The “game” of politics is no fun anymore. Discussing anything having to do with it used to be educating and entertaining, and sometimes enlightening, among friends and on social media. Not anymore. These days, it’s all for the kill.
Saturday, NBC Nightly News showed skirmishes in New York and Portland, Oregon. As correspondent Matt Bradley put it,
“America’s political conversation is forgetting to use its inside voices.”
It included soundbites from former Attorney General Eric Holder (D, more here)…
and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner (R, more here).
And this is Wagner responding to his comments without apologizing (“I shouldn’t have said what I said”) for what he said above.
“The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.”
(Video and subject matter will start at 35:15 in. Then, there are follow-up questions and Sanders actually says her quote at 38:21 in.)
Twice recently, Facebook friends who don’t even know each other have gotten into personal put-downs over issues in articles I posted.
Those experiences were new to me. I felt hurt and regret they happened among friends. Both happened earlier this month.
One of the combatants when I expressed disappointment over Nikki Haley’s resignation as United Nations ambassador had fighting words, but never really made a point. Later, after a lot of back-and-forth with another friend, he removed his comments.
I think Nikki Haley was our best ambassador at the United Nations since perhaps Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Sadly, that’s going back.
Not everyone agrees with me, but at least one was able to make his point with facts, rather than name-calling.
For example, this is what Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal – no fan of Haley’s – wrote in his column, last week. (I underlined my favorite part and emailed to thank him for it as soon as I read it, especially considering his audience.)
So disagreeing peacefully – whether with words or in person – can be done, and a prominent activist proved it.
The upcoming midterms are, of course, “the most important election in our lifetime.” Ever heard that before? Kind of like “the storm of the century.” Not to be believed until it actually happens.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for grabs, and so will more than a third of the Senate.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone voted, the better or best candidate (depending on the number running) wins, and all will be satisfied they had their say?
But unfortunately, it’s more than that.
Of course, it’s which of the parties gets (or keeps) the majority in the House and the Senate that really matters, and those damn parties – and their “machines” – just won’t shut the hell up among their members or in TV commercials.
Neither will others who campaign for politicians outside of where they live. Some are current politicians hoping to score points for advancement; former politicians hoping to stay relevant, or make money by selling books or giving speeches; and groups like political action committees, corporations, labor unions, and other associations allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to give unlimited money to campaigns in 2010’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, lest their free speech right guaranteed by the First Amendment be compromised (as if they’re people).
A few days earlier on Facebook, I’d shown my disappointment that two senators worthy of respect felt the need to rally with a woman (Linda Sarsour) who comes as close to being the devil as any American.
THIS. New York just sent some of the most progressive candidates EVER to the State Legislature unseating corporate democrats- establishment operatives are STUNNED. We like it like that. #NYPrimaries ✊🏽🙌🏽https://t.co/pTgWnvdqO6
And making sure the world knows you’re Brooklyn-born but aligned with a group of people who can’t make peace among each other, can’t make peace with other Arabs, can’t make peace with other Muslims, and turned down every attempt by Israel to make peace. Ask most American presidents who’s responsible for the problem between the parties in the region (especially President Bill Clinton) and they’ll tell you it has been and still to this day is Palestinians who support killings and pay terrorists, and who refuse to admit Israel is the world’s one Jewish country.
Not sure how this is possible, but I am feeling extra Palestinian right now. 🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸
Every one of those tweets you saw above used Sarsour’s own words. None were complete retweets. And did you know she’s on the board of the Women’s March? Most of us are in favor of equality for all. It’s a goal, but we should not be supporting this organization with money, feet, or anything else. You have to know what they’re really about.
I was working the day of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, after President Trump’s inauguration, and it disgusted me watching how Sarsour got up in front of the crowd and talked about the Middle East! I know that’s not what so many people came from so far to hear, so I urge you to be careful with who you support. Click here to see who’s in charge of that fringe group that’s trying to fit in. Don’t let it. Instead, speak up, vote and organize without having to answer for them.
FINALLY, BACK TO THE STORY: All but one person who put up an emoji or commented on my Facebook post about those senators making the mistake of being in the wrong place with the wrong people agreed with me. I was pleasantly surprised by very liberal friends who were among them! But one, a retired public defender, did not. I took down four of the more personal posts between her and someone who disagreed with her, and am not showing any comments from either Facebook post here. I hope both sides eventually thought about what the other said, like old times.
Speaking of old times, it used to be, being in the middle – an independent thinker not automatically taking sides – was a good thing. In news, we figured if we left both sides angry, we did our job fairly and kept both from abusing power.
Not anymore. It seems more and more Americans are blindly endorsing the extremes of one side or the other (which may or may not be true), and their targets are moderates who don’t agree with them 100 percent, and of course journalists.
That’s making more and more independent thinkers frustrated and shoots down some old sayings like,
“If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.”
And sociographer Milton Himmelfarb’s,
“Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans.”
Not being a stereotype like in previous generations can be a good thing. In this day and age, it should keep those on the extremes from saying things that are too controversial. We just have to let them know.
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I tend to stay away from politics that I really, really care about — simply due to my background as a journalist and the habit it created over all these years.
But yesterday, while waiting for the final Bastille Day celebration at Eastern State Penitentiary which we ended up not even waiting for because it took too darn long, I looked at Facebook and saw a rabbi friend of mine who I’ve known for years since Miami shared a video that said “Share if he’s your favorite president” and was all about President Barack Obama.
My opinion of President Obama is more negative than positive. However, he did some very good things. There is no doubt he ran for president not expecting to have to clean up the Great Recession. Yet, he did so. Philosophically, should he have bailed out the car companies? No, but it was the right decision and it worked out.
Concerning Israel, we know he didn’t get along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who I pretty much like and certainly deserves our respect, from his background in Philadelphia, leading to him being known as Mr. Nightline here in the U.S., to navigating Israeli politics so well for so long.
Some people say President Obama was very good to Israel with military help and I honestly don’t know the real truth because others insist the opposite. Some facts are probably secret, anyway, so people on both sides use the issue to their advantage.
Of course, there’s no question that near the end of his term, he had United Nations ambassador Samantha Power refuse to veto a resolution against Israel and I believe he was the first president to do that. So he holds a special bad place with me.
So my rabbi friend, who has lived in places all over the world, including Miami where we met, is now in North Jersey. That Facebook post you saw above said to “Share if he’s your favorite president,” referring to Obama, and he shared it. I don’t know that he should’ve. I think clergy should discuss issues and reasons for their opinions on them, rather than particular candidates. (That could also cause problems with the IRS, but Obama isn’t running for anything.)
I simply and only saw what the rabbi shared, so I responded to him — surprised — with the simple questions, “Favorite? Really?”
Then you see how I got a barrage of hate from someone, a different friend of the rabbi’s or perhaps just a Facebook friend he met once and hardly knows, who pretty much reveres Obama (president #44) and took complete offense for my two quick questions.
It was obviously a knee-jerk reaction because I did not refer to her in any way, much less read what she had to say.
We’re not an old country compared to France (remember Bastille Day) and many others, but we’ve had 44 people as president (remembering Grover Cleveland served as both 22nd and 24th).
We had a revolution, wars, rebellions, depressions, great economies and practically everything else. Politically, with President Donald Trump (#45), we may be in new territory — but don’t tell that to Andrew Jackson (#7) after what the media and Whig supporters said about his wife, Rachel Jackson.
“She was noted for her deep religious piety,” quoting from Wikipedia, but also “the subject of extremely negative attacks … Jackson believed … had hastened her death.”
As I pointed out, if you look closely, my comment is not indented. It was directed to our mutual friend, the rabbi, and not a response to any previous reply from someone who obviously can’t demonstrate tolerance.
