Frontier Former Editor

March 13, 2009

Where have you gone, Louis Rukeyser? Our nation holds its lonely eyes to you . .

If anyone ever questions or trivializes the role of satire and humor in society, they should remember this 10-minute segment.

Especially in a time where Citibank is hosting conference calls – on our tax dime – to encourage union-busting and who-knows-what-else.

What Stewart did is in the best tradition of Petroleum V. Nasby, Herblock, Samuel Clemens, Mort Sahl, George Carlin, Tom Lehrer and hosts of other humorists – ridicule, embarass, shame, humiliate and destroy anything that would prey upon society.

This society needs a huge sweep to remind ‘big business,’ ‘Wall Street,’ and every other over-dominant segment of the American business and political scene that acting like Charles Keating did in the  years leading up the the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s may not be child molestation but is just about as legally and morally defensible as being a child molester.

And while we’re at it on a bleak Friday afternoon, please allow Rush Limbaugh to continue broadcasting and expressing his opinion. Part of a free society is having the right to express one’s opinions and having the responsibility to defend the logic and rationality of those opinions.

And please allow Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele the right to express his political views for the same reason – even if he lacks the intellectual weight to generate rational policy and philosophical positions.

By the way – even Louis Rukeyser got caught violating federal trading rules, so be thankful, Jim Cramer. Be very, very thankful.

January 11, 2009

Nothing like conflicting emotions.

Filed under: journalism, newspapers, observations, old times — Tags: , — Frontier Former Editor @ 6:24 pm

The first newspaper managing editor I ever worked for died last Friday (01-09-09). After two years in his newsroom, I found myself with little respect for him as a manager or a journalist. I can’t speak for him as a family man, but I do remember several incidents concerning him that still leave a bad taste in my mouth 17 years later.

One that still galls me is when I covered the Southmountain Mine underground explosion in 1992.

After two days of waiting in barely above-zero weather to see if men had died, and of watching certain people parade around for publicity, I returned to Bluefield. The managing editor had saved a copy of an Associated Press wire photo from  the site where I was in the background. He dressed me down because I wasn’t wearing a tie.

That was one of the minor episodes.

The man, in my estimation, worried more about making his community look good (and, by extension, making himself look good to the community) than doing good for the community. I know of one example where he suppressed a story because it would have exposed a family member to public questions of why that family member might have, at best, ignored a criminal financial transaction.

The reporter writing his obituary (not the link above) was also a personal acquaintance from the period. His effort lived down to my expectations of him. Perhaps he’s expecting either that the man will be coming back from the dead, or that he’ll get the job.

I’m sorry for the man’s family.

I can say that he did inspire me by his example . . . to avoid following his example at all costs.

October 11, 2008

Bobby May

After two years away from covering Southwest Virginia politics, it warms my heart to watch a late season election train wreck.

Except when you know some of the principals in the wreck. Then it’s a combination of laughter, cringing, headshaking, disgust, incomprehension, pity, anger, bemusement, lather, rinse, repeat.

Any of you who read the Los Angeles Times or watch MSNBC may already have digested the story of Bobby May from Hurley, Va..

I know Bobby May. I also know Earl Cole, the newspaper entrepreneur who printed Bobby’s discourse on Barack Obama.

The Los Angeles Times apparently broke the story, so go get a gander at it here.

Bobby is (and quite possibly was, if this little tempest runs its course) an entrepreneur whose stock in trade is political paraphernalia: buttons, signs, banners, stickers, key rings, change purses, pocket knives and just about any other promotional paraphernalia with political slogans or commercial advertising.

Covering politics, I got acquainted with Bobby and, I have to say, he was pretty entertaining and not all that bad a dinner guest. Of course he was a raging Reagan Republican but he came by it honest, unlike folks like Edwin Meese, Donald Regan, Newt Gingrich, Lee Atwater and a whole host of national Republicans in the Reagan, Bush pere’ and Bush fils administrations.

Bobby treated me relatively fairly, even if I was part of that mainstream media. But Bobby decided more than a few years ago that the mainstream media just didn’t get it, like many Republicans decided long before him.

And a few years ago, May got his crack at being mainstream media when Earl Cole started a little newspaper called ‘The Voice’ as his own way of being a gadfly to the political establishment of Buchanan County.

