No Need To Stand In a Hurricane

Every time there is a hurricane or tornado the same thing happens, and Hurricane Irma was no exception. Media outlets deploy to the region in masses and, as if we would not believe them, place correspondents outside in the elements.  When there is nothing happening these reporters can fill hours with background and warnings, but once the storm hits they essentially become human weather vanes. They are buffeted about by wind and rain, knocked over by gusts and often dodge projectiles such as street signs or windows. They stand there shouting, often inaudibly, while trying to stay upright.

Will it take a serious injury or death to put an end to this silliness? Lots of weather maps with meteorologists’ explanations and images of the storm are what gets the message across. No need to have a soaking wet Chris Cuomo or Anderson Cooper or Rosa Flores to convince me that there is bad weather.

My sympathies to those who braved the conditions, but I do not think there is fake weather!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Kellyanne Conway’s CNN Caper

This morning I watched Counselor to President Trump Kellyanne Conway ramble on for over an hour on CNN. They should have changed the name to Conway Nonsense Network for the segment. It was not an interview, although Chris Cuomo did address numerous questions to  Conway, more of an exercise in avoidance and obfuscation on her part.

Conway’s caper this morning was nothing short of laughing up her sleeve – and by extension the Trump administration’s sleeve – at the U.S. electorate.

As a kid I used to hate it when a classmate was making a fool of himself; I would feel embarrassed for them. That same sense of unease was what I experienced today watching the ever-grinning Conway.

It is not uncommon for political spokespersons to nuance their replies to touchy questions. Conway choose to ignore them entirely only to later claim she answered them. It seems to me that the people of the United States deserve to have straight answers to straight questions from any spokesperson, Democrat, Republican or Independent.

Conway’s caper this morning was nothing short of laughing up her sleeve – and by extension the Trump administration’s sleeve – at the U.S. electorate. There was nothing nuanced about it, nothing shrewd or crafty about it. She merely responded to questions with questions or spoke about an entirely unrelated topic.

CNN must alter its approach to covering the Trump administration

No doubt exasperated, Cuomo reached a point when he allowed Conway to run on. Letting her pull out as much rope as she wanted to hang herself.

CNN must alter its approach to covering the Trump administration. Rather than pander to the White House for Conway to appear, the network should continue to cover the president but refuse to present her, or any other spokesperson without some sense that the person will not ignore questions and filibuster.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

There’s got to be something Anthony Bourdain does not like

I enjoy watching Anthony Bourdain on CNN. His travel/food show is well done and he is a fine host. His sense of humour is subtle and witty, and his appreciation of fine food is second to none.

He is the opposite of Mikey in the old Life cereal advertisement who does not like anything (except of course Life).

He travels the world for his Parts Unknown series bringing interesting and exotic locations to the homes of everyday folks. While on his treks around the world he mixes with the locals and has no qualms about trying absolutely any food that may be presented to him. He is the opposite of Mikey in the old Life cereal advertisement who does not like anything (except of course Life).

The problem, I find, is that this detracts from his persona inasmuch as no matter what he eats, he always finds it wonderful, exquisite, superb. But – you knew that was coming – just once I would like to see an episode in which he tries a local delicacy and blurts out “Sweet jumping Jesus, that tastes Christ awful!”.

… just once I would like to see an episode in which he tries a local delicacy and blurts out “Sweet jumping Jesus, that tastes Christ awful!”.

Sooner or later,if only to give credence to the authenticity of Bourdain’s culinary acumen, they have got to air a show where he tries something that really goes against the grain. The show, and the host, would grow in my opinion if he were to bite into something, grimace, break out in a cold sweat, turn away from the camera and spit. Then, being the quintessential host, turn back to the camera and state unabashedly “Wombat testicles in a canary sauce seem to be an acquired taste”. Just once. I know I would be a fan for life. Although I do feel a little like the old Happy Days character Ralph Malph who would write in asking a particular TV program to feature a human sacrifice!

Instead he continues to globe-trot and eat whatever is put in front of him then rave about it. But one of these days …

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Mainstream Media and Russian Hacking

One often hears the term ‘mainstream media’ these days. It is often used derogatorily by President Trump to indicate those news channels and publications that do not support him. It is not the job of any media outlet to support any president; rather the constant questioning is a necessary means of checks and balances. Without these in place, the public would be un- or wrongly informed.