She responded that I implied I was “not respectful” of her opinion and then called me an “angry blathering fool” as if I had written anything in an angry manner. Do you see anything written in an angry manner? Do you think I was going to do as told?
Then, considering the circumstances of where I was and what she wrote, I went on and wrote how she makes Fox News people, who tend to be on the right, “look correct when they talk about intolerant radical liberals” and how she belongs on a college campus where too often, invited speakers are not allowed freedom of speech because of protesters who disagree.
That’s not the civilized, right way to disagree. Neither is name-calling.
That was the end of the exchange. I gather, or using her word imply, she agrees she was unnecessarily sensitive as I wrote because she obviously has a big mouth but did not respond.
I woke up this morning and read someone else’s opinion, and while I liked it — both personally and on Facebook — I would not have signed my name to it.
I will say it’s difficult to be a liberal, conservative and especially moderate these days because you’re going to be attacked by anyone who doesn’t agree with you exactly on every position. (See intersectionality.)
This is awful and needs to stop. Americans have to get along and accept disagreements. Isn’t that what coalitions are all about? They’re different parties but come together on issues they both find important, yet don’t merge.
Yet I read on Facebook about people unfriending other people who were once friends. Or being disappointed in how their onetime friends finally had the guts to take their personal opinions out of the shadows, and are showing their true selves, and that’s so disappointing.
I don’t think anyone has unfriended me, or will after reading this. If so, then it is or will be their loss.
In this day in age, leaders on both sides are getting more and more vicious, and their supporters are doing the same. They’re not even listening to the other side. Those are not good examples to young people, whether it’s coming from a president or his most (un)loyal opposition, and they’re paying attention while growing up.
It’s probably also leading to more people getting personally offended on instinct — so easily without any reason, as I believe the case above to be — and there’s nothing good to come out of that.
And this all has to stop.
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Many of you compared the whole thing to one of those “Is the dress blue or gold?” things from back in 2015. You may remember, a Tumblr user named “swiked” uploaded an image of a dress, which caused a lot of debate about its color.
Is it blue and black, or white and gold?
If you’re like me, you don’t particularly care, although I’d go with blue and black, and wonder about anyone who thought differently.
Part of the reason is that I saw the dress. I hadn’t turned away. I didn’t put in any effort.
As for the sound, I heard the story on TV but wasn’t paying complete attention. I would’ve had to prepare myself to go (slightly) out of my way to listen, and I didn’t. Not even now, while I’m writing against the clock. Maybe later, after this is published. No promises.
If you know me, you wouldn’t be surprised the whole sound thing reminded me of something very different than the dress.
The dress involves seeing. This, like laurel or yanny, is about listening.
It’s that great controversy over what Cecily Tynan said when her microphone was supposedly off. (It never is and never assume otherwise.)
For those of you not from the Philadelphia area, WPVI-Channel 6 has been one of the highest rated TV stations in America for about the last 40 years, give or take a few. Their newscasts may still have more of a share of its market than any other station in the country, as well. (But not the number of viewers since the New York market – covering people in the city, halfway up to Albany, half of New Jersey and all of Long Island – is so much bigger.)
But 6ABC, as it’s branded now, earned everything by being stable yet moving ahead with the times, even when I thought it was impossible, like getting rid of the actual weather map on the wall that was written on, rather than computer-generated.
You’d recognize a newscast from 30 years ago and some of the people on it. They make great hires and don’t change like the season, like so many other stations. People have watched for generations and consider the ones they see on-air family. I’ve never seen anything like it.
(And in 1997, I just wish their assistant news director had called me back sooner than someone across the street at the NBC station. By the time she did, she got a recording from the phone company with my new number, and left me a message saying she recognized the area code which meant I had gone to the competition. I don’t think 6ABC ever hires anyone who has worked at the competition.)
Anyway, on Oct. 29, 2012, during coverage of Superstorm Sandy, Cecily was giving a special weather report while “World News Tonight” (or was it just plain “World News” back then?) would’ve normally aired. It was an important story so Action News had team coverage on the weather. Cecily tossed to her colleague, Adam Joseph, probably for details on a specific aspect of the storm. (I wasn’t in town then, but we can watch.)
It seems he hadn’t turned his microphone on. It can happen, especially during special coverage. Maybe there was no rundown to go by and they were flying by the seat of their pants. Sometimes, the audio operator in the control room would err. In this case, it was probably Adam’s fault, although there was apparently no mic check done to make sure it was working, even at a low level – and also remind him to turn it on if necessary.
Then, you’d think the audio operator would’ve shut off Cecily’s mic but probably made the split-second decision not to, instead, because Adam was speaking but not being picked up.
I think, in a tense moment during special coverage, Cecily did call him a name for making a technical mistake. Things slip out. No big deal among family and friends, unless it goes out over the airwaves.
“6ABC meteorologist Cecily Tynan could clearly be heard saying ‘Moron,’ after tossing to fellow meteorologist Adam Joseph who began speaking while his microphone was off.”
After his hit, according to the paper, Adam went on Twitter to deny Cecily used the word “moron” but “moments later” he “tweeted what seemed like a confirmation of the comment.”
It’s in the article, along with a caricature of the two engaged in rough sport (boxing). Great stuff!
And yes, there is now a promo with the two of them competing at things, just as a brother and sister would.
Finally, the paper described how news anchor since the 1970s, Jim Gardner, handled the situation just before 7pm. Jim is usually a hard news guy but not every second of every day, since he “made the matter more bizarre with a somewhat rambling explanation that Tynan had not insulted Joseph.”
“‘Maybe I shouldn’t even acknowledge this but the folks who thought that Cecily called Adam an untoward name when Adam was having trouble with his microphone, that’s not at all true,’ Gardner stated.”
You’ll have to go back and watch, or read it, to do it justice.
Ain’t it great to be able to get away with that stuff?
“One of Gardner’s legendary gags is to wait for longtime weatherman Dave Roberts (retired, father of actor David Boreanaz -Lenny) to begin his report. As Roberts says ‘We’re bracing for strong wind gusts today,’ Gardner passes gas. Loudly. Roberts and the crew start to laugh, then keep laughing until the camera returns to Gardner, red-faced and giddy, practically in tears.”
Can’t beat that!
OK, maybe that same article estimating his paycheck back then “at near $2.5 million” (that was exactly 12 years and 2 days ago) or perhaps more importantly, earning my respect for writing half his newscasts by himself rather than eating, playing, or other things anchors have been known to do.
Maybe that’s why I don’t think he’s seen a moment before 6pm, not even for promotions. Besides, Jim Gardner hardly needs promos. The people have been programmed for decades.
So I didn’t listen to laurel or yanny. I listened to Cecily, Adam, and – of course – Jim.
For me, that was the right call.
Speaking of calling and writing: Jim, if you ever need a hand on the job…
And happy birthday!
And for those of you in Miami…
(Disclosure: Ducis and I worked together in Miami so long ago, few if any of today’s interns had even been born back then!)
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First, I want to go thank and apologize to everyone who read my last post. It was way too long. Yes, it contained what I think was good information on several subjects. It happened to be on a snow day and I had nothing better to do then let out some of what I was thinking. It took a good ten hours, but I learned how to use gifs to make the radar show the storm in action in the beginning, and the white leaving Philadelphia at the end.
A lot of what takes so long is gathering all the tags and categories. If you saw the old sitemap page on this site, I had to keep a list of new categories, then publish and go through those new categories you see below the post. I had to physically cut and paste them on the sitemap page, in alphabetical order. The links did come along, but I decided since you already get that on the bottom right (if you’re reading on a desktop, and the very bottom, if not), then I can get rid of that page to save time. That was just a duplicate, so that’s what I did.
