NBC handles Lauer appropriately


NBC’s management of the Matt Lauer firing was exceptional; no not just for firing a man who has substantiated sexual assault allegations against him, but for the manner in which they informed the public of his release.

As trust in the news media continues to dwindle, NBC stepped up big time. It was completely candid and honest with the viewer about the actions it took in response to allegations it received against Lauer. Savannah Guthrie, Lauer’s own former co-host, announced his dismissal live on NBC. Difficult and awkward, yes, but effective and trustworthy as well.

Rather than merely release a PR statement that Lauer had been fired and say why, they decided to be totally transparent and announce the firing of one of their own on their station, along with statements prepared by the corporation.

While not entirely necessary, having one of NBC’s own like Guthrie announce the news is a show of openness with the viewer and asserts that no one at NBC is above anyone else.

NBC showed real maturity here; news is news, no matter who is making it, no matter who is the subject of the reporting. The episode reminds me of seeing a CNBC package about General Electric, NBC’s parent company. The package was rather critical of General Electric. I was surprised the reporting would speak so truthfully about its parent company. But, NBC proved then that it (at least a little bit) chose journalism over business interests.

Similar to that CNBC package, NBC’s handling of the Lauer firing with honesty, transparency and maturity is a breath of fresh air in a world of dishonest, self-promoting media.

Trump drinks Fiji water


This week, President Donald Trump paused during a speech to take a sip of water. Similar to the Marco Rubio mid-speech sip from a few years back, the country had fun with it.

However, CNN introduced a four-person panel to analyze Trump’s sip and gave it a “breaking news” banner to boot.

CNN has been abusing that “breaking news” banner on their news programs for years. Seemingly every story they run earns the privilege. That, in its own right, is deserving of criticism. CNN has de-legitimized the definition of breaking news by applying the phrase to every single story.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but the president of the United States pausing during a speech to sip some water is not breaking news.

Furthermore, the four-person panel headed by Wolf Blitzer began to criticize the fact that Trump drank from a Fiji brand water bottle — saying it went against his “America First” agenda by drinking from a foreign brand.

The absurdity is evident. Like one conservative pundit has said, “Trump could walk on water and CNN would find a way to criticize him for it.”

This semester, I have spent a lot of time criticizing the apparent agenda the mainstream news media have against our president, but I am in fact quite happy that this occurs. When Donald Trump suggested the incarnation of a federally run news network, “Trump TV,” I was incensed. One of the best aspects of American news media is the absence of state-run TV, essentially pro-government propaganda generators, the likes of which we see most notably in North Korea, but across Europe as well.

The fact that America has a news media that continually keeps the president in check is a privilege we often overlook. Criticizing the government and the man or woman at the helm is part and parcel of what makes a democratic republic so appealing. That right to free speech to praise, criticize and pontificate is so important today, especially because many other countries do not enjoy that right nearly to the extent that we Americans do.

So, yes, I am in fact a fan of news media criticizing and judging the merits of a president and the government as a whole. I just wish they were consistent with their criticism across party lines and were a little more selective in these critiques — instead of spending precious air time talking about a drink from a water bottle.

Air Force racist slur graffiti hoaxed


The news media and those on social media jumped all over a story from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs of five black students reporting racial slurs posted outside their dormitory rooms.

Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria’s speech to cadets denouncing racism then received incredible enthusiasm and went viral. And yet, the circumstances that generated the passionate speech have been proven fabricated.

The Air Force Academy said on Tuesday that one of the cadets who was targeted by the racist remarks was in fact the perpetrator of the act.

While hoaxes of racist bigotry may be few and far between, they are certainly energized by the mainstream media who more often than not jumps all over stories like this one. When the media sees an opportunity like the one at the Air Force Academy, they latch on and ride it for days. They utilize the story to revamp attention on a supposedly racist America and divide people by their ideologies and cultural backgrounds.

The news media is obsessed with racial division.

Especially in this case, but certainly in other cases of hoaxed racism, the news media is complicit in failing to allow the truth to surface. If news media outlets had allowed a proper investigation of the situation by Air Force Academy administration before hyping up this story, the embarrassing turnaround here would only be on the perpetrator, not the news media as well. But they didn’t.

