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 . . .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 . . .
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 . . .
By James A. Kidney We can blame Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment for the fact that Clinton’s only opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination is a 74-year-old Democratic Socialist instead of a younger liberal such as Elizabeth Warren. Clinton (or, better, the Clintons) and her allies, of whom there are many among the Democratic elite, discouraged others in the party from running, either specifically and directly (“It’s Hillary’s turn.”) or more indirectly (“Hillary is the only one with the financial support to win against the GOP oligarchy.”) Plus, of course, “There is a special place in Hell for women who don’t support women.” Coronation for Hillary. Attractive alternatives were never heard from, much less nurtured for the future. But nobody thought about Bernie Sanders. As we predicted (Jan. 20 post, “The Week of the Long Knives”), the Democratic Establishment clubs dropped on … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney
Well, that didn’t take long.
Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his presidential candidacy last April and was given zero chance of meaningfully challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Hillary, the pundits and professional campaign advisers claimed, was unbeatable. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was so convinced of this that she declined to run, despite having far more popular support as the anti-Wall Street candidate than the universally-referenced-as-rumpled Senator Sanders.
Less than nine months later, however, Sen. Sanders leads the “unbeatable” Clinton in several respected polls of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. As was the case for the Republican Establishment when Donald Trump showed real staying power, the Democratic Establishment is showing its surprise and fear by trashing Senator Sanders at every turn.
The Washington Post, operation central for conventional political thinking, printed an editorial Wednesday headlined “Mr. Sanders needs to come clean about the funding for his health-care plan.” It began by calling Sanders’ plan “sketchy” and stating that “Mr. Sanders is not up to the challenge” of proving “he has learned from socialism’s mixed history abroad and devised an updated version [of a health care plan] that will work in the United States.” The editorial then proceeded to attack the numbers the Sanders campaign supplied in an analysis by a University of Massachusetts economist.
By James A. Kidney
The Current Picture
Two recent events involving The Washington Post cause me to muse on changes in journalism. First, the Post departed its long-time headquarters building on 15th St., NW, for a less majestic spot on 13th Street. It is at least a symbolic retreat from the glory days of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, noted with unusual sentimentality by many Post veterans.
The promotional ad was based on the Post’s claim that it had a bigger overall visitor total – clicks — on its website in October than The New York Times. Post owner Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon.com, claimed that “What we’re doing with the post is we’re working on becoming the new paper of record.”
“Paper of record” was a hallowed term in journalism in the 20th century, always referring to The New York Times due to its diligence in coverage and the detail it often presented, such as full transcripts of important speeches by political leaders and congressional roll calls. As the Times itself noted in a column by its public editor in 2004, there is no record the newspaper ever claimed the title formally, and doubt that even the esteemed Times would have deserved it or its reporters wanted it.
The Post never before dared call itself the “paper of record,” and it doesn’t deserve the appellation now. Although one of the two or three best papers in the country (a bar lowering all the time), the Post closed its domestic bureaus years ago and has a far smaller news staff than the Times. These discrepancies are reflected in the Post’s narrow coverage of national news. The Post national coverage focuses almost exclusively on national politics and the federal government, with the occasional “blockbuster” series designed to win awards. Other national news is relegated to a summary block of text, with a paragraph or two for each item headed by the name of the state where the reported event occurred. It does maintain a good foreign staff, albeit with fewer bureaus than the Times.