How Long Until Someone Just Kills-Off Their TV Newscast?

Such a macabre thought for a media person and professed news junkie, but I want to know how long it will be before a major television station just simply kills off their television newscast.

Surely I can't be the only one who finds these things completely unwatchable. Nothing about them fits with the way we consume media this day in age.

Anchors on television getting paid to weave in and out of stories that other people put together seems completely out of date. Although necessary, I'll admit, on the live television broadcast for transitioning between the stories, that's the entire problem with television news. 

On the Internet, I get presented with story links, and I choose which of those stories I want to read. When I click the links, I have both written word I can scan, and video I can watch, all at my choosing. On television, I have to watch the stories they've chosen for me at their pace, and in the order they want me to see them.

As for the stories themselves, information moves so fast this day in age that it's almost 100% certain that whatever they bring you on the live, televised news is something you've already had the chance to learn about somewhere else. Stick around for the sports and weather? I can get the weather forecast from my weather app, AND check the sports scores I'm interested in, before you're even halfway through a commercial break.

Communities need news organizations, and they need more than one to help them compete. I'm not knocking the local television stations as journalism organizations.

But as a consumer, I simply have no need for the live newscast that comes on at a certain time on my television set, and surely I can't be the only one. 

I really do wonder just how long it will be before some station, somewhere, once considered to be a major player, will just kill off what used to be their bread and butter completely.

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There's Never Been a More Important Time for Truth in Media

In the wake of the Trump takeover, the big push among the media over the past week has been concern over the "fake news" that dominated Facebook over the course of the 2016 campaign, and they are right to be concerned. Misinformation, in any form, is a terrible thing. It causes people to make uninformed decisions and only divides the country further.

But the media isn't blameless when it comes to fake news. The public consumes fake news because the media has lost credible voices.

Everywhere you turn in the media, it seem, the loudest voices are those pushing for an agenda rather than trying to find the truth. There has never been anything wrong with having a worldview that shapes your reporting; in fact, you can't have good journalism without it. But our media culture is one today where story lines are chosen to fit particular agendas, and realities that don't fit those story lines are discarded. The reality on the ground isn't as important as advancing a point of view.

I see it in the liberal media on websites such as Slate who freak out over every move that Trump makes, and I mean everything. Don't they know that when everything is an outrage that nothing is?

I see it in the conservative media when nothing, I mean nothing, that Barack Obama does can be considered good. They couldn't even let the man defend a pro-Trump protester at a Democratic rally without spinning it as him losing control of the crowd.

The media that is created as a result of all this is pure crap, and it's killing our country. Liberal and conservative ideologies are fine if we could just have some basic intellectual honesty when tackling the news and issues of the day.

Intellectual honesty - that's really all we need to help us get back to finding truth. Why does it have to be so hard to find people in the media who have it?

Those voices, while few and far between, are out there if we'll just pay attention to them. Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, is trying to be one of them. I hope I'll hear from some others. 

But part of our problem right now is that, for many, we simply don't want to listen to them. We want to be mad at our neighbors. We want to hate the other side. We want to talk and we don't want to listen.

It's a phase we're in. Sometimes it feels like it's going to last forever. I hope like hell it doesn't, and for my part I'm going to do everything I can to help us get back to finding truth in our discourse, because there's never been a more important time for truth in media.

Peace and God Bless America.

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My F**king Facebook Feed and the Need for More Honest Conversations

My Facebook feed just won't shut the fuck up about this election. I'm fully aware that I'm part of the problem but God, Almighty, is this the way it has to be forever?

I was a Never Trumper, and I'm proud of it, but the liberal fringe has become completely unglued over this thing. I voted for Hillary, too, as part of what I felt was a principled vote-like-it-matters, one-of-these-two-will-be-president stand. But the truth is she totally deserved to lose, and hysterics from the left certainly aren't going to endear anyone to their future cause.

And before you Trumpers reading this cheer what was just written about the liberals, please know that your gloating is just as horrible, that everyone knows your guy actually finished second in the popular vote (perhaps because of his small hands, perhaps as a stand against assholism), and that your win, while satisfying, hasn't made anyone actually respect you more.

We're going through one of those phases where everyone wants to be validated. I get it (I'll refresh analytics on this motherfucker more times than you can count to see how many hits it's received), but my, God, we've turned into babies. I recognize that if you're a liberal, you're grieving over an America you no longer recognize, and that if you're a conservative you've been completely maligned by the media over the years.

How could I not when my Facebook feed won't shut the fuck up about it?