Like so many cases like this one, especially the rare hoaxes, news media hype and plain excitement to rile up this sense of American division and white vs. black is obvious.

It is unfortunate that people feel the need to post racist remarks directed at their own race in order to raise attention to a cause or simply garner pity. It is equally unfortunate when the news media encourages this and seeks to generate excess division.

ABC News’ embarrassing reporting


When allegations of Kevin Spacey molesting an underage boy in 1986 were all but confirmed by Spacey’s public apology Sunday evening, a news media uproar understandably ensued. However, ABC News seemed to take lightly to the revelation as it released a breaking headline that chose not to point out Spacey’s actions but rather his “coming out.”

Spacey’s apology culminated in his openly declaring his homosexuality, which many have speculated was an attempt to divert attention away from the circumstances behind his actual apology. ABC, however, took the bait. It published a headline that did not mention his apology for molestation, but rather referred to it as a “heartwrenching” coming out story.

Gay people, straight people, famous comedians and actors, and your average Joe on Twitter all responded to Spacey’s “coming out story” with immense backlash. They called the actor out for conflating homosexuality with pedophilia, a bigoted allegation the gay community once had to consistently battle against, and took issue with his attempt to essentially, as one tweeter called it, use his ‘get out of jail free card’ by saying “I am gay.”

ABC News, in avoiding the major story in this apology, which is the apology for the molestation of a 14 year-old-boy, and instead choosing to highlight Spacey’s coming out of the closet, is appalling. First, ABC is allowing Spacey this cop out, affording him the luxury of basically saying “don’t focus on that, focus on the fact that I am gay.” Focusing on Spacey’s homosexuality instead does a massive disservice to both the gay community who criticized Spacey for the manner in which he came out, and the victim(s) of Spacey’s abuse.

Second, ABC is ignoring journalistic standards by highlighting what should be perceived as secondary information. Most news outlets reported Kevin Spacey’s apology most prominently as well as the circumstances that called for such an apology, but ABC made it the main story. The headlining is akin to beginning a news report with a bus crash and waiting until the end of the story to inform the viewer that there was a death.

Finally, ABC’s use of the word “heartwrenching” is simply incorrect. Any decent human being will point out that “heartwrenching” is not the applicable word when reporting on a sex offender. Nothing about Spacey’s actions or apology was heartwrenching because he is not the victim. He is at fault and he does not deserve the sympathy that ABC allots him with this generous phrase and headline.

ABC dropped the ball covering the Kevin Spacey apology in an extraordinarily embarrassing way. Let’s hope they don’t do anything like it again.

What happened in Las Vegas?


Conspiracy theorists rejoice — Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is making waves.

The popular talk show host recently held a segment covering how little we know of what occurred leading up to, during and after the Las Vegas shooting from earlier this month. Carlson specifically attacked the story of the only eyewitness Jesus Campos, revealing that Campos left the country days after the shooting and is not in fact a licensed security guard as his testimony to police stated. Carlson raised many unnerving questions and pointed out that as this investigation proceeds, the information — or lack there of, for that matter – becomes more unclear.

Carlson’s assessment of events in Las Vegas is necessary. Falling short of conspiracy theorizing and speculation, he points out the shortcomings of the information received by the public and the misinformation that has been espoused. Most importantly, however, is the fact that Carlson is covering the story at all.

There has been what some have called a news media blackout in regard to the Las Vegas Shooting over the past few weeks. Most likely this is because no new, concrete evidence has turned up since the shooting, but the lack of attention the media is giving the largest mass shooting in modern American history is particularly surprising.

Looking at what information authorities and the public have, we should be increasingly aware at how little we know, despite many logistical questions and a substantial period of time. The current news media are no strangers to speculation or calling into question missing pieces of an investigative puzzle; they have been harping the same Donald Trump collusion with Russia in the 2016 election for about a year now. But the Las Vegas story is not receiving the same treatment. That is not right.

I am wary of even writing on the lack of attention given to this mystery out of fear of riling conspiracy theory and government sabotage, etc. Conspiracists will jump on anything if you give them the chance. Thankfully, Carlson does none of that. He merely reminds viewers that there is more we don’t know about Las Vegas than is typical or justified. And after seeing his segment I have to wonder, why isn’t this receiving more attention?

