THEY Report. YOU Decide. Where Along The Way Did We Lose Sight of That?

As the handful of truly devoted, long-term fans of these musings might remember, when my journey began a couple of years ago, I had both the resources and determination to work with a life coach, a powerful and determined man who had been a member of the United States Olympic judo team in 2004 and, more importantly to me, a huge influence in the life of someone who, pure and simple, helped to save mine.  I suppose in hindsight given where that relationship wound up it would be simplistic to say that I should have saved my money rather than waste any of it on someone who I only physically met once and, in the long run, never really helped me develop the skill sets needed to actually resurrect some still sorely needed aspects of my life.  You know, the kind that don’t often make it necessary for me to provide the link that so many of you seem to turn away from when I post it at the bottom of a musing.

But if you actually did give me a moment to explain why I did work with this man, and why I cherish the time that I did so much, I’ll immediately point you to one of the life lessons he taught me, the kind that he learned becoming a martial arts expert, so much so that his primary source of income these days is running a dojo in the Tampa Bay area because, heck, when was the last time you saw a truly out of shape Floridian under the age of 80?  I know it’s been quite a while since I have.

What I learned from this man is never to back down from an opponent, face that person head on, stare adversity down and, most of all, make sure that you at least try to stand up for what you believe in.  You may not always win, but at least you know that you made the effort.

Which is why I’m so damn pissed off at the kind of reaction that seems to come from so many so-called pundits and media experts who castigate and admonish anyone who actually dares to give a voice to anyone who they deem as provocative or “dangerous”.  And in the past few days, we’ve had two more seminal events which have produced those sort of reactions.  Kristen Welker’s debut as the newest moderator of MEET THE PRESS, and Walter Isaacson’s newest biography, a 700-plus-page tome that gives Elon Musk the same sort of treatment he has given to the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs.

Welker’s ascension to the top role of television’s longest-running regularly scheduled series at the outset of Season 76 (how’s that for irony in such an emotionally charged election year?) should have been purely celebratory, in a manner which BLAVITY’s Christopher Rhodes reminded us:

NBC journalist Kristen Welker started her new role hosting the network’s Meet the Press program Sunday, becoming the first Black person and second woman to host the historic show.  After working for local affiliate stations in her hometown, Philadelphia, and then in Burbank, California, she became a White House reporter in 2011, covering the Obama and Trump administrations. In 2019, Welker co-moderated one of the Democratic presidential debates alongside several other women journalists and moderated the final 2020 presidential debate between Trump and Joe Biden.

So to kick-start her new gig, the choice was made for her to interview Trump for her first episode.  The last time Trump was given such a potentially high-viewed pulpit was earlier this year when embattled CNN head Chris Licht made the ill-fated decision to host a live town hall. in part to showcase his newest anchor, Kaitlyn Collins, and in part because of the indisputable reality that, like it or not, people like to watch car crashes and train wrecks.  The town hall format, and the revelation that the invited audience was largely MAGA meatheads, was reviled, explosive behind-the-scenes reporting of Licht’s mindset emerged and, in hindsight, helped accelerate Licht’s eventual dismissal.  But the harsh reality of that night was that more people saw Collins that night than in any subsequent episode of television she has participated in, and that, at least for the moment, she’s still around to help Licht’s replacement Mark Thompson right the ship.

Welker is now ironically being especially castigated for giving Trump yet another chance to regurgitate his distorted view of reality, none more scathing that this one offered up during yesterday’s post-mortems by one Oliver Darcy:

The high-stakes sit down with disgraced former president Donald Trump was all risk and little reward for Welker as she assumed the esteemed moderator chair of “Meet the Press” for the first time Sunday. Television executives I surveyed before and after the interview were baffled that NBC News and Welker willfully chose to take on such a fraught assignment, given Trump’s notorious propensity to lie. As one television executive put it to me, “It was a crazy way to set the tone of what ‘Meet the Press’ would be under her.” 

Welker allowed Trump to make a number of statements wholly untethered to reality on a range of critical issues without tenacious, resolute, or meaningful pushback. Trump, a rapid-fire lie machine, did his usual song and dance. He lied about the election. He lied about the insurrection that his lies had spawned. And he lied about pretty much every topic that Welker broached.

Throughout it all, Welker seemed ill-equipped to handle Trump’s trademark bravado. Lacking any noticeable fire in her belly, she at times timidly tried to set the facts straight. But Welker lacked the necessary fervor and apparent grasp of the subject material the massive platform requires to effectively counter Trump, who as The New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker later told her, is like a “bulldozer shoveling falsehoods.

Of course, those of you who follow this world know that Darcy is an employee of CNN.  And Darcy. one of the network’s few remaining remnants of the RELIABLE SOURCES landscape that preceded Licht’s regime, could not help himself but to throw in this little diatribe at the end of his “review”:

When interviewing Trump, the goal cannot be to make “news” like one might attempt with a typical politician. The purpose of the interview must be to hold power to account. It must be about asserting the facts in a meaningful way and forcing Trump to confront them. He will still, of course, lie — but at least the audience might be able to see through the showmanship if the interviewer displays a firm grip on the subject matter and exerts command.

