Tag Archive: First Amendment


Whatever Donald Trump does on any given day, on whatever issue, for whatever reason … he loses.

Win the presidency … Trump loses.

Expand the GOP’s Senate Majority … Trump loses

Respond in kind to the dangerous taunts from Kim Jong Un … Trump loses.

Make nice to Kim Jong Un in Singapore … Trump loses.

Cut a trade deal with China’s Xi Jinping … Trump loses.

Champion a blow-out economy … Trump loses.

Extol the virtues of tax reform … Trump loses.

Raise his approval rating … Trump loses, loses and loses.

Never in recorded history have so many so-called journalists dumped so much detritus on any one president with so much speed and relish.

And with this unprecedented and unlimited exercise of Lose-Lose Journalism, any pretext of real or supposed objectivity (i.e., CNN, NBC, NYT, WaPo) has been relegated to First Amendment history books.

Almost DailyBrett didn’t mention the commentariat at MSNBC because one expects drip-drip way-left-of-center rhetoric from those who pass all the required liberal litmus tests to become a talking polemic on the network.

This humble analysis is not suggesting in the least that other presidents –, particularly Republican chief executives, have been denied a given smidgeon of the benefit of the doubt (i.e., Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43). The level and intensity of today’s scorn – sometimes jumping the line to outright hatred of the president – is unprecedented in its sadness about what was once an admired profession.

Your author has written before about Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Dan Rather), Impact Journalism (Rolling Stone UVA rape story) and Oppositional Journalism (e.g., CNN), but Lose-Lose Journalism is a new phenomenon.

Whatever Trump does or doesn’t do … he is instinctively, instantly and vitriolically regardless of the outcome, judged to be … the loser.

Reminds one of the story of Richard Nixon gathering reporters to San Clemente, and then walking on water.

The New York Times headline the following morning: “Nixon Can’t Swim.”

Becoming Part of the Story

Is there a barely concealed desire by oodles of correspondents and reporters to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, bringing a Republican administration to its knees?

Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Many media psychologists have diagnosed Donald Joseph Trump as a narcissist. Does he bask in the glow of standing behind the podium with the presidential seal? It’s obvious.

What also seems to be undeniable are journalists-turned television personalities, who hog the limelight – one in particular refusing to yield to other reporters — to interrupt and challenge the president … violating the long-held journalistic standard about not becoming part of the story.

Do any media shrinks want to analyze the self-aggrandizing behavior of CNN’s Jim Acosta? Does he crave his own CNN program? Does he even more want to be responsible for bringing down the president? Does he hate the president as has been suggested elsewhere?

More important, does narcissistic Acosta cover the news or is he a vital and integral part of the news? If you want to know how important Jim Acosta is to the survival of our Democracy, maybe you should ask him.

He is now a cause-celebre as his White House media credentials have been pulled. His colleagues – whether they despise him or not – will circle the wagons on his behalf. Listen: You can hear Journalism lectures, equating out-of-control Acosta with the First Amendment.

Sure.

Moving away from the briefing room to the editorial pages, one must ask after scanning all the WaPo pundit headlines since 2015, who is actually reading these screeds?

The answer is the same elitist crowd that always consumes these epistles. Maybe even they are becoming bored with the same, predictable rhetoric?

How many times can Trump be labeled as a racist, misogynist, privileged, homophobic, transphobic … before each and every one of these once-explosive words becomes cliché?

We even heard angry rhetoric this week, suggesting that America is composed of non-racist and racist states. Guess which ones voted Democratic and which basket-of-deplorable states voted Republican?

When the racist, misogynist, homophobic cards are indiscriminately overplayed and overhyped in the media, does each of  every one of these loaded words lose at least a portion of their impact? Maybe we need new and improved pejorative words for our public vocabulary … or maybe not?

Almost DailyBrett is wondering whether lose-lose Journalism is the new norm for the Fourth Estate. Barack Obama feasted in a cavalcade of Win-Win Journalism. Trump is counterpunching daily via Twitter and other devices against Lose-Lose Journalism.

Will President #46 bask in Win-Win Journalism or endure another round of Lose-Lose Journalism.

Guess it depends on who is elected president.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/07/donald-trump-jim-acosta-white-house-news-conference/1920107002/

https://nypost.com/2018/11/07/jim-acosta-violated-one-of-the-oldest-rules-of-journalism/?utm_source=facebook_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site%20buttons&utm_campaign=site%20buttons

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

 

Does “academic freedom” come with accountability?

Does “academic freedom” come with personal responsibility, no matter how contentious the subject?

Does “academic freedom” come with an expectation of kindness, civility and integrity?

Or does “academic freedom” mean an anointed tenured professor has the license to say whatever he or she downright pleases just as long as the speech is judged to be not racist, homophobic or misogynist?

Translated: Outside these boundaries, can a tenured professor utter/write/tweet whatever he or she downright wants to say – no matter how ugly or vile – and then hide behind the First Amendment cloak of “Academic Freedom.”

