And the beat goes on…

Or does it?

I was flipping through the dial recently (kids, that’s an expression that means looking at the guide channel on my Comcast) and chanced upon His Gal Friday, a 1940 remake of The Front Page, itself a remake of the 1931 flick about the newspaper industry. It’s amazing how many classic films involve with the power of the press — The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington come immediately to mind — that plays such an important role in influencing and educating the public.

Image result for mr. smith goes to washington

Where does that come from now?

Image result for the power of the pressNot traditional newspapers. Those who have been following this blog for awhile know the reason I started it was to whine after losing my own job as an editor/writer when my employer got bought out. Probably the main reason I haven’t been able to find something similar is that so many of my contemporaries — many of whom are far more experienced and talented than I — are in the same situation and there are only so many jobs to go around?

What about TV news? I don’t watch the local fare, pretty much relying on ABC as my go-to network. Problem is, they follow the same pattern night after night: breaking news (and isn’t it always breaking? Seems like somewhat of an oxymoron: if it’s not breaking, is it really “news?”). You got your latest Trump debacle; a police manhunt/case mishandling; and there’s always some severe weather, whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, or volcano eruption. That’s all good for about 10 minutes. Then you get teasers followed by 30-second stories with constant commercial breaks. I have gotten into the habit of DVRing the program, skipping through the intro, and deleting when the first adverts come on.

Image resultThen there are the all-news cable stations. I’m a snowflake, so I watch CNN, but even that gets old. I realize there aren’t many people who sit and watch it all day long, so I shouldn’t complain about the constant repetition, but I have to agree that it does get to be a bit much. The stories seem to be about the most salacious items (Dr. Bornstein, Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen flipping, Comey’s book, the madness of Rudy Giuliani). These come at the expense of the less dramatic but ultimately more important issues that don’t have great visuals, like tax reform and health care. Yes, you get the initial information/lip service, but that gets supplanted as soon as someone else in the administration quits or gets fired (how is Giuliani still there, by the way?)

Despite all the stories about all the lies Trump has spewed since taking office, there are still millions who don’t seem to care.

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What does he have to do? He has said he’s so popular, he could kill someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose voters. Seems there something to that. Just look at his base when they’re interviewed on programs like The Daily Show and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. And, yes, I know there’s editing involved to pick out the biggest, but at least they’re real people, not like the teenage actors hired after that Parkland shooting (#that_was_sarcasm). Trump fiddles at NRA conventions and campaign rallies while the country burns with poor international relations, poor climate, poor infrastructure, and a diminishing respect in the eyes of the world.

There are those intrepid journalists who would like to work on these stories, but it’s become more and more difficult to do that outside The New York Times and Washington Post, and a handful of other outlets, and they seem to have all the writers and reporters they need. A few enterprising types have sought to start new news ventures and I wish them well. But such opportunities are not for people like me; they’re for those just starting out, those wishing to make names for themselves who can afford not to make a living in the short run. I looked at a few jobs that paid as little as $15 for a 5,000 word article. They might be a great launch point, but they weren’t anything I could afford, what with a mortgage and bills to pay.

I really worry what people of my daughter’s generation and younger will do for their news. Here’s wishing them well. Assuming that the country is still viable after four years of the current leadership.


Subscription blues

IMG_1604A small announcement in The New York Times alerted readers that as off today the cover price at the newsstand for the Monday-Saturday editions would increase from $2.50 to $3. The price of the Sunday edition remains the same at $6. That seems like a relative bargain since you get so much: magazine, book review, week in review, Arts & Leisure, Travel, etc.

Speaking from a purely economic point of view, it seems a bit much to expect someone to plunk down three bucks every day for a newspaper, especially one that seems to be shrinking on a regular basis, even if it is the most respected journals in the world. Such a price makes it difficult for an inquisitive young person to keep up with the important issues of the day, especially when you consider the different ways in which they get their news, through media on their various devices. Having a physical paper just doesn’t do it for most of them it seems.

Look, I get it. I used to work for a newspaper. I know that staffers have to get paid, and advertising has been declining for several years. Midday on WNYC devoted a stunning segment on “Local News’s Decline.”

I have a subscription to the Times, but I’m wondering about cancelling since even at my advanced aged I can access the news from multiple sources. One of my former bosses used to call the service department and claim he would cancel because it was getting too expensive. Invariably, they would offer him a cheaper rate and he would remain a loyal subscriber. I might have to try that tactic.

Probably shouldn’t have picked up THIS book

Don’t I have enough worries of my own without worrying about what other people worry about?