Also since that last post, I made changes on the right side (again, if you’re reading on a desktop, and below the posts if not). First, I changed some of the headings and got rid of the link to that sitemap page.
Second, I added a Category Cloud that WordPress is now offering. It shows the 30 categories I’ve used the most. The more I use a category, the bigger it looks. I can’t say I’m very proud of what I’ve written so far, based on the categories I’ve used, if this Category Cloud is correct.
(There is no list of tags but I can assure you, the search box will find anything that has been used in a post. WordPress’ search capability is much, much better than Lakana’s for both users and behind-the-scenes people. Surprisingly, at WTXF-Fox 29, we’ve had to use Google searches to find articles we, ourselves, wrote!)
Third, I really improved weather and it actually updates on its own!
While on the subject of extras on this blog, I also don’t know why the Twitter feed doesn’t appear on tablets, but am looking into it.
I don’t really want to be remembered by writing about a job I had, no matter how good it was. There are other parts of life. Of course, TV news is something that I’d been interested in since I was a child and studied it on my own, from growing up through college and to this day. Then, two years after college, I finally got my first job in the field and spent my career — minus the eight years I took teaching — in news, so it’s natural I will write about that a lot.
That’s a good segue to the headline of today’s post. The Sinclair attempt to buy Tribune has really been bothering me. I don’t know what you think, but I know what you should think. I’ve seen veteran journalists at stations being bought by Sinclair leaving for the competition, stations in other cities, or just retiring so they could keep the benefits they’ve earned at the other company.
Instructions from Corporate (thanks to Esquire):
“Please produce the attached scripts exactly as they are written. This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience.”
“I’m [we are] extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [proper news brand name of local station] produces. But I’m [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.”
“The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’ … This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”
Then the anchors are supposed to strike a more positive tone and say that their local station pursues the truth.
“We understand Truth is neither politically ‘left or right.’ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.”
CNN reports, “Internal documents call the new initiative an ‘anchor delivered journalistic responsibility message.'”
But some TV news anchors forced to read it at Sinclair’s 173 stations said,
* “At my station, everyone was uncomfortable doing it,”
* “so manipulative” and
* “I felt like a POW recording a message.”
Also according to CNN, “The instructions sent to station news directors say that the 60- and 75-second spots should run frequently ‘to create maximum reach and frequency.'”
It’s apparently the brainchild of Scott Livingston, the company’s senior vice president of news. Last year, he starred in an almost identical one, which you’ll be able to see shortly. This year, the local news anchors get that extra attention.
“Promo messages, like the one you are referring to, are very common in our industry. … “This promo addresses the troubling trend of false stories on social media [Livingston’s emphasis], and distinguishes our trusted local stations as news destinations where we are committed to honest and accurate reporting. This promo reminds our viewers of this mission.”
Then CNN reports, “After this story was published, Livingston sent CNN another copy of the script. It had one big difference: The word ‘national’ was missing. Instead, it said ‘some media outlets’ publish ‘fake stories.’
You work so hard on something and then realize there’s something wrong with it.
Wait. It gets worse.
CNN says another document went into great detail about how the promos “should look and sound.”
“Talent should dress in jewel tones — however they should not look political in their dress or attire. … Avoid total red, blue and purples dresses and suits. Avoid totally red, blue and purple ties, the goal is to look apolitical, neutral, nonpartisan yet professional. Black or charcoal suits for men…females should wear yellow, gold, magenta, cyan, but avoid red, blue or purple.”
“At the end of the promo, viewers are encouraged to send in feedback ‘if you believe our coverage is unfair’ and ‘Corporate will monitor the comments and send replies to your audience on your behalf,’ so ‘In other words, local stations are cut out of the interactions with viewers. Management will handle it instead.'”
This is just indicative of the type of company Sinclair is. I strongly feel TV stations are there to serve the public interest. They use the public airwaves and therefore the rules are different. TV stations should be run by their general managers who live in and are part of the community.And this is exactly the opposite.
So should other department heads like news directors. At least one in the Philadelphia market lives in the northern half of Monmouth County, which looks right up at New York. If cities and states can have residency requirements, I think there should be one here, too — not for the financial reasons governments have, but to live among the citizens and serve them better. I wonder whether people in the neighborhood watch New York or Philadelphia TV (if they even get both), and whether they care more about New York or Philadelphia issues and events.
It shouldn’t matter much whether GMs come from the sales side or the news side, as long as they’re serving the public interest. There should be hardly any interference from a major corporation’s headquarters.
Sinclair ordered all of its ABC stations not to air April 30, 2004’s episode of Nightline in which Ted Koppel read the names of the more than U.S. troops killed in action in the Iraq war, while their pictures are shown to viewers. According to CNN, ABC News said in a statement:
“We respectfully disagree with Sinclair’s decision to pre-empt ‘Nightline’s’ tribute to America’s fallen soldiers. …The Nightline broadcast is an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country.”
Sinclair saw it differently. In the same article, CNN wrote the Sinclair group put a statement online that said the Nightline program
“appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq. … Mr. Koppel and Nightline are hiding behind this so-called tribute in an effort to highlight only one aspect of the war effort and in doing so to influence public opinion against the military action in Iraq.”
It also quoted Sinclair general counsel Barry Faber confirming his company told its ABC affiliates not to air the program because, “We find it to be contrary to public interest.”
Of course, those TV stations not airing the program the rest of the country got to see got many complaints from people who could not.
ABC said it aired the names and pictures of all those killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, on the first anniversary.
The CNN article found,
“According to campaign finance records, four of Sinclair’s top executives each have given the maximum campaign contribution of $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. The executives have not given any donations to the campaign of Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, the records showed.”
Keep in mind this was more than six months before the election.
Sinclair should not have the right to do what it did. The decision should’ve been made on the local level. It appears Sinclair’s owners are far right-wingers using their assets (and our airwaves) to get what they want politically. That’s not the public interest.
“Most notoriously, the company ordered its stations to air a documentary critical of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry right before the 2004 election. … After an uproar, the stations ended up airing just a few minutes of the documentary, Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, as well as excerpts from a pro-Kerry documentary and interviews with veterans.”
But Sinclair did not care to learn. It fired Washington bureau chief and reporter Jon Leiberman for publicly questioning the company’s decision to air it! The article continued,
“In 2010, several Sinclair stations aired an infomercial about President Obama intended to sway voters in midterm elections. The 25-minute piece, funded by a Republican political-action group, said Obama “displays tendencies some would call socialist” and claimed the president had accepted campaign donations from Middle Eastern terrorist organizations.
“In 2012, on the Monday before the election, viewers in some swing states found their nightly news or other programs replaced on Sinclair channels by an ‘election special’ produced by Sinclair that was biased against Democrats.”
Pretty sneaky! Like those examples weren’t “to influence public opinion,” as Sinclair said about Nightline way back in 2004?
The Seattle newspaper article, more than eight years after Sinclair was forced to cave in on the Kerry documentary controversy, came as Sinclair was preparing to buy that city’s ABC affiliate, along with Fisher Broadcasting’s other stations.
The article back then added,
“Even without the Fisher stations, Sinclair is the largest independent TV broadcaster in the country, according to its website.”
So who has been running Sinclair the whole time? The article reports, “The company’s top executives are the four sons of Sinclair founder Julian Sinclair Smith.” He died in 1993, but he and his family incorporated Sinclair Broadcast Group earlier, in 1986, and one of his four sons, David, became CEO in 1988.