Yet sometimes in an effort to be neutral, the mainstream media gets it wrong.

Yet sometimes in an effort to be neutral, the mainstream media gets it wrong. The current hot topic – Russia’s alleged hacking of last November’s US election – is a case in point. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, in a joint statement said: “The U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations. . . . These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

Whenever a network correspondent speaks about the hacking and how the investigation is ongoing and how there can now be little doubt that the election was hacked, they quickly blurt out “But not in such a way as to change the outcome”. They get that in so fast that it sometimes sounds as if they are saying the two things at once. Often they even lead with the statement that the election was clean, then go on to explain how it was hacked. To my ears it just does not ring true.

I believe that in truth they do, quite understandably, want to take some people’s guns away: those who have criminal records, those deemed mentally unfit, ideally those who have not shown that they are capable of safely handling a gun.

It reminds me of when these same media outlets talk about gun control. Just as they have finished illustrating the common sense of background checks, comes the disclaimer “Of course I don’t want to take anyone’s guns away. We have a Second Amendment’. I believe that in truth they do, quite understandably, want to take some people’s guns away: those who have criminal records, those deemed mentally unfit, ideally those who have not shown that they are capable of safely handling a gun (you have to pass a test to get a driver’s license, but anyone can obtain and use a gun).

So if I follow that logic, should I assume that many reporters and analysts, while discussing the hacking are really wanting to say “Anything is possible, the outcome of the election has been placed in serious doubt given the vast amount of Russian hacking”?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

I Nominate “Pivot” as 2016 Most Overused Campaign Word

Constant pivoter Kayleigh McEnany far left. Carol Costello far right

Constant pivoter Kayleigh McEnany far left. Carol Costello far right

After what feels like decades the US election campaign is down to the last four days. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are picking up the pace as they crisscross the country in a last effort to secure votes.

Perhaps the only group more fatigued than the candidates are the umpteen surrogates who continue to pop up on television screens to shill for their man or woman.  Personally I will be pleased when I can turn on my television and not hear one of these spokespeople use the word ‘pivot’. No longer do candidates change their opinion, or modify their stance. Nope, they pivot.

I hereby nominate the word pivot as the most used during the campaign.

pivot

To my mind pivoting is what a basketball player does, or a second baseman trying to turn a double play. When candidates or their supporters pivot it is anything but athletic or smooth, it is annoying. To pivot for these folks means to talk about whatever you want, instead of answering the posed question. As one analyst put it, if asked about the weather talk about baseball. It’s cute but when you are running for president of the United States it is also unacceptable.

Too often responses to questions put to a Trump spokesperson about Trump begin with What’s really important is Hillary’s lack of … 

CNN’s Chris Cuomo had two surrogates on yesterday and told them they could not mention, or allude to, their opponent when answering questions. It was a breath of fresh air. Too often responses to questions put to a Trump spokesperson about Trump begin with What’s really important is Hillary’s lack of … Pivoting at its worst.

On a constant basis CNN’s Carol Costello tries to rein in candidate surrogates when they pivot from the question she asked to a safer, if totally unrelated, topic. Sometimes she is successful, other times the speaker just blabs on over her requests to answer the question. But at least she tries. It would seem the use of the word pivot has become pivotal to describing replies to questions.

Do these surrogates think the electorate is stupid? If your candidate’s spokesperson always evaded questions might you not get the impression something is being hidden?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Trump: Uncharted Not Unchartered

trump_bush

As I write this the 24-hour news channels are in raptures over the latest Donald Trump gaffe. Wall-to-wall coverage of his gutter-mouth chat with someone called Billy Bush in 2005 has kept the news mills grinding overtime, unearthing numerous other examples of Trump’s misogynist tendencies as illustrated on the Howard Stern radio show.

The way I see it there are two people who come out of this looking at least as bad as Donald Trump. The first is Billy Bush who is heard on the recording gleefully sucking-up to Trump, and the second is Rudy Giuliani.

Countless references have already been made to the unique nature of this year’s election campaign, but this news of the Republican Party on the verge of imploding has, dare I say it, trumped them all. The way I see it there are two people who come out of this looking at least as bad as Donald Trump. The first is Billy Bush who is heard on the recording gleefully sucking-up to Trump, and the second is Rudy Giuliani.

