Spin Cycle

There was no such thing as SPIN when I was a grad student in journalism at Northwestern University.

What?

No really – there wasn’t.

Oh, there were lies and bullshit and half-truths – sometimes by interview subjects, almost always from public relations flacks and, on the most difficult of stories, a consistent combination of all three. But our job as journalists, we were told, was to sift through ALL of the information and present the facts of a story, as we understood them, in the most coherent way possible so our readers could then draw their own conclusions.

OK, this method was frowned upon

– There were no alternative facts.

– There were no versions of Fox News and MSNBC with commentators telling us versions of the story we wanted to hear.

– There was no social media from which to consume fake news and no politicians or public figures in this country who would dare to deny even the most basic rudimentary truths that everyone knew were, well, TRUE.

That was what it was like in the late 1970s – a few years after Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of his knowledge, involvement and lies about Watergate and the dirty tricks he employed in order to win his election to the presidency.

seems quaint now

There was a demand for truth.

One wonders if that is even the case these days since there are so many more pleasant alternatives regardless of what side of the political or moral spectrum you are on.

For instance:

— It is much more pleasing to believe that global warming is inconclusive or even a hoax by elite scientists than to believe the Earth’s temperatures will make our planet uninhabitable by the end of the century.

— It’s also much more desirable to believe this doomsday scenario is nothing more than a liberal talking point than to acknowledge an exhaustive research report from our 13 government agencies that conclusively acknowledges our rising temperatures are, indeed, man made.

Nothing wrong here. Nothing at all.

But no need to stick merely to politics.

— Who in Hollywood wants to believe the 57 women and counting who have accused one of our most powerful industry figures over the last three decades – Harvey Weinstein – of various combinations of rape, sexual abuse and sexual harassment?  Even if you loathe him, and many did long before this came to light, how do you acknowledge the community was so scared silent about his actions for so long when you were one of the many thousands who heard the rumors?

Are our careers all that much more important to us?

sigh

Yes, that was rhetorical.

— But if you don’t want to answer that then do answer how everyone could’ve heard about, and in many cases witnessed, Kevin Spacey’s thing for young boys for all those decades and done nothing? (Note: See Bill Cosby. Or so many others).

And while we’re shedding a light on my fellow liberals – Hollywood and otherwise – let’s talk about some spin on something far less serious.

Excerpts of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile’s new book have just come to light and in one of the most publicized sections she writes about how she considered replacing Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, less than two months before the election, after Mrs. Clinton fainted going into a limousine following her attendance at the NYC 9-11 memorial ceremonies.

  1. The mere advancement of this statement implies Ms. Brazile would have had the power to make this happen – which she did not.

Really not the time for this Donna.

  1. Imagine all of the things you considered under stress, including MURDER, and then consider how much of a chance they had of becoming a reality.
  2. Then consider the lessons I mentioned from journalism school and decide whether you are really telling the truth about all of the above (Note: Especially the part about you replacing her with Joe Biden for president and…Corey Booker as his vice-president???) or whether you are merely spinning a story for your own salacious benefit i.e. in order to sell more of YOUR OWN BOOKS

Not ready to buy my t-shirt quite yet

Research and analytical skills are important but so is context, instinct and experience.

As adults, we’ve all been human for more than several decades so it is in all of our collective powers to surmise THE REAL TRUTH when something doesn’t sound or feel right.

We might not have the journalistic patience or skill to prove our cases for all of the above but we can use reason to decide for ourselves exactly when we’re being spun.

To whit —

If many of the top people in the very American company you co-owned were proven to have met secretly with numerous Russians yet professed no memory of those meetings after first publicly denying them, would you believe them?

Are we all in a Men in Black sequel? #20yearoldMovieReference

#NyetRuskies?

Or would you think you were being spun in an adult version of that nauseating amusement park ride you were barely able to endure as a child?

A talented writer friend of mine named Mikko Alanne, who also happens to be a former student at the college I teach at, created the eight-part National Geographic miniseries The Long Road Home. It debuts on Nov. 7 and is based on ABC reporter Martha Raddatz’s best-selling book that takes you INSIDE the U.S. involvement in the post-Iraq War in 2004.

a must watch

The show is riveting, dramatic and sometimes difficult to watch because it shows us the real HUMAN cost of war and death and bloodshed and ideals – on all sides – and allows the audience to come to its own conclusions by re-enacting just the FACTS as much as possible. Without spinning.

Yes, stories are condensed and judgments were made. It’s certainly not a documentary and definitely not a literal re-enactment of EVERYTHING that happened. This is not the purpose of television or even film drama, whose objective is merely to get to the SPIRIT of what is true as it entertains and hopefully, in some way, informs.

I’d settle for that instead of what we’re being fed now by too many real-life sources. The half-truths, the lies and the ongoing general line of bullshit is making not only us but all of our heads worldwide spin so fast and so quickly that it really is as if we are all on one giant collective Tilt-A-Whirl ride with no way to get off.

Try not to hurl

But as any adult knows there is always a way to get off.

Blood Sweat & Tears – “Spinning Wheel”

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Lock Him Up

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-11-40-10-am

There were times during Sunday night’s second presidential debate that I feared for Hillary Clinton’s physical safety. No, really. There was Donald Trump skulking behind her – all 237 pounds of him shifting towards her, then to her left and her right, like a caged tiger. In between sips of wine I calmed myself down by repeating to myself over and over – ‘the Secret Service is there, the Secret Service is there.’