SIDEBAR: The Baltimore Sun reported David Smith was arrested “and charged with committing a perverted sex act in a company-owned Mercedes” in August, 1996. It happened “in an undercover sting at Read and St. Paul streets, a downtown corner frequented by prostitutes.” Smith and Mary DiPaulo “were charged with committing unnatural and perverted sex act.” Police said “they witnessed the two engage in oral sex while Smith drove north” on Baltimore’s Jones Falls Expressway. Neither Sinclair nor its local flagship station WBFF-45 would comment.
People in the media have lost jobs over less. It looks like Smith used his power and influence to keep most of the media quiet. How do you think Sinclair would have handled another company’s executive in a similar situation?
BACK TO BUSINESS: The Seattle Times article described the four sons.
“They have contributed thousands to the Republican National Committee and conservative candidates, even forming a political-action group more than a decade ago to donate to the campaigns of former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, among others.”
That said, I should note McCain was angry at the company’s 2004 decision forcing its ABC stations to preempt Nightline due to our victims in Iraq. The CNN article reported McCain, a Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war, wrote in a letter to David Smith:
“Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war’s terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. … It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.”
There is no more Fairness Doctrine, which from 1949 to 1987 required the broadcast license holders to present controversial issues of public importance, and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced. Turns out, the FCC ended it because it supposedly violated those owners’ First Amendment rights! In other words, to hell with the public and their airwaves.
Even without the Fairness Doctrine formally, what it stood for should be maintained. Good journalism requires both sides to be heard on an important issue.
(To avoid confusion, the equal-time rule deals only with political candidates and has been around, in one form or another, since 1927.)
“short video segments that are centrally produced by the company. Station managers around the country are directed to work them into the broadcast over a period of 24 or 48 hours.”
So much for local control over content! The Times gave these examples:
“Since November 2015, Sinclair has ordered its stations to run a daily segment from a ‘Terrorism Alert Desk’ with updates on terrorism-related news around the world. During the election campaign last year, it sent out a package that suggested in part that voters should not support Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party was historically pro-slavery. More recently, Sinclair asked stations to run a short segment in which Scott Livingston, the company’s vice president for news, accused the national news media of publishing ‘fake news stories.’”
Does this sound rational or unnerving?
Then, the article mentioned that Seattle station the company bought less than five years ago.
“Eight current and former KOMO employees described a newsroom where some have chafed at Sinclair’s programming directives, especially the must-runs, which they view as too politically tilted and occasionally of poor quality. They also cited features like a daily poll, which they believe sometimes asks leading questions.
“The journalists at KOMO described small acts of rebellion, like airing the segments at times of low viewership or immediately before or after commercial breaks so they blend in with paid spots. They all spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal from the company.
“Those interviewed said that being on the other side of the country from the corporate headquarters outside Baltimore gave them some breathing room. But not always.
“In late 2013, for instance, after The Seattle Times wrote an editorial criticizing Sinclair’s purchase of KOMO, Sinclair ordered KOMO to do a story critical of the newspaper industry, and of The Seattle Times in particular, according to two of the people interviewed.
“KOMO journalists were surprised in January when, at a morning planning meeting, they received what they considered an unusual request. The station’s news director, who normally avoided overtly political stories, instructed his staff to look into an online ad that seemed to be recruiting paid protesters for President Trump’s inauguration. Right-leaning media organizations had seized on the ad, which was later revealed as a hoax, as proof of coordinated efforts by the left to subvert Mr. Trump.
“Only after reporters had left the room did they learn the origin of the assignment, two of them said: The order had come down from Sinclair.”
Seattle is a progressive city. Imagine how all this would fly in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago!
Scott Livingston, the company’s vice president for news, told The Times his company isn’t right-wing. Instead,
“We work very hard to be objective and fair and be in the middle. … I think maybe some other news organizations may be to the left of center, and we work very hard to be in the center.”
I interpret that to mean Sinclair works very hard to be to the right of maybe some other news organizations. And again, refer to what I wrote about local control. (Don’t you think conservatives who insist on local control of children’s schools would also want local control on broadcasting?)
In March, while Sinclair was fighting to take over Tribune, and apparently hoping to sway public opinion, Livingston forced Sinclair stations to run a segment featuring him that blamed everyone else:
Remember, this year, the company is making local news anchors do this work.
Sinclair had its former Vice President for Corporate Relations Mark Hyman give “must air” right-wing commentaries for years, and some still run. Variety magazine said “commentary segments on politics and culture from Mark Hyman … typically offer a deeply conservative perspective.”
Then, last April, it hired former Trump campaign spokesman and advisor Boris Epshteyn as its chief political analyst, a month after he left the White House, according to Variety. His last titles were Special Assistant to the President, and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations for the Executive Office of President Trump.
Livingston said having Epshteyn serve as a commentator on Sinclair’s 173 television stations’ political news coverage is part of its efforts to provide “political context that goes beyond the podium” for viewers, and
“We understand the frustration with government and traditional institutions. … Mr. Epshteyn brings a unique perspective to the political conversation and will play a pivotal role in our mission to dissect the stories in the headlines and to better inform and empower our viewers.”
He must’ve liked what he saw in the “Bottom Line with Boris” segments. Just two months later, Variety reported instead of three per week, Sinclair planned to deliver nine Epshteyn commentaries per week to stations.
According to the magazine:
“His segments have so far been a mix of cheerleading and defensive arguments on behalf of the Trump administration’s agenda.”
That’s not exactly “fair and balanced” as Fox News used to proclaim to be.
Sinclair does not offer commentaries from the other side, but tells you the news programming their network-affiliated stations air is left-wing liberalism.
Also, a month after the presidential election, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner said Sinclair executives worked with the campaign to spread pro-Trump messages in Sinclair newscasts. Sinclair vehemently denied that and claimed it offered equal amounts of airtime for in-depth interviews to Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, and she declined the invitation.
“Last April, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, led the charge for his agency to approve rules allowing television broadcasters to greatly increase the number of stations they own.”
It got the UHF discount rule reinstated, and that’s not a sign of the times. These days, most people have access to about 100 stations. It used to matter if your local TV station was VHF or UHF, due to antennas and how old TV sets were made for the UHF band. UHF stations were not as accessible, so the FCC decided the amount towards the cap should only be half for those stations, compared to VHF stations.
“Sinclair’s top lobbyist, a former F.C.C. official, also communicated frequently with former agency colleagues and pushed for the relaxation of media ownership rules. And language the lobbyist used about loosening rules has tracked closely to analysis and language used by Mr. Pai in speeches favoring such changes.”
An FCC spokesman representing Mr. Pai countered the allegations of favoritism were “baseless,” and
“For many years, Chairman Pai has called on the F.C.C. to update its media ownership regulations. … The chairman is sticking to his long-held views, and given the strong case for modernizing these rules, it’s not surprising that those who disagree with him would prefer to do whatever they can to distract from the merits of his proposals.”
And about Cunningham Broadcasting: That company is mostly owned by the family that runs Sinclair, specifically 90 percent by the estate of Carolyn Smith, the late wife of Sinclair founder Julian Sinclair Smith and mother of Sinclair chairman David Smith!
Cunningham has 20 stations, according to its website, but Sinclair is actually the company that runs most of them. That’s a sneaky way to use a shell corporation in order to get around the rules. It’s completely unethical and the FCC should really throw the book at them, but it looks like something similar is about to happen.
Then, Variety reports “The buyer for WGN-TV is listed as Steven B. Fader, chairman of Baltimore-based Atlantic Capital Group. Fader is a business partner of David Smith in Atlantic Automotive Corp., which owns dozens of car dealerships.”