Watching Obama meet with Trump for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to see two grown ups in the room. Full-of-shit grown ups, perhaps, but grown ups just the same.

"My guy was the grown up, at least," some will respond, refusing to give an inch to the other guy because political disagreements in today's America are cause for dismissal of everything else about the person.

And thus is the state of our conversations today. So goddamned unproductive and so utterly dishonest.

The media is part of the problem, and not because of a lack of objectivity. Truly objective journalism is dead on arrival . It can't uncover any underlying realities because it can only cover what's on the surface. Think of the police protests of the past couple of years. You could cover simply the "police said this, protesters said this," which isn't entirely without purpose, but it takes passion and a worldview to probe the angst that either side feels. 

What is not fine is the media's lack of desire to find the truth. Partisans on both sides latch on to story lines. Realities that don't fit those story lines are discarded, then they promote what they decided as the story line as being the reality everywhere. It's crap.

But our state of affairs is not simply a media problem. Their schtick works because we the people buy it and consume it - it's not Budweiser's fault you have a six-pack of shitty beer in your refrigerator. 

We read only the crap that reinforces our worldview with the full knowledge we're shutting out dissenting opinions. We share things that reinforce our side or tear down the other side, no matter how blown of proportion they are. Surely we know that the swastikas spray painted on the side of buildings aren't indicative of every Trump supporter, or that the looters protesting the election results aren't indicative of everyone who voted against him, yet we readily share it with the primary purpose of painting a negative caricature of the other side. 

Our conversations aren't honest, and are therefore unproductive. That is what has to change. We have to change the media we consume, and we have to change the dialog we have. It's great to have our individual worldviews and to share them with the world, but just as importantly we have to be open to the realities of others and we have to be open to truth.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."

Peace and blessings. Let's be productive moving forward.

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You CAN Still Fight the Good Fight for America

It's the evening of the first day after the loss. I hope you took some time this morning to process the enormity of what just happened. Our country is going to hell in a hand basket, I know, and the terrifying possibility of a Donald Trump presidency is now a terrifying reality.

But the sun did, in fact, come up again this morning. It was actually a pretty nice day.

Lick your wounds, process it, perhaps get blasted with your friends if that's your thing, and blow off some steam. Get it all out of your system.

Then get back out on the streets and focus on making the world a better place.

We’re not the first generation to have the Boogyman come into office. I’ve often wondered what it was like in 1968, in the face of so much social upheaval, for a progressive thinker to watch Richard Nixon win his election in a landslide. It must have felt like a punch in the gut. Now I understand it more than I’ve ever wanted to.

The Silent Majority that elected Nixon, however, didn’t shape our current society nearly as much as the progressives of their time. The free-spirited were still able to come together at Woodstock in 1969. Feminists succeeded in getting Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, and the anti-war movement got us out of Vietnam in 1973. 

To shape the future, you have to build it, and the Nixon voters who put him into office weren’t so much about doing something as much as they were about saying we’re going too far, too fast.

That was the sentiment then. It’s the sentiment now.

So many of us this past election, on both sides, spent so much energy campaigning against someone that we haven’t spent much time thinking about what we’re for. So many were for Clinton because they were against Trump. So many were for Trump because they were against Clinton.

But the results are in and that chapter in history is closed. Now is the time to redefine what happens next and where we want to go from here. The shape of our future is still left to those who will actually make the effort to shape it.

And I hope that’s what you do.

I hope you’ll take a break on focusing on the politics of personality and focus for a time on the actions that will move our country and world forward. I hope you’ll do it with an open mind and try to include even those who voted in a way you find despicable.

I hope you’ll do it in a way that even includes an open mind about Donald Trump.

I’ve never written about it, but I’ve often wondered about it, when it comes to trying to determine just what the mission, or charge, is of the younger generations of Americans just now rising to prominence in our country.

With our nation and world seemingly more fractured and hate-filled than ever, I think we found it watching those election returns roll in on a Tuesday night.

Our mission, as a generation, is to fix it.

To My Trump Supporting Friends

It's 11:10pm here in the middle of America. I've all but checked out on the idea that this is going to go how I want it to. Call me a pessimist, but my gut tells me that Trump has the upper hand. He's already won Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. If he wins Michigan it's over, and things aren't looking in Hillary's favor there.

For most of you, it will be after this is called that you read this. If you're a Trump supporter, I suppose congratulations might very much be in order, but frankly, it's much too early and raw for that. Thanks to you and people like you, you elected to office a reality-television character who used veiled racism and bullying to work enough people into enough of a lather that this is the man who got put into office. 