Especially the Democratic establishment.

I still enjoyed Bobby’s cracks at Democrats, if only because I knew Bobby was just being Bobby. But when someone called me over to their computer to show Keith Olberman’s meanest person in the world for Wednesday night, I – to crib a line from Charlie Daniels’ ‘Uneasy Rider’ – damn near died.

There was Bobby May of Hurley, Virginia with an honor typically reserved for Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter or some idiot congressman or Bush Administration figure.

Bobby had written his op-ed de grace. A sample:

The (clarified) platform of Barack Hussein Obama
The Voice
by Bobby May, bobbyleemay@yahoo.com

In response to criticism that I favor John McCain for president and only present “one side of the issues,” I am listing for your consideration the platform of Barack Hussein Obama as best as I can figure it out after venting all of the hot air, straining out the honey and removing the smelly substance similar to what the old bull left behind.

I think I’ve did (sic) a pretty good job of boiling his positions down to their very essence for the sake of clarity. . . .

REPARATIONS TO BLACK COMMUNITY:  Opposes before Election Day and supports after Election Day.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION: Mandatory Black Liberation Theology courses taught in all churches–raise taxes to pay for this mandate.  Put Rev. Jeremiah Wright in charge.  Condemnation of homosexuality from the pulpit will become a Class 1 Felony.

HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE:  Raise taxes.  And coddle sexual perverts.  Give tax breaks for NAMBLA membership fees. . . .

DRUG CRISIS:  Raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base. . . .

2ND AMENDMENT:  Under Obama will only apply to gang-bangers, illegal aliens, Islamo-Fascist terrorists, and Senator Jim Webb’s aide. . . .

FOREIGN RELATIONS:  Appoint Rev. Al Sharpton as Secretary of State, Jesse Jackson as UN Representative and let Bill Clinton handle all other “foreign relations” … as long as Hillary doesn’t find out!  And raise taxes.

THE WHITE HOUSE:  Hire rapper Ludacris to “paint it black.”  Taxes to be increased to buy enough paint to do the job plus spray-paint for graffiti.

THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES:  Raise taxes to send $845 billion, send most to Africa so the Obama family there can skim off enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream. . . .

NATIONAL ANTHEM:  Change to the “Black National Anthem” by James Weldon Johnson.  And raise taxes. . . .

U.S. CURRENCY:  Updatephotos to reflect U.S. diversity; include pictures of “great Americans” such as Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson(Obama’s new Secretary of the Treasury–50 Cent refused position after learning that he would lose his crazy check if he accepted the nomination).  And raise taxes. . . .

U.S. MILITARY:  Confiscate all weapons, substitute water pistols, pea shooters, and bows with suction cup arrows.  Replace U.S. flag on uniforms with peace symbols changing uniform color grom green to pink and abolishing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, replacing it with “A queer in every foxhole and a camouflage sex toy in every backpack” requirement.  Condoms will be issued instead of bullets and brotherly love encouraged.  Barney Frank will be the new Secretary of Defence (renamed Secretary of Peace and Love) and Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Lindsay Lohan and Rick Boucher will be made 5-star generals.  And raise taxes. . . .

Whilst one part of me read it and thought, “Yep, that’s typical Bobby May,” another part of me thought of the four most dangerous words one can hear in the South: “Hey y’all, watch this!”

(Editor’s note, 11-12-08: The site where a facsimile of Bobby’s article resides, it should be noted, failed to include what accompanied it: a counterpoint piece by Ron Coleman supporting Obama’s campaign. Not that it necessarily makes Bobby’s piece any more palatable, but it should be included if only to put its appearance in context of what ‘The Voice’ was trying to present.)

If this had been all there was to the story, Bobby’s little essay might have passed relatively unnoticed. But that wasn’t all. Remember how Bobby was a diehard Republican? Well, Bobby’s beliefs not only complemented his business. They extended into his extracurricular life as the treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party and as the local organizer of Team McCain-Palin activities.

And the special sauce on this political hoagie? The Los Angeles Times happened to send a reporter to Buchanan County to sample the red state-blue state dynamic in Virginia last week – including the availability of a certain publication titled, ‘The Voice.’

And “watch this” the ‘mainstream media’ did. And, to Bobby May’s enduring discomfort, they did ‘get it.’ So did the McCain campaign machine, which officially dropped Bobby May from Team McCain-Palin.