Again, somebody close to the family. Again, a tiny price. This time, $60 million, which is four times as much as the bigger New York station.
Big city stations don’t get bought and sold so often, but according to Variety, “Back in 2002, Fox paid $425 million to acquire WPWR-TV Chicago, a UHF station that was not nearly as strong in the market as WGN-TV” which is on Channel 9 and much more prominent as the former superstation that carried Bozo the Clown and Chicago Cubs baseball games.
Another station part of the deal is KTLA in Los Angeles, which Tribune bought for a record $510 million way back in 1985. NBC bought WTVJ in Miami for $240 million in 1987.
Do WPIX-New York for $15 million or WGN-TV Chicago for $60 million sound at all reasonable?
I think the FCC should insist Sinclair itemize every TV station it plans to buy from Tribune, tell everyone how much it values each and how it adds up to $3.9 billion.
“would put many of the stations in trusts, an arrangement that has raised some concern from consumer groups that the company will try to operate them through partners down the road, because it runs some stations that way now.”
And Sinclair had said WPIX-New York and WGN-TV Chicago would be sold “to third parties that it would partner with later.”
Doesn’t Sinclair running TV stations that are really owned by shell corporations sound familiar, especially for a company that wants to be seen all over the country?
What Sinclair is willing to accept for WPIX and WGN-TV is outrageous and makes no sense. As Judge Judy says, “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true.” And if you believe Judge Judy’s phrase, then the people who run the largest broadcaster in America are liars and therefore unfit.
Sinclair is also asking for permission to own more than one station out of the top four in Harrisburg, Indianapolis and Greensboro. It already owns TV stations in those cities. Why should it get special permission to break the rule and own more, after all it has done?
“apparently airing certain public service segments by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation about cancer prevention, treatments and cures, without certain sponsorship identification. … Any absence of sponsorship identification in these public service segments was unintended and a result of simple human error. … We disagree with the FCC’s action and intend to contest this unwarranted fine.”
“The FCC said … Sinclair’s Salt Lake City station produced news story-like programming for local news broadcasts and longer 30-minute TV programs for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. The FCC said these spots that weren’t properly identified as ads aired more than 1,700 times in 2016 across 64 Sinclair-owned TV stations and also for 13 other stations not owned by the company. The FCC said Sinclair apparently didn’t tell these stations that it didn’t own that it was providing an ad.”
“The segments looked just like independent news stories, but Sinclair failed to disclose that they were paid for by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.”
So Sinclair doesn’t know the difference between public service segments, done out of generosity, and ads they charge to air? If that’s the case, then they’re dumb, and dumb people should not be overseeing news. (Just wait a paragraph!)
The proposed fine is supposed to be a record. Some say that’s evidence the FCC is being tough on Sinclair. On the other hand, considering the severity and number of times they did it, others including two FCC commissioners said the fine was too low.
Also, you would think the largest broadcaster in America would do news right. It claims it buys new equipment and really helps local stations provide the best local news to their audiences.
What about Pittsburgh? It’s a large city and Sinclair owns a Fox affiliate, WPGH-Channel 53. It used to produce its own newscast but no longer does. Instead, it runs a newscast produced by a competitor. That’s one less local television voice. Doesn’t Pittsburgh deserve a fourth station offering its own local news? Isn’t the city and region big enough?
Then, what about Sinclair pretty much closing up shop in Toledo, Ohio? Its NBC affiliate there has a few people left in news but production is done out of its CBS/Fox stations in South Bend, Indiana. That includes its anchors and weather people. Who knows if they’ve ever been to Toledo, know anything about it, its history, what’s popular there, etc.? How can they do a decent job and how many people were laid off when Sinclair made that decision? FTV Live’s Scott Jones has shown an example after example of technical problems that happened because of Sinclair going cheap.
(The Fox affiliate in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market is a little different. It’s not as bad since the station finally stopped outsourcing news to the competition and started doing its own for the first time last year, except with those same South Bend anchors who would have the same questionable knowledge of northeast Pennsylvania.)
But those South Bend anchors can’t do three newscasts at once. Some things we see live everyday would have to be recorded. Does the weather person say the current conditions, or are they simply put on the bottom of the screen. Can you see live-shots during snowstorms, or what it was like an hour ago?
When there is breaking news and very little information, a good news anchor will be able to ad-lib around about the area the news is taking place. That anchor will tell you where it is, what’s nearby, major places to avoid, etc. The weather person will know the nuances and micro-climates of that area.
Sinclair has shown none of that matters.
Furthermore, several states’ attorneys general have spoken out against the sale, ironically including Maryland where Sinclair is based and Illinois where Tribune is based. That says a lot!
For all of these reasons, including less competition, the FCC should deny Sinclair the chance to buy Tribune. As Nancy Reagan said, just say no. Let this awful waste of time (ten months so far) and money become history as quickly as possible.
This is information on the FCC. The party of the president gets three of the five commissioners, and the other party gets just two. Two recent votes — bringing back the UHF discount and getting rid of net neutrality – have gone party line. The Sinclair-Tribune decision should not go the same way, although the Justice Department has to also make a decision.
Just copy and paste whatever you do. Then, look at the bottom-left of the FCC’s website under Leadership. You’ll have to click each commissioner and look at the left side to email each one.
Don’t forget Congress created the FCC, oversees it and confirms FCC appointments.
They can even use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to review new federal regulations issued by government agencies and overrule them by passing joint resolutions. Congress enacted it while Newt Gingrich was House Speaker as part of his Contract with America, and President Clinton signed it into law in 1996.
Click here if you need to find your Congressional Representative (you may need your ZIP+4) and click here to find your senators. Just look for your state at the top of the site.
Then, send what you sent the FCC commissioners.
We are the public, the American people. I don’t think we have been listened to by most of the people in government on any level for far too long, with just a few exceptions. It’s time to make a change and take charge. The FCC has revoked licenses before. In Boston, a whole new channel 5 was established in 1972. It forced the owner of New York’s channel 9 to move to New Jersey and then let it sell instead of revoking its license. In the 1960s, after a several-years long investigation, KYW was brought back to Philadelphia from Cleveland. The FCC can do big things. Let’s have them do this as the start of a new era.
Now for the fun. If you don’t believe me, maybe you‘ll believe John Oliver. Watch his take here.
(OK. This was longer than I intended, probably the longest of any blog I’ve published, but there are so many reasons I feel the way I do (hope you agree!), and that’s just what always ends up happening to me!
“Video games are enjoyed around the world and numerous authorities and reputable scientific studies have found no connection between games and real-life violence.” … “Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States. Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the U.S. has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation.”
But a group spokesman says they’ll be there anyway.
The entertainment magazine reports after the Parkland massacre, the President said,
“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
“research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism — and which aren’t.”
The ratings will be like a traffic light. A real newspaper publishing good content will get green. A fake news site will get a red. Then, according to Nieman,
“A site that’s not putting out deliberately fake news, but is overwhelmingly influenced in its coverage by a funder that it’s not eager to disclose? Maybe a yellow.”
And the ratings — called “nutrition labels” – will come with “a 200- to 300-word write-up on each source’s funding, its coverage, its potential special interests, and how it fits in with the rest of the news” world since the founders acknowledge not all of the sites in a given color category are equal.
I can’t wait for this to start. The folks behind NewsGuard are Steven Brill (founder of The American Lawyer and Court TV) and L. Gordon Crovitz (former publisher of The Wall Street Journal).
Brill told CNN “algorithms aren’t cutting it, so real-life reviewers are needed to judge reliability.”
They say their “goal is to give everyone the information they need to be better informed about which news sources they can rely on — or can’t rely on.”
