Category Archives: Politics

Journalism in the Trump era

For the first fifteen years of my professional career, I was a journalist for a variety of publications, most notably three different stints with The Associated Press in Albany, Seattle and New York. Journalism is a tough, unforgiving career — low pay, long hours, soul-crushing deadlines and heaping helpings of disrespect from nearly every quarter. I admit, it totally burned me out, which is why I left.

Yet it’s an absolutely critical part of American society. The problem is, at a time when it’s more important than ever, the Achilles heel of American journalism has been exposed.

Get both sides. That’s been the mantra of journalists for more than a century now, when the notion of an impartial Fourth Estate began to take shape. This was, in large part, due to the growth and importance of The Associated Press. Back in the 19th century, newspapers were unabashed in their political views in reporting. But when five New York papers created a cooperative service to report on far-flung areas, there was a need for the AP to be impartial, so that a conservative paper and a liberal paper could use the same dispatch.

This grew into a general belief that news should be impartial, and that editorializing should be the purview of the editorial pages only. I genuinely believe this to be a Good Thing, and it transformed journalism into an active challenger of the status quo, no matter who was in power and who was on the outside.

Over time, though, the get both sides mantra has become bastardized. It’s allowed folks on the very margins of reasonable discourse — anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, all manner of conspiracy theorists — a seat at the table. And with the advent of social media, these fringe voices can find each other, organize and boost their signal, giving journalists a sense that the beliefs in question are more widespread than perhaps they realized.

And so here we are today, when we see journalists writing normalizing articles on the so-called Alt-Right and CNN has a ticker that says “Alt-Right Founder Asks If Jews Are People,” as if this can even be debated. (Meanwhile, you have The Atlantic, saving face for the rest of the Fourth Estate, covering an Alt-Right event where participants are giving the Nazi salute and shouting “Heil Victory! Heil Trump!” and calling it like it is.)

So where does get both sides end and the media begins to take a stand for the nation?

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Filed under Politics, Rant, Writing

A quick non-post

So basically I don’t have anything new to say, but I recognize that I’ve left the blog fallow for a week, and well, I feel somewhat obligated to at least say hello. Hi, there!

I’m crunching on the final revisions to MJ-12: Shadows, the sequel to this year’s MJ-12: Inception. You won’t get to see it until late next summer, of course. For whatever reason, this one was a tougher nut to crack, story wise. Or maybe it was just writing it on top of an unusually busy year for me. Hard to say. But I’m liking how it’s turning out. Hope you will too.

I’m also resisting the urge to work on something super-shiny that the Muse is incredibly excited about. Actually, she’s shrieking in my ears about it constantly, and I’m excited about it too. It only exists in about ten pages of notes at the moment. It’ll need to stay that way for a few more weeks yet. Shut up, Muse. I got stuff to do.

The whole election thing…yeah. Still sitting poorly with me, and it’s not like the incoming administration is inspiring confidence with its various gaffes and horrible appointments. If you’ve seen my Twitter feed, you’ve seen I’ve been more political of late. That’s not likely to change. As I explained to my kid, this is our time to stand up, just like the suffragists in the ’20s and the civil rights activists in the ’60s. And I’m gonna do that.

And otherwise? Planning a quiet Thanksgiving, then a work trip to Los Angeles in early December, followed by Christmas in a warm place with a beach. (Not Los Angeles, because who wants to vacation in a place you visit for work all the time?)

That’s where I’m at.


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Filed under Books, Politics, Travel, Writing


My 12-year-old daughter was pretty wrecked this morning when we told her about the election results. Like many, we had told her that while Donald Trump was a bully who had leveraged people’s fears — fears about the economy, their values, the Other — but that there were many good people out there. We didn’t think he would win.

He did.

All the conventional wisdom and outdated polling methodologies told us he wouldn’t, but he leveraged those fears far better than we expected. The fact that more Americans voted against him than for him remains a comfort, and that isn’t a small comfort, at least to me. It means we’re not alone.

So what do you tell a crying 12-year-old?

You remind her that this nation was created with checks and balances, so that the Presidency does not become a monarchy. You remind her that many conscientious Republicans took a stand with us, and we need to support them in the fights to come, even if we don’t agree on everything. You remind her that we have freedoms unparalleled in the world, and that our voices and time and effort can make a difference.

And you promise to do better.

For the most part, I’ve avoided politics on this blog and in my public persona — whatever that is. I believed that others did a far better job, and that the backlash wouldn’t be good for me or my family, or that the time and effort wasn’t worth the potential return. But let’s face it…that was complacency. I wrote a check here or there and voted, and that was fine, right? Nope. It was not.

I am not a woman or a person of color or LBGTQ+, but I want to support everything that they’ll be doing. My friend and fellow scribe Mike Underwood said it best on Twitter:

In fact, Mike’s whole thread is pretty good and worth a read. Point is, folks like me can’t be Frodo. It’s not our job to carry the One Ring to Mount Doom. But we can help. We’re the Fellowship. We go to where we’re needed and say, “You have my bow. And my ax. What do you need?”

And so I’m going to try to do that. For starters, check out this post from Jezebel about organizations that need your help. I also encourage you to use the comments below to throw some links out there to worthwhile organizations and efforts, and to find folks in your area fighting the good fight.

And I’m going to continue to write. The MAJESTIC-12 series most certainly has relevant political undertones, and I may hit those a little harder in the books to come. Another idea, far more overtly political but still fantastical, may very well have jumped to the front of the to-be-written pile. You’ll see more thoughts on this blog in the days and weeks to come.

This election is hard, man, but there are reasons to be hopeful. The civil rights and womens’ rights movement began in the Eisenhower years and were cemented in the Nixon era. My hope — and I believe it to be a grounded, realistic hope — is that this election will result in a similar wave of progress in the years to come. But it’s on us to make that happen.

So I told my kid that’s what I’m gonna do. I want her to enjoy being 12, and to sew and draw and to create as she does so well already. I want her to focus on school, and to have fun with her friends. And I want her to know that I’m working for her future, not just by giving her individual opportunities, but by creating opportunities for everyone and to make the world a kinder place.

I have hope. Let’s do this.


Filed under Politics