They say time heals all wounds. Forgive me if I say I'm going to need at least one more shot of Wild Turkey (in honor of the late Dr. Thompson, of course) and at least a night's sleep to not hate you.

Forget the grab-em-by-the-pussy bullshit. Trump was right when he called it locker room talk, and there isn't a guy out there who hasn't said something like that privately. It's not right, but we've done it. And no, I don't necessarily believe a bunch of women when their first accusations of sexual assault occur nearly simultaneously just weeks before an election.

It's the public stuff that bothers me the most. Questioning John McCain's heroism. Branding Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers. Mocking a disabled reporter. Complaining about a former Miss Universe's weight. Attacking the family of a Muslim soldier who fought for the U.S. military. Questioning whether a judge can be fair to him because he's Mexican. So many more examples you can't name them all.

There's something to be said for inappropriate comments made only in private. They might not be right, but there's at least some sort of acknowledgement that they are, in fact, inappropriate.

Trump is different. His public comments show a complete lack of respect, or love, or empathy towards anyone who's different, or anyone who isn't a part of his crowd. It's THAT that makes him different. Your candidate, the one you chose to put in office, will take down or tear down anyone if it gets a cheer from the crowd or gets him further ahead.

It doesn't matter if that person is disabled, or if they lost a child to war. Maybe you didn't applaud, but you still gave him your vote. 

You can say what you want about Hillary Clinton (and there is plenty, plenty to say), but she hasn't left entire groups of schoolchildren wondering why she hates them. Kids know a bully when they see one. My 9 year old certainly does, and Donald Trump was the last person he wanted to see in the White House.

So, you got your win. I know it feels good, sometimes, to be a part of the majority. You might have felt like people like yourself had been kicked to the curb one too many times, and it probably felt good to send a fuck you right back to those elites - those people who thought they were more powerful than you who you felt were kicking you while you were down. 

I get it. I really do. Just don't forget who your guy kicked to the curb to send that message. It was more than just the elites, and don't be surprised if they aren't quick to forgive when everyone wants to move on and be friends.  

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The Donald and Hillary Show Comes To Town

As long as I've been old enough to care, I've been engaged in what's going on with our politics, especially presidential politics. I love it, actually. Debate nights, to me, are like major sporting events. I've literally sat down with nachos and beer and watched these things like they're the Super Bowl.

As far as Donald and Hillary, though, I would rather not accept that these two individuals are my choices. That out of a gazillion well-qualified Republicans, a man as ill-informed, mean-spirited, narcissistic and insecure as Donald Trump was the one that real Republicans picked to be the real nominee. That the alternative to that is someone who feels that transparency and following the law are so beneath her that it would make Richard Nixon blush. I really don't want to be a part of it.

How in the hell am I supposed to watch these debates? Am I supposed to root for one of them? Am I supposed to go in with an open mind and act like I might learn something new?

Shock, reality TV was fun about 12 years ago with Survivor and the like as an occasional guilty pleasure (oh, my, what will happen next???), but you would think that shtick would be worn out by now. Yet for a whole lot of people, the reality show candidate is their guy. Half the country just might apply last decade's fad to this decade's presidency. Holy shit!

What to do to stop it? Vote for the candidate whose party all but rigged the nomination process in her favor and who, deep down in your gut, you know might have got a whole lot of money donated to her personal foundation based upon her entrusted position in the United States government.

I don't want to act like this is normal. I don't want to have idle water cooler chat at the office like this is a legitimate part of a legitimate process where we choose a legitimate leader for our country's future.

They say there are 5 stages of greaving. I'm no longer in denial about how these are the choices we're now faced with, and I'm not going to try to bargain with God about trying to be a better person if he'll just make it go away. But I'm far, far from accepting this as the reality, and until I do, I'm going to be depressed and angry for a long, long time.

Wow, what a shit show.

Colin Powell, WOW, We Hardly Knew You

The Colon Powell I've always known, way back from when I was a kid and he was running Operation Desert Storm, has been that of the calm, sober general / Secretary of State guiding our nation through some troubling times. 

I guess I always imagined him as a calm, stern-when-he-needed-to-be, but warm-at-the-same-time kind of grandfatherly figure. 

Turns out that's not entirely accurate. In fact, he's kind of opinionated on politics, and certainly likes to share in some gossip. 

Thanks to leaked emails from hackers, we learned that Powell has some pretty tough words for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Just a few of the juicy bits...

So, yeah. Wow! Colin Powell, we hardly knew you! But thank you for some great reading today!