Time-and-time again, the embarrassed university will fall back on the Mother of All Lame Arguments: (e.g., “the tenured professor is speaking for himself/herself, not the university”).

Sure.

And yet the media headlines will start with “University of Colorado Professor …” or “Fresno State University Professor …” or “Georgetown University Professor …,” not distinguishing the professor’s private screed with the his or her official duties.

And why should they?

This distinction reached the highest level of the absurd this past week when Twitter suspended offending Georgetown University Professor Christine Fair’s social media account, while the oldest Catholic University in the country warmed up for the next-in-a-long-line of university wrist slaps.

Wouldn’t want to get the bowels of tenured faculty unions into an uproar, now would we?

Suggesting that certain white males should die while feminists laugh at their last gasps of air, and how they should subsequently be castrated and fed to swine for some reason doesn’t work for Twitter, but it’s been essentially dismissed by Georgetown.

Almost DailyBrett to Professor Christine: Please don’t contend your vileness has been taken out of context … calling for castration of dead males and feeding their private body parts to pigs … is crystal clear in any plain reading.

“Amazing Racist”?

“Fuck out of here with your nice words.” – Fresno State Professor Randa Jarrar

Last April, immediately upon the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush, Professor Randa Jarrar took to Twitter to proclaim the newly departed as “As a generous and smart and amazing racist.”

She then added her wish for quick deaths for the entire Bush family, which produced two presidents and two governors.

Jarrar taunted those who dared to take issue with her rhetoric, saying she would not be fired by Fresno State.

Guess what? She was not terminated by Fresno State.

“Little Eichmanns”?

“As for those in the World Trade Center… True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. …  If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it.” – Former Colorado University Professor Ward L. Churchill essay the day after the September 11 terror attacks

Quiz question: Which attack on U.S. soil produced a greater loss of innocent American lives? Pearl Harbor? September 11?

The answer is September 11, 2001, when 3,000 Americans succumbed, who were just going to work or flying on planes that would never reach their intended destinations.

And yet former University of Colorado Professor Churchill branded these innocent Americans as “little Eichmanns” after Adolf Eichmann, the notorious SS Holocaust organizer, who was executed in Israel.

Churchill was fired by Colorado University in 2007. After a series of court hearings, Churchill’s termination was upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court in 2012. The SCOTUS refused to consider the case, making the professor’s departure final.

Keep in mind, Churchill was not fired for his “little Eichmanns” comment, but instead for plagiarism, falsification and other misconduct. The university determined that a professor’s rant, comparing September 11 victims to a Holocaust plotter, was consistent with Churchill’s First Amendment Rights.

Castrated parts being fed to swine? The witch is dead? Little Eichmanns?

Is more of the same on the way from celebrated academics with tenure status? Count on it.

Is there any reasonable, enforceable way to put the brakes on vile statements from coddled professors?

How about a code of conduct clause in their contracts? First Amendment protection? Yes. Requirements for civility and integrity? Yes.

The academic unions will instinctively object to code of conduct clauses, demanding more legal tender instead.

How about university presidents insisting upon common decency in collective bargaining?

Time to go the mat? Don’t count on it.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/georgetown-professor-who-wished-death-to-gop-senators-supporting-kavanaugh-on-leave

https://www.foxnews.com/us/controversial-professor-suspended-by-twitter-after-call-for-deaths-of-gop-senators-kavanaugh

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/19940243/ns/us_news-education/t/professor-fired-after–nazi-comparison/#.W7vJ_Ruou70

https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/us/court-upholds-colorado-professor-ward-churchills-firing.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FChurchill%2C%20Ward%20L.&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/have-you-no-decency-professor/

http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/biographies/eichmann-biography.htm

https://resources.workable.com/employee-code-of-conduct-company-policy

The University of Oregon’s student run newspaper, The Daily Emerald, reported that one registered Republican serves on the university’s Law School faculty, and another in its Political Science Department.

To these two poor souls Almost DailyBrett promises to keep your political affiliation, secret. Seriously.

For those of you scoring at home, these two departments sport 44 registered Democrats and two Republicans. Since 2015, more than 98 percent or more than $235,000 in donations from university faculty has been directed to liberal causes.

Only 98 percent?

Working on my 2012 master’s degree at UO, your author could imagine Adam Smith and his “Wealth of Nations” being embraced at the Lillis School of Business. According to the Emerald, only 50 percent of the business school faculty are registered Democrats.

About 100-yards to the east, the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) offers a totally different atmosphere.

Close your eyes. You can envision a lecture by Che Guevara being packed to the rafters. Don’t have to imagine the championing and teaching of Karl Marx, even though his philosophy continues to fail today (e.g., Maduro’s Venezuela).

Is the real philosophical gulf between the overwhelming number of faculty Democrats vs. the un pequito Republicans or more between those who embrace Social Justice and those who defend Capitalism?

