All COVID Newscasts Underserving America


If one only receives their news via the evening broadcasts from the three main networks it is most likely there is no awareness about a long list of international events that are shaping regions of the world.  I am clearly aware of the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many tentacles it has on all parts of the nation.  I am also aware of the need to report and juggle events within the roughly 22 minutes allotted for the nightly broadcasts.  But it also goes without saying that news programming needs to adapt during this time of pandemic so the events from Poland to Hong Kong also get covered.

If everyone read a morning newspaper there would be less reason to find concern about the absence from ABC, CBS, or NBC about events that not only impact large swaths of the world but also impact international policy decisions our nation is then required to make.  A well-informed citizenry aids in shaping our national discussion on the issues which our leaders will then be offering a response.

I wrote about the actions nations like China, North Korea, and Iran have been undertaking over the past months, as they hoped a pandemic and the lack of ability from our president would allow them to get away with their long-held desires.  In April I summed up a post entry with these two paragraphs.

There is  no doubt that international players are watching the United States very closely as this pandemic takes hold of the country.  They are most conscious about the lack of leadership exhibited from this White House.  It is troubling to see so many rogue players and confrontational nations seeming to wish to take moves that run counter to international norms.

While there is a lack of credible leadership in the White House there will be those who take advantage of the existing circumstances. At the fringes that is what we are seeing play out on the world stage. It is not something we can dismiss, and it is not something that the television news media in this nation should fail to report.  We need to be aware of international events, even during a pandemic.

A most draconian national security law imposed by Beijing has left Hong Kong in a most perilous position.  Those living in the city can now be jailed for life for vaguely defined laws.  What China deems “subversive” can mean not only a citizen of the city can be forced to the mainland for trial but jailed for decades over the most bizarre of reasons.

A truly important election is taking place this weekend in Poland, where the outcome could signal the beginning of the end of right-wing and illiberal democratic governments in Eastern Europe. (Illiberal democracy is a topic of importance on CP)  Those who follow the trend lines over the past years can attest to the dangerous outcomes for democracy when the press is vilified, courts turn out rulings dictated by oppressive rulers, and human rights are tossed aside like old bread.  Warsaw Mayor Trzaskowski is seeking to remove the right-wing incumbent President Duda.   The outcome is vital to the international tide of democracy that needs restoration.

If a news story on a major network started out with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, when completed, being nearly twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and as wide as the Brooklyn Bridge is long or that the reservoir behind it is roughly the size of London, viewers would pay attention. Once operating the dam will be the largest hydro-electric project in Africa.  It will produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity, but a massive dispute with Egypt and Ethiopia and Sudan has prompted threats of war and concerns about a future conflict over water resources under pressure because of climate change.

The world is filled with these types of news stories that we need to know about and with newspapers and newsmagazines, many people are better informed.  But there is a huge swath of the public who rely upon television network news for their source of information.  And that demographic is not prone to tune in to PBS’ NewsHour.  So it is incumbent that the three main networks find a better use of the time allotted to them in the evening.

Increasing the length of their national newscast is not an option due to the importance of local advertisers to affiliates around the nation.  Going without advertisers on the national broadcast would add about 8 minutes of content.  If there would be just a cold opening without a playlist of upcoming stories, and also jettisoning the ‘feel good’ story at the end of each broadcast would add at least 3 minutes of airtime for actual news content.

There must be a better way to inform those who tune in to the evening broadcasts and rely on it for most of their knowledge about the world. The recent past underscores why there needs to be a better-informed citizenry, which then allows for a better performing electorate.

And so it goes.

President Ford Slammed For Slip Of Tongue, While Donald Trump Lies Every Single Day And His Supporters Slobber It Up

Monday was one of those incredible news days.  Donald Trump was talking with some of the nation’s governors about the international pandemic, all of which was recorded.  It was during that series of conversations when Trump stated not hearing about testing in regards to COVID-19 “in weeks”.  The statement was shocking and simply surreal.  There is no way to turn to any television newscast, pick up any newspaper, or tune to any radio news and not become aware of the shortage of testing in our country for the coronavirus.

