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Living on the Cusp of Breaking News

Cusp

:  point, apex: such as :  a point of transition (as from one historical period to the next) :  turning point; also :  edge, verge on the cusp of stardom

As I sit here north of the United States I am struck on a daily basis by the political goings-on of my neighbour. The still hard to believe election of Donald J. Trump as president has provided more ‘Breaking News’ items in the first 75 days than perhaps any other election. CNN and MSNBC are constantly bombarding viewers with ‘Breaking News’ to the point where it has lost it’s effect.

There was a time, way back several months ago, when the ‘Breaking News’ graphic and audio actually meant something big had happened – or was still happening. Now at the top of every hour the next segment begins with the ‘Breaking News’ opening. It has become something akin to the little boy who called wolf, except, of course, in CNN’s case where they are calling Wolf Blitzer.

We as viewers are getting used to living on the cusp of ‘Breaking News’. Please dial it back so that when there is in fact something new and of substance we won’t ignore it. News can only break once; it can develop for days, but it only breaks once.

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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Audio Sports Highlights Just Don’t Work

There is an expression used when an athlete makes a great play; they say ‘that will make the highlight reel’. You can see just how old that adage is by the use of the word reel, at one time teams put out end of season films of the best plays of the year.   I have never been one to watch sports highlights. I enjoy watching a number of sports in their full game state. But a program made up of one highlight after another is not my cup of tea. They all look the same after just a short time. However I understand there are those folks who get their fill of sports via these little snippets.

What has always struck me as being totally asinine is the use of audio highlights on radio.

I like radio, it can be a wonderful thing to sit back and have someone talk to you. Radio broadcasts of baseball games on a hot summer night sitting outside are the things memories are made of. But what has always struck me as being totally asinine is the use of audio highlights on radio. The first time I heard this was during the nineties when the Expos were still in Montreal and on the morning after a game the radio station that carried the games would have a recap of the game that was punctuated with bits of audio from the broadcast. I didn’t care how the play was described, if I can’t see it just tell me the score.

Radio stations now routinely feature clips of play-by-play in their sportscasts. When you televise a highlight you are focusing on the athlete who has performed the feat. But when you play a recording of, for example, a home run it is actually the announcer’s call that is being featured not the home run because you can’t see it!

On a television highlight I can see the shortstop dive to make a great stop, somehow flip the ball to the second baseman who touches the base then wheels and fires to first to complete the double play. Wonderful athleticism, great skill, fantastic reflexes and strength.

On an audio highlight I can hear a guy describe the play … Great pipes, lovely cadence, fine vocabulary, but the play takes a back seat to the announcer.

On an audio highlight I can hear a guy (it is usually men) describe how the shortstop dove to make a great stop, somehow flipped the ball to the second baseman who touched the base then wheeled and fired to first to complete the double play. Great pipes, lovely cadence, fine vocabulary, but the play takes a back seat to the announcer.

And God forbid you should have to listen to audio highlights of a soccer game: ten different versions of GOOOOAAAALLLLLLL. Nope, time has come to label audio highlights dumb!

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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Make America Clean Again

The folks at Procter & Gamble have announced a new look for Mr. Clean. The new iconic brand character will be African American. After 59 years the time has come to give the original a break. I have to admit that the way things have been going in the United States recently, when I first heard about a new look for Mr. Clean I did fear he may look like this:

clean

Talk about a repurpose! Will yellow hair become trendy? Will we say in four years “Remember how yellow his hair was when elected and now it is so very grey.”

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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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+
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Donna Brazile and CNN Part Ways

CNN

CNN

Politics can be very dirty. Donna Brazile recently severed ties with CNN after the network asked her to do so. It was matter of jumping before being pushed. Brazile was forced into the role of interim chair of the Democratic National Committee after Debbie Wasserman Schultz was pressured to resign. Prior to stepping into the breach Brazile was a regular contributor on CNN representing the Democratic side of issues.