On a serious note, what a great opportunity to see media bias at work. With comments that scorch both Donald and Hillary, it's already very easy to see who's promoting what agenda. Matt Drudge wasn't showcasing Powell's comments against Trump, while MSNBC wasn't headlining what he said about Hillary. Both only featured the headlines that attacked the candidate they don't want to see win!

Screen shot from Drudge Report...

Screen shot from MSNBC taken at nearly the same time...

The only way to fairly cover this story is to point out that Powell went after both candidates. Anyone highlighting his comments against one without noting the other is engaging in pure media bias, plain and simple. With the truth of the story is so easy to see (he went after both strongly), has there ever been a better test than this?

Oh, my, the things we've learned today.

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The Clinton Health Scare Fallout Goes Beyond Health Worries

It advances a narrative that has hurt her campaign from the beginning.

Hillary Clinton's 9/11 health scare and subsequent revelation that she was diagnosed with pneumonia nearly two full days before she left a 9/11 memorial service in New York has rightfully raised questions about her health.

But to relegate this to simply being a health issue is to ignore a greater reality: the conspiracy theorists have been vindicated.

Since the beginning of her campaign, and before it really, there have been questions about her health. What was with the prism glasses at the Benghazi hearings? What's been with the cough? Has she been needing assistance being held up?

Until Sunday, Hillary and her supporters, including many in the media, had written these questions off as fringe conspiracy theories being put forth by those trying to derail her campaign.

Then, with the release of a single video of an unsteady Clinton having to be assisted into a vehicle, they were all of the sudden vindicated. Donald Trump, Matt Drudge... every single one of them.

For some of us voters, our doubts about Hillary aren't that she isn't capable of running the country. It's that nagging feeling deep down inside that tells us there are dark secrets.

What did she really know about Benghazi? Was she using the State Department for personal gain through the Clinton Foundation? What was she trying to hide with her personal email address and subsequent deletion of emails?

We ask those questions and wonder, "Is there something there?"

Every time there's another revelation through the slow drip of information about her email server, it reinforces that there's something there.

Now with her health, there's something there.

That's also the story here. It isn't just the story about her health. It's the story about an underlying narrative with her campaign that says that we're never getting the full truth.

Now we're left to wonder what will drop next. Common sense tells us there's something there.

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Two New Goals for Local Broadcasters to Adopt

One of the great advantages of broadcast media over any other form is that it’s live 24 hours a day.

But is that not also an inherent disadvantage?

To be live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year means that you must create content for the sake of creating content.

It doesn’t matter if you look at it in terms of having to fill an entire broadcast day, or simply an hour or less. However you break the time period down, it must, both as a matter of retaining viewers and listeners, and as a matter of federal law (the FCC prohibits long periods of dead air) have some form of content on the air.

This means a broadcast entity can never simply put out only its best content and call it a day. It must fill that time. The end result is that at any given moment, your best content is not likely to be on the air. Almost paradoxically with some news organizations, there is some great content that would help add context to a story that gets left out due to time constraints. Whether you have 23 hours of content, or 25 hours, you have to put it out there in 24. 

With so much time and effort being put forth to actually produce content, many local broadcasters today are failing to get their best content in front of audiences where more can see it, while also failing to take advantage of the one remaining competitive edge that they have on all other media, the live platform.

If I were a station program director or news director today, I would have two new goals I would be striving for with my station:

  1. Creating sharable and lasting moments
  2. Taking better advantage of the fact that my station is live right now

Creating Sharable Moments

The name of the game in media today is to create moments that are either sharable or can be interacted with through comments and / or likes. That means creating pieces of content that are unique, entertaining or informative enough to be worth consuming outside of the initial live broadcast moment. 

Back in my early radio days, the goal for morning people such as myself was to get good material from the morning show and turn it into a promo to be played back on the station. 

That’s all great, but another goal today needs to be to get that great moment onto social media.

Keep in mind that what makes good local television and radio content isn’t necessarily what makes good social media and web content. So often you’ll see television stations repost content that includes anchors handing off stories to reporters (a necessity on TV that isn’t needed on the web) and then reporters doing long set-ups to the stories (another necessity on TV that can be handled with text online) before they actually get to the meat of the video. Radio stations also have a tendency to want to post things as they happened on air, not how they would be best consumed on the web.

These sharable moments can be great for building your brand, introducing you to new viewers and listeners, and even increasing revenue.

Taking Advantage of Live Programming

Quick, name a reason for me to consume your local station that I can’t get from the Internet.