For What It’s Worth

“The cultish professor who self-evidently reinforces a set of political beliefs is not something that just about anybody openly and consciously says is okay.” – Professor Craig Parsons, UO Department of Political Science chair

Amen.

The regular readers of Almost DailyBrett long ago determined your author is a registered Reaganite Republican and a staunch supporter of Buy Low, Sell High.

For my M.A. at the University of Oregon, your author created a college course in corporate communications and investor relations and taught it for more than five years.

Remember telling my students each quarter that whether they individually support or oppose capitalism, the main purpose of the class is to provide a realistic explanation of how global markets work. We also assessed the vital role public relations professionals play in presenting to investors an accurate picture of company financials and how a corporation makes money.

As Professor Parsons correctly states, it’s not appropriate for professors to indoctrinate their students. Instead, they should instill their profession-based knowledge – in this case, Wall Street and SEC disclosure rules – about how the real world works.

Is the goal of a university to develop activists or to prepare professionals to succeed in our free-market-driven, digital economy?

Does Political Stridency Enter The Classroom?

Alas, way too many times strident political discourse is being posted on the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media pages by professors. They will piously claim they are exercising their cherished First Amendment right of free speech and therefore commenting as a private citizen.

But what happens when their online rhetoric becomes the subject matter for a course syllabus, and thus is transformed into the classroom for discussion, follow-up quizzes, midterms and/or finals?

Will the student toe the philosophical line in order to secure a good grade?

One overly eager activist associate professor was requiring her students to watch the anti-Vietnam War documentary, “Hearts and Minds.” What about the individual hearts and minds of her students?

Another dean prompted her college to sponsor a series of lectures on mass incarceration, which is all well and good … except there were no speakers from the correctional/law enforcement community.

When asked about the absence of balance in the lecture series, she retorted: “There are no other views.”

Okay?

Disgraced commentator Bill O’Reilly was once lamenting to the late great Charles Krauthammer about the preponderance of liberal faculty on America’s college campuses. Krauthammer told him to accept a reality, which will never change.

The real issue is whether a professor’s political philosophy permeates into the classroom. Almost DailyBrett for the most part was impressed with Millennial students. They are the most-educated generation in the planet’s history and the most moved by experiential learning.

Let’s provide them with the facts about how the real world works and life-long skills (e.g., how to read an income statement and a balance sheet), and then give them the opportunity to excel and grow.

Dominating a classroom to forcefully instill your chosen political philosophy to develop activists is wrong and inappropriate.

Starting later this month, this practice will undoubtedly raise its ugly head once again.

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2018/08/20/does-it-matter-if-your-professor-is-a-democrat/

“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. Fuck outta here with your nice words.” – Fresno State English Professor Randa Jarrar in a tweet upon the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush

“I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.” – Another tweet by Creative Writing Professor JarrarThe body was still warm on Tuesday.

And shortly thereafter, the race card was played with the nasty labels of “war criminal” thrown into tweets filled with unmitigated hatred. This time the ugly words were uttered by a tenured Fresno State Creative Writing Professor Randa Jarrar.

To his credit, Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro immediately disassociated the university from Jarrar’s stunning tweets.

FSU Provost Lynette Zelezny said the professor’s horrific comments are under review in accordance with the university’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA). She was asked whether Jarrar could be fired. Zelezny answered the subjunctive question with the affirmative.

When it comes to tenure, CBAs and academic freedom and Jarrar’s outrageous tweets, Almost DailyBrett will take the “under” when it comes to firing a tenured professor.

If Jarrar is not fired, does that mean that tenured professors can say whatever they want, no matter how vile? Are we better as an academic community as a result?

First Amendment Rights/Academic Freedom? 

“I will never be fired.” – Jarrar

We all have the First Amendment Right of Free Speech, regardless of the level of maliciousness.

And tenured professors have “academic freedom.”

The question remains how far does “academic freedom” and CBAs extend when it comes to termination with cause?

Jarrar is taunting the administration of Fresno State, and quite frankly universities and colleges across the country.

When is too much, too much … or is the sky the limit, if there are any limits at all?

Can a university simply proclaim that a tenured professor in question can speak for himself or herself no matter how destructive the comments?

Almost DailyBrett takes issue with this notion.

As the former Press Secretary for the California Office of the Governor (e.g., George Deukmejian), the author of Almost DailyBrett did not have the academic freedom protection enjoyed by tenured professors. Instead your blog writer was an agent of the state, serving at the express pleasure of the governor.

There was zero separation between my own personal comments and my official duties as press secretary. When the phone rang at home at 1 am and a reporter was on the line, yours truly was not a private citizen but a 24/7/365 representative of the Office of the Governor for the largest state in the union.

Likewise, Professor Jarrar is indeed a wealthy $100,000 per year agent of the State of California, and by extension Fresno State University.

She is teaching the leaders of tomorrow, which should make any decent person shudder.

