Observations on the Latest Folderol from Our Political Disaster Known as Trump

By James A. Kidney Five observations on the Donald Trump Jr. emails and meeting with the Russians: Don’t let Trump Derangement lead to bad law. Some journalists and political commentators — is there still a difference? — are pushing for some very bad law when they argue/analyze/conclude that Donald Trump Jr.’s agreement to receive negative information about Hillary Clinton from the Russians is unlawful. The main theory being proffered (there are many) is that the law prohibits contributions to U.S. political campaigns from foreign governments and that information, which sometimes has a price, is equivalent to a financial or services donation.  Equating delivery of accurate, non-classified information with illegal financial contributions, or contributions of meals, transportation and the like, is a very dangerous pathway. Information, unlike air travel, catering, and advertising, for example, is very fluid and its source not always identifiable.  Penalizing people for receipt of useful information which … Read more of this post . . .

The Donald’s Tweets and Laments of His Fans Jump the Shark

By James A. Kidney The worst thing that can happen to an entertainer like Donald Trump happened last week when he tweeted the visual of his faux physical attack on CNN. Trump jumped the shark. He is not only a boor, which we have known for years, but his antics are old and tired.  Of course, he is still news.  He is still a huge, perhaps existential, threat to our Constitution and even our world. But his personality, upon which he relies for his dwindling popularity, has moved from entertaining or curious to “what else is new?” If you are unfamiliar with the term “jump the shark,” it means that a tv series has outlived its entertainment value.  It originates from a really boring, extended shot of the Fonz in the 1970s show “Happy Days” water skiing over a shark.  That was viewed by critics as a sign the show … Read more of this post . . .

New York Times: Don’t Abandon The Barricades of Serious Journalism!

By James A. Kidney [Ed note:  The New York Times plans to lay off hundreds of copy editors, a sign of financial pressure and a management strategy to beef up digital resources — they say.  The Times also eliminated its Public Editor — the person who entertained reader complaints about reporting and posted occasional columns assessing the Times reporting, sometimes critically.  In its place, the Times is offering up something called the Reader Center to receive comments on these changes.  You can send your comment to readercenter@nytimes.com.  Here is our comment (edited somewhat) sent to the executive editor through the Reader Center email site.] Dear Mr. Baquet, I am a nearly life-long subscriber to The Times (lately, the digital version), a former reporter (UPI, U.S. News) turned lawyer.  I  was married for 38 years to the late Sara Fritz, who I believe you knew from your LA Times days.  So … Read more of this post . . .

A Parable for Our Times

  By James A. Kidney I finally decided to buy a new car the other day.  Wow, it is a cumbersome and annoying process.  At the end, I was feeling helpless and victimized, and with no new car. Of course, as with everyone, I first went to the two dominant car dealerships — Regal and Demos.  It was easy to get to them on Metro.  They both have huge, bright dealerships on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.  The salesmen are very cheerful and upbeat, except if you walk out the door without buying a car.  Then you get some flak.  But the dealerships seem to promise all you would ever want in a car. That was the promise, but not the reality.  At Regal, there were only two colors — white and green.  The green was full of special features — satellite radio and tv, and … Read more of this post . . .

Reminiscences and Ruminations on Journalism

By James A. Kidney In the spring of 1966, when I was home in Chevy Chase, Md., on spring break from my freshman year, I ventured downtown to visit the newsroom of The Daily News, Washington’s tabloid newspaper, which was owned by the Scripps-Howard chain.  It was an old brick pile at 13th and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, a stone’s throw from where the Washington Post’s new headquarters are now.  The News was D.C.’s third newspaper, after the Post and the dowager of local journalism, The Evening Star. I was quite familiar with the bus route to The News and with its inside geography.  I had been there many times.  The building carried with it recent childhood memories.  The tiny, rickety elevator to the newsroom with a creaky steel grate enclosure did not put me off one bit. It, along with the sweet smell of printers’ ink wafting from the pressroom … Read more of this post . . .

Why Does Big Media Go Soft on Hillary Clinton?

By James A. Kidney              Recently, Big Media has attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders for being too vague and uncertain in answering questions during interviews with editorial boards of The New York Times and The New York Daily News about how to break up the big banks, his position on gun control, and other issues. A Washington Post political columnist, one who specializes in superficial “listicles” costumed as commentary, has even claimed that these interviews with Sanders and Donald Trump were, to quote the headline over his column, “the surprising success story of the election cycle.” Many, probably most, national political columnists and reporters have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of the Democratic and Republican parties.  Electing Trump, Sanders or, until recently, Sen. Ted Cruz (who is now becoming the darling of Republican Party leaders), would put in the trash years of work cultivating … Read more of this post . . .

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