Editor's Notebook

The President Does NOT hate America

IMG 0190I confess that until recently I did not believe covering the Donald Trump administration and my physical proximity to the President during the last 18 months had given me any great insight.
Most days are spent reacting to a variety of stimuli and scandals that give one little time for deep analytic thought beyond retching.
But CNN's Chris Cuomo, Thursday night on his show, in a segment called "Closing Argument" crystalized my thoughts regarding our president.
Using a Trump Tweet (I call these choice little Trump brain droppings "Twitter Litter") Cuomo declared the president hates this country.
The tweet was frightening, anti-American, anti-free press, and alarming. In part it said, "The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media."
I replied to the President's twitter litter, "Let no one mistake what this man is saying: He believes a man who murders journalists, who criminally invaded another country, who poisons his enemies is NOT the enemy of the people - but those who point out these crimes are. @realDonaldTrump who is the real enemy of the people?
Like Cuomo, I found Trump's tweet undermining and demeaning - particularly after I recently lost friends and colleagues in Annapolis when a crazed gunman entered the Capital Gazette and killed five people with a shotgun.
That loss still stings and the president's inability to summon even a modicum of respect for the dead is unnerving.
"This is ugly and it is unoriginal. But most importantly it is an admission that you hate your country," Cuomo said before citing several historic references that show attacking a free press is a bullying tactic used by demagogues, despots and dictators. All of this is true. I found Cuomo's argument lawyerly, logical and air tight - if you accept the premise.

But making the logical leap to Trump hating his own country?
I don't think so.
In fact, I believe Donald Trump believes that he loves his country. Certainly those who support him believe this and telling them point blank their favorite president hates America will not make any headway with them. It will only add to the divisive nature of our country and keep us from meeting somewhere in the middle to hash out our differences.

Cuomo, a man I respect and call a friend, once recounted the old morality tale of unknown origin attributed to the Cherokees and succinctly described in the movie "Tomorrowland":

Casey Newton: "There are two wolves" … You told me this story my entire life, and now I'm telling you: There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair, the other is light and hope. Which wolf wins?
Eddie Newton: C'mon, Casey.
Casey Newton: Okay, fine, don't answer.
Eddie Newton: Whichever one you feed.

In the case of Trump and his anti-media sentiments it is awfully tempting to call the tweet "boring" as some have or evidence of hatred against our country as Cuomo has. I confess upon first seeing this particular bit of Twitter Litter I too was angry, but after watching Cuomo, I was forced to re-evaluate this opinion for I believe it is feeding the wrong wolf.
Again I say, I do not think Trump hates our country.


Elrich, Ficker and Floreen

Elrich Ficker FloreenAnd so it’s over – or is it?
Councilman Marc Elrich apparently survived an attempt by local businessman Donald Trump, I mean David Trone, I mean David Blair to buy the Democratic nomination for county executive. By just 80 votes Elrich emerged victorious from this summer’s primary election only to face a cornucopia of challenges headed into the fall general election.


The backbone of Journalism

IMG 0841

During the American Revolution community newspapers in the embryonic country bound citizens together with provocative editorials and news of the day as citizens rose up to break free of the tyranny of a King. Many newspapers published the Declaration of Independence and helped to popularize the founding principles of our nascent nation.


Happy Independence Day Mr. President

Fourth of July fireworks

The American voting public during the Republic’s history has delighted itself upon the thought that an average citizen of reasonable intelligence can rise to the fore and serve a great nation dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nothing, of course, can be further from the truth.

Our history, indeed, is replete with the election of fools to the highest office in our land. The notable exceptions being perhaps the first four or five presidents and maybe two or three more during the run of the Republic.

Many of them have had connections and wealth. None have been from the lower class. None of them are the “great unwashed.”


In pursuit of civility

IMG 0772The old-fashioned snail mail letter was quick and to the point as well as being in all caps:
“The felon Hillary lost her fat sloppy ass and you fruit cakes just can not get over that fact. Now go to your safe place and whack off you sick piece of sh*t.”
Meanwhile, the president’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was politely asked to leave and left a rural Virginia restaurant this weekend.
That move spurred a variety of actions that led to an unprecedented action this week: the president’s press secretary now has secret service protection.
Sanders has no doubt received a variety of threats – as has many of us who are covering this administration.


Just Ask The Question!

DX38C9QVMAEDRIp.jpg largeDuring the course of my career I’ve often been asked to speak to young reporters and students regarding the art of questioning.
It boils down to “Ask the darn question.”
There is an art to crafting a question and there is a gentle way to proceed with questions depending on the subject, the topic and a variety of other variables including but not limited to the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.
At the end of the day, you must simply pull the trigger and ask the question.


Happy Father's Day Mom!

IMG 0328This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day and I’ve customarily spent the time thanking my dad for a variety of things he taught me. He was my first hero. When I was younger I wanted to grow up and be just like him.
I admired his sense of humor and his love of athletics as well as the fact he held a position of prominence among the members of our neighborhood as he coached and mentored young men. He gave me sage advice and later in his life he was among my closest friends until his death.


When my dad was dying

IMG 0756When my dad was dying of lung cancer, I remember him sitting on my sofa and giving me two bits of advice.
The first was to spend time with your children when they are young – something he sadly thought he did not do enough of when I was younger.
The second bit of advice he gave me came via my mother and the Dick Van Dyke show. “Your mother was right. Never lose your sense of humor or your thumbs.”
For children of my generation that was a direct reference to an episode called “It May Look Like a Walnut” and my mother has been fond of referring to that episode since it first aired.


The Sinkhole at The White House

white house sinkhole 1Or the Love Song of J. Alfred Trump

In an administration running on threats, “alternative facts,” propaganda, divisiveness, and is fueled by the energy of an overweight septuagenarian and his flock of minions who seem to be straight out of a casting call for The Sopranos, The Mickey Mouse Club or Glee, this past week reached a new low.
Extensive rains caused a small sinkhole to open up outside of the press briefing room and reporters joked it was an exposed escape tunnel for fleeing staffers who were digging their way to freedom with coffee spoons. And as though they were pinned and wriggling against the wall preparing a face to meet the faces they meet or scuttling across the floor of the D.C. swamp, those same staffers who have lamented the administration they serve eagerly once again took up their ode to T.S. Eliot and headed to the network talk shows to tell us about “spies” and how great the president is though privately they continue to wring their hands, gnash their teeth and flail about with “insidious intent.”


The New Normal is neither

Nimah Nayel 2Today’s “New Normal,” isn’t new and it isn’t normal.
Sixteen-year-old baccalaureate student Nimah Nayel is a victim of the old racism and hate, long existent and awful in its scope.
This vile hatred, the antithesis of the American Spirit stayed dormant and seemingly was swept away into the dustbin of history where it belongs until the minions of Donald Trump took his racist and hate-filled rhetoric primetime and brought back the hatred with a vengeance.