Where Are The University Presidents?

“A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions.” – FSU President Castro

Will there ever be a time when a rhetorical red line is crossed by a tenured professor?

Will President Castro eventually succumb to the pressure of his tenured faculty, simply slap Jarrar on the wrist, and let her back into her classroom with a big cat-who-swallowed-the-canary smile on her face?

Will he and others in the administration by omission send the image of an uncaring Fresno State University to students, parents and alumni? Will the university president essentially pardon a professor, who wishes for the quick deaths of a revered American family that produced two presidents?

The deciding question is not free speech, academic freedom and collective bargaining agreements.

The real issue is accountability vs. no accountability, when there is no doubt a red line has been trampled.

An agent of the state has betrayed her trust.

Will FSU President Castro and Provost Zelezny have the courage to stand up for decency in these vitriolic times?

Almost DailyBrett is hoping that is the case.

Don’t hold your breath.

Almost DailyBrett note: As predicted Professor Randa Jarrar was not fired because of her tenure. Her insensitive tweets and arrogant referral of critics to call a State of Arizona mental health hotline notwithstanding. President Castro wants to assure FSU donors that Jarrar doesn’t speak for the university. Let the checks be written.

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209227364.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/04/18/after-calling-barbara-bush-an-amazing-racist-a-professor-taunts-critics-i-will-never-be-fired/?noredirect=on

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-secrets-of-a-great-first-spouse-1524177700

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article209752459.html

 

“My finger said what I was feeling, I’m angry and I’m frustrated.” – Former Marketing and Communications professional Juli Briskman

TOPSHOT – A woman on a bike gestures with her middle finger as a motorcade with US President Donald Trump departs Trump National Golf Course October 28, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

As we all know: You cannot yell “Theatre!” in a crowded fire station.

There are indeed reasonable limits to our cherished First Amendment Right of Free Speech.

As an employee of any organization, one instinctively knows that not all speech is protected.

When are you on the clock working for the boss?

And when are you on your own time?

Is there a distinction (without a difference?)? Are they one-and-the-same?

Last month, Juli Briskman went out for a Saturday bike ride. During the course of her ride, she encountered a convoy of limousines and secret service protection. It was indeed the caravan of the 45th President of the United States.

Briskman utilized the opportunity from the bike lane to give the occupant the infamous one-finger salute.

As another sign of our digital 21st Century times, the photo of her gesture went viral. After becoming a 15-minute-plus celebrity, Briskman reportedly posted her middle-finger image on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As it turns out her employer, a federal contractor by the name of Akima LLC, found her gesture toward POTUS neither funny nor amusing. Briskman claimed she was just a simple bike rider on her own time flipping off the president.

Akima, located in an employment-at-will state (e.g., Virginia), quickly made the decision to fire Briskman for twice-at-least posting her single-digit salute to the nation’s chief executive on social media.

Considering the divisiveness of today’s politics, the coverage of her gesture/firing quickly became big-time news for affirmational journalists. GoFundMe reportedly even raised $30,000 to support Briskman, bringing into question whether subsequent coarsening-of-America actions will become charitable giving opportunities?

Still the basic interrogative needs to be answered: Are you really on your own time and as a result able to express yourself however/whenever you want, when you are employed on an at-will basis?

Pleasure Appointment

Five years ago, the author of Almost DailyBrett wrote about his “No Second Beer Rule,” reflecting on his tenure as a lead media spokesman/Press Secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian.

As a “Pleasure Appointee” of the 35th Governor of the State of California, yours truly never separated my official role in the Office of the Governor from my personal life. They were essentially one-and-the-same for eight years.

Many times media calls came in the middle of the night. Here’s where the no two-beer rule came into play: If I was quoted while under the influence and subsequently uttered a major gaffe, there is little doubt the governor would have relieved me from my duties.

Worse if I was pulled over for DUI, your author would NOT be just another irresponsible sap arrested for drunk driving. Instead, one can easily envision the headlines: “Governor Deukmejian Press Secy Arrested for DUI.”

There is absolutely no distinction in this case between private citizen/government employee in a sensitive job working for the governor of the largest state in the union.

Yours truly would have been immediately terminated with cause by the former attorney general and would understand completely why my foolish actions led to my dismissal. It was truly a privilege to serve the governor, and with that opportunity came a sacred responsibility.

There would not be any $30,000 support payment for me.

#HasJustineLandedYet

I’m an IAC employee and I don’t want @JustineSacco doing any communications on our behalf ever again. Ever.” – Unnamed IAC employee responding Justine Sacco’s tweet

Justine Sacco had it made.

At 30-years-young, she was the senior director of Corporate Communications for InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ: IAC), a $3 billion+ internet and media services company with more than 100 recognizable brands (i.e., The Daily Beast, Match.com, Vimeo, Angie’s List …).