Yeah, so it probably wasn’t a smart move to check this out of my local library:

Image result for what should we be worried about?

This collection of brief essays covers everything from the probable, such as health issues, to the unimaginable, like global thermonuclear annihilation and the danger of aliens (the extraterrestrial kind) .

But the article that really caught my eye is “Internet Drivel,” by David Gelernter, a computer scientist at Yale.

Here’s what he has to say about how the web dumbs down future generations, at least until the next great thing comes along:

Personal letters have traditionally been an important literary medium…. Why have no (or not many) “collected e-mails” been published, on paper or online? It’s not only that e-mail writing is quick and casual; even more, it’s the fact that we pay so little attention to the e-mails we get. Probably there are many writes out there whose e-mails are worth collecting. But it’s unlikely that anyone will ever notice. And since e-mail has, of course, demolished the traditional personal letter, a major literary genre is on its last legs.

When I was with the newspaper, I sometimes had to edit work that came from our high school and college interns. I frequently asked myself and colleagues, what are they teaching these kids in English classes, because it sure isn’t how to write. Gelernter offers an opinion,

Writing ability is hard to measure, but we can try, and the news is not good. Recently the London Daily Mail reported on yet another depressing evaluation of American students: “While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities [the school concluded], objective test scores actually show their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts.”

You can blame whatever you like: video games, sports, other extracurricular activities which weren’t around in the 1960s, etc. Plus the notion that “everyone has a talent,” even if they don’t. Sorry, not every kid is special or gifted.

I think it’s a breakdown of social structure altogether. In my day (said the old man), I would never call the parents of my friends by their first names. That’s just one example. Nowadays, people try to get away with whatever they can and others are too indifferent or lazy to correct them. Would you ever insist that a kid call your Mr., Ms., Dr., or whatever your proper designation might be? I had a young fella at work who actually called me “sir” until I told him to stop, that it made me feel too old. That was the way he was brought up and good for his family. But that was my choice and peope like him are increasingly rare, I fear.

That same informality extends to the written word, whether personal or for business. Do they even teach kids how to write a business letter any more?

Oh, and by the way, the London Daily Mail? Why doesn’t England worry about their own students and teach them the proper way to spell.

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General(ly Hospital) speaking

My wife’s guilty pleasure is the soap opera, General Hospital. I sometimes walk through the room while she’s watching it on the DVR and offer my considered opinion on writing, acting skills, fashion, and relationships (weren’t they married already? What? THREE times?). But recently I found something actually interesting, if not exactly news-breaking.

As you know, I have been unable to find a job in traditional journalism. Looking through various job sites and through numerous networkings, I did come across lots of freelance work (i.e., no benefits) which did not suit my needs. So I found this passage between two characters whose names I don’t know — let’s call them A, a twenty-something pert blonde; and B, a thirty-something media business tycoon with Trump son hair from what I can gather by the brief interlude — discussing the possibility of working in the industry worth noting.

B: Typically, people returning to the workforce are returning to careers they’ve already established. You’re wanting to establish something brand new.

A: I have worked in publishing, though not as a writer, which is why I’m willing to start entry-level and work my way up.

B: Well, if you want to write for one of our pop culture blogs, be advised: You’re competing with twenty-somethings with a million followers who have had their own YouTube channel since they were seven. They’re coming to us now with a pre-sold brand.

A: I’m not interested in covering pop culture. I want to be a journalist working in the  investigative reporting division at your news outlet.

B: I admire you for aiming high, but I wouldn’t be doing you any favors by setting up false expectations, so let me be honest. School cafeteria food isn’t exactly hard journalism.


A (after a thoughtful pause): Until someone discovers that the vendors are sending moldy pizzas and rotten egg sandwiches. Until an entire school of children come down with salmonella or the norovirus because of poor sanitary practices. Or until funding gets cut for thousands of children who depend on it because it is their only square meal of the day. Then maybe it will considered hard-hitting journalism. Thank you for your time.

B: Lela, wait (so that’s her name). Look, let me do this: The paper buys freelance stories all the time. You bring me a story so compelling that I can’t resist publishing it, and I’ll consider finding a position for you on staff. Does that sound like a deal?

So let’s break this down:

  • Competing against young people with social media presences, fine. I agree with that. Makes it hard for someone like me, who seems to about twice the age of the actress in above scene to, get a job.
  • Lela’s wanting to start at the top reminds me of the scene in It’s A Wonderful Life in which George Bailey believes he can do anything: “Oh, there are plenty of jobs around for somebody that likes to travel. Look at this. There . . . Venezuela oil fields –– wanted, man with construction experience. Here’s the Yukon, right here –– wanted, man with engineering experience.” All of which he has exactly none, since he’s been running the Bailey Building and Loan since his father died.