It is a difficult story to develop, no doubt, as many people are directly affected by the tragedy and the risk of spreading rumors is great in an event of this proportion. However, silence is also not appropriate. The news media used to be on the ground floor discovering new leads when they broke, but for this story it seems we are stuck with speculation and unanswered questions.

News media mum on Uranium One


What is shaping to be one of the most bombshell cases of federal corruption and shady politics of the year is receiving little to no attention from the mainstream news media.

According to Newsweek, the case originates around the sale of Canadian mining firm Uranium One “that has licenses to mine American uranium deposits in Kazakhstan, in 2009. The sale ended in 2013 and transferred the uranium—which made up 20 percent of American reserves—into Russian hands.” Additionally, Uranium One’s chairman donated $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, while another company he was a major investor in, UrAsia, donated over $8.5 million to the foundation.

Recent information has surfaced that indicates the FBI, under now Trump-Russia-special-counsel-head Robert Mueller, notified then-president Barack Obama and other top officials of the corruption among the Russians involved in the deal. And yet, we notice a news media blackout of this story.

President Trump tweeted early Thursday that the deal is the biggest story the news media are not following. Donald Trump has certainly damaged his credibility in calling out fake news because he’s called almost all mainstream news media fake, but Trump is correct in this latest assessment. What could have shaped up to be the next Watergate should Clinton have won the 2016 election is getting ignored by the television news media and newspapers, who instead are choosing to maintain focus on NFL anthem protesting and private phone calls to gold star families.

It goes without saying that if this story had “Trump” anywhere in it, it would be emblazoned as breaking news across every news station and outlet. We have seen this before, as any and every bit of information about Russia and its alleged tampering in the presidential election (whether the information is legitimate, from an “anonymous source,” or a hoaxed internet dossier) inevitably dominates the news cycle for a week.

Trump is right. This is fake news. These outlets have forfeited their credibility by unjustly steering the focus of their broadcasts away from anything that might justify Donald Trump or harm Barack Obama. This is getting ridiculous. At a certain point, the news media have to understand that the public is entitled to be informed about legitimate news that affects the world.

Enough with the rumors, anonymous sources, or whispers and leaks from inside the campaign; finally the news media have significant evidence of actual collusion with Russia among federal officials and they choose to turn away from it. Forgive me, then, news media, if we choose to turn away from you.

Disaster toll in California rises


A total of 31 people have died amid the devastating wildfires wreaking havoc across California. While this story hasn’t quite been dominating the news cycle, a candid, somber moment did occur on Fox News’ morning broadcast America’s Newsroom.

A California woman recounted to reporters the horrifying final phone call she had with her mother. The woman held a “missing” poster of her mother up to the camera as she fought back tears and told reporters how her mother called her crying, trapped in her house and surrounded by flames.

Her mother told her “I’m going to die in here.” The woman hoped bringing attention to her missing mother on television would find her sooner and safely. The package ended and unfortunately host Bill Huemmer concluded that the mother’s remains were found that night.

The tragic milestone of 31 deaths that California hit makes this year’s wildfires some of the deadliest in history. Figures like these are thrown at the viewer frequently with stories like this one, yet can often be overlooked because of the seemingly commonplace nature of the disasters.

America’s Newsroom, however, made this report more than just a story. The wildfires became more than a mere news segment. This interview hit home. It made the tragedy in California real for myself, a viewer on the other coast otherwise entirely unaffiliated with the fires.

The segment was powerful due to the interviewee’s horrific story of her last conversation with her mother. She endured a living nightmare and her tale made me realize how severe this is.

In an age where violence and tragedy dominates the news cycle and numbs the viewer to the reality the worst that the world can offer, America’s Newsroom made an impact with their coverage and focus on the severity of the situation, and the people involved — because they are what matters most.

Sensationalizing tragedy on television


The story at the forefront of American news media this week has been the horrific shooting that occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night. A final count of 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the massacre. And yet, the news media embraces the violence as if it were a great show.