  • Local news? The paper already broke it on their website or your competitor already gave me everything I needed in a single Facebook post.
  • Weather? I have the Weather.com app on my phone. The forecast is completely local and includes live radar.
  • Sports scores? My favorite team (go Cards!) already posted on Facebook that they won. I checked every other score I was interested in via my ESPN app.
  • Music? Between my Spotify app and the Pandora algorithm, you’re losing.

All of the above used to be great reasons to consume local media. The truth, however, is that there are so many other places to go now for the exact same thing.

So, how can local broadcasters win? By taking advantage of their live nature. No other media has the resources and capabilities to get live content in front of people. Some ideas…

  • That big “get” for a TV interview? Get him or her to the station and put them on live.
  • Increase your radio remotes. Get your people out to stuff that’s happening in the community, not just out to over-hyped paid remotes that everyone knows is a gimmick anymore.
  • Have your TV station have live, top-of-the-hour news updates with live shots from breaking news locations. Why wait for 5pm, 6pm and 10pm.
  • Radio stations let your midday, afternoon and night people do live interviews. Make radio relevant outside of morning drive again.

It’s a new world with new opportunities. Local broadcasters have much to gain by both thinking outside of their 24-hour a day formats and embracing them at the same time.

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Let Colin Kaepernick's National Anthem Protest Go

Kaepernick says he won't stand and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses people of color. As you might expect, cue the long list of those speaking out against it, saying it's highly disrespectful towards those who serve our country, and especially towards those who have lost their lives doing so.

And, you know, those people aren't wrong. There's dissent, then there's screw you, and this veers towards the latter.

But consider this... what does it mean if the only reason a person is standing is the public pressure to do so? That is to say, he's only standing because to not stand would bring condemnation and hate from across the country? It doesn't mean anything.

And what does it say when we immediately jump on the anti-Kaepernick bandwagon and belligerently say he needs to be standing up with the rest of us? There's certainly nothing courageous or unique in calling for someone to do what 99.9% of us do when the anthem plays.

So, where does that leave us? How should we respond? Maybe the NFL and the White House (really... they needed to weigh in?) had it right with generally benign statements about one's right to free speech.

Some will want to label him as a hero for taking his stand. He's not. But it really is one of the truly great things about this country that we have free speech, and that we don't have to stand for the anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance or otherwise be forced into making statements we don't believe in.

So let's honor Kaepernick's right to dissent, make it mean something when we do stand, and let this one go. 

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2016 Election: Who Won The Week? It Was The Alt-Right

America was introduced to the Alt-Right this past week after Hillary Clinton attempted to link Donald Trump to a band of ultra conservatives known as the alt-right. Who the hell are these people? The New York Times defines them as a “community of activists that tend to lurk anonymously in the internet’s dark corners,” who have a “fringe ideology of conspiracies and hate.” Think anti-immigration, white nationalist type of thinking.

So, who wins and who loses?

The losing side will be determined by who gets hurt by this attempted link. Will this hurt Trump’s campaign as a result? Or, will it backfire on Hillary, with people saying this is just one more example of Hillary always looking for some vast right-wing conspiracy. Only time will tell.

The winner is a lot more apparent; it’s the alt-right. They are doing everything they can to capitalize on the publicity. If you haven’t heard of Alex Jones or Milo Yiannopoulos or Breitbart News before this week, you have now. 

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2016 Election: Clinton’s State Department Fiasco

How disqualified would Hillary Clinton be if this were a normal election year (i.e. Trump not the Republican nominee)? The revelation that half of non-government people who met with her at the State Department were donors to the Clinton Foundation would be particularly damming if she were running against anyone else.

Deep down at their core, the American people know something isn’t right here. They know that normal people would never think that it is okay to house government emails on their own personal server and then leave it up to themselves to decide what the government gets to have back. And why? It’s difficult to look at her situation and not suspect that, looked at as a whole, her emails, along with her daily State Department schedules (which fellow Democrat Barack Obama’s State Department is reluctant to release) would show that you can’t really separate her tenure as Secretary of State from the Clinton Foundation. That is to say, she used her office for her own personal benefit.

But like others have said, there’s smoke, but no fire. And this election year isn’t normal. Trump may call her Crooked Hillary, but her behavior isn’t entirely surprising to those who have watched the Clintons over the years. For many voters, at least they know what they are getting into with Hillary, and it’s better than letting Trump plunge us into the deep unknown.

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2016 Election: The Trump Immigration Flip Flop

All eyes were on Donald Trump this week after he seemingly did a complete 180 on immigration.

