Monday, August 21, 2017

ECLIPSE BREAKING NEWS...


CLIMATE CHANGE SUPPORTERS BLAME ECLIPSE ON DONALD TRUMP

Washington, DC-- The powerful solar panel lobby has gone on the attack this morning, claiming that conservatives are responsible for today's solar eclipse in an effort to interrupt energy provided by the sun.

"Trump isn't fooling anyone," said lobbyist Sunny del Sol. "He got out of the Paris climate agreement and now he's worked with NASA to create this total eclipse. Those of us who believe in solar energy are being disenfranchised. And how are we supposed to tear down monuments if we can't see what we're doing?"

The eclipse, which will be seen across the US, will block out most of the sun's rays for a few hours, angering those who depend on solar energy. The lobby is backed by Al Gore, who announced that due to the eclipse he'll have to turn on all the lights in his twenty thousand square foot mansion and private jet, thereby adding to his carbon footprint. "Obviously the moon landings during the Nixon administration were designed to control the lunar path, and today they're using that technology to take a shot at proponents of solar energy."

The White House responded by issuing red hats to people on tour today, reading "Make Eclipses Great Again!"

A protestor in front of the White House was puzzled as to the timing of the event. "I don't know why they couldn't have scheduled this at night."

Friday, August 18, 2017

THE TIME I COVERED A KLAN RALLY... WITH A BLACK PHOTOGRAPHER

"Without conflict there is no theater."

Remember that phrase. It will make sense shortly.

This was back in the eighties. I walked into the newsroom on this particular day, looked at the assignment board to see what story I'd be doing and saw this next to my name:

Klan Rally

Oh, great. Just what every reporter wants to cover. And then it got worse. The photographer who'd been assigned to work with me was black.

I knew this couldn't be right so I immediately went to management. "I think you've made a mistake on the assignment board."

He looked at the board. "You don't want to do your story?"

"No, that's not it. I think I need a different photog."

"You have a problem with the one you're assigned?"

"No, he's a good guy and a good shooter. But I'm sure you don't want to send a black guy with me to a Klan rally."

"You'll be fine. They want to be on television."

"You can't be serious. Are you trying to get him killed?"

My argument fell on deaf ears. The photog, like all shooters who were born with a set of brass ones, accepted the assignment when he could have easily asked for a different one. And no one would have blamed him. A lot of people in the newsroom didn't understand management's decision.

I decided we would do the bare minimum for this story and get the hell out as quickly as possible. By the way, this was a political rally, as a member of the Klan was announcing his candidacy for public office. (No, it was not David Duke.) We arrived, got a few death stares from Klan members. I was as polite as possible and asked the basic questions I would of anyone running for office. "Why are you running?" and "What would you do if elected?" The photog shot some video.

And then we got the hell out of there. 

Later it dawned on me. Was management hoping for some sort of altercation? Some national headline that read "Klan beats black news photographer." It was the only plausible explanation.

Without conflict, there is no theater. 

And that's exactly what the media is doing today. Creating conflict. Creating the impression that the country is about to explode.

In reality, both the left and right have extreme fringe groups that make up a tiny part of the population. But they make for good TV. The conflict between the media and the President also makes for good TV. As do those "debates" on cable news every night and on the Sunday morning shows.

Every news person knows that people will play to the cameras. Would a lot of these incidents even happen if cameras weren't present? If cell phones didn't exist? If social media didn't create flash mobs? Would they happen if political activists didn't bankroll some of these protestors?

Is what you're watching simply conflict that was manufactured by people trying to divide America?

And if you're a journalist, are you telling a story or trying to create conflict?

Friday, August 11, 2017

WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE ON THE OTHER END OF THE INTERVIEW

Over the years I've met and interviewed a ton of famous people, and more often than not, they're different than what you see on TV. Jay Leno was kind of shy. Kenny Stabler was a news junkie. Donald Rumsfeld was funny as hell.

We've all noticed that most celebrities, especially those in the entertainment field, are very liberal. So a few months ago I decided to see what Hollywood types would actually have the requisite set of brass ones to speak out as a conservative. Seriously, it's pretty much career suicide if you're an actor who leans Republican and tells the world about it.

The two I came across who hold absolutely nothing back are actor James Woods and TV game show host Chuck Woolery. While Woods will fire away at liberals with wicked sarcasm on Twitter all day, Woolery has taken it to another level with a website called "Blunt Force Truth" (gotta love the name.) You'll find podcasts and weekly wrap ups of Chuck's minute-long commentaries. He hosts the site with a guy named Mark Young, an advertising executive from Michigan. The topics and interviews are very different than what you'll find on most talk radio shows and in newspaper columns. There are often more than two sides to every story, and you'll find the other sides here. Along with the stories the mainstream media ignores since it doesn't fit the "liberal narrative."

So, of course when I released my latest book "The Deplorables' Guide to Fake News" I figured I'd write to these guys and send them a copy. A short time later Mark contacted me, asking me to be a guest on the weekly podcast.