During the 2013 holidays, Sacco was flying from JFK with a stop at Heathrow and then continuing on to Cape Town, South Africa. She was firing off acerbic tweets about English teeth and German body odor during her trip. And then she hit the send button on an immediately viral, less-than-140 characters tweet, which changed her life forever.

Sacco was terminated before her plane landed in Cape Town. She slept during the course of her 11-hour flight from London to Cape Town with her phone in “airplane” mode.  She did not understand the consequences of her tweet until she turned on her phone.

As a college professor teaching public relations, advertising, corporate communications and investor relations, my students are simply stunned when Sacco’s PowerPoint slide of her tweet is first presented.

Was she simply not thinking? Was she trying to be cute or clever? Is she, racist?

The answer to the first is certainly, yes. The response to the second is, most likely. The fact the third question is even asked in a serious vain is damning in-and-of itself.

She may have been on a holiday trip to South Africa and may have seen herself as simply exercising her guaranteed First Amendment Rights as a citizen. Nonetheless, she was the senior director of Corporate Public Relations for a major publicly traded company and she fired off an acerbic and insensitive tweet that comes across as racist and not caring about the spread of AIDS in Africa.

InterActiveCorp was well within its rights in terminating Justine. In fact, the company really had no choice.

Maybe if she had just flipped off the President of the United States, she may still be working for IAC today … or maybe not.

Alas, life is just not fair.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/woman-flips-off-donald-trump-fired_us_59fe0ab4e4b0c9652fffa484

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/no-second-beer-rule/

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/359727-crowdfunding-campaign-raises-over-30k-for-woman-fired-for

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/07/woman-fired-after-flipping-off-trumps-motorcade.html

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/politics/juli-briskman-motorcade-protest/index.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?_r=0

http://uproxx.com/webculture/what-happened-to-justine-sacco-the-woman-whose-life-was-ruined-by-an-aids-joke-she-made-on-twitter/

 

 

 

 

“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

 

“Why won’t our leaders work to accommodate each other, employing civility as they cooperate to accomplish goals in the country’s best interests? What in our national character, in the ways we choose to deal with one another and respect different viewpoints, has changed so much since the days of Reagan and O’Neill? How can we win back the faith that our republic is working?” – Chris Matthews, staffer to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.DSC01433

Can we have a national chill-out … even for a day?

Can we respond affirmatively to the question Rodney King posed a generation ago?

Can we truly embrace the marketplace of ideas?

Can we reject the coarsening of America?rodneyking

As an eternally optimistic blog, Almost DailyBrett believes we can do all of these things … but first we have to climb out of our filter bubbles. We were all given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.

We have to accept that everyone is entitled to express their own opinion. It’s this First Amendment Freedom of Speech thing. Have you ever contemplated why the very first mod to our Constitution guaranteed the right to speak out, and even to offer dissent?

One has to wonder why violence is breaking out at campaign rallies, fights are more common than ever at American sporting events, and obscene F-bombs and sexist C-words are flying across movies and digital screens without any consideration whether anyone is hurt in the process. And don’t think for a second the racist N-word is finally dead and buried.

Can We All Get Along?

Governing Party and Loyal Opposition

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” – John Maynard Keynesfilterbubble

The author of Almost DailyBrett is not campaigning for a medal.

Considering that yours truly is a political animal (and has always been one), it probably would not surprise anyone that I devour political books (e.g., one of my first: Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President, 1960).

Recently, I read both Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence and David Axelrod’s Believer. Needless to say the two gents, one on the right and the other on the left, have a different take on American politics. Why read both, if one’s politics lean to the left or conversely to the right?

Why not?

These two overachievers were the architects of the last four successful presidential campaigns. They made presidents. Besides Rove’s accounts of Texas wheeling and dealing, and Axelrod’s stories about Chicago politics are downright fascinating.

And yet when I posted on Facebook that I had read both books, I received either silence or negative comments about one gent or the other.

Ladies and gentlemen, why are we so insecure or downright scared to entertain someone else’s point of view?

Didn’t our Founding Fathers envision three branches of government with the requisite checks and balances? My experience is that Americans are much more comfortable with divided government with a governing party and a loyal opposition.

Does the public embrace the bickering and name calling that seems to be out of control? Of course not.

There was overpromising and underperforming. The optimism that flourished on the cold January day in 2009 has been transformed into anguish, angst and despair, if not downright anger.

Maybe instead of demanding perfection in our own eyes, maybe we should settle for good for a while and actually see some positives in others?

If there is class warfare, it is still war. And what is it good for? Nothing.

Let’s see the Republican National Convention is July 18-21 in Cleveland. The Democratic National Convention is set for July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

How about a National Chill-Out Day on Sunday, July 31?chillout

In fact, every last Sunday in July should be National Chill-Out Day. No political ads. No mean-spirited discourse. No name calling. No fights. Actually listening to another point of view for a change? Let the Marketplace of Ideas reign.

Just one day to Chill-Out. How ‘bout it?