Analysts will work in pairs. They may not settle on a rating if they feel they don’t have enough information to be confident, or have editors weigh in if the analysts disagree.
Plus, “The company will also have ‘a 27-7 ‘SWAT team’ that responds to breaking news and news items that are suddenly trending.”
It plans to stay in business by licensing “NewsGuard’s encyclopedia of news sources to social media platforms and search engines” – in other words, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter, which could leave out the reds or use them with a warning – and offering advertising for businesses that “want to be spared any embarrassment that comes from advertising on deliberately fake sites.”
Brill said the tech companies will pay because, “We’re asking them to pay a fraction of what they pay their P.R. people and their lobbyists to talk about the problem.”
“Clickbait-focused publishers such as Buzzfeed had benefited enormously from being promoted on Facebook – and owed much of their success to lightweight ‘shareable content.’ But after the changes, traffic dropped sharply. Facebook rushed to assure publishers it was just a test. It has now formally abandoned the experiment, counting “feel-good news and service content” publisher LittleThings among the casualties.”
The Register explained Facebook has “come under fire” since the 2016 Presidential election. First, the News Feed was “hand-curated by low-paid graduates” but “accused of political bias.” Then it replaced the people “with an algorithm that valued ‘engagement’” but a “low bar for inclusion” exposed more “inflammatory and bogus material.”
It also quoted former senior Facebook exec Antonio Garcia Martinez, who explained how viral content was given a premium value.
“Rather than simply reward that ad position to the highest bidder, though, Facebook uses a complex model that considers both the dollar value of each bid as well as how good a piece of clickbait (or view-bait, or comment-bait) the corresponding ad is,” Martinez said. “If Facebook’s model thinks your ad is 10 times more likely to engage a user than another company’s ad, then your effective bid at auction is considered 10 times higher than a company willing to pay the same dollar amount.”
And Donald Trump’s campaign – which spent very little money – was playing by Facebook’s rules since “rural targets were cheaper to reach than urbanites, and Trump wanted to reach them, so Facebook ad spending proved to be very good value.”
Bottom line, according to The Register:
“The results of Facebook abandoning this particular experiment is that clickbait-hungry publishers will continue to rely on the platform for exposure, rather than building their own brands, and Facebook will rely on clickbait-y free content to keep people on the site. It’s a marriage of the desperate.”
That’s not what I wanted to read.
I suggest Zuckerberg suspend all Fox and News Corp. accounts from Facebook for a week. Every newspaper, TV station, news anchor, etc. That should show ‘em!
Meanwhile, Miami’sCNN’s Jeff Zucker accused Facebook and Google of having a duopoly or monopoly on money from digital content, and wants regulators to look into the two companies.
Keep in mind, CNN was a monopoly on 24-hour cable news from June 1, 1980 to 1996 when MSNBC started on July 15, and Fox News Channel went on the air on Oct. 7. (That’s except for when ABC/Westinghouse’s Satellite News Channel competed from June 21, 1982 until Oct. 27, 1983, and CNN founder Ted Turner bought it.)
“Everyone is looking at whether these combinations of AT&T and Time Warner (his own company, which AT&T wants to buy for $85 billion, and may put his own job in jeopardy -Lenny) or Fox and Disney pass government approval and muster, the fact is nobody for some reason is looking at the monopolies that are Google and Facebook. … That’s where the government should be looking, and helping to make sure everyone else survives. I think that’s probably the biggest issue facing the growth of journalism in the years ahead.”
But the banking and auto industries are not journalism. They’re not protected by the First Amendment. And intelligent people will turn to quality news, even if it’s hard to find, and that has already become harder and harder for years.
Advice for Zucker: Do a better job on TV. In contrast to President Obama, explain why you hired so many digital staffers a year ago, only to lay off roughly 50 of them last month – and why you shouldn’t be one to go.
And the kicker (rather than “kick ass”), according to the Fox article,
“Last month, YouTube star Casey Neistat — hired by Zucker on the recommendation of his teenage son — abruptly walked away from CNN less than two years after CNN reportedly paid more than $20 million for his video-sharing startup Beme.”
Time Warner is a big company. It owned AOL – one of the early pioneers of the Internet – until about the time you were hired. Why didn’t TW compete? Or did it, and free enterprise sent the experiment to wherever those 50 laid off digital staffers are?
Zucker, get more people to your website and have your digital salespeople do a better job, you sore loser, or you’ll be out of a job!
Back to 21st Century Fox’s Murdoch. He got a black eye about a week ago when Philadelphia-based Comcast (the cable company that also owns competitor NBC) topped his company’s offer to buy the 61 percent of Sky PLC it didn’t already own. That could halt Fox’s attempt to consolidate ownership of the British broadcaster. It has owned 39 percent of Sky for years.
Reuters reports Comcast offered £12.50 per share ($31 billion), significantly higher (more than 16 percent) than Fox’s £10.75 per share. (Yes, I know how cheap Fox is. I worked for them. The one exception is the NFL.) Sky already agreed to be sold to Fox, but the British government delayed the takeover because it’s concerned about Rupert Murdoch’s influence. In 2011, he closed the News of the World after its journalists admitted hacking phones to get scoops, but he still owns The Sun and Times newspapers.
Fox promised to keep Sky News fully independent for ten years, but faces skepticism across the pond. And with a ten-year promise, I don’t understand how it could be sold to Disney.
Reuters reports Sky’s shares jumped more than 20 percent, while shares of Comcast, Fox and Disney all fell. So if the Sky-to-Fox first part doesn’t happen, investors may expect a bidding war.
“When a set of assets like 21st Century Fox’s becomes available, it’s our responsibility to evaluate if there’s a strategic fit that could benefit our company and our shareholders. … That’s what we tried to do, and we are no longer engaged in the review of those assets. We never got the level of engagement needed to make a definitive offer.”
B&C claims Pai is “saying the previous commission should have considered the cap and the discount together, which it is now doing.”
The attorneys general are from Illinois (home to Tribune), Pennsylvania, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California and Virginia.
They – according to B&C – argue “getting rid of the cap would threaten diversity, competition, and localism, and cites Sinclair Broadcasting, whose Tribune deal would benefit from lifting or eliminating the limit, pointing out that it distributes news stories that must run in its newscasts.”
According to The Sun, Sinclair claims “the merger would allow the new company to better serve local viewers with expanded local coverage, better facilities and more programming, delivered in part by operational efficiencies.”
The company announced it would sell several stations to stay under a new cap, but the deals it reached would let it continue to control the New York and Chicago stations it sells, so those big cities won’t count. (Is there ANYBODY who thinks that’s OK?)
According to Variety, Sinclair will sell WPIX-New York for a measly $15 million to Cunningham Broadcasting. More than 90 percent of that company’s stock is controlled by trusts owned by the estate of Carolyn Smith, the late wife of Sinclair founder Julian Smith and mother of Sinclair chairman David Smith. So the Smith children own it. Talk about a shell corporation! Cunningham owns 20 stations but at least 14 of them are run by Sinclair!
And it would sell WGN-TV Chicago for just $60 million to Steven B. Fader, chairman of Baltimore-based Atlantic Capital Group and business partner of David Smith in Atlantic Automotive Corp.
Those stations are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe a half-billion.
On top of that, Variety says,
“Sinclair would not only continue to operate the stations and receive the lion’s share of their revenue, but the sale agreement with both buyers gives Sinclair an option to buy the stations back within eight years. That’s seen as a marker for the company to bide its time in the hopes that the FCC relaxes its station ownership restrictions in the near future.”
