Monday October 8, 2018
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- The Constitutional requirement - Article II Section 2 - that the U.S. Senate provide its "advice and consent" in the selection of a Supreme Court Justice has been satisfied.
- You may not be satisfied with the result: 50-48 to confirm, but on a cloudy Saturday afternoon in Washington, DC, the U.S. Senate rendered its verdict.
- In the days before Facebook (1.3 billion users worldwide) and Twitter (336 million worldwide); before Instagram (300 million) and Google (2 billion active devices); before cable networks and on-line news sources, the battle over Brett Kavanaugh might have been put down to a war well fought and - depending upon your view - fairly won or sadly lost.
- But, we are not. We are in the all-news-all-the-time era. We are in an era when with a few clicks of a mouse we can be connected to a website at which we can nod in agreement, or shake our fist in frustration.
- If there ever was a time when moderation was the main-stream and hyper-partisans were the outliers, that time is, for the foreseeable future, gone.
- Over the weekend Jim VandeHei, co-founder and CEO of the news site Axios.com, wrote about the number of reporters - TV and print - who have been fired for their incendiary Twitter posts. There were nine.
- VandeHei went on to write:
Just this past week, a Minnesota journalist was fired from a local NBC station for wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat while covering Trump rally. A longtime Palm Springs anchor was forced to resign after defending Kavanaugh from sexual assault allegations.
The New York Times conceded it made a mistake when the news story about a Kavanaugh bar fight at Yale was co-bylined by a writer who had tweeted her disapproval of the nomination.
- Watching the pre- and post-vote coverage on CNN and MSNBC it was easy to tell which panelist was on which side - they all but had their position labeled on their foreheads with Magic Marker.
- It was a little harder to determine the position of the paid reporters and full-time analysts: The set of their mouths and the clipped manner of questions directed at Kavanaugh supporters or critics at the table tended to give them away, but they get full credit for trying to hide it.
- Maybe I was looking for something that wasn't really there, but I think I'm right.
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- This isn't new. In the early 1970s I was once suspended from my job as news director at WMOA (1490 on Your AM Dial in Marietta, Ohio) for joining a group of anti-war, but otherwise harmless, college students who decided to join in the annual Band-O-Rama parade of high school marching bands by singing the chorus from John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" through downtown Marietta.
- There were mitigating circumstances - I jumped into the parade to try and make sure there were no fisticuffs (there weren't) - which led to the suspension but not my being fired.
- Too often the term "moderate" is defined by the starting position of the person doing the definer. If you happen to be on the Left, then a Moderate is too far to your right to be seriously engaged.
- Conversely, if you are a Conservative, then a Moderate is to far to your left for comfort - much less agreement.
- Long gone is the time when a President of the U.S. (Lyndon Johnson) might say of a network (CBS) television news anchor's (Walter Cronkite) comment about a war (Vietnam). After a 1968 reporting trip to Vietnam, Cronkite said, at the end of a one-hour special:
"[I]t is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."
- In a Washington Post piece, Johnson is reported to have said:
"If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
- Fifty years on, we are all in danger of losing Middle America.
- Maybe we already have.
- On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the list of fired reports, to a home video of John Lennon singing "Give Peace a Chance," and to that Washington Post piece on Lyndon Johnson and Walter Cronkite.
The Mullfoto is a screengrab of the Washington Post from last Friday morning.
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