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/thinking-the-unthinkable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-latest-ism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/is-the-c-word-the-equivalent-of-the-n-word/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_H._White

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:John_Maynard_Keynes

Most of the time, I come down hard on the side of Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations.

So why am I aligned more on the side of the ACLU and Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen when it comes to First Amendment Rights of Free Speech, and Yelp reviews?

yelp1

The answer lies in a complicated set of circumstances and trends with many sinners and very few saints.

Let’s try to make some sense of these intertwined factors:

● Our society has evolved from agrarian/agriculture to industrial/manufacturing to technology/service provision.

● Web 2.0 through the means of digital ones and zeroes has not only put word-of-mouth advertising on steroids; it has given consumers an unprecedented level of control over the reputations and brands of service providers (e.g., doctors, lawyers, contractors, Realtors, resorts, restaurants, butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers).

● Yelp (NYSE: YELP), TripAdvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP), Angie’s List (NASDAQ: ANGI) are the market leaders in affording consumers and travelers digital opportunities to publicly review service providers. They also have business models based upon delivering lots of eyeballs to advertisers, thus attempting to satisfy shareholders.

● The personal reputations and brands of service providers are in play as never before, assisted by positive reviews and potentially damaged by negative criticism. The best defense for service providers is a good offense as exemplified by the Zappos creed of under-promising and over-performing, delivering a “Wow!” experience to consumers.

● Yelp has been accused of being willing to employ its “automated review filter” to remove negative reviews in exchange for advertising dollars. An L.A. dentist with some negative reviews allegedly was informed that these critiques could magically go away by means of a few Yelp advertising dollars. The doctor during on-camera interview equated this practice to “blackmail.”

● Virginia resident Jane Perez hired building contractor Christopher Dietz to perform some work. She was not pleased. She wrote negative reviews about Dietz on Angie’s List and Yelp, giving him the dreaded one star out of five potential stars review.

dietz

● Dietz in turn claimed that Perez’ less-than-pleasant review cost him an estimated $300,000 in business, and in turn filed a $750,000 defamation lawsuit against Perez. The case is going to trial. The ACLU and Public Citizen are representing Perez on a pro bono basis. Did Chris Dietz really sue his customer? Would you hire Mr. Dietz to fix your deck, knowing you too could end up in court as well?

Dude, what are you thinking?

So what do we have here?

  1. Publicly traded online consumer review outlets in search of big-time and small- time advertising dollars.
  2. Literally thousands of service providers, each of which is critically dependent on their good names and reputations to be successful and stay in business.
  3. Consumers, who can ethically or unethically inflict literally hundreds and thousands of dollars’ worth of damage against the reputation and brand of a service provider, and possibly put themselves rightfully or wrongfully in the cross-hairs of a defamation law suit.
  4. The rights of consumers to use their constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech to express their opinions and by doing so providing a service for fellow consumers.

And what are the public relations/marketing/communications implications for this simmering stew of providers, reviewers, lawyers and Yelpers?

Service providers need to understand and accept that the rules of engagement have forever changed and are continuing to change. Doing a good job and delivering a great service and/or product is the best defense on the planet.

Service providers need to constantly monitor what is being said about them via social media sites and blogs. And if a review is less than positive, the provider needs to respond pronto. In some cases, there is value in accepting the criticism and moving to make things right. If not, the service provider needs to respond and offer a professional rebuttal. If the service provider does not have the time to monitor digital media, then she or he should hire someone to do so.

Consumers should be mindful that service providers have legal rights. They can defend themselves against willful defamation. They can also launch countersuits, and win.

When Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List all decided to go public, accept investor dollars and report quarterly and annually, they triggered questions as to which priorities are more important: advertisers, shareholders or reviewing consumers. Maybe these firms would be better off going private.

These firms, particularly Yelp, need to be cautious about responding to a wounded service provider with an offer to essentially trade advertising for a little sleight of hand when it comes to algorithms (Poof! … the negative review has gone away). Wonder if that is what happened to my Yelp review about a particular Pleasanton, CA Realtor, Tim McGuire of Alain Pinel Real Estate?mcguire

Our First Amendment Rights of Free Speech are precious. They need to be protected, safeguarded and cherished. Having said that, there are limits besides not yelling “Fire!” in a theatre. An example of these limits is deliberate and willful, and most of all untruthful, defamation of a service provider’s character, reputation and brand.

Service providers would be well advised from a PR standpoint to think long and hard about filing one of these defamation suits. The $750,000 suit by Christopher Dietz against Jane Perez has drawn the attention of the national media, including the Washington Post and Beltway network affiliates, (guess who they are privately rooting for?). And if and when Mr. Dietz publicly loses his case, they will be sure to make the verdict very public.

