Category Archives: Media

The Fog of Reporting

Following the less than accurate reporting about the explosion at a Gaza City hospital, the mainstream media invoked the phrase “fog of war” to minimize accountability for their rush to judgment. The phrase originally referred to the a military commander’s uncertainty about battlefield engagement based on uncertain information about the on-the-ground situation.  It is now applied to the inability of war correspondents to accurately report what is happening in a war zone.  If you think they learned a lesson from the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital story, you would be wrong.

Based on reporting by all of the major media sources, one might believe that the recently attacked Jabaliya refugee camp is a place where Palestinian civilians sought safety following Israel’s response to Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack.  Why?  Because, until yesterday, not one print or broadcast outlet had taken time to explain when and why Jabaliya was established.  You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that in 1948 Jabaliya was designated as a refugee camp for Palestinians who were encouraged to leave or expelled from their homes in Israel at the start of hostilities following formal recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland.  The assumption being that they would be there temporarily, just until the Jewish state was quickly defeated allowing refugees to return to their residences within Israel’s borders under the UN sanctioned partition.

It may have been a tent city in 1948, but that is no longer the case.  It is now one of the most densely populated locations on the Gaza Strip, 1.4 square kilometers housing over 100,000 residents in multi-story apartment buildings.  “Jabaliya Refugee Camp” is more a historical designation than a description of its current status unless you want to call the residents, some who have lived there for three quarters of a century, refugees.

Yesterday, the New York Times, buried at the end of an article titled “In Gazan Neighborhood Hit by Airstrikes, Death and Despair Reign,” finally acknowledged Jabaliya’s history.

Despite its designation as a refugee camp, Jabaliya is a developed community housing Palestinians and their descendants who fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1940s during the conflict that surrounded the creation of Israel.

Jabaliya, Israeli officials say, is a stronghold for the militants.

But it is also a home for the 116,000 Palestinians who are registered to live in the 1.4-square-kilometer area.

They are among millions of Palestinians who are still classified as refugees by the United Nations after decades of exile. Israel, which bars Gazans from returning to the land they were expelled from, objects to the U.N. definition of Palestinians as refugees in general.

Media sources have multiple reasons to avoid again jumping to conclusions. Pictures of the still-standing structures from Jabaliya confirm Jabaliya is no makeshift refuge. The fact that many buildings remain erect right next to targeted structures suggests the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has focused on strategic targets.  Plus the IDF acknowledgement of responsibility for the bombings indicates they believe there were legitimate military targets.

Civil War General William Sherman was right when he said, “War is Hell.”  Every civilian death should be mourned.  But there is a difference between collateral damage and terrorism.  There is no question about which took place on October 7.  To determine the extent to which Israel conducted its response in accordance with the international rules of combat cannot and should not be determined now, veiled in the fog of war or media coverage.

Other history about the Gaza Strip also needs retelling, especially the unexpected proposal by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to disengage from Gaza, initiated in 2003 and implemented in 2005.  This included both unilateral relocation of 80,000 Israeli settlers against their will and the turnover of administrative responsibility and governance to the Palestinian Authority.  But that is a story for another day.

For what it’s worth.

Daddy Issues

You ask me what I’m thinking aboutI tell you that I’m thinking aboutWhatever you’re thinking aboutTell me something that I’ll forgetAnd you might have to tell me againIt’s crazy what you’ll do for a friend

~”Daddy Issues” by The Neighbourhood

Just when you thought there was the slightest possibility Republican “Team Sane” might eventually land the ship safely on Earth One, it’s leader former Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney proved that once Donald Trump is gone, it will be back to business as usual.  On what do I base this pessimistic view of a functioning two-party democratic system?  Her interview with Jake Tapper on the October 22 edition of CNN’s “State of the Union.” After an opening segment on the importance of plea deals by Sydney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro on Trump’s legal peril and Jim Jordan’s secret ballot reality check, Tapper turned to the Israel-Hamas War.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, just in terms of advising a country that is an ally — a lot of people are drawing parallels to 9/11, although, proportionally, this was worse. This is about — would be the same as killing 40,000 people in Israel, as opposed to 3,000 that happened here in 9/11.

On 9/11, your father was vice president. You came to work at the State Department after 9/11. Take a listen to what President Biden said in Israel this week.

VIDEO CLIP OF BIDEN: But I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. And while we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.

