m there, you’re not, let me tell you about it.”

The “I’m there” reporter can be stationed next to the flood-lit portico at the White House, against the backdrop of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, at centre court at Wimbledon or an average citizen holding a video camera as a BART officer is shooting Oscar Grant on New Year’s night at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California.Train Station Shooting

As a result of the effects of Moore’s Law, and not Gutenberg’s printing press, we can all be there. Potentially we can all tell the story. Knowledge is power, and we need this power to go about our daily lives and to be better informed and more productive citizens.

Regardless of the business model, the principles outlined by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in “Elements of Journalism” still apply. The public needs and expects reports that are dependable, verifiable, measurable and transparent. “Journalism is story telling with a purpose.”

Whether that purposeful story is told via an outdated printing press or via social media is really irrelevant, except to those desperately clinging to the old way of doing business. What is more important is fulfilling the public’s need for accurate information, being there and transmitting the news…most likely by means of 21st Century innovation and a new business model.

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