Dietz will be known as that contractor guy, who sued his customer because she wrote a bad Yelp review. Want to hire Mr. Dietz for your next construction job? Make sure your lawyer is on your speed dial.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/750k-lawsuit-over-yelp-review-will-go-to-trial/2014/01/26/63e9d372-8539-11e3-8099-9181471f7aaf_story.html#!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/crime-scene/post/aclu-public-citizen-to-fight-lawsuit-over-negative-yelp-review/2012/12/20/9242b430-4ab8-11e2-b709-667035ff9029_blog.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/2012/12/04/1cdfa582-3978-11e2-a263-f0ebffed2f15_story.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/yelp-lawsuit-_n_4179663.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/yelp-extortion-rampant-say-small-business-owners-class-action-lawsuit-against-review-bully-appealed

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Yelp-Under-Fire-for-Alleged-Pandering-to-Advertisers-232472381.html

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/christopher-deitz-sues-jane-perez-over-negative-yelp-review-222800638.html

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=YELP+Profile

http://sueyelp.webstarts.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/loss-of-control-how-to-safeguard-reputations-and-brands-in-a-digital-world/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/tim-mcguire%E2%80%94alain-pinel-real-estate-pleasanton.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/hard-lesson-in-seo-search-engine-optimization/

Exactly 279 days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre one can still purchase and play the video game, Kindergarten Killers.

Just this week, we learned that DC Navy Shipyard sniper, Aaron Alexis, played Call of Duty and Zombie video games up to 16-hours a day. That fits the classic definition of an obsession.

The media is starting to become vigilant about the impact of particular video games, just as it has frequently critiqued the reported 300 million firearms in this country, suggesting both are the telltale signs of a violent society.

It seems that the right is protecting the $11.7 billion (US) firearms and ammunition industry, and the left is shielding the $68 billion (worldwide) interactive entertainment industry.

One hides behind the Second Amendment (Right to Bear Arms) of the United States Constitution. The other points to the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

The question that needs to be asked as one tragedy follows another horrific event, is this really a mutually exclusive exercise?

navyyard

Before Almost DailyBrett says anything further on this question, let me first state that I support background checks, limitations on detachable magazines, and registration of any-and-all firearms. I have never cared for guns, and I doubt that I ever will.

When I was the press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, I was proud to be a small, vocal part of the effort that led to California banning assault weapons. As the governor said at the time, he saw absolutely no reason why someone needs an AK-47, AR-10 or M-16 assault weapon to simply go hunting.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) under the direction of Wayne LaPierre vehemently and vocally disagreed with our decision. The NRA was wrong then. It is wrong now.

Let me also go on the record that I rarely play video games, albeit I was attempting to play bass and sing last Saturday night for an after dinner game of Rock Band. When my daughter was young, I would join her for a round of Croc, ending up in the hot lava every time.

More to the point, I am supportive of the First Amendment but recognize there are limits. Yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre is the oft-repeated limitation to the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech.

Should the government come down on the video game (interactive entertainment) industry to ban violent video games? My libertarian tendencies tend to not want to encourage even more government incursion into free markets.

Having said that, I agree with Ohio State Professor of Communications Brad Bushman when he stated that, “These games aren’t harmless.”

During the course of my career I have served two nationwide trade associations, first as the Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Forest Resource Alliance (AFRA) and later as the Director of Communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

These two trade associations, trees and chips, and many others just like them represent entire industries and the companies that are association members. Most are located in Washington, D.C. and represent (e.g., lobby) the points of view of their members. The NRA is a lobbying organization. Ditto for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) under Michael Gallagher.

The NRA has adopted a stance of precluding any camel from sticking its nose under the gun industry and ammunition tent. It even points to the interactive entertainment industry to deflect blame from guns.

The Entertainment Software Association may actually benefit from having such a high-impact enemy in the form of LaPierre and the NRA, but it still has a problem. Are game developers and manufacturers turning a blind eye on the Adam Lanza’s (Newtown killer) and Aaron Alexis’ of the world, who were obsessed with these games and guns?

videogamesviolence

What about violent movies? One could reply that movies are passive, while game players are active in their use of simulated weapons. Killing “people” becomes somehow, enjoyable.

The interactive entertainment industry has an ongoing public relations issue that most likely will intensify with each shooting in which the sniper was spurred on by gratuitous violence video games. Yes, there is a correlation and more to the PR point: There is a definitive and growing public perception of these over-the-top violent games.

Will hiding behind the First Amendment solve the problem? After all, the executive branch, Congress and the courts won’t impede the First Amendment rights of those who concoct and develop Kindergarten Killers. Right?

Do they (video game developers) want to wait and find out?

Almost DailyBrett embraces the notion of “Manage or Be Managed.”

It is time for the ESA to set standards for its members about violent content, clearly recognizing when a game goes too far. Merely, putting ratings on the side of the game is obviously not enough. Video games can obviously be addictive. What can be done about that? Is there a role here for social marketing?

videogames

The industry needs to take a proactive stance to not only protect its collective livelihood, but also to do the right thing in the face of these senseless killings. Something was clearly wrong with Aaron Alexis as evidenced by him playing video games for 16-hours a clip, and then heading out to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. heavily armed.