Image result for it's a wonderful life, uncle billy

  • Sure, that journalism hiring scenario is plausible. I can’t count the number of staff positions I’ve received because I wrote one compelling story. And I’d be very curious to know how much they’d pay Lela for that freelance story, because I was seeing offers as low as $5 for a 500-word article.
  • How long until these two gorgeous kids are sleeping together?
  • Those GH people; they really wrote the crap out of that scene, didn’t they?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Again, no singing involved.

Came across this story in The New York Times a few weeks ago about Wal-Mart “University.” Made me sad for some reason.

Look, I realize that I and a lot of my friends, associates, colleagues, etc., live in large metropolitan areas so maybe our experiences are a bit skewed. And even though I grew up in relative deprivation as a member of the lower-middle class, I still had expectations of being able to go to college and have that “better life” parents want for their kids. It’s something you don’t usually dwell on as a younger person; I think that kind of self-awareness comes only in middle age, perhaps when you have children of your own (although some people — especially those who grow up in the “one percent” probably never get it). So when I read how some people don’t have the same opportunities, or that adverse circumstances or poor choices have made that college degree and all that it “promises,” I get a little philosophical.

Then I get angry.

I get angry that some companies like this take advantage of their employees, knowing that in many cases they call all the shots; that these people have few options. It almost seems like we’re back in the time of working in the mines or mills as the only source of income for generations of families.

Let’s be gracious and give them the benefit of the doubt and say companies like Wal-Mart may actually have their corporate hearts in the right place when they offer such programs, but really, who are these things for, worker or employer? As Michael Corkery’s article drives home, the skills the student/employee learn are meant to make them better at their present jobs, not necessarily improve their lives down the road (although he does point out that those who complete the course get a raise of $1 an hour).

I’ve reached the point where I have to wonder about the way in which companies cut back their work force because they want to save money on salaries or benefits, but I’ve always been cynical when it comes to corporate motivation. Newspapers like the Times, magazines like Sports Illustrated, and media companies like FOX News and ESPN have laid off hundreds of workers at a time, resulting in skimpier publications and shows, with a consequent cost of diminished information and entertainment. It’s a vicious cycle brought on by the “new” paradigm of technologies, offering different ways for people to get their news. Yes, they’re in business to make money, but can’t that come with some kind of balance to treat the people who make that money for them with a modicum of care and respect? Can they make it so their employee doesn’t have to agonize over missing a day’s pay because of illness when there time allotted for being sick or taking care of a family situation?

Several months ago I applied for a job at Wegmans and wrote about that experience. I didn’t mention the store by name at the time, but screw that. Mind you, Wegmans is listed as one of the best companies in America to work for while Wal-Mart has its share of detractors. And they certain go a long way to impress you when you arrive at their corporate office for the interview, with artfully crafted displays and well-produced videos about the history and credo of the family-owned corporation. Didn’t get that job and in retrospect I’m glad. I think I’m in a better situation now (although I’m still not ready to discuss that in depth here).  But fortunately I had a choice. Others don’t. So when these companies pat themselves on the back, saying that they go beyond normal expectations, I’m not among the first to offer words of praise and thanks.


A new metric for bloggers: VPM

As in “views-per-minute.” That’s when you divide the number of views by the time it takes to write a post. For example, if it takes me an hour to prepare an entry and 60 people read it, that’s 1 VPM. Not great, but I’m not the Huffington Post or New York Times.

On the other hand, if it takes an hour and you only get one view, that’s .016 VPM and that sucks. Of course, we’re talking math here…

Y U No - Y U No good at math?

I bring this up because I have a decision to make.

Given my new work situation, I’m weighing the idea of shutting down the award-winning Kaplan’s Korner on Jews and Sports. I created it in 2009 as the sports and features editor of the NJ Jewish News. When it was a part of my 9-to-5, I could justify spending several hours a day on it and it garnered about 1,200 views per week, a very healthy percentage of the paper’s total web views. But since I left NJJN — not of my own accord — last year, it’s become difficult to maintain.

I tried to get some Jewish media interested in carrying it on their sites but to no avail. I tried to get Jewish Life Television interested in doing a weekly TV show on the topic but that has been met by deafening silence. I have been fortunate to collaborate with Scott Barancik’s  Jewish Baseball News site, getting a slightly wider audience during the season, but that’s about it.

I’m disappointed but can’t say surprised; just about every newspaper is hurting these days and outlets are trying to keep costs down; even though I would be willing to offer it for free, for the chance of a wider audience and the opportunities that might engender.