TAPPER: Given the goal of not just defeating Hamas, but a long-term goal of Israel living in peace, of a two-state solution, if that’s even a serious proposition anymore, what lessons do you think we have learned as a country that we could tell Israel, that we could share with Israel?

CHENEY: Well, look, I think probably the biggest mistake that we made post-9/11 was President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan the way that he did.

Leave it to Daddy’s little girl to conveniently skip over the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  You know, the conflict predicated on what we once thought was “the BIG lie” until Trump came up with “a BIGGER lie.” Actually it was two lies:  Saddam Hussein’s involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attack (not true) and his imminent development and potential use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States (also not true).

We can all agree the withdrawal from Afghanistan did not go as planned largely due to the fact that no one expected the Kabul government and military forces to surrender to the Taliban within days, if not hours, of the start of the evacuation.  At a time when some Americans are questioning continued support for Ukrainians who are fighting and dying in defense of democracy, they seem to forget we provided 20 years of both American treasure and lives for a regime that showed no interest in standing up for itself.  Since the U.S. withdrawal, Afghanistan, though ruled by the Taliban, has not been a credible terrorist threat to our homeland.  They have enough problems to deal with governing their own country.

Compare that to the consequences of the 2003 Iraq invasion. 

  • A total of 4,492 U.S. members of the arm services killed and another 32,292 wounded. 
  • Direct funding of more than $750 million.  Estimates of indirect costs at home and abroad raise that total to $3 trillion.
  • An ISIS resurgence in the region.
  • War profiteering of which the major financial beneficiary was Haliburton (you know, “Daddy’s corporation”) which received $39.5 billion in federal contracts during the conflict.

Perhaps the most devastating unintended consequence of the Iraq invasion was the removal of the single most efficient counter-balance to the rise of Iran.  After eight years of armed conflict between Iraq and Iran beginning in 1980, the Iranian clerics agreed to a U.N. brokered cease-fire.  According to a 2016 report by Satgin Hamrah of the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, “While the war may have ended in 1988, its legacy lives on in the Sunni versus Shia sectarian conflicts that currently exist in much of the Muslim world.”  Without Hussein’s presence to ensure a strong Sunni counter to the Iranian Shia theocracy, the threat to America is significantly higher than it was pre-2003. According to a 2022 assessment by the Council on Foreign Affairs:

Iran has built considerable political clout in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Its wide sphere of influence could be expanding, raising domestic tensions and alarming U.S. policymakers.

When the GOP accuses the Biden Administration of enabling Iran’s rise as a global menace, politely remind them who created the opportunity by removing their preoccupation with a hostile next door neighbor.


The other piece of news coming out of the interview was Cheney’s announcement she had not ruled out a possible run for the presidency.  My first thought?  She will not have to worry about campaign financing.  Certainly, she can self-fund her campaign with Daddy’s literal “war chest.”

For what it’s worth.

The Mark Meadows Project

The year was 1976.  With the exception of Jimmy Carter’s election that November, the year was relatively devoid of significant events.  Asking anyone what else happened that year is followed by silence.  Even the long-hyped bicentennial celebration is remembered more for its missteps, e.g.  the misconceived renovation of Union Station in Washington, D.C., which consisted mainly of a massive hole in the middle of the great hall, that was touted as the National Bicentennial Visitors Center. 

There was, however, one exception.  Film director Brian De Palma changed the future of horror movies for decades to come with the release of “CARRIE”. Previously, most horror pictures had what could be called “a happy ending.”  The source of terror was eliminated and moviegoers left the theater believing life might return to normal in locations ranging from Transylvania (Dracula) to a radiated desert in New Mexico (Them!).

SPOILER ALERT:  In the penultimate scene of De Palma’s classic, Carrie (Sissy Spacek) and her mother Margaret (Piper Laurie) perish when Carrie, returning from the ill-fated high school prom, confronts her mother.  The resulting encounter ends with both perishing when Carrie unleashes her telekinetic power destroying the house with both mother and daughter inside. The fictional town of Chamberlain, Maine may never be the same, but at least it is free of Carrie’s wrath and Margaret’s irrational religious fervor.  That is, until Sue Snell (Amy Irving), the sole survivor of the prom night massacre, is shown placing a bouquet of flowers next to the “For Sale” sign on the vacant lot where Carrie’s home once stood.  In what would become the first in a stream of unnatural reanimations in moviedom, a bloody arm emerges from the rubble and grabs Sue.  It is only a nightmare, but the effect has served its purpose.  From that day forward, a villain’s death is no longer final as was the case with Freddy Krueger (Robert England) in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to the less supernatural Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in “Fatal Attraction.”