Trump, who put his campaign on the map with calls for a deportation force for illegal immigrants and a wall to keep them out, seemed to backtrack when he told Fox News he would be open to letting good illegal immigrants who have been here a while stay if they paid back taxes. Then, to confuse things even more, he told Anderson Cooper that he wasn’t in favor of legalization and that to be legal you would have to leave the country first.

His immigration strategy is now a mess; nobody is happy. Those Trump already offended long ago aren’t going to forgive him easily even if he is softening his stance. Now those who supported him, like Ann Coulter, are angry and confused.

This shift shouldn’t be all that surprising to those who have watched Trump closely. Most politicians, whether decent people or shrewd operators, run their campaigns with a strategy that says we first have to advance or agenda and values and then hope to position them in such a way that people like us enough to vote us into office. 

Trump, at his core, is simply a guy that wants to be liked. That's his agenda. You can hear it every time he talks about poll numbers and ratings. Success in those things aren't means to an end, they are the end - the affirmation that he's been seeking. And what more affirmation can you get than gaining the title of the world's most powerful position? 

This is where it gets tough from an election standpoint. When his audience was just Republicans during the primary, his tough immigration stance got cheers and votes. Now that he’s running in the general, he sees that not only do many reject this message, but that it’s putting him behind in the polls to which he gives so much weight. 

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In Our Divided World, We Needed the Olympics

The Ryan Lochte scandal of monumental dumbassedness isn't going to deter my view that the Olympics have been great. 

The displays of comradery and respect (like the American runner helping the New Zealand runner after a fall, or watching Usain Bolt stop in the middle of a television interview to stand and show respect for the U.S. national anthem) made these games great. They were reminders of just how much we needed these Olympics. 

In the midst of the culture wars, a divisive U.S. presidential election, terror attacks and bombings in too many places, it was people helping people and a Jamaican showing respect for an anthem that wasn't even his that symbolized the respect and courtesy we so often forget exists all around us.

It's been a year of tension, and it was apparent even as the games started. They kicked off with bickering on the socials about perceived slights here and there. There was debate at the beginning of the games about whether the announcers were talking down about women athletes that, in hindsight, seem petty and as much about people finding something to complain about as the actual slights. Rio really seemed to screw up the hosting and it was nice to bask in the glory of somebody else's debacle.

And yes, there's the whole Lochte / three-other-U.S.-swimmers scandal, but you now what? Scew 'em.

The truth of the matter is that the more these games went on, the more we had to celebrate and the less we had to whine about. We rallied behind the true Olympic moments. We celebrated athletes, both our own and from elsewhere, doing their best and displaying sportsmanship at the highest of levels. We talked about Simone Biles and Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky and Usain Bolt and how awesome they all were.

And somewhere in all of it most of the bickering stopped. Not only about the Olympics, but in a lot of ways in our politics. Black Lives Matter versus Donald Trump took a back seat for a moment to a worldwide celebration of all the ways we could come together. Somehow in all of it, Trump even felt the need to say sorry for past hurt feelings. Wild. 

There's no naivety here; one would have to be living on Mars not to understand the crazy cycle we're about to head into with an election just over two months away.

But no matter what happens next, we needed this. Let some of these simple acts of respect for others serve as a reminder not to how special they were, but how common they really can be and are so much of the time. 

Most people, deep down, want to get along. It isn't hard to do and happens so much more often than we think.

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The Culture War Cheap Shot That Abounds Everywhere You Look

I have an interesting observation about the culture wars that I suspect has been going on for quite some time but that has only just now crystallized in my head in regards to what is really going on.

If you take a look at the instances of wrongdoing from one side that are pointed out by the other side, it's likely that it was brought to your attention by "the good side" (or, perhaps more appropriately, "the aggrieved side") rather than someone supporting the offensive behavior.  

The end result is that the aggrieved side would have you believe that many on the other side are behind the offense (necessitating the good side to speak out against it), but, in fact, the actions of the offender have received very little support.

I can speak for nobody other than myself here, but here are some concrete examples from just the past two days.

1) Criticism of Gabby Douglass during the Olympics for not putting her hand over her heart or for how she wears her hair or whatever. I've personally never seen posts of people criticizing her OTHER than those that were shared by Gabby Douglas supporters criticizing the criticism. 

2) Criticism of those defending Ryan Lochte and wondering how this would have been handled if he were black. The coverage that I've read of Ryan Lochte has been quite critical. The only time I saw someone defending him (a white guy arguing with Al Roker on NBC trying to downplay his behavior) it was brought to my attention by someone criticizing this point of view. I've seen no organic posts from someone coming to Ryan Lochte's defense.

