Monday, February 20, 2017

‘Polluted Vehicles’ to ‘Fake News’


The WORDmeister’s Note: It is difficult for some to celebrate Presidents’ Day today, given our current occupant. It is instructive to recall that many — if not most — U.S. chief executives had their problems with the press, starting with George Washington. No one, however, has treated the press, either as individuals or as a small-d democratic institution like President Trump has. This is longer than the usual WORD. But what the heck — it’s a federal holiday. Kick back.


For Presidents’ Day 2017: Reflecting on Presidents and the Press

“Thomas Jefferson railed against newspapers as ‘polluted vehicles.’ . . . Richard Nixon tangled with reporters in the toxic atmosphere of Watergate . . . Bill Clinton publicly condemned ‘purveyors of hatred and division’ on the public airwaves.” . . . 

“There has never been a kind of holistic jihad against the news media like Trump is executing,” said Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley. “Trump is determined to beat and bloody the press whenever he finds himself in a hole, and that’s unique.” . . .


“‘The press is your enemy,‘ [Nixon told aides]. ‘Enemies. Understand that? ... Because they’re trying to stick the knife right in our groin.’” . . . 

“Jefferson wrote to a newspaper editor in 1807: ‘Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.’” . . .

“Brinkley said Trump’s tactics reflect a broad cultural shift away from news to entertainment, as the former reality TV star tries to keep his supporters engaged. ‘He’s trying to show that he’s King Kong and the press are little gnats,’ says Brinkley. ‘That has box office appeal to a certain segment of the population.’”

Nancy Benac, reporter, “Remember Nixon? There's history behind Trump's press attacks,” Associated Press, Feb. 17, 2017
 

Then, on Friday, Trump tweeted this: 
Whew.
John McCain (who was almost a president) disagrees: “If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free — and many times adversarial — press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time — that’s how dictators get started.”  

—Chuck Todd, Phil Helsel and Matt Rivera, “McCain Warns Suppressing Press ‘Is How Dictators Get Started,’”
“Meet the Press,” Feb. 19, 2017 


Editorial Comment: Heavy sigh.


PeezPix by Ted Pease


 Skunky












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Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Friday, February 17, 2017

Abstinence

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Un-wise

“There is not a noun in the language to which -wise cannot be added if the spirit moves one to add it. The sober writer will abstain from the use of this wild additive.” 

—E.B. White, writer, in Strunk & White, The Elements of Style, 3rd edition, 1979




Editorial Comment: As in wondering how the president was feeling, psychotic-wise.



PeezPix by Ted Pease


Shirley












Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 2,000,000 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) #tedsword
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Thursday, February 16, 2017

History’s Lens

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Rehabilitation

“In 2003, President Bush, then two years into his tenure, was asked by journalist Bob Woodward about his place in history. ‘History,’ he replied. ‘We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.’” 
—Robert W. Merry, former WSJ reporter and executive editor, Congressional Quarterly. Excerpted from his book Where They Stand, 2012.


Editorial Comment: History is looking more kindly on Dubya these days.



PeezPix by Ted Pease


Winter Sports








Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 2,000,000 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) #tedsword
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Proud Know-Nothings

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The Ignorant Class

“Public ignorance in the U.S. . . . is now so severe that the democratic ideal of an informed citizenry seems quaint. Some argue that certain industries and many politicians prefer an ignorant public. . . . 

“We have now developed a culture in which ignorance is celebrated, perversely flaunted as a badge of pride.” 

—Daniel R. DeNicola, philosophy professor, Gettysburg College, “Flaunting our ignorance: We’re looking at you, GOP candidates,” Salon.com, Jan. 10, 2015



Editorial Comment: Is ignorance a right in a participatory democracy?



PeezPix by Ted Pease

Sad Pup











Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 2,000,000 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) #tedsword
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Matter of Fact

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Oxygen-Based

Fact-based journalism is a ridiculous, tautological phrase. It’s like talking about oxygen-based human life. There is no other kind. Facts are journalism’s foundation; the pursuit of them, without fear or favor, is its main objective.” 

—Roger Cohen, columnist, “Am I Imagining This?” The New York Times, Feb. 10, 2017.










Editorial Comment: Or water-based fish.




PeezPix by Ted Pease

Cormorant Morning








Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 2,000,000 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) #tedsword
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Monday, February 13, 2017

Life’s Basics

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Breathe Deep

“I care about facts the way I care about oxygen and imbibing enough water a day to live. Everybody should care about facts. That is something all of us should agree on.”  



—John Oliver, comedian and host, “This Week Tonight,” in David Folkenflik, media reporter, “John Oliver on Facts, Donald Trump and the Supreme Court for Dogs,” NPR’s Morning Edition, Feb. 10, 2017


Editorial Comment: Our essential natural resources smell kind of funny these days.



PeezPix by Ted Pease

Fog lifting












Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 2,000,000 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) #tedsword
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Price of Leadership

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Laugh ’Til You Cry

“It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives.” 

—President Lyndon B. Johnson, in letter to the Smothers Brothers after announcing he would not run for reelection, 1968.  See David Bianculli, TV historian and critic, “The Smothers Brothers: Laughing at Hard Truths,” The New York Times, Feb. 3, 2017 


Editorial Comment: Who’s funnier — Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, or Sean Spicer as Sean Spicer? 

Note: If you haven’t seen McCarthy in drag as the tRump press secretary on Saturday Night Live, watch it. Don’t drink anything that might spurt out your nose while viewing. Fair warning.

PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Graffiti Bridge, Eureka Slough







Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 2,000,000 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) #tedsword
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Thursday, February 9, 2017

‘Nevertheless, she persisted’

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A Fraught Session

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” —Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, explaining why he cut off Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s speech during a Senate floor debate on the nomination of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. See Amy Wang, reporter, “‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ becomes new battle cry after McConnell silences Warren,” The Washington Post, Feb. 8, 2017

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.” —Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter to then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond, on Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be a federal judge in Alabama. See “This Is the Coretta Scott King Letter That Elizabeth Warren Was Prevented From Reading in the Senate,” Time, Feb. 8, 2017.

“I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.” —Elizabeth Warren, who was then evicted from the Senate. See Warren video in Amy Wang, reporter, “‘Nevertheless, she persisted’ becomes new battle cry after McConnell silences Warren,” The Washington Post, Feb. 8, 2017

“I’ve been red-carded on Sen. Jeff Sessions. I’m out of the game.”—Elizabeth Warren to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, Jan. 7, 2017 URL







Editorial Comment: Since when does reading a letter from a civil rights icon justify curbing the First Amendment rights of a U.S. senator while performing her job on the Senate floor? Sad. 


PeezPix by Ted Pease 
 
What an Ass












Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 2,000,000 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) #tedsword
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California. 
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard