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The president finally makes sense

Fredo MichaelI finally get it.
All these months I could not understand why our president tried so hard to disrupt and destroy the investigation into Russian hacking of our elections. There are those who are convinced it is because the president was directly involved in collusion with the Russians.
Still others think the president is just a buffoon, but I’ve never bought into that theory – he has some innate intelligence and survival instincts or he wouldn’t be able to thrive in the cutthroat world in which he’s cruised all these years.

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About enduring press freedom

Brian Karem at White House press briefingI walked slowly to my bunk and looked up at the television set. Twenty pairs of eyes were on the NBC Nightly News watching a story about me.
One man turned around and said, “Man, you famous.”
Since I was in jail at the time – for refusing to give up a confidential source – and wearing jail-issued underwear as well, this meant very little to me.
Fame is fleeting. Jail underwear sticks with you for a long time.
I thought about that yesterday when my smart phone started incessantly vibrating for several hours on end.

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Sentinel claims awards

  • Published in Local

Sentinel Staff Photo 1bThe Sentinel Staff with owner Lynn Kapiloff, seated. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER   ANNAPOLIS - The Montgomery County Sentinel Newspapers was awarded the Maryland Delaware, District of Columbia Press Association “News Organization of the Year” award for the second time in as many years in a ceremony here Friday.

“It is an honor to be awarded this distinction for the second time in as many years and the third time in the last five years,” said Sentinel owner Lynn Kapiloff. “It is vital for independent publications to remain vibrant – especially at this time in our history.”

The Sentinel won 35 awards out of a possible 48 categories, picking up first and second place in categories such as Investigative Reporting, State Government Reporting, and Multimedia Storytelling (news).

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Sentinel Hosts Live Stream Roundtable on Hate Crimes

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE -  The Montgomery County Sentinel will be hosting a live stream roundtable discussion on hate crimes in our community and solutions for dealing with them.

The roundtable discussion will be held on Monday, January 23rd, in the Council Hearing Room (3rd floor) in the County Council Building at 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. 

Brian J. Karem, the executive editor for The Sentinel Newspapers will moderate the event which is scheduled from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. 

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Looking for a Cosmic Goal

AAM-936-MC FWhen my father was my age he had about six months to live.

Consequently I can’t get over my own mortality. Granted, I don’t think I’m about to expire soon. I haven’t been diagnosed with lung cancer like my dad, or with bone cancer like my stepfather who is now currently suffering.

I don’t have lymphoma like Larry Hogan. I haven’t been diagnosed with a lymph cancer like a friend of mine in county government. I didn’t recently wake up dead like a former football player I coached who died at 27-years-old of an undiagnosed heart condition. I didn’t die of heart disease at 43 like my younger brother.

I have a physical every year. I’ve had that wonderful colonoscopy thing done against my will. I try to watch my weight and exercise.

Still, the number of days we all have on this planet are finite – unless there are real Vampires and immortals hiding among us.

If that’s the case, look me up and let us palaver a bit.

Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

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The Ultimate Goal

 

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H.L. Mencken hit on a hidden truth when he said in essence it is hard to imagine someone is telling the truth when you know in their position you wouldn’t.
How that translates to covering government cuts both ways.
Politicians, especially after seeing the biased reporting which is seemingly all-pervasive in our country today find it hard to trust anyone in the media. As for those of us in the media, after covering seemingly endless scandals from local, state and especially in the federal government it becomes increasingly difficult to look at politicians with anything less than a jaundiced eye.
While both mindsets are flawed, the results on the public can be both similar and wildly different. Ultimately those who have the power of subpoena, taxation and sit in the seats of power – elected by the people to serve us all - can be argued to have a greater responsibility to the electorate. You have but two senators in each state. If they do wrong, then you don’t have much redress for your grievances. If you don’t like a reporter, then you can turn the channel, read a different newspaper or find the information you want – whether it be true or not – on the Internet.
Those of us who gather information, therefore, seem to be mere flotsam in the scheme of things – a fact also reflected by Mencken when he said, “For example, the problem of false news. How does so much of it get into the American newspapers, even the good ones? Is it because journalists as a class are habitual liars?...I don’t think it is. Rather it is because journalists are, in the main, extremely stupid, sentimental and credulous fellows – because nothing is easier than to fool them.”
“It is this vast and militant ignorance, this widespread and fathomless prejudice against intelligence that makes American journalism so pathetically feeble and vulgar and so generally disreputable.”
So as Lisa Abraham, an editor in Columbus Ohio who was jailed for trying to defend the First Amendment in the early 90s, said at The National Press Club Monday night, “Why is it the first place government stops to get information is from a reporter?”
Why indeed? For if journalism is so disreputable, what does it say for those in public life who attempt to prey on the reporters and ultimately use them?
I was humbled to be in the room with Lisa and eight other reporters who, like me, went to jail at some point in their career trying to either protect a confidential source or keep the government from using them as investigators. The assembled group included author Vanessa Leggett, television personality and author Judy Miller, blogger and journalist Josh Wolf who holds the record for serving time – seven and a half months. Television producer Brad Stone, Abraham, print reporter Schuyler Kropf, publisher Libby Averyt and myself made up the bulk of those who spent time detained for our actions.
We met prior to an evening symposium at The National Press Club to get to know one another. Many of us had never met. We are a small club too. Just about a dozen and a half of us are alive and one of us, Jim Taricani, has significant health issues.
I found the meeting prior to the symposium enlightening and ultimately enjoyable in finding I was part of a family I was actually unaware of joining.
The gut wrenching decision to protect a source or your notes, or your videotape is incredibly difficult. It is so easy to give in, and ultimately most do to government officials. While every day many compromise themselves to corrosive threats by the lowest elected official to the highest, many more have stood up to say they will stand by what they have done. Usually you aren’t jailed.
But government intimidation is an 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Ultimately threats, catcalls of a wild and wide variety against the reporter, their abilities, their character and their motives can level most people.
But there is a cure and the nine of us who met this week are supportive of the initial step – a National Shield Law that will protect reporters from testifying and give our sources greater cover.
It is just a first step. Public officials found to be threatening reporters with incarceration or trying other means of coercion should pay a high price for those acts. Information should be more readily available to reporters and the cost of challenging the government when it withholds information should be eliminated.
It would go a long way to cleaning up government from the lowest to the highest miscreants.
Monday I got to take part in a historical meeting of some fascinating and enjoyable people.
My sincere hope is we don’t merely become a historic footnote.

 

 

 

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