What surprises me is that Brazile, who has always struck me as being very intelligent, would have committed the inside information to a written missive.

So why the severing of ties? She has not been on CNN as a panelist since taking on her current role as chair. But the problem was before she took over the reins of the DNC when she, on two occasions, passed along questions to the Hillary Clinton team that would be asked during CNN hosted debates during the primaries thereby giving Clinton a bit of a leg up.

The way this has come to light is via a stolen email. Evidently the Wikileaks folks made public emails hacked – stolen – from Clinton in which Brazile informs of the upcoming questions. It seems odd to me that stealing emails is illegal, but using the information garnered from stolen emails is fine.

What surprises me is that Brazile, who has always struck me as being very intelligent, would have committed the inside information to a written missive. Surely she must have known it was wrong to leak the questions, I’m certain she, as a good Catholic, confessed her misdeed, so why put it in writing? Emails to public figures appear to be stolen on a regular basis these days, so why risk it?

I hope she can eventually return as I enjoy her take on things.

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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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+
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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+
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Dumbing Down in Advertising and Politics

I like to observe and analyze advertising. Currently there is an ad running on TV for a website called Thumbtack.com. The site provides a listing of various contractors and, I assume, comments from those who have used their services.

In the ad a couple is sitting on a front porch discussing how they used the site to find a roofer. (Not roofie  the date-rape drug, but a company that will fix your roof.) The husband talks about the work required on the roof and admits he does not have a clue about how to find someone to do it. The wife sums it up by saying where are you going to find a roofer? Huh?

thumbtack

Thumbtack.com ad featuring roofer seeking couple

Finding a cure for cancer has proven to be difficult. A needle in a haystack is going to pose a challenge. Even the search for an honest man gave Diogenes of Sinope a hard time. But a roofer? Someone who can slop some tar on your roof, or nail down some shingles. This is not the quest for the Holy Grail nor a search for the fountain of youth. Here’s a crazy idea, go to Google, type “roofers”+”your city” and voila! up pop hundreds of potential contractors. This is not rocket science. Even those who are technically challenged can always resort to the good old fashioned Yellow Pages. Here’s a hint, check under R.

Interestingly when I look up the offending ad I find an edited version in which the same happy couple discuss engaging a qualified professional but the roofer segment seems to have been chopped, Hmmmmmm.

But I must admit that a more annoying ad is for Flonase in which they explain to us clearly and concisely, as if we were idiots, that “six is greater than one”. Well, I would never have grasped that advanced mathematical concept without their help.

6 > 1 ... no shit.

6 > 1 … no shit.

The dumbing down of society is widespread, perhaps nowhere more so than in advertising. A good ad that respects the intelligence of the target audience is a rarity these days. Sadly this assumption of stupidity is presently the driving force behind Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign. Even scarier is that it is working!

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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DCMontreal Commentary, Donald Trump, Gun Control, Humor, Media, News, Opinion, Politics, Television, US Election 2016, Wordpress

Trump and Truthers

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The 2016 US election campaign is getting odder by the minute. Issues and concerns, policies and plans, positions and stances have all been abandoned and replaced by pandering to the lowest common denominator.  Clinton vs Trump has degenerated into a slagging match the likes of which has never been seen before at this level.

“I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm, right? Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their — and let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away. OK, it would be very dangerous.”

Old statements are dredged up and thrust at the candidates who either deny them outright, or stick to them even if proven wrong. No amount of paperwork is going to get Trump to stop playing the birther card – thinly veiled racism that it is – so long as his constituents cling to it.

Last Friday Trump reiterated something he said last May while addressing the NRA. He called for Hillary Clinton’s bodyguards to disarm and see what happens.

“I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm, right? Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their — and let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away. OK, it would be very dangerous.”

Trump bangs on about Clinton wanting to do away with the Second Amendment that, depending on who you listen to, enshrines the right of all Americans to bear arms. Clinton has never said she wants to get rid of the Second Amendment, although that would be a logical way to deal with the problem of guns, but would like to see some sensible movement regarding gun control.