In 2001 after the terrorist attacks on New York then mayor Rudy Giuliani became an overnight sensation. He was calm yet angry, serious, strong and in control. Now as one of Trump’s top advisers he has gone from being America’s Mayor to being a clown. He has steadfastly backed Trump even in this most recent affair.I suspect he has been promised a significant position in a Trump administration, much like Chris Christie. Sadly for these coattail riders their futures are tied to Trump’s and that is not looking like a good career choice right now.

Illustrating the uniqueness of the in-fighting in the Republican Party on two occasions that I heard the word ‘unchartered’ was used instead of uncharted.

But of all the terrible things that one could hear on CNN today, the most egregious was not uttered by Trump, but by others, including the usually bang-on Wolf Blitzer. Illustrating the uniqueness of the in-fighting in the Republican Party on two occasions that I heard the word ‘unchartered’ was used instead of uncharted.

Uncharted is a word that indicates a new experience, from the old days when a body of water would be discovered and therefore no ‘charts’ existed. (Think Gilligan’s Island theme song – The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle. Yep, you’ll be humming that all day now, sorry.) This is the word that should be use to denote a new set of circumstances. Unchartered would indicate that whatever was being referred to has no constitution or had not been rented. Perhaps all those cars on the AVIS parking lot are unchartered. Certainly Gilligan and the Skipper’s vessel was not unchartered.

C’mon Wolf.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Candidate Surrogates: No Finesse Needed

cnnpanel

One of the more annoying features of the 2016 US presidential campaign, and there are many annoying features, is the outright refusal of candidate ‘surrogates’ to answer questions. Gone are the days when a spokesperson would shrewdly turn a difficult question about their candidate into a statement about the other guy. Now the strategy is to just answer what you want, no skill involved at all.

Gone are the days when a spokesperson would shrewdly turn a difficult question about their candidate into a statement about the other guy. Now the strategy is to just answer what you want, no skill involved at all.

White House Press Secretaries have been dodging unwanted questions for decades, but at least they finesse it. The current group of TV analysts does not even bother with that, they just say what they want and assume the viewing public are idiots.

Time and time again talking heads from both parties when posed with a question about their candidate merely respond with a statement about the other candidate. No couching it in smart wordplay, no nuance, no skill. You could ask Candidate X’s surrogate why their candidate said a woman was fat and the surrogate may well begin her response with something along the lines of What I really want to know is why Candidate Y  …

No, that is not a suitable answer, but it has become commonplace for spokespersons to use what is supposed to be a reply to a question as an opportunity to say something that is completely irrelevant to the question but positive for their candidate. I don’t know why the media continues to have these people on. Banning them until they at least make an effort to answer questions may do the trick.

Kids at school, when asked for their missing homework, will no longer have to resort to blaming the dog. They can just say but these uniforms are not comfortable.

I think that perhaps this bald-faced evasion of questions should be introduced to some everyday events. The next time a cop stops me and asks if I know how fast I was going, or if I saw the stop sign, I’m going to say but officer what I really want to know is why the police are no longer wearing ties as part of their uniform.

When my landlord asks where my rent is I’ll just point out that what is more important is the price of gas.

Kids at school, when asked for their missing homework, will no longer have to resort to blaming the dog. They can just say but these uniforms are not comfortable. No need at all to address the actual question.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Presidential Appearance: Trump Lowers the Bar

Obama

Last week Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. After the meeting the two men addressed the assembled media. The immediate reaction on both sides of the border was that Peña Nieto had missed an opportunity to publicly challenge Trump on his promise to build a wall along the border at Mexico’s expense. Some mention was made to Trump’s demeanor and lack of his usual firebrand approach. Some even claimed he looked presidential.

Trump then returned to Phoenix and delivered a fiery address outlining his stance on immigration. Many feel that any gains he made in Mexico were almost immediately erased in Phoenix.

Trumo_MimicBut what many people continued to remark upon was Trump’s presidential appearance in Mexico. You often hear people stating that a candidate does or does not look presidential. Can you imagine so-and-so as president? How would they do in meetings with foreign leaders? Do they instill confidence? What about in a crisis?