You know the teasers: “Tonight at 11, what is in your refrigerator that may be poisoning your food? Find out on the *insert local station* nightly news.” *intense sound effect*

These teasers, while quite reminiscent of Internet click-bait, are all well and good with such a story as the fabricated example above. However, this week the news, and specifically 24-hour news channels such as CNN or Fox News, have been teasing their stories out of Las Vegas in that manner.

It is sickening. It reminds me of the film “Nightcrawler” starring Jake Gyllenhal, who is a multimedia journalist taping gruesome crime scenes and worrying only about the “shot” but never the victims involved. And his station encourages it.

But this is real life, not a movie. As if the deaths of 58 Americans in the largest mass shooting in this nation’s history weren’t attention-grabbing enough, now news programming feels that they need to entice the viewer with dramatic music and sensational latest reports out of Las Vegas.

The hundreds of families and friends affected, as well as all of us innocent, confused Americans, could do without the 24-hour news cycle pushing a traumatic event like this down our throats as if it were a movie trailer.

While average Americans are trying to wrap their heads around such a terrifying event and go on with their days, the media is lapping it up, hyping up the fact that the shooting is now deadliest in U.S. history, and has racked up more deaths than the Orlando night club shooting.

Sensationalizing tragedy is not appealing. It should not earn viewers and in turn earn more money. Unfortunately, the news seems to believe in it, and we are living in a time of glorifying horror on television.

News and a useless vacuum of time


With President Trump’s comments last Friday regarding the NFL and those players who have knelt during the national anthem, a storm of controversy has blossomed that has the entire country talking.

Some people would argue that this should be the top trending story on all news programs, however, is it the news media’s job to discuss a very widespread, opinionated topic in detail and most extensively?

Leave it to the pundits and talk shows. Let a panel of partisan talking heads on CNN or Fox News debate each other on the legitimacy of the protest and the absurdity or necessity of Trump’s comments.

But news programs such as NBC’s “Nightly News” or ABC’s “Good Morning America” shouldn’t devote the majority of their air-time to a story lacking overall fact-based newsworthiness.

Naturally, a topic of such relevance to most if not all Americans and the magnitude of a controversy involving the most prominent person in the United States against the most popular sport in the country covers nearly all the bases for a story needing to be told.

Now that we are a week removed, however, it’s time to return to covering breaking stories and national coverage that have more severe consequences. News from North Korea and the latest of their nuclear endeavors or the latest from Puerto Rico after hurricanes Irma and Maria should take up the most time because they are more severe.

News programs have received a week to talk all around this controversy. At this point, it has become debate. Leave debating to partisan shows and pundits, and let the news programs stick to what’s news.

Acosta goes too far with interview


When CNN’s Jim Acosta grilled White House advisor Stephen Miller on immigration policy in the Trump Administration, he was not championing the tired, poor, huddled masses that the Statue of Liberty invites. He was championing his own cause, one that crosses the line of journalistic integrity into political partisanship.

Much has been said in regard to partisanship in the news media and it is largely true for both sides of the political spectrum. Bias in the news consumers receive and digest is the new norm. No clearer has this been apparent than when a few weeks ago, CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta tore off his reporter’s cap and donned the mantle of Republican opposition.

Acosta, rather than ask a question that would subsequently inform his viewers, recited to Stephen Miller the poem added to the Statue of Liberty in New York, saying “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” He then chose to press Miller about the legitimacy and true nature of the Trump Administration’s new green card policy, saying it was possibly race-influenced.

Acosta started an argument with Miller. He did not ask a necessary, informative question, he did not ask something that would open up the floor for further voices. Acosta sought to debate Miller as a political opponent would, failing to understand (or perhaps disregarding entirely) that his job as a reporter is to report news, not instigate ideological arguments on the press room floor.

The ordeal was a disservice to Acosta’s colleagues in the White House press room as it was unfair and disrespectful to the qualified reporters simply trying to do their jobs, but it was especially a disservice to Acosta’s viewers, who have a right to receive news that is fair and not manipulated. Acosta, however, has begun to disregard his duty as a journalist to provide the public with legitimate stories that they can judge for themselves. He failed because that day he became the news, when he was instead supposed to report it.