Given the McCain machine’s rational for zapping Bobby May, however, I have to wonder why Palin is still on the ticket.

Does this mean that Southwest Virginia is a bunch of racist, stereotype-spouting idiots? No more so than any other geographic region of the Unites States. I certainly have my misgivings about Barack Obama, but they in no way are reflected in the satirical foray made by Bobby May.

But I have plenty of misgivings about John McCain, and I saw a glimmer of reflection of those in the story of Bobby May. How is what Bobby wrote fundamentally different from the stuff that has been spewed from the McCain campaign since the Labor Day weekend?

Bobby May might have been trying to be Jonathan Swift in his modest view of Obama’s political stances. He has a lot to be modest about now.

August 16, 2008

The blood red-haired, low-aspect ratio bitch from Wyoming County, West Va.

Filed under: journalism, old times, semi humor — Tags: — Frontier Former Editor @ 11:18 pm

I have to get this one out of my system only because it bubbles up every couple of years or so and makes me sick, hateful and unclean.

In my mercifully brief West Virginia phase in journalism, there was a night desk editor at the paper whom shall be referred to only as M.

M was what one could charitably term as low aspect ratio. In real terms, she was damn near as wide as tall. Her normal choice of leggings or tights gave her the appearance of a two-legged medicine ball. Her hair was the color red one would expect in a dried pool of blood or the spatter on a slaughterhouse wall.

 One might accuse me of being mean, horrible and abusive because of her weight.

In all fairness, my description of her actually mutes my intense disgust, repulsion and almost-hatred of her for her character defects – stupidity, arrogance, vengefulness and mean-spiritedness. M expected reporters to grovel at her feet – which boggled my mind because I couldn’t swear that she’d seen them in several years – or exacted continuing revenge upon and forced tribute from anyone who would dare question her knowledge, sense and news ability.

After I left that particular news organization, she was on duty the night that Nixon died. Her contribution to the next morning’s edition was to put the article on his death on the back page of the A-section, under the weather report.

Before I left, though, she managed to perform many miracles of editorial incompetence. Several favorites of mine included her datelining many of my stories on Virginia localities in West Virginia. But my all-time favorite – and the one that ensured the withering of our tense relationship was the photograph of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

I had accompanied a group of teachers on a field trip to Kennedy Space Center in the summer of 1992 and came back with dozens of decent photos and a pretty snappy feature story. On my return from Florida, I brought back two rolls of developed film, some captioned prints for reference, and instructions to call me at home with any questions.

One of the photos was a Saturn V rocket, stages separated and displayed in front of the center’s main office building and suitably captioned. The photo appeared in the paper a couple of days later with the caption, “Space Shuttle Endeavour, ready for launch.” (Editor’s note. And she might have gotten away with it except for two small details: the rocket was horizontal and dismantled, and there were a number of tourists milling about the rocket’s constituent parts.)

Recriminations flew, tempers flared and relations were arctic. Of course, this should not surprised me given that the paper a decade earlier ran a story about a rather gruesome suicide by shotgun with a hastily proofread headline: “Man Kills Self with Shitgun.” (Editor’s note: M was not at the paper at the time of the suicide headline and, even if she was, didn’t have the subconscious imagination to make such a wonderful fuckup.)

From the day of the ‘shuttle’ photograph, my pet name for M was ‘that fat, stupid, hateful bitch.’

Some time after I left, she finally got fired for excessive mistakes. I’m amazed they caught it as fast as they did. Turns out that she now is a day editor at a community newspaper in the suburbs of Richmond, Va. They certainly got whatever they paid for.

July 12, 2008

To the tall comely redhead of Irish descent with fierce hands and a huge heart (not to mention three cats).

Filed under: blogging, fake journalism, journalism, newspapers, politics — Tags: , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 9:39 pm

Stiletto suggested that I try and convince you to start a blog.