But Trump likes to paraphrase his opponent to get the reaction he wants from his followers. Truth, even recorded and verifiable, plays no role in his campaigning. It is flabbergasting to an outside observer. It may well be time to start a Truthers movement!

But Trump likes to paraphrase his opponent to get the reaction he wants from his followers. Truth, even recorded and verifiable, plays no role in his campaigning. It is flabbergasting to an outside observer.

Yet perhaps more astounding is the apparent distrust of government, any government, by US citizens. The silly old bumper sticker “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” is just that, silly.

In Canada we do not have the equivalent of a Second Amendment. You do not have the right to bear arms. That is not to say there are no guns, but ideally the only folks with guns would be police officers and members of the Canadian military.. (I am talking about urban areas. No one has ever questioned the use of guns in rural areas as tools of the farming and ranching trades.) Having your neighbours arm themselves as a means of self-defense is just a little bit scary. This is not the Wild West. We have police departments to ‘serve and protect’ the citizens.

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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Why I Should Succeed Peter Mansbridge as CBC Anchor

CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge

CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge

Dear Members of the CBC Anchor Search Committee,

In light of Peter Mansbridge’s recent announcement that he will be stepping down from the anchor’s chair on The National I began pondering who would be a suitable person to take over. I won’t say replacement as Mr. Mansbridge is irreplaceable. After significant consideration it dawned on me that the next anchor should be me.

… with the oft levied criticism that if you work at the CBC long enough you will eventually run the place, I imagine the committee will be looking outside the corporation.

Let me point out that I am a big fan of the CBC. Yet with the oft levied criticism that if you work at the CBC long enough you will eventually run the place, I imagine the committee will be looking outside the corporation. Allow me to point out that I have never been an employee of the CBC.

Like Mr. Mansbridge I too am shedding my once thick head of hair. I like to think that the old adage about grass not growing on a busy street is true. My balding pate and the innate intelligence it so obviously indicates are no doubt acceptable substitutes for my total lack of journalistic education or experience. An anchor needs common sense in large amounts. I do write a blog; but I am sensible enough to understand that self-publishing does not a journalist make.

As for television experience I have plenty: I’ve been watching it for most of my 56 years. One of my earliest recollections is as a four-year old boy running to tell my mother that my show had been taken off because something bad happened in Dallas. My show did not come back on for several days. Steeped in TV news am I.

This has resulted in my now owning several suits with perfectly fitting jackets, but pants that are a wee bit of a squeeze. No problem, the next anchor need only be concerned with looking sharp from the waist up.

In the early seventies we upgraded to a colour TV. It arrived on a Saturday and the whole family eagerly anticipated that night’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. During the first period friends more familiar with colour sets dropped in and pointed out that the red line looked as if it would burn your finger if you touched it, but not too worry as the blue lines were so blue they would provide a cooling effect. This was my introduction to the tint control. I think a good anchor understands that most things in life fit somewhere on a spectrum, it is all about hues and tints, not absolutes; black and white situations are rare.

I must own up to having added a few pounds to my mid-section over the past few years. This has resulted in my now owning several suits with perfectly fitting jackets, but pants that are a wee bit of a squeeze. No problem, the next anchor need only be concerned with looking sharp from the waist up.

My balding pate and the innate intelligence it so obviously indicates are no doubt acceptable substitutes for my total lack of journalistic education or experience.

I understand that Mr. Mansbridge has afforded the committee ten months to find his successor, so there is no rush. But should Donald Trump be elected President of the United States I feel there will be some major media openings south of the border. Therefore if you could let me know as soon as possible what my chances are,  if I am to be short-listed, it would be much appreciated. If not I can turn my attention to positions with our neighbours.

I thank you for your consideration of my application to be anchor of The National, and await your reply.

Sincerely,

DCMontreal

 

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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