I thought, working at a niche publication and with such a specialty act, I would be spared the fate of many of my contemporaries and was shocked to be proven wrong. I have tried to keep it going with the help of Rabbi Jason Miller, a very sporty guy based in Michigan, but trying to keep it going with a regular job has proven to be quite a real chore, considering that I host this very occasional site as well as my Baseball Bookshelf, which has also suffered severely, content-wise. The difference is that that one is much easier to do and more widely read. Not to mention I might want to do another book at some point soon. There are only so many hours in the day…

If anyone out there knows someone in the Jewish community who is willing to carry up the Korner, please let me know at Thanks for letting me bend your ear (or, perhaps moire appropriately, eye, although that sounds more painful.)

Pardon the Interruption but there’s a now almost Daily (Show) of politics into sports

A brilliant performance last night by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Not surprisingly, he took on the whole Trump-NFL business in great detail and biting wit. Here’s a sample:

The opening monologue was even better:

One of the comments that really stuck out for me: “Just so we’re on the same page, when Nazis were protesting in Charlottesville, Trump said, ‘some of these were very fine people, very fine people. And aren’t we all Nazis really? Aren’t we all, huh, in some way?’ But then when black football players protest peacefully by taking a knee during the anthem, he calls them sons of bitches who should be fired?” Noah also pointed out that if Trump was really upset about disrespecting the flag, why wasn’t he outraged by the Confederate flag waved at rallies?

Image result for which eight NFL owners linked arms with the players?


In addition, the Sept. 25 episode of Pardon the Interruption began with a four-minute segment about . It’s not unusual for co-hosts Tony Kornheiser (Jewish) and Michael Wilbon (African-American) to differ on issues. Wilbon said he was amazed that players should feel the need to protest in 2017. Kornheiser — citing his own heritage — noted that Wilbon’s ancestor probably came to America as slaves while “his people” came willingly, most likely because other countries did not want them. Kornheiser said he thought the flag and anthem should be respected but fully agreed that the tenets of the United States say that we have the right to free speech and it’s our right to protest.

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I heard about this Facebook post by Dan Rather on PTI and thought it was worth pasting in its entirety.

It’s football Sunday, and I have a pit in my stomach, and a sickening sense of deja vu. Who knows what the day will bring?

I do know the source of my disquiet. It is the stench of bigotry as a demagogue stirs the potent cauldron of racial division. I want to say, this is so unnecessary. We have so many other things we should be worrying about. But of course now this is real, and it must be called out. This is an age when no one can be neutral. To remain silent in the face of race-baiting is to be complicit. And I have seen the cost of complicity. It is ugly.

On Friday night, and then in a chain of tweets (what else) President Trump targeted African American athletes for provocation and ridicule. He has called into question their Americanness, as he called into question the Americanness of his predecessor President Obama. Perhaps what is saddest about this moral cowardice is that Mr. Trump may derive some political gain from these attacks amongst his supporters, but he fails in the test of leadership. Big time. For a President to be doing this – pouring gasoline on the embers of racial resentment – is really unspeakable. Instead of trying to reduce the potentially explosive emotions about race, he is trying to exacerbate them for his own gain.

I have seen this game plan before. My mind is transported across the decades. I hear the adjective “uppity”, and much worse. I see the mouths of authority curl with disdain and mutter “what do you think you’re doin’, boy?” – the last word spit out in disgust.

I feel time click into rewind, to when African Americans weren’t thought of as being “smart” enough to play quarterback, to when there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” amongst college basketball coaches to the total number of African American players on the court. Backwards still to all-white teams, and all-white leagues. I remember Jackie Robinson, and a time before someone of his skin color dared to think he could earn a living as an athlete in the United States.

I know this history. And so does Donald Trump. He understands how salient the trope of the “angry black man” is. It was said of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other now-revered leaders of the civil rights struggle. It is so ingrained in our history that it can become resonant even in those who say they aren’t bigoted. So Mr. Trump plucks at it. He knows that he can use the American flag as a symbol of division and not unity. So he sows that thought.

I grant that there are many who are offended by players taking a knee during the National Anthem. That is their right, as it is the right of those who protest to have their speech protected. This is how we discuss our differences peacefully in a democracy. But calling out these players as S.O.B.s (but using the actual profane words) who should be fired, that’s a pointed attack on our Constitutional rights. And it is summoning the dark shadows of centuries of racial stereotyping. Let’s just say I have seen plenty of white S.O.B.s in sports who have been given awards rather than pink slips.