Seeing that you have some appreciation for reporters, yes, you should start a blog and for some very good reasons, such as:

  • Lou Dobbs. Express your disgust for pandering, middle-age, modern-day Know-Nothings and mugwumps who cite thinly-veiled racism as a justification for a Father Knows Best smugness and self-serving garbage. And not all of them are white, middle aged or male, either.
  • ‘New Journalism.’ What was wrong with ‘old journalism,’ where you went out and reported fairly, factually and in context about what mattered in one’s community and country, regardless of how uncomfortable and infuriated it made the subjects or the readers, and where good reporters and editors knew how to keep their beats at the proper arm’s length while getting to know everyone who had a stake in knowing just what in hell was going on behind government and business doors?
  • Entertainment journalism. The biggest f’in oxymoron since Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ and ‘military intelligence.’
  • Ambrose Bierce. Sometimes a reporter needs to stand up during an interview and tell the subject – especially a politician, policeman, lawyer, judge or other appointed official – ‘bullshit’ and have the education and background to make it stick.
  • Reading. Reading anything – especially anything other than a journalism or web design textbook – can broaden a young reporter’s mind. Read up on how sewer and water treatment works. Snag a copy of your local school system’s curriculum to seem just what in hell they are teaching. Read that piece of legislation to see just what’s tucked in among ‘the good this bill will bring to our constituents.’ Read anything about the nuts and bolts of your particular beat. Read some damn history. Read a probability and statistics textbook so you can start to understand some of the statistical BS flowing from your local, state and federal government.
  • History. Again, read lots and lots of history. Read about Jesse Jackson standing on the balcony of a Memphis hotel and see what kind of perspective it puts around him wanting to see Barack Obama’s nuts cut off. Read about Nixon – that alone is a textbook on the last 40 years of American politics.
  • Faith. Learn to discern between faith and pseudo-religious bullshit. Go back and read some theology (and not the damn tracts and free inspirational scripture you find laying around these days.) Read about Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi, the Popes, the Protestant movement in all its guises, Islam, Judaism, Orthodoxy, atheism, agnosticism, Shintoism, Buddhism, religious reformations and counter reformations, and then realize just how little you and we all know. Then go back and read more.
  • The world. If you’ve done any of the above, you may have noticed that the world is a cruel, faddish and nasty place tolerable only because people still manage to show some humanity. Do what you can and don’t get discouraged because the cruelty and stupidity seem endless. The capacity for humanity is pretty endless too.
  • Humor. You gotta laugh at some of the crap that goes on, and sometimes humor is the best way to corner and kill it.

Besides, maybe Stiletto will let you run some pictures of her all oiled up and wearing nothing but a towel.

Oh yeah, and there’s Krispy Kreme donuts too . . .

June 15, 2008

An open letter to the NBC News Division

Filed under: journalism, MSNBC, NBC, politics — Tags: , , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 12:04 pm

Jeff Zucker

President and CEO, NBC

30 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, NY

15 June, 2008

Dear Mr. Zucker,

Please accept my sincere condolences and sense of loss after the untimely death of Tim Russert.

Mr. Russert was an especially bright light among those who inspired me during my career in journalism. He proved that one could be intelligent and present intelligent thought in the context of television news – a quality all too rare in today’s media environment.

Mr. Russert – or Tim, if you might indulge me – had that rare capability to call respectfully a spade a spade when interviewing politicians, policy makers and about anyone else in the public eye. He did that without demeaning them, allowing their own character and record to dictate their level of respect in the public eye.

Tim could acknowledge and respect the regular Joe’s perception and knowledge and impress upon those in rarified circles that the only real thing separating their knowledge and judgement from the masses’ was their pay grade.

Watching all the memorial and retrospective programming on NBC and NBC this weekend has served to heighten the sense of loss and regret that so many of us share. In that regard, I would like to suggest an even more fitting way in which Tim can be remembered in a productive and respectful way.

Please tell every journalist and presenter in the NBC News Division to get off their asses, stop playing to the camera and start doing their job in informing the public about what their country has become and is becoming.

And Mr. Zucker, please tell David Gregory that he’ll never work again if he engages in the sort of public ass-kissing of public officials which he performed on Dick Cheney at the Radio and Television News Correspondents dinner.

 

Sincerely,

Frontier Former Editor

https://frontiereditor.wordpress.com

June 13, 2008

If you ever needed reminding that life isn’t fair

Filed under: 2008 election, journalism, politics — Tags: — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:57 pm

Tim Russert’s dead, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will get to go home in seven months to enjoy their questionably-gained fortunes while we pay for the secret Service protection they’ll probably need because of the sodomy they performed on American society.