Now in more than 30 years in the news business, I've been interviewed twice. Once on NYC radio for this book a few weeks ago, and once years ago by a kid from a high school newspaper who wanted to be a reporter. (I told him, "run like hell.")

So the prospect of doing a one hour interview was something very different. I certainly didn't expect any gotcha questions, as we were going to discuss fake news and all the tricks media people play on what used to be an unsuspecting public.

The result was a terrific discussion with two guys who really have their fingers on the pulse of conservative issues and are very well versed in current events... especially those events ignored by the mainstream media. It was clear they are very passionate about their political beliefs and were very interested in talking with someone who has worked on the inside. They had great questions and it made for a very interesting interview. In fact, after we were done I was thinking a lot of the Sunday morning network talk show hosts could learn a thing or two from Chuck and Mark... how to turn an interview of a conservative into a conversation instead of the usual inquisition. The hour flew by.

If you'd like to check out the podcast, you can do so here:

 https://bluntforcetruth.com/

By the way, I'm using my pen name, Nick Harlow, for this book as I write all my political novels with this name.

Thanks to Chuck and Mark for inviting me and making me feel welcome. And, of course, for the work they do in getting the truth out when so-called journalists don't bother to cover stories that make liberals look bad.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

ALWAYS CONSIDER THE SOURCE, BUT DON'T QUOTE AN ANONYMOUS ONE

Perhaps the most amazing thing I've seen during the fake news epidemic is the constant use of anonymous or unnamed "sources" in major stories. It seems that every story has one of the following phrases:

-Sources say
-Someone close to the situation
-People on Capitol Hill are saying
-The word in the White House is

You'll finish watching or reading a story and by the time you get to the end you realize there's no one on the record.

That's not a story. It's gossip. It's a rumor.

As my old News Director used to say, "You got no one on the record, you got no story."

So let's talk about sources, and how they're SUPPOSED to be used when putting together a story. 

Generally a source who seeks you out wants something, or that person wouldn't bother getting in touch. Always keep that in mind. So let's say you get a call from someone who has information about a politician proving he's doing something illegal. What's the first thing you do?

Ask for a name.

If you don't get one, and you probably won't (don't forget to check caller ID) that means the source has an agenda. Of course most sources do anyway, but one that won't give a name is a bit more suspicious. So now what do you do?

If you're a current reporter for a biased network, you run the story without checking. But any good reporter checks out the tip. It may actually turn out to be something, but you cannot run a story without any concrete proof.

And with people on the record.

And with BOTH SIDES of the story.

It's those pesky Journalism 101 rules that network reporters are ignoring that has given the profession a bad name.

The other kinds of sources are those you have cultivated. Any decent reporter has "friendly" relationships with people in high places. Any decent reporter will regularly touch base with these sources and simply ask if there's anything interesting going on that needs to be checked out.

That last part is the key. "That needs to be checked out." That's your job. No source is going to give you the whole story.

You may be on great terms with a politician, and that person may give you what sounds like a great tip, but remember, there's always an agenda from a source. 

Sources are to be used for one reason: to lead you in the direction of a possible story. Note that I say "possible." And unless you check out the lead, and get both sides, you do not have a story.

Finally, the other cardinal sin is running a story based on someone else's fake news. I'm amazed at the networks which will take a piece in the NY Times which has already been debunked or has no attribution and spend a ton of time reporting about it. Bottom line, cutting a story out of a newspaper or taking one from another news organization is not reporting.

Do your job and check out both sides. Sources can be valuable, but only if you do your part.

Monday, July 17, 2017

ONE WORD IS ALL IT TAKES TO REVEAL YOUR BIAS

Most examples of media bias today are pretty obvious. You can pick out slanted questions or opinionated soundbites which leave no doubt as to how a reporter feels about a person or an issue.

But very often the script can be just as telling. And in some cases, you may not even be aware that you're slanting a story. Sometimes, one word can change a viewer's opinion about the subject... and about you.

Let's say you're doing a story about a Governor who might be having some problems getting legislation passed. Perhaps this politician has had a tough time... and there are rumors that he's not well liked. But the rumors are just that... rumors. You have nothing on the record. Now throw in the fact that he's being criticized by people who are protesting against the legislation.

So let's look at two ways to write this story:

"Governor Jones is working hard to get his proposed legislation passed, and faces tough opposition."

"Embattled Governor Jones is working hard to get his proposed legislation passed, and faces tough opposition."

See how one added word can change the tone of the story? How it creates an impression with the viewer? And more important, how it can tag you as biased.

Who's to say the guy is "embattled?" And by what criteria do we make that determination? Just because any politician faces opposition (and they all do) does not make that person "embattled." But simply using that word gives the viewer the impression that the guy is barricaded in his office and everyone hates him.

So be careful with the words you choose. You may be as objective as they come, but the way you write your story can leave some doubt with the viewers.