You are probably asking, “What does this have to do with Mark Meadows?”  As I read the transcript of Meadows’ testimony at last week’s federal court hearing, I realized Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis, had she not chosen a legal career, might be equally successful as the queen of courtroom thriller flicks.  In her directorial debut, she puts Meadows on the witness stand during the evidentiary hearing by which he hopes to move his upcoming trial as a RICO co-defendant from state to federal court.  In the opening scenes, Meadows resides in the equivalent of “Everytown, USA,” a familiar and safe environment created when his legal team asks a serious of softball questions.

This false sense of security soon vanishes with the arrival of the “evil” prosecution portrayed by Willis associate Anna Cross.  [NOTE: Was casting someone with the last name Cross to cross-examine Meadows more than a coincidence?] She shows her intended victim no mercy, immediately confronting him, “Did you have any role in coordinating the fake electors plot?”  And right on cue, Meadows does what a potential victim in any horror picture would do in a similar situation.  He tries to convince his assailant she is barking up the wrong tree.  Her thirst for revenge is more appropriately directed at others.  “No, I did not,” he confidently replies.  He then relaxes, believing he, like Sue Snell, has a chance to be the sole survivor of an impending massacre by jurisprudence.

But Cross is not vanquished.  Her arm emerges, not to grab Meadows, but to show him the telltale email which suggests he likely added perjury to his list of alleged criminal behavior.  This climatic moment is followed by Meadows’ return to the safe confines of his own legal teams.  Until Meadows realizes this was not a dream.  And he will forever be plagued by a recurring nightmare which takes place in the Oval Office where Donald Trump yells at him for failing to anticipate the next demand he should fulfill in pursuit of this boss’ illegal and extra-constitutional endeavors.

Based on its success, “The Mark Meadows Project” likely will not be a one-off blockbuster.  It is the beginning of a long-running motion picture franchise in which each new entry features one or more of the Georgia co-defendants falling victim to the long arm of the DA’s office as it presents damning evidence each co-conspirator wrongly assumed, like Carrie White, was dead and buried.  


Georgia co-defendants would be wise to take a cue from Garry Shandling, who signed-off at the end of the last episode of “The Larry Sanders Show,” the fictional “Tonight Show” doppleganger he created to explore the behind-the-scenes world of late night television by granting permission to his viewers, “You can flip now.”  [NOTE: For those unfamiliar with this HBO series  (1992-98), before each commercial break in segments from the fictional late night talk show, “the show within the show” a la King Lear, Sanders/Shandling would urge his viewers not to go channel surfing with the catchphrase, “No flipping!”]

For what it’s worth.

Cancel Culture Suicide

Fox News claims to be the champion of those who oppose “cancel culture.” The cable network even has a page on its website dedicated to the the rise of the practice which it amplifies as follows:

The fear of being “canceled” due to unpopular political and cultural opinions or unsubstantiated allegations, often amplified with viral Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts, has become a serious issue in America.

The sub-site is populated with stories such as:

  • Cancel culture is getting canceled and it’s about time
  • Cancel culture mob attacked Jason Aldean. They came for “God Bless the USA,” but they can’t cancel all of us
  • Etsy accused of banning “De-Trans Awareness” products for violating “prohibited items policy”
  • Country boys will survive the work warriors
  • Five ways Ayn Rand predicted America’s political crises, from parents spurned to the rise of cancel culture

On Thursday morning, Fox News once again demonstrated its tag line “Fair and Balanced” should be replaced with “Watch what we do, not what we say.” Remember, this is the same network which railed against vaccines while mandating its own employees be fully “stabbed.” On the August 3 edition of “Fox and Friends,” co-host Steve Doocy began reporting on Bill Barr’s interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in which the former attorney general eviscerated the Trump legal team’s claim the special counsel’s indictment was a violation of their client’s First Amendment rights.

[T]his is not about the First Amendment. He said that Donald Trump can say whatever he wants. He can lie. He can tell people the election was stolen. But that does not protect you from entering into a conspiracy. And the former attorney general said free speech does not give you the right for fraudulent conspiracy. And it’s all about the conspiracy.

Instead of paying attention to Doocy, co-host Ainsley Earhardt looks down and appears to be listening to a message coming over her earpiece. She then picks up a piece of paper and interrupts Doocy.