The $3.9 billion deal – if it goes through – would make the nation’s largest television broadcast company even larger. Sinclair is already largest with 191 stations, while Tribune brings another 42 stations before divestitures. The post-merger reach would be 72 percent of U.S. homes. (Does that include the huge markets of New York and Chicago?)
I’m sure Buffett makes money but he has no vertical integration. Graham was supposed to help run the station after the sale, and it still has a Graham station look. So does its website. Also, Buffett is not the type to get attached (except maybe to Omaha) and would be willing to cash out of the price is right.
If he sells WPLG to Fox, then it makes sense ABC would probably call WSVN. Makes the most sense by far, but I wouldn’t swear on anything. In 1988, CBS seemingly surprised everyone by buying the former WCIX instead of affiliating with WSVN.
Jessell also reported he spoke to Ansin who said Fox hasn’t mentioned anything about “moving into the market and no expression of interest in WSVN.”
I also want to point out another example of a TV network not renewing a local TV station’s affiliation because it competed for viewers in part of a city where the network owned its own station. The last blog mentioned NBC getting rid of WMGM in Atlantic City because of its Philadelphia station, WCAU, and how ABC was much nicer years earlier when it paid the owner of KNTV in San Jose to leave the network because it owned KGO-TV in San Francisco. (WMGM shut down its news department.)
Since then, I remembered NBC dropped WHAG (now WDVM) in Hagerstown, Md., in the middle of 2016 because of Washington, DC’s WRC. Since then, the independent station really became competition, expanding its coverage area by 1.2 million households, also serving Chambersburg, Pa., Martinsburg, W.V. and Winchester, Va.
Also, I learned NBC dropped KENV-DT in Elko, Nev., which served a lot of the Nevada side of the Salt Lake City market. It aired its own news, but was run out of Sinclair NBC affiliate KRNV in Reno. That goliath Sinclair also owns three stations in Salt Lake City, but not the NBC affiliate. KENV is actually owned by Cunningham Broadcasting, and it shut down its news department.
And Jessell also wrote he’s hearing “Fox is once again pushing the idea that it should represent its affiliates in all retrans negotiation.” That means instead of each station demanding money from cable and satellite companies to carry them, Fox would do the work for them all and send each station its share. It would carry the power of nearly 200 stations, and those stations won’t have to bother negotiating. Of course, Fox would also carry power over the stations, and the network’s opinion is its programming (sports) makes the stations worth more and will take its share. Plus, somebody has to pay for Thursday Night Football!
For me, it was nice peeking out the window and watching the snowstorm as I wrote, but like this blog, and certain stations’ newscasts, it appears to be over.
By the way, you’re not alone. This blog site reached more than 10,500 views today!Please, if you like what you read, subscribe with either your email address or WordPress account, and you’ll get an email whenever I publish.
There’s lots on my mind (too often, and that’s between me and my medical professional, and I’ll get to the rest another time), but I’m going to limit myself to what just happened in southern and northern Florida over the past few days, since last week’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
You may recognize the young man on the left. He’s more than a survivor. His mother has been a friend since we sat next to each other in 7th grade science class.
“You can almost feel Rubio biting back the phrases, ‘Because I said so!’ and ‘Go to your room!’ in this clip. He’s a 46-year-old career politician who just got schooled by a teenager whose biggest concern right now should be who he’s taking to prom. Instead he’s been thrust into the national spotlight as a leader of a major movement, and doing a fantastic job spreading their message.”
Honestly, I could probably never do as well offering up an opinion as author Megan Zander did, so I’ll let her continue.
“Fox News host Todd Starnes watched the exchange and was not pleased. But it wasn’t the Second Amendment issues at play that made Starnes angry. It was Kasky’s behavior as a teen speaking to an adult that rubbed him the wrong way. He took to Twitter to ask parents how they’d feel if their own child did what Kasky had just done.”
This crowd is hostile. Do the kids speak to their parents and teachers with the same level of disrespect?
“To be clear, nothing Kasky said or did is even close to rude, let alone disrespectful. He addresses Senator Rubio as Senator. He doesn’t scream, he doesn’t curse. He even asks the crowd to settle down multiple times so Rubio can be heard and the discussion can continue. He even offers to contribute personally to Rubio’s campaign if the Senator will agree to stop accepting NRA funds.
“Does he speak passionately? Absolutely. He’s allowed to be passionate about the fact that 15 of his classmates and two of his teachers were murdered, and others injured. But he’s not being hostile — he’s pleading with his elected official for a straight answer on the question of whether he’ll continue to take monies from an organization that thinks mass loss of life is a fair exchange so others can own assault rifles for fun.
“If Starnes was hoping Twitter would assure him that Kasky deserved to be grounded indefinitely for his behavior, he miscalculated horribly.”
It would requires each district school board to adopt rules for display of official state motto “In God We Trust” in specified places. It passed, 97-10, and is identical to a bill — S.B. 1158 — introduced by Republican Sen. Keith Perry of Gainesville. The Senate has done nothing with the bill since it was introduced Jan. 9. Rep. Daniels was first to file it last Nov. 29.
This is the law as it stands now. Statute 1003.44 is called “Patriotic programs; rules” and it mainly describes the Pledge of Allegiance, and other historic material school boards may let any teacher or administrator read or post. If passed, starting July 1, the motto must be displayed “in a conspicuous place” in all schools and all buildings used by the school board. You can define “conspicuous” or let a judge.
“was adopted as the nation’s motto in 1956 as a replacement or alternative to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782. … It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida.”
The day of the national change, during the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower also signed into law a requirement that “In God We Trust” be printed on all U.S. currency and coins.
Earlier, President Theodore Roosevelt had called using God’s name on money to be sacrilege.
FYI, both Republicans (of course, in name, 50 years apart).
I got up extremely early this morning to take Pedro to work, since he didn’t get the holiday off.
Soon after getting home, I noticed my Facebook friend Mark Segal — founder, owner and publisher of the renowned Philadelphia Gay News — had posted his column from last week. I’m two weeks behind in reading.
I love and respect Mark because he’s amazing: the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) media.
That said, I’m going to bury the details. There’s a reason and it’s because this week, he came up short.
“Mark, Israel’s oppression of Palestine? Who are these people of Palestine? The ones who massacred the Jews of Hebron in 1929? The ones who refused the U.N. partition plan in 1947? The ones who support terrorism, teach hate, and have turned down every peace opportunity? The ones you failed to include in your list of so many homophobic groups of people.
Why do the gay “Palestinians” try to sneak into Israel? Freedom to be themselves, or so their own families don’t kill them? Why do most of the straight ones in Jerusalem want to stay Israeli citizens? That doesn’t sound like oppression to me.”
Then, he gave a quick response: “I’ve written time and time again all that you have stated. Point is most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”
To Mark’s credit, he “liked” my response.
However, I don’t think it went far enough. That’s why I wrote back, and I’m also doing so here because I feel strongly the point is so important:
Yes, Mark. You have “written time and time again all (I) have stated.” (Your words.)
And yes, Mark. “Most in our community try to tie international issues to our struggle for equality without understanding the issues.”
In other words, unfortunately, most in our community are ignorant because they don’t understand the issues.
That’s a disappointment and shows your writing “time and time again” has not gotten through.
For example, take this column. You were pretty clear about most of the countries you mentioned.
However, when it came to Israel, you wrote the longest of your 10 paragraphs (159 words). You focused on “a powder keg of dispute” rather than “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” and I think that was a mistake.
Then you spent the rest of the paragraph (135 words, or 85 percent) being negative towards Israel. You condemned its current government (that allows it to be “the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East”). You said the worst thing about them is “they work in collaboration with the Trump administration to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” which is perfectly within its rights.
