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Brian Karem

Brian Karem

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You've got to be kidding me

DjdWLHdXoAAw7t Somewhere Hunter Thompson and Bill Hicks are laughing over a tab of LSD and wondering if our reality is their drug-induced nightmare.
Or something like that.
The phone call was hilarious, if not touched. It began with him threatening me bodily harm. It ended in laughter - at least on my part.
“Your entire problem is that you are a hack Democrat who doesn’t understand how great the president is,” I was told.
“Your problem,” I responded, “Is that you think I care what you think.”
“Just like a liberal.”

The 12 Step guide to covering the White House

trumpnmeDealing with the Donald Trump administration is problematic for a variety of reasons.
As a reporter, it’s been difficult as he’s labeled us “The enemy of the people,” and accuses us of producing “Fake News.”
He’s publicly said all Americans should not believe what we see and hear, but should only listen to him for truth, justice and the American way.
Along the way his administration has battled in ways previously unseen with working reporters. This week Kaitlan Collins from CNN got banned from an event because she either asked “inappropriate questions” or was “rude” to the president in a pool spray event.

"Come Together" isn't the national narrative

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As a reporter with America’s Most Wanted, and while covering crime and politics in a variety of venues during the 35 years of my career, I’ve seen hope born from despair in the eyes of crime victims, refugees and those suffering in war zones a thousand times.
Tuesday I saw it in the most unlikely of places: The U.S. Congress.
In this national atmosphere of divisiveness marked by vitriol where the overriding narrative is dominated by anger and despair as we feed the wrong wolf (apologies to Chris Cuomo who used this metaphorical tale a few weeks ago and I seem to be beating to death), I was taken aback to find in a joint subcommittee meeting Tuesday two people from opposite ends of the political spectrum joining together to do their best to end the war against the First Amendment.

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.

The backbone of Journalism

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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 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

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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.”

Limit the power of all politicians - Vote!

IMG 0271An apocryphal saying attributed to both Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken declares the only way to look at a politician is “down.”
I can certainly understand the sentiment and add the only thing worse than a die-hard Republican is a die-hard Democrat.

The battle between the press and the President

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Of the two comments I’ve heard most regarding media activity in the White House press room, the most ridiculous comment I hear is “Why don’t you guys all get up and walk out?”
This comment assumes almost the same kind of mindset attributed to the president: The press is a monolithic group of reporters working in unison to create a narrative. The president believes we’re trying to create a false narrative or are unfair in the way we cover his administration; everyone else just thinks we’re often full of it.

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