Monday several rural-state governors told Trump that they are struggling to obtain urgently needed medical supplies and testing equipment.  They expressed their warnings that despite the worsening coronavirus situation in New York and other urban areas, more sparsely populated parts of the country need help, too.   For Trump to be needed to be informed of that, given all that we have witnessed over the past weeks, is in and of itself, a very shocking reminder about how little Trump knows, or understands. Or, perhaps, is able to remember. 

In response to requests from the governors for more testing kits, Trump said, “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks.” 

I first heard this news as I was eating a late dinner at our home.  (James cooked a homemade fish and rice dish called Brodetto and it was heaven.)  The audacity of Trump to make such a statement, considering that as recently as March 19th he was asked, why famous people (such as basketball teams) get tested when so many regular Americans are left without the option.  Without empathy, he replied, ““Perhaps that’s been the story of life. That does happen on occasion, and I’ve noticed where some people have been tested fairly quickly.”

Trump has been asked often about testing and reporters have been determined to find answers from him, and the assembled team he has around him for such appearances.

As I watched the news report during dinner, and then replayed the audio on my i-Pad, my mind raced backward in time.  The time machine landed in 1976, with President Gerald Ford making a misstep on national television during a presidential debate.



It was most obviously a blunder and made with a huge segment of the nation watching.  There have been many efforts over time to determine how much, if any, the lapse in his mouth working in time with his mind, actually mattered in the close election outcome.  But no matter how the matter lands with historical analysis it was a headline maker.  There was no way to assess it other than a strike against his candidacy.

Ford got taken to task for his words.

Decades later Trump can stand up in daily press conferences and outright lie to the nation about a host of issues.  Lately, the lies are about matters of life and death.  But the corrosive nature of such lies has a price tag in a democracy.  Once “misinformation” is initially encoded in a person’s mind, be it the idea that Iraq had nuclear stockpiles or regarding the ‘birther’ issue, it is very difficult to change perceptions through credible means of education.  In fact, attempted corrections, as we have seen from watching the Trump base, often only reinforces the initial misinformation.

I know I am headed into the tall weeds where Trump will never wander without his golf cart, nor his clueless base ever cares to head.  But when Trump lies with boldness, and does so repetitively, it flies in the face of what mankind realized as being vital starting during the Enlightenment.  Every day we deal with a world of objective facts.  They are provable.  Logic and reason follow.  Making up one’s own version of reality is not allowed when facts prove that something is either up, down, dark, or light. 

What we witnessed Monday was a complete example of why Trump is dangerous for the nation.  He is making a mockery of truth, while the lives of our fellow citizens are at stake.

Aging Planes In Polish Government Were Warned About

This is shame that no one listened enough to affect change.

The plane was a Tupolev Tu-154, designed by the Soviets in the mid-1960s. Russia halted mass production of the jet roughly 20 years ago, and roughly 200 of them are still in service around the world, said Paul Hayes, director of accidents and insurance at Ascend, an aviation consultancy in London. He said the Polish president jet is one of the youngest of them.

Officials in Poland have repeatedly requested that the government’s aging air fleet be replaced.

Former Prime Minister Leszek Miller, who survived a helicopter crash in 2003, told Polish news he had long predicted such a disaster. “I once said that we will one day meet in a funeral procession, and that is when we will take the decision to replace the aircraft fleet,” he said.

Poland Needs To Replace A Whole Political Class After Tragic Plane Crash

The news is just staggering to consider.

For Poland, the losses raise the question of how a country of 38 million can replace a whole political class. Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski – one of the highest-ranking Polish leaders not on board the plane – told Poland’s Radio Zet that he was the one to inform Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who “was in tears when he heard about the catastrophe.”

Among those on board, according to the Web site of the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, were Mr. Kaczynski; his wife, Maria; former Polish president-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski; the deputy speaker of Poland’s parliament, Jerzy Szmajdzinski; the head of the president’s chancellery, Wladyslaw Stasiak; the head of the National Security Bureau, Aleksander Szczyglo; the deputy minister of foreign affairs, Andrzej Kremer; the chief of the general staff of the Polish army, Franciszek Gagor; the president of Poland’s national bank, Slawomir Skrzypek; the commissioner for civil rights protection, Janusz Kochanowski; the heads of all of Poland’s armed forces; and dozens of members of parliament.