Like it or not, Jerusalem is Israel’s seat of government, the Knesset (parliament) is there, and every country decides the site of its capital. This is one call President Trump got right, and former presidents for more than 20 years have not.
It is not a gay rights issue.
Then, you wasted 89 words (66 percent, which is nearly two-thirds of the paragraph) doing the job of Israel-bashers and anti-Semites (if there’s a difference) bringing up a vicious boycott that hasn’t worked, and comparing Israel to South Africa under apartheid.
You failed to clearly teach our community that does not understand the issues there is no apartheid in Israel, that Israel rescued so much of the Ethiopian Jewish population which is black and that black Israelis and non-Jewish Israelis have the same rights as everyone else. All types of Israelis get elected to the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, join the army, become beauty queens, etc.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (page 9 in link) and that great man said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
That is Israel.
That paragraph in your column — its largest — was a wasted opportunity to inform, which we both know is the point of a news organization. You did not state unequivocally that Israel is morally right as a supporter of the LGBT community, and the Palestinians are morally wrong for being homophobic — plus all the history I stated in my previous post.
Not strictly differentiating between right and wrong — and allowing the less educated, simple among us to continue to use intersectionality, and their prejudices towards Israel and the Jewish people — was a disservice. Ignoring it allowed misinformation to continue.
Mark, you are usually a terrific writer. I bought your book. You were nice enough to autograph the portion of Larry Kane’s book, Larry Kane’s Philadelphia, about you for me and also for my parents.
You’ve done a ton of creative and constant protesting for the LGBT community over five decades. You’ve traveled extensively and know better. This was not your best column.
Oh, and the anti-Israel reaction since the story was misleadingly brought up after more than two years. And how Israel is constantly being treated differently than every other country in the world. (By the way, look for the part that reads “a fair and just immigration policy in our own country.” Who knew we’d still be discussing that?)
That makes some of us very defensive.
A month earlier, there was my very first blog. Three years and four days ago, I wrote how reaction to a terror attack in France was different than terror attacks in Israel, and what it would look like with the shoe on the other foot.
(Side note: Anniversary missed. Can’t let that happen again!)
Here is some more on Dr. King and Israel, thanks to the group Stand With Us.
Click here to watch Dr. King state, “The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”
Other examples of his positions on Zionism and Israel include:
— “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
— “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”
— “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”
Clarence B. Jones, personal attorney and close adviser to Dr. King, said:
— “I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism.”
–“Martin … warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism.”
According to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), civil rights leader and one of the 13 original Freedom Riders: “(MLK) understood that a special relationship exists between African Americans and Jews … He knew that both peoples were uprooted involuntarily from their homelands. He knew that both peoples were shaped by the tragic experience of slavery. He knew that both peoples were forced to live in ghettoes, victims of segregation … He knew that both peoples were subject to laws passed with the particular intent of oppressing them simply because they were Jewish or black. He knew that both peoples have been subjected to oppression and genocide on a level unprecedented in history.”
I may be wrong, but I’m going to guess Mark is working extra hard since he’s between permanent editors for the first time in years. He definitely means well and usually does well. But notice, since I wrote so little on that, it doesn’t come across as the focus of this blog — just like “There is no question that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East” in the column.
Mark has put his own freedom on the line for the cause too many times to count. He knows how to take a stand. I just just wish he’d done so this time, for the issue’s importance, and that more people may be reading PGN if they’re off from work due to the holiday.
P.S. I have a positive update on my mother since Thursday’s post, after she fell in the kitchen and broke her pelvis in three places. Yesterday, she was transferred from the hospital to rehab. She’s expected to be there for physical therapy, two weeks minimum. Then, she and my fathher will need help when she returns home.
On Facebook? You’re probably signed up for a lesson on mailing a letter, paid for by the U.S. government, like the one above.
I was a little out of it, last Thursday, told I was sounding stuffy, so I didn’t do much other than read. Part of that time was on Facebook rather than anything too important, although not entirely so.
I saw a sponsored ad from the U.S. Postal Serviceon how to mail a letter. (I thought the people in charge these days want smaller government and less spending.)
Their busiest time of the year is coming up. If you’re reading on the blog, you can see the countdown dates until Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas — depending on the type of media you’re using (desktop, tablet or phone).
(Did you know Black Friday is an actual holiday in 24 states?)
Hundreds of millions of Americans will be mailing cards and gifts, despite more and more substituting email for cards and shipping for gifts.
We all want what we worked on and paid for to be delivered in a timely manner. I’m still waiting for a card from my mother from September that hasn’t arrived. It wasn’t her fault. She actually took it to the post office to make sure the correct amount of postage was on the envelope, and it had a return sticker.
On the other hand, I’ve lived in my condo for more than a year and still get mail intended for previous residents of both sexes with various first and last names. Just last month, hundreds of our electric bills were returned to the management company!
That’s in addition to the latest problem that just started over the past few weeks: getting mail for 2501 and 2701 rather than 2601, with the four numbers after the ZIP code wrong.
That’s definitely human delivery error and should be eliminated, and I know that because the material was sent by professional companies with addresses typed in.
I’m sure the USPS wants to be considered as good by Santa (track him here) and the public, and stay in business for another year, so they apparently paid Facebook for advertising to teach readers the correct way to address an envelope, and which pitfalls to avoid.
I know some people try to be fancy and cute, and that hurts the postal service’s performance. Did you know you should always address an envelope using capital letters, but not to use any punctuation except in the ZIP plus 4?
Perhaps the USPS should have mailed every household and business a piece of paper with their suggestions, like they print and deliver when they hold food drives, because not everyone is on Facebook and not everyone is going to click their ad. I’m not sure about the price difference, and it would certainly mean more trees cut down, but it would also cut down on late and lost mail, which is also a waste.
Yes, there are private competitors that should be keeping the USPS on its toes to bring us better performance.
I’ve only rarely used the companies, like UPS and FedEx, mostly for mortgage paperwork when the envelopes were prepaid. I’m not sure they were any better than the post office and I had to go looking for a special box on the street to send them, rather than this.
Choice is good. It should lower prices and improve service. But I for one would hate to see any, especially the USPS, go away.
First, anyone who messes with your mailed letters and packages violates federal law and should go to jail. I’m not sure if the same applies to competitors like UPS and FedEx.
Second, there are post offices and mailboxes everywhere. Who doesn’t have a mailbox?
In my neighborhood, I keep hearing complaints from people in rowhomes outside my building about how their big packages with goods they ordered were stolen. That’s crooks disrupting the system.
And walking by, I see people’s notes on their doors about how packages should be delivered to the convenience store down the street in case nobody is home! That’s asking delivery people make two stops rather than one — slowing the process for everyone and making them work harder — and who says they have to, considering where their items were addressed?
And we want the post office to succeed, and deliver mail at least six days a week, so more workers can keep their jobs.
But it can do better.
Ben Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia Int’l Airport
Philadelphia City Hall
They closed many of Philadelphia’s post offices for the same hours for days throughout the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2016. It was very inconvenient and I can’t come up with a good excuse. I’m sure the workers got paid. Most other government employees worked extra hard and got to collect overtime.
(No, John Kerry had already replaced the eventual presidential nominee as Secretary of State! As you well know, Hillary Clinton got nothing.)
At least they lowered the price of a stamp by a penny so it’s an even better deal than it was before.
So do your part and address your items correctly.
One last word of advice: Don’t procrastinate. Give whatever company you use enough time to get your package to its correct destination in time. Click here for Holiday Shipping Deadlines. (They really only mean Christmas.)
Good luck, happy holidays, and drive safely, and I mean that starting with Thanksgiving!