Earhardt: Yeah. It’s really about the double standard here. And that’s what makes conservatives mad. It is when you look at Donald Trump getting slapped with 78 felony charges, 640 years if convicted behind bars. Okay. The sitting president, in his garage, had classified documents, too.

Co-host Brian Kilmeade: We have no idea how that is going.

Earhardt: Exactly. We haven’t heard from that special counsel at all. So, that’s what America’s mad at. That’s why Republicans are supporting Donald Trump. … They are fed up with the way the government is going, with the DOJ, it looks like a two-tiered justice system and people are mad.

I know, Fox News is not the government and therefore has a right to control what is said and not said on its network. But neither is Disney or Etsy or every other private corporation they have vilified on air or on their website. Therefore, with apologies to Walt Kelly, let me suggest another tag line to replace “Fair and Balanced.”

FOX NEWS: We have met the enemy and it is us.

For what it’s worth. Dr. ESP

The First Female President

…and how the news media contribute to that NOT happening.

I have no idea who will be the first female president of the United States or when her election will finally happen.  What I do know is systemic sexism within the ranks of journalists and political pundits, including females, hampers that eventuality.

The most recent example was former Obama communications director Jennifer Palmieri’s appearance on “Morning Joe” during which she discussed her latest article in Vanity Fair, “The Spartan: Why Gretchen Whitmer Has What It Takes for a White House Run.”  Palmieri’s assessment included the Michigan governor’s demonstrated grace under pressure during the pandemic when faced with armed protests at the state capitol and threats to her personal health and safety.  And how local and national pundits underestimated her appeal when she ran for re-election in 2022.

Yet, right on cue, MSNBC regular guest John Heilemann asked Palmieri about voters’ perception of a woman as commander-in-chief.

As you know having been close to Hillary Clinton, the question of ready to be commander-in-chief, a question that she, a former secretary of state grappled with, thought was really important, knew that a woman would have to answer at a higher level of scrutiny than a man would, does any governor, much less a female governor have to answer that question any differently?  Is there any thinking going on in Gretchen Whitmer’s world how to overcome that challenge?

If Governor Whitmer had been at the table, I imagine she would have treated Heilemann to some good old time “womansplaining.”  She would have reminded him that she and every other governor, male or female, is a commander-in-chief with primary responsibility for their respective states’ National Guard.  They have mobilized forces in cases of civil unrest and natural disasters.  And at the president’s request, they send troops overseas to defend the nation’s security and interests.  And they perform the solemn duty of being there when fallen members of the Guard are brought home.

In Whitmer’s absence, no one on the “Morning Joe” set had the hands-on knowledge to make this argument.  Nor was this a one-off occurrence.  Consider the following IMDB tally of guest appearances on the program.

Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson (224 episodes)
John Heilemann (176 episodes)
Foreign relations expert Richard Hass (157 episodes)
Presidential historian John Meacham (151 episodes)
Branding guru Donny Deutsch (139 episodes)
Economist Steve Rattner (133 episodes)
Former Senator Claire McCaskill (80 episodes)
Retired admiral James Stavridis (76 episodes)

The first governor on the list is former Maine chief executive Angus King, although his 21 appearances came after he left the statehouse and was elected to the U.S. Senate.  You eventually reach former Virginia governor Mark Warner (now Senator) and former Vermont governor Howard Dean, each with 10 appearances.  The conversation is never about their years in Augusta, Richmond or Montpelier, respectively.

The first sitting governor is much farther down the listing, Maryland’s Wes Moore with eight bookings during which he can share his less than six months in office. Don’t get me wrong, Moore has a bright political future but his on-the-job training as governor is less than complete.  Eventually you get to New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, in office since 2019, with nine appearances.

Having served in state positions under three governors and as a policy director at the National Governors Association, I recognize my belief that governors make better presidents than legislators is biased and therefore tainted.  But it is not personal.  President of the United States is an executive job.  Success depends on organizational leadership and management skills, not oratory or crafting legislative language.  There is no better training ground than a governor’s office.  Although on a smaller scale, the daily responsibilities of any governor are much the same as a president’s.

Just ask Gretchen Whitmer.  She had to deal with armed protesters invading the Michigan statehouse in May 2020, eight months before the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.  And she activated the state’s National Guard on January 11, 2011 to deter similar confrontations ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration.  That is what a commander-in-chief does.  And you can learn how to do it better through experience commanding troops, not playing soldier at a military boarding school.

For what it’s worth.