3) Criticism of someone saying bad things about a photo of a cop holding his little daughter with a sign that says her dad's life matters. The criticism was that someone posted the photo and said negative things about this cop. I've not seen that criticism. It was brought to my attention in a post that criticized that someone had said something negative about the cop.

The point of all of this is that the culture war, at this point, has become not so much a war of ideas, but a war of pointing out the offenses of various members of the "other side" and trying to paint those actions as being supported by the other side's members. 

This is a war that really isn't anything other than a bunch of large assumptions and cheap shots. 

We criticize Blue Lives Matter by posting incidences of racist cops beating an undeserved suspect, and we criticize Black Lives Matter by posting photos of individual black people burning things down. 

It seems tactics are limited when the reality is the vast majority of people feel that both Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter.

Seems so many of us are devoting way too much energy to the idiotic behavior of a few.

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Donald Trump: The Monster Both Republicans and Democrats Helped Create

Real fear had gripped everyone as they realize Trump is now easily the frontrunner for the Republican nomination and might possibly become president.

The fear is on full display among GOP ranks after Mitt Romney came out and essentially said that the GOP must do whatever it can to stop him from being the nominee, even if that means a contested convention. 

Democrats, on the surface, are gleeful of the possibility of going against Trump. It will be easy to run against someone they can paint as a misogynist and racist, the thinking goes. But fear is in their ranks, too. After all, the GOP hasn't been able to stop him by bringing up his controversial statements, and Donald Trump will go after the Clintons in ways other politicians won't. 

Both Republicans and Democrats are in their respective positions because they both helped to create this monster.

Republicans laid the groundwork for Trump every time one of their politicians painted undocumented immigrants as criminals and used anti-immigrant fear-mongering to drum up support; Donald is simply doing what they've been doing in more concise language. Republicans created this monster every time they accused liberals of wanting to destroy America at the simple suggestion that we protect civil liberties; now Donald's supporters cheer when he says the military will listen to him when he orders them to illegally torture terror suspects and kill their families. 

Democrats helped create this monster by taking offense at any form of speech that might possibly be able to be twisted into a statement against somebody else. "All lives matter," is apparently offensive because it doesn't specifically support African-Americans by saying, "Black lives matter." Among statements some liberals think will paint Trump as anti-woman are statements like, “They’ll flip their top, and they’ll flip their panties...” from the Howard Stern show back in the 1990s. Crass? Sure. Smoking gun of misogyny? When everything is offensive, nothing is.

And one can't help but notice that yes, both Democrats and Republicans have been asking him for money and support for years.

So here's to both parties. Enjoy the monster you helped create.

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Apple Should Fight the Department of Justice All the Way to the Supreme Court

The Department of Justice's attempt to force Apple to create software to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's cell phone is total overreach.

Let's be clear: this is not the government saying, "You have a password. Give it to us." This is the government saying, "You guys are smart enough to create a hack to bypass someone's security. Do it."Just imagine the terrible path we could go down if the government is allowed to get court orders to force people to create things for investigative purposes.

The argument seems to be that since the shooter used an Apple phone and Apple security to keep it private, that Apple has the ability to create the proper software to unlock it and should do it.

So what happens if they win this request? What happens when the next time they want to do something similar the company best equipped to do it didn't even make the product? What happens when it's no longer a company that's best equipped to do it but an individual?

"You know how to pick locks. Pick this one."

"You know how to create an eavesdropping tool. Create one."

It's kind of like a draft, only Congress didn't vote on it, and there's no end game in sight. Everyone gets conscripted by the government and has to act whenever the government says so.

And what happens when the individual fails? Is the failure in and of itself a violation of court order? Does there need to be proof of a good faith effort? Who decides that? Violations of court orders, as you know, result in jail.

Allowing a court order such as this does nothing but invite government abuse. I hope Apple fights it all the way to the Supreme Court.

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Melissa Click's Apologies Fall Short; She Needs to Find a Way to Make Things Right

University of Missouri professor Melisssa Click's second video and apology came just as she was trying to apologize for her first video. In the first, she called for "some muscle" to try to keep a journalist from filming in a public space. In the second, she is seen cussing at a police officer and interfering as police tried to remove protesters from the street during the MU homecoming parade. 

Another video. Another bad attempt at an apology. The cycle continues.