Could video games have contributed to this tragedy? That seems obvious.

The industry has the opportunity to self-regulate or manage itself. The NRA is beyond that, and has adopted a confrontational point of no return.

One would think the ESA does not want to follow in the NRA’s footsteps.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10314585/Aaron-Alexis-Washington-navy-yard-gunman-obsessed-with-violent-video-games.html

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/09/dont-blame-violent-video-games-mondays-mass-shooting/69499/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/18/opinion/bushman-video-games/?hpt=hp_t2

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/12/21/kindergarten_killers_nra_s_wayne_lapierre_blames_violent_video_games_for.html

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2012/12/so-who-made-kindergarten-killer-anyway/

http://www.igda.org/

http://www.theesa.com/about/leadership.asp

http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Video_game_industry

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/19/seven-facts-about-the-u-s-gun-industry/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/28/us/connecticut-shooting-documents/index.html

http://www.meetthenra.org/nra-member/wayne-lapierre

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/manage-or-be-managed/

 

 

If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog – President Harry S. Truman

If you want a friend in Washington, get a bitch – Shock Comedian Bill Maher

maher

Time to go on the record: The first quote was uttered by the former president. The second one very well could be attributed to Maher…and after a few days virtually no one would give a whit.

President Truman was reminding those contemplating entering public life that having a tough backside is absolutely essential, particularly with all the slithery creatures that populate that zone of infinite wisdom that we commonly know as “Inside the Beltway.”

But when is enough, enough? When are lines crossed that should never be crossed?

Certainly we all enjoy the First Amendment right of free speech, but even with this precious liberty there are limitations (the famous restraint against yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre comes immediately to mind).

What about uttering the N-word to describe African-Americans? Everyone knows this word is hateful and goes back to the bad ole days of bad ole Bull Connor and the attack dogs. Mercifully, those extreme days are over even though racism still exists. We should celebrate that the nominee for one political party this fall will be an African-American and the other most likely will be a Mormon. We have come far as a civilized society.

bullconnor

And yet, even with this progress, we hear that Maher in March 2011 in Dallas called former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin a “cunt,” adding, “There’s just no other word for her.” Really Bill? You also called her a “twat” and suggested that she and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann are “boobs” and “bimbos.” Any other gender specific slang for female reproductive parts that you want to throw in, Bill?

Maher’s past use of the C-word came simmering to the surface for a few nanoseconds when he gave $1 million to the president’s Super PAC. This revelation came just a few days after the president called a college student that was mocked as a “slut” and a “prostitute” by conservative radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh.

Mumsy was right when she said that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” The nation’s elites came unglued when white Anglo male Limbaugh used the “slut” word, but essentially dismissed  white Anglo male Maher’s use of the ugly C-word to describe Governor Palin. Why? Is “slut” more egregious than “cunt?” Both are awful; I dare to opine the latter is the absolute nadir of hateful sexism when it comes to crudeness and ugliness.

palin

CBS fired Don Imus for calling members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, “nappy headed hos,” (racist and sexist at the same time), but HBO gladly rakes in “Real Time” advertiser bucks with Maher and his liberal use of the C-word.

Is the C-word the equivalent of the N-word? I am not a sociologist, so I cannot offer empirical evidence that the C-word invokes the same reaction in women that the N-word provokes among African-Americans (sounds like a critical qualitative study for a major university). One thing I do know is that both African-Americans and women have been repeatedly discriminated against during the course of this nation’s (and other nations) history and we have not wiped out the last vestiges of racism and sexism.

For those who use the N-word and/or the C-word, does it say more about the targets of the verbal venom or does it say more about you? Should we just dismiss Maher because he is a comedian because comedians are there simply to entertain?

Or should we take a stand for decency, even though some will mock us? There is never, ever any excuse, any rationalization, any explanation for using the gross c-word to describe any woman regardless of her profession, her political philosophy or place in life. There is no equivalent in terms of crudeness to the c-word. It stands alone in vulgarity. There I said it.

As a society we have learned to speak out and shame those who use the N-word to describe African-Americans. I am proud of the infrequent use of that racist word even in private. It should be totally stricken from the nation’s vocabulary.

The same applies to the C-word. We should not laugh at the ugly, hateful name calling, culminating with the C-word about any woman. Maher is not funny. The little smirk on his face and his self-adoration of his “cleverness” is egged on when we as a society express no outrage. If the C-word becomes common place in our society, it will be because we applauded and laughed when we should have deplored and condemned.

http://www.dallasvoice.com/maher-your-beautiful-theater-gonna-long-1070487.html

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/bill-maher-calls-sarah-palin-the-c-word-during-his-stand-up-act/

http://reason.com/blog/2012/03/06/its-like-totally-different-when-a-libera

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/03/20/bristol-awaits-obamas-call-shoulder/

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/17982146/

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-2675273.html

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