Fire, Then Fury

Michael Wolff has made a career of skewering powerful people, newsmakers like Rupert Murdoch. That is his journalistic M.O. You can look it up. To expect anything different from him re: President Trump, is mistake number one in your thinking.

A profile of Wolff was written back in 2004 for New Republic. The writer, Michelle Cottle, wrote that he “is the quintessential New York creation, fixated on culture, stye, buzz, and money, money, money.” Perhaps better, Wolff might be a quintessential American creation of sorts, mirroring America’s obsession with flash, trash, and cultural detritus. A writer “willing to dish the dirt.” Of course, it’s dangerous to hold the mirror up to others—especially if the mirror reveals their idol/president/emperor is a cartoon cutout. It pisses them off, too. Say what you will about Mr. Wolff: he’s been laughing all the way to the bank for a while.

Since Wolff’s pretty well-known in what he does, the fact that the current handlers of Mr. Trump, and Trump himself, must have known that Wolff was going to write what he saw and what he thought he saw. And yet, they feign indignation. Didn’t something tip you off when he was playing a fly-on-the-wall, talking to a gaggle of inner-circle cronies? He spoke to Trump, too, for God’s sake!

Michael Wolff on the Trump White House.

That’s why for me, it rings incredibly disingenuous when ideological Kool-Aid-drinkers get indignant about Wolff’s book. Kind of lame, in my way of thinking. Continue reading

The Speed of Information

Technology, despite all the tributes, alms, as well as religious devotion delivered via never-ending paeans to its superiority and ability to make us a nation better than ever before, simply enhances our downward drift. Leading the way for the obeisant is social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and who knows what else.

I have a 94-year-old man that I spend two mornings a week with. He suffers from macular degeneration and is legally blind. I read him the Wall Street Journal, and some local news from either the Bangor Daily News, or the Portland Press Herald. I then wrap up my visit with something history-related from a book we’re working our way through.

He was a successful businessman, heading up a company with more than 100 employees for more than 50 years with branches across the U.S. Like many men of his WWII generation, he cultivated a daily habit of reading America’s business paper. I mention all this to say that regularly consulting the WSJ is probably going to flavor an occasional blog post, or two. Like the following story. Or should I say, a hoax, a false flag, about Twitter. Continue reading

My Truth is Better Than Yours

Boiling every political argument down as being either conservative or liberal is a limiting critique—a binary straightjacket, so to speak. This kind of posturing has poisoned the current political well for sure.

What it’s also done very well is to create an undeserved smugness on one side, or the other. Where this smugness often gets exhibited in these heady digital days is on social media platforms—Twitter and Facebook, mainly.

Like the other day. Continue reading

Jesus and Maine Politics

In the world of alternative weeklies, topics covered aren’t usually the same ones that the mainstream dailies cover. If they are, there’s often more depth in reporting, or, a slightly different angle offered. Writing for an alternative weekly (or monthly) often allows a bit more leeway, also.

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Chasing Stories

My last article for the Portland Phoenix looked at the governor’s firing of MTI’s Bob Martin. Apparently the Portland Press Herald is doing some follow-up on the firing and what might be behind it. Of course, this type of “fact-checking” reminds me of the recent post by journalism professor and press critic, Jay Rosen, what he referred to as “he said, she said” journalism. I hope there’s more to come on this from Whit Richardson.

I was able to locate the smoke, but as a freelancer, I don’t have the resources and time due to the need to chase a new story and another deadline, to find the fire. I wish I could dig deeper, as this governor’s inability to tolerate other viewpoints is quite obvious to me. I’m also pretty sure that most of what the governor is saying about MTI and what’s behind the firing is BS.

Today, I’m  off in pursuit of two deadlines for two different editors, plus working on other feature articles highlighting nonprofits. One of my stories is about economic development, the city of Portland, and why traditional ED models no longer work. Don’t tell that to Paul LePage, or his economic lackeys, all economic development dinosaurs. Continue reading

Posting Time Again

It just occurred to me that it’s Tuesday and I’m supposed to have a post up—well, in a technical sense, I still have slightly less than six hours to get it up before Tuesday’s done gone.

In some ways, Sunday’s food review/post about Slab was really my Tuesday post, two days early. But, just in case somebody’s keeping score, I’m staying true to my Tuesday/Friday posting schedule.

I’ve actually been chasing a story since late last week that’s due to hit the streets on Friday. It’s got some investigative elements, and it’s one I’m feeling really good about, getting it sourced and written, and turned in on a tight deadline. I also appreciate a new editor who took a chance that I could deliver it. More details to follow on that one. Continue reading

Investigating the News Through Movies

Redford and Hoffman starring in "All The President's Men."

Redford and Hoffman starring in “All The President’s Men.”

Bumping your head and puncturing a lung forces you to slow down just a bit. Slowing down allows you to take the time to smell the roses, or at least include a nap or two as part of your recovery. Naps aren’t a bad thing, but in America, napping is seen as weakness. That discussion about our hustling nature will have to wait ‘til later, when I’m back at 100 percent. Continue reading