This. Yes. This.

This.  This. This. This.

James Carville, the veteran political consultant and admitted long time Clinton friend and ally, described Trump this way right before in the pre-game show:

He’s a tired, overweight old man who is losing.

Again with the weight. Okay, I don’t like to poundage shame anyone. But after Trump’s grab them by the (fill in with cat metaphor) remark in the infamous Billy Bush tape, rife with its groping and Tic-Tac kissing – heck, I’m gonna give myself a mulligan on a weight reference to a fat….head.

Hat's off to the chair #tooeasy

Hat’s off to the chair #tooeasy

The carnival barker, reality show atmosphere was apparent from the beginning. Trump gamed the press for the umpteenth time 90 minutes before it all began by calling the media pool TV cameras into his lair for what was billed as an opportunity to watch debate prep. Instead what we got was a panel of four unfortunate women, Trump supporters all – who claimed abuse at the hands of the Clintons as they briefly told their stories at a long table sitting on either side of Heir Girthness. Three of them noted sexual assault at the hands of Bill and one of them accused lawyer Hillary 30 plus years ago of defending and winning a case for an accused child abuser who….Okay, stop. They’ve all been disproven or not proven or are not true.

One can never – and certainly not for the next 30 plus days – underestimate the circus-like, side show of entertainment reality TV cat fight (Note: Forgive my choice of animal…again) of anything involving Trump or his brand. Pundits and commentators mused post debate that he is using Breitbart-like tactics that his supporters revel in and will be happily burning down the traditional Republican Party along with all previously civil (Note: As if!) political discourse in the next month.

GOP headquarters

GOP headquarters

Of course, this is untrue.

Trump has nothing invested in institutions – political or otherwise. It is only about personal insults to him and/or his brand. See, it just so happens that they are BOTH (he and his brand, that is) running for president and that political traditions and the people who support them (or are them) are getting in his way. So yeah, he’ll burn them and all of us down – way down – if it feels to him like any of the above have or could effectively block his path.  At several points in the actual debate he even growled, whined and barked at nearby moderators Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper in between HRC skulks for giving Hillary more time than him, spitting out the words – ‘lovely, 3 on 1.’

Of course, like pretty much everything else he spoke or speaks about he was wrong. In actuality, Trump got to talk almost a minute and a half MORE than Hillary in the 93 minutes of total debate air- time.

I am the Earth Mother, and you are all flops. #MARTHA

I am the Earth Mother, and you are all flops. #MARTHA

There is no point in re-living the entirety of what was at best an uncomfortable and somewhat slimy evening in Trumpland. HRC tried to make the best of it, taking the high rode and attempting to answer the moderator’s questions and Trump accusations when she could and when the responses and moments would be most beneficial to her. After all, this was a debate. But the Trump spew fest is such an avalanche of id that it was amazing she could stay focused as long as she did, especially with the four accusing women planted as political props in the Trump family front row in order to throw her.

(Note: I, for one, am sick of the Trump children getting a pass for being so wonderful. The big game hunters, the alt right re-tweeters of racist misinformation, the overly qualified real estate shill for Daddy’s shady deals. Look it up – type in Ivanka shady real estate Mexico; or Eric, Don Jr. racist retweets and see what The Google spits out (or up). As for Tiffany, let’s leave her out of this and give her the benefit of the doubt (for now) as being merely a side player).

8fc162248234334aac564150b71ce5c1

Trump family slogan?

But back to the 93 minutes that in theory is supposed to help those undecided decide who to cast their vote for as the next U.S. president. Most notable was when Trump sniffed into the microphone with the authority of a rabid alley cat and bellowed at Hillary that when he is president he is going to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate her situation and many crimes. When she refuted his accusations by saying none of them are true and that it’s a good thing he was not in charge of the U.S. justice system, he didn’t lose a beat before bellowing back – ‘yeah cause you’d be in jail!’ This once again not only proved Trump has no understanding of government, justice or the role of a special prosecutor but that he is uniquely qualified to preside over a third world country or obscure Latin America banana republic. One thing you can say about Hillary – she’s spent her life in government and knows about special prosecutor overreach. So, um, no sweat there. – Advantage Clinton.

This image was incredibly easy to find. Surprised?

This image was incredibly easy to find. Surprised?

Yes, there was a lot more but suffice it to say the needle wasn’t moved much in either direction – just a lot of sniping and damage control and a collective national sense that we all can’t wait for this to be over. If Nate Silver’s Five-Thirty Eight blog is any predictor – and it is – we could be looking at anything from a substantial Clinton victory to a significant Clinton landslide. Barring anything major – and I suppose we shouldn’t but let’s just pretend – the United States will be swearing in its first female president come early next year and the political Apocalypse of a late-in-life Capt Kurtz-like Brando figure taking over Now will likely not come to pass.

We feel you Kate!

November 9th?

What has also not been lost to many observers, pundits and average Joe political social media gadflys (Note: Yes, I do stand accused) is the irony that when a woman finally gets to run as the first major political party nominee, her chief opponent on the other side is the most sexist, arrogant, Alpha-male wannabe of white patriarchal clueless entitlement who has ever ran for the top position in government in our country’s history. Though it doesn’t feel ironic to me. It feels just right. A sort of karmic justice to a dying breed of generational buffoonery. Long live the new queen. From this queen.