Russert is vindication of my cherished belief: people who’ve done things are far better journalists than are journalism and communications majors.

October 28, 2007

I suppose it is easy to get pissed . . .

when the kids are behaving exactly like the parents. Not that it really surprises me, but it does have its own chuckle factor:

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8SI15C80&show_article=1

WASHINGTON (AP) – The homeland security chief on Saturday tore into his own employees for staging a phony news conference at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I’ve seen since I’ve been in government,” Michael Chertoff said.“I have made unambiguously clear, in Anglo-Saxon prose, that it is not to ever happen again and there will be appropriate disciplinary action taken against those people who exhibited what I regard as extraordinarily poor judgment,” he added.”

Anglo-Saxon prose, eh? Fuck you Chertoff, you shitbag fuckwit goddamn Bush administration mouthpiece and douchebag. How’s that for unambiguously clear, Anglo-Saxon prose?

It doesn’t strike me as the dumbest and most inappropriate thing I’ve ever seen in government. After all, there’s:

  • – the actual FEMA and Homeland Security response to Hurricane Katrina
  • – the invasion of Iraq (and yes, it was an invasion)
  • – George W. Bush in general
  • – damn near anything Dick Cheney does on a daily basis, whether or not it’s classified.
  • – all those canned news spots issued by a private PR firm under a contract by the federal government on the Medicare drug benefit plan – the one with the fake reporter.

It just goes to show the real point Orwell made in 1984: totalianism in the future is the result of basically stupid, ignorant, know-nothing people that we allow to ooze into positions of responsibility.

September 8, 2007

From the archives . . .

Filed under: advertising, Archives, Dick and Jane, grammar, journalism, Sally — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:55 pm

Every so often, I go digging in the FFE Memorial Archives for sport and come back with dust-induced bronchitis and occasionally some dark nugget from my past.

Tonight was no exception – I brought back a couple of nuggets (some may say pellets ot droppings).

First, a souvenir from the night I was proofing pasted-up pages at a small twice-weekly paper in the confines of Virginia . . .

wanted-person.jpg

The fact that it’s here indicates that this piece of copy did not make it in the paper. Occasionally I was awake at deadline . . . .

And then there was Sally . . .

sally.jpg

Check out the autograph, eh? I had advanced beyond this stuff by the time I was in kindergarten. She wasn’t really that hot, although she sure looks happy here sitting on Dick . . . .

August 30, 2007

No! It can’t be! (beware of dripping sarcasm)

Filed under: Iraq, journalism, not-so-free government stuff, public relations, scumbags, Texas contortionist — Frontier Former Editor @ 9:58 am

Little progress seen on Iraq goals  

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 47 minutes ago

“WASHINGTON – The Iraqi government has failed to meet the vast majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush‘s Iraq war strategy, congressional auditors have determined.

The Associated Press has learned the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, will report that at least 13 of the 18 benchmarks to measure the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq are unfulfilled ahead of a Sept. 15 deadline. That’s when Bush is to give a detailed accounting of the situation eight months after he announced the policy, according to three officials familiar with the matter.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public, also said the administration is preparing a case to play down the findings, arguing that Congress ordered the GAO to use unfair, “all or nothing” standards when compiling the document.

The GAO is to give a classified briefing about its findings to lawmakers on Thursday. It is not yet clear when its unclassified report will be released but it is due Sept. 1 amid a series of assessments called for in January legislation that authorized Bush’s plan to send 30,000 more troops to Iraq, where there is now a total of more than 160,000 troops.

Among those Bush will hear from are the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus; and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. The Pentagon said Wednesday Bush was likely to get a variety of views from different military officials. Bush will then deliver his own report to Congress by Sept. 15.

The GAO report comes at a pivotal time in the Iraq debate. So far, Republicans have mostly stood by Bush on the war and staved off Democratic demands of troop withdrawals. But in exchange for their support, many GOP members said they wanted to see substantial progress in Iraq by September or else they would call for a new strategy, including possibly a withdrawal of troops.” (read article here)

“the administration is preparing a case to play down the findings, arguing that Congress ordered the GAO to use unfair, “all or nothing” standards when compiling the document.”

Okay, if I remember correctly after years of public school, college, debate, logic, etc., isn’t a benchmark something you achieve or you don’t?

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