The problem with Melissa Click isn't so much that she tried to make her behavior in the first video seem like an isolated incident. Anyone under her circumstances is going to want to say the behavior was isolated; who wouldn't?

The problem is that her apologies always seem to fall short. There's always a reason she acted the way she did. She was trying to protect "children" who were marginalized. The reporters didn't introduce themselves like other reporters so she didn't know who they were. She wasn't trained in crowd control. 

In her mind, her actions are always the result of what someone else did wrong. There can be no admission of guilt without deflecting the blame. 

In both instances, her apologies give an account of someone just trying to help in a chaotic situation. The truth, however, is that she's contributing to the chaos. 

Melissa Click seems like someone who wants to have it both ways. She wants to be a defiant activist. She wants to muscle away outsiders from a public space. She wants to get mad and tell the cops to get their "fucking hands" off of her. Then, when confronted, she wants you to put it in the context of someone else's behavior and move on so she can go back to being Dr. Click, MU professor.

It would be easy to call on her to resign or be fired; I won't. MU has an employment review process in place and it should be followed. Missouri lawmakers need to stop using her as a way to yet back at Black Lives Matter.

But let's not forget where the controversies surrounding Melissa Click started: with her. I'm tired of this distraction ruining the reputation of a great university that acts as the main economic driver of a city I love. It's time to help the university move on. Whatever her next move, I hope she finds a way to do the right thing.

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Social & Search Censorship; They Aren't Your Websites

The headlines...

There's a real fear among conservatives about their ability to get their message out on social media websites. Even for non-conspiracy minded individuals, the fear is understandable. More and more, the news we receive and websites we browse are determined by what's put in front of us through social media companies and search giants, and those entities select the content we see based on algorithms we don't understand.

It's scary. It's Orwellian. There's nothing we can do about it.

The important thing to remember is that these aren't our websites. They don't belong to the people. They aren't the courthouse square where anyone with something to say can stand with a sign.

These are private companies, and if they want to send certain viewpoints to the back ally, ban them altogether, or team up with certain governments to promote a point of view, there's not a thing we can do about it if that's what they want to do.

But this isn't any different than it's ever been for media in a free country. Fox News gives you conservative viewpoints. MSNBC gives you liberal ones. They censor around their editorial viewpoints all day, every day, simply because they can and that's what they've found attracts viewers.

That's why it's important for those with opposing viewpoints to do what they've always done: keep pressure on media companies for fairness by calling out bias where it exists, and then develop alternative ways of getting information out.

There are still some of us that consider free speech to be more important than any culture war battle. We can disagree fiercely on immigration, war, abortion and everything in between, and yet be 100 percent united when it comes to promoting free speech.

For those if us in that camp, our most important task is to educated others on how the information they receive every single day is chosen by computers programmed by someone else who may or may not have an agenda deciding what they get to see. We have to educate them on what media bias looks like and how it operates. We have to stand up against government censorship of speech.

The rest will take care of itself. Movements with attraction will find a way to get their message out. It just might not be via the media that exists today.

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The One Thing You Should Know About Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is dead. Wow. His death came as a shocker - a holy shit moment in a holy shit campaign. 

I don't want to make light of his death; may he rest in peace.  But you couldn't script this election for a movie and make it better than what you are getting now. Who needs The West Wing when you've got the real thing.

The political posturing started, literally, within hours of his death. GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would wait until a new president is elected before they confirm a nominee. Democratic President Barack Obama, on the other hand, says there is plenty of time for him to nominate a successor, that he plans to do so, and that he expects the Senate to give the nominee a fair hearing.

It would be easy to knock the political gamesmanship as distasteful coming so soon on the heels of the man's death, but it is what it is. The reality is that both parties know a major Supreme Court opening is at stake and that they have to lay their cards out on the table early. Republicans see no benefit to confirming a nominee now; if they get a Republican in the White House they get exactly who they want on the bench, and if a Democrat gets in they compromise just like they would do now. Democrats, of course, understand there is no benefit in waiting.

Meanwhile, the airwaves will be filled with the usual talking heads offering the usual opinions. The right will hail him as a conservative hero while the left will deride him as someone who wanted to send the country backwards.

That's why, amidst all of the noise, there really is one thing you should know about him that's more important than anything else: that he had a close, personal friendship with liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Why is that important? Because it puts our political battles in perspective. The gamesmanship is what it is. The disagreements are what they are. But there is no reason to let those things get in the way of what otherwise can be wonderful friendships and relationships. Politics isn't everything. 

As we head into what will now be an even more contentious 2016 election, let's not forget that.

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