I’d truly love to see how Mr. Darcy would have covered this event last weekend, which the WASHINGTON POST’s  Roxanne Roberts did:

If you write a book but no one throws you a book party, does it even count? Not in Washington.

The party Sunday night was for Walter Isaacson, best-selling biographer and darling of this city’s intelligentsia, and his new 688-page opus, “Elon Musk.” An intimate group of 165 A-list friends and admirers — David Rubenstein, Nancy Pelosi, Roger Sant, Steve Ricchetti, Steve and Jean Case, Sharon Rockefeller, David Axelrod, Kara Swisher, Bob Barnett and Don Graham, to name just a few — gathered in the soaring Grand Salon of the Renwick Gallery.  Isaacson has a fascination with geniuses — Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci — but this is his first biography of someone at the white-hot center of current events. His friends love Walter as much as they fear Musk, and the party combined rapturous praise with a kind of existential dread about the controversial tech megalomaniac. The book “can depress you and make you happy, in some ways,” Rubenstein, billionaire philanthropist and chair of the Kennedy Center, told the guests. “It can depress you, because when you read it, you realize how much Elon Musk has accomplished in his life compared to most people. … It can actually make you happy, though, in the sense that you realize you don’t have the mental anguish and tortures and complicated personality he has.”

Walter Isaacson and Oliver Darcy have something in common.  Both count CNN on their resume.  Except Isaacson actually RAN the network, during the 9/11 and Gulf War era that produced some of the most-viewed broadcasts in the network’s 43-year history.

I read many of the excerpts of Isaacson’s latest work; bluntly, until he’s willing to provide me with a free review copy, the price tag for such a prolific tome is beyond my current budget.  It is indeed depressing, especially in light of Musk’s most recent decisions on content and policy for X, and how he continues to waste the talents and intelligence of his CEO Linda Yaccarino, who can’t seem to get away from her own harsh reality that she is working for a megolomaniac who can’t get out of her way enough to allow her to actually work her decades of relationships with real advertisers to make a legitimate business model out of it.

But I do know a lot more about Musk as a result of Isaacson’s work.  I at least know that the broken relationship he has with his transitioning offspring drives a lot of the viewpoints and decisions he makes.  In so many ways, he is no different than many of his fellow parents of students from Santa Monica’s prestugious Crossroads School who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to private schools to get their entitiled and underperforming children into top colleges,  Give credit where credit is due:  at least Musk hasn’t done that.  

It doesn’t mean I respect Musk one whit more after learning this.  But I do respect Isaacson that much more for having the courage to step into a proverbial ring to tackle an uncomfortable situation, and allow me the chance to actually get this insight.

And that’s exactly what Welker did.  In fact, she improved greatly on the mistakes that Licht made.  She edited her interview for the NBC broadcast and produced fact-checking guard rails that framed the numerous lies that came out of FOJ’s deranged mouth.  Since he’s had a few more indictments since that CNN sitdown, it was evident that he’s even more determined and deranged than ever before.  NBC’s digital team released the full 1:18 version online for those interested in seeing exactly how bad FOJ is these days.  Hours after this, he released what can only be seen as a thoroughly insulting castigation of “liberal Jews” who can’t seem to grasp how nurturing he is toward their religion and their homeland, even if he can’t quite spell the word that references supporters of Hitler correctly.

Look, as so many of these journalists ultimately admit, there are millions of people who somehow celebrate this alleged human as a modern day Cyrus, annointed by God himself and literally are willing to die for the cause of returning him to power.  They’re the same ones that somehow think a steady diet of freeze-dried pasta and rich sauces will keep you alive when the battle for world supremacy finally happens, which by their clock is sometime around next November.

My life coach taught me a far healthier diet and a far more intelligent approach to livjng. Physically, if not fiscally, I’m doing fantastically as a result.

And being around this industry as long as I have has also taught me that it’s a for-profit business, so the idea of using someone who will attract an audience is simply sound business.  Isaacson knows that all too well.  And the early returns of the sale of his book, the Washington elite’s snarking notwithstanding, bear that out.

Here’s at least what I would say to the hand-wringers who fear so deeply the idea of giving a pulpit to an idiot:

You cannot be concerned about the mindsets of people already as dug in to believe in bullsh-t as you are not to.  You cannot and will not win those battles.

Instead, try and focus on the reality check that there are still millions more who are indeed on the fence.  The kind that are far more likely to watch NBC than they are CNN.  Or Newsmax.  Or even Tucker on X.

Sure, there’s a chance that some will somehow be roped in by the bluster and garbage that spew from the poisoned minds of megolomaniacs like Trump and Musk.  But there’s also a chance that just as many will realize exactly how dumb and/or misguided they are, and perhaps decide on their own timetable to think more like Oliver Darcy might prefer we do.

Face your opponents head on, and at least know you tried.  Again, that’s what at least I learned from my life coach.

If you’re too weak to make up your own mind, then perhaps you could benefit from someone like him, too.

Until next time…

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