In my opinion looking presidential requires, among other traits, the appearance of strength with understanding. The ability to smile with genuine warmth, but only at the appropriate time. A deep sense of self-confidence, but not cockiness.

JFKAbraham Lincoln was presidential, or perhaps we have come to believe that from his stately pose in his roost in his memorial in Washington. Jack Kennedy, in fact many of the Kennedys, were presidential in stature. Charismatic, toothy smiles, poise and that great hair. JFK was very presidential when he calmly debated Richard Nixon on television. Nixon was not. In fact Nixon was never presidential, even when he was the president. Ronald Reagan could look presidential, but then he was an actor so I suspect he was just putting it on.

NixonGiven some of the over the top things Trump has said during the electoral process thus far he tends to come off as anything but presidential in appearance. It would seem as though the bar that determines what is presidential in 2016 has been drastically lowered. Evidently as long as a candidate does not drop the F-bomb, mimic a disabled person, or threaten to punch someone in the face, he or she is said to have come across as presidential. Not great standards.

By dragging the campaigning process to perhaps never before seen lows, when Trump does not do or say something ludicrous he, in contrast, is deemed to be presidential. A very sorry state of affairs.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Rio Olympics Coverage: Kudos to CBC Et al.

The Rio 2016 Olympics are now in the history books. The horrors that some feared would befall the games did not, thankfully, seem to materialize. I am a big fan of the Olympics for several reasons but primarily because they give me an opportunity to see sports that I rarely see other than during the Olympics – team handball, field hockey, and table tennis (certainly not the ping-pong of your childhood) to name a few.

If there was a snag it was that I felt the  co-hosts of the midday show, Andi Petrillo  and David Amber,  never seemed to gel, leaving this viewer feeling awkward at times.

In Canada the rights to broadcast the Olympics belong to the CBC through 2024. But the CBC partners with other Canadian sports channels to provide great coverage. At any given time, from about seven in the morning until well after midnight viewers had a choice of up to six English channels presenting live events, and several more in French. A handy graphic appeared from time to time in the upper right-hand corner of the screen informing viewers about what was on the other channels at that time. Because of the one hour time difference between Rio and eastern North America live events could be aired in their entirety, which is much better than a series of highlights.

For now it’s back to watching that other great sporting event, the US election campaign! I hope CNN doesn’t forget me.

For the most part commentators worked in pairs made up of a professional broadcaster and a former athlete. While all were pretty good, some stood out. Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) who is the go-to guy for all things hockey was great doing Olympic swimming. Former Olympic medalist Alexandre Despatie (@ADespatie) co-hosted the French-language morning show, but also contributed to the English broadcast prior to the closing ceremony.

If there was a snag it was that I felt the co-hosts of the midday show, Andi Petrillo (@AndiPetrillo) and David Amber (@DavidAmber), never seemed to gel, leaving this viewer feeling awkward at times.

So I can take a break until 2018 and the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. For now it’s back to watching that other great sporting event, the US election campaign! I hope CNN doesn’t forget me.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

I Hope This Post Resonates With Readers

Resonate

As I write this we are mere hours from the start of the Sunday morning news shows. These programs – Meet the Press, Face the Nation, ABC This Week – are a throwback to the days before 24-hour news channels, a time when a few hours on Sunday morning was the only outlet for talking heads. Of course now with umpteen news channels the concept of information overload is more likely the case.

On the other hand it strikes me as time to give ‘resonate’ a bit of a rest. I vote for ‘strike a chord’!

The talk these days is all about the race for the White House. I think one thing that would make analysis of the current political races in the USA more palatable would be to ban the word ‘resonate’. There are buzzwords and then there are buzzwords, but this primary season has been rough on ‘resonate’. In almost every interview with an analyst or candidate spokesperson, the word resonate pops up. The candidate’s message is or is not resonating with old/young/black/white/Latino/Hispanic/male/female voters. No one says the candidate’s message is hitting home, or is well received, or makes an impact or is lost on the audience. Nope, it’s all about resonating.

A quick check with Merriam-Webster shows the definition of the word, but also that ‘resonate’ is in the top 1% of lookups. That’s a whole lot of people looking up a word that they keep hearing and hearing. On the one hand it is great that people take the time to find out what a word means. On the other hand it strikes me as time to give ‘resonate’ a bit of a rest. I vote for ‘strike a chord’!

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+