President Trump is not trying to win over the majority of the American people. He wants to animate his base and bask in its approval. Will his supporters in Congress continue to stand by in tell-tale silence? Will his donors, including some of the owners of professional sports teams?

We are not a nation of majority bigots. The strident ranks of the intolerant can be overwhelmed by enough people agreeing that this is not who we are, or who we want to be. Mr. Trump’s cheers can be drowned out by a chorus of justice.

And one final thought, we have seen these distractions before. As Mr. Trump dominates the news cycle over race, as he issues bellicose threats to North Korea, one wonders what bombshells may be brewing in the Russia investigation, which seems to be gaining speed and scope.

Torn between two lovers (of their own opinions)

Frankly I don’t know what to make of this…

Comments by Jemele Hill of ESPN a ‘Fireable Offense,’ White House Says.”

According to the story in today’s New York Times,

Hill, who co-hosts the 6 p.m. “SportsCenter” program, called President Trump a white supremacist on Twitter on Monday, adding: “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”

It didn’t take long for the White House to complain about the attack on Trump’s good name.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the comments were a “fireable offense.”

“I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone can make,” Sanders said Wednesday during a press briefing, “and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.”

First of all, shut up, SHS. Unless the White House owns ESPN or you’re picking up a few extra bucks moonlighting there, you don’t know what their policy is about fireable offenses.

Image result for curt schillingNow, those of you who have followed my humble posts here and elsewhere know I have no love for Trump and his misanthropic minions. But does one have the obligation to be totally fair or just when it comes to supporting their particular point of view? Devil’s advocate time. Curt Schilling — the former pitcher and ESPN baseball analyst — was fired last year for comments he posted on Facebook regarding a North Carolina law that barred transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that do not correspond with their birth genders, according to the Times‘ story posted April 16. This was just one of his unenightened musings (See? There I go again, being a snowflake.)

Those who profess a love of free speech balance on a razor’s edge when it comes to what is acceptable and what isn’t. I don’t remember if Schilling’s post came from his private account or one under the aegis of his employer. Either way, should someone lose a job for expressing an opinion? Political pundits do it all the time (see any of the cable news channels for examples), but that is in their job description; that might not be in the case for folks like Schilling and Hill, although according to today’s article, “The network has reoriented its programming more toward opinion and debate, encouraging some hosts to veer away from sports. Hill’s “SportsCenter” often mixes sports with social and cultural topics.”

Both ESPN and Hill issued statements that her remarks were totally her own and did not represent those of the network. ” Hill posted on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 10.11.17 AM

Naturally, a friendly discussion ensued.

I’m still conflicted and confused: Is there any “free speech” right/consensus/etc. which makes it acceptable for groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis to spew their bile? (I don’t know how the ACLU does their work at times). On the surface, it seems not. But where does it stop when it comes to censuring — and censoring — thoughts with which you might disagree? If ESPN could fire Schilling, why not Hill?



Post no Post

Image result for new york post headless headlineShortly after I lost my job with the NJ Jewish News, I spoke with an editor at the NY Post. His family was a client of my wife’s veterinary house call practice and had told her to have me give him a call. It was just a courtesy thing, I told her, and sure enough there were no job openings. Which was fine, because while I needed a job, preferably in print journalism, I had no desire to work for the Post. Their reputation may or may not have been great as a business model, but as a model for questionable journalistic ethics, well, that was generally accepted. All this was reconfirmed by an article in the Columbia Journalism Review by Julia Dahl, a former writer for the tabloid.

Like Dahl, I had no experience in writing for a newspaper when I took the job at NJJN. All dues respect, I didn’t even consider weekly community enterprises like this newspapers. Like Dahl, I had to learn to overcome my shyness and fears in asking people questions I consider intrusive and an imposition. My first real story involved interviewing survivors of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. Another tough one was about suicide. But these were nothing compared with things the Post and its kind did on a daily basis.

There were a number of similarities between Dahl and myself. From the CJR article:

I DIDN’T GROW UP dreaming of being a reporter. My mom suggested I join the high school paper my senior year because I was “good at writing.” That was true. I got easy As in English…

And while this part never happened to me, it was quite an eye-opener:

But while I credit journalism school with imbuing in me a sense of the seriousness of my chosen career, it did not prepare me for the work I encountered at the Post – or, in some ways, for my work since. It didn’t prepare me for the kinds of compromises I was going to be asked to make in the name of sales (or “clicks”) and deadlines, or for a competitive story. [my emphasis added] It didn’t prepare me for the time my editor bought me a floor seat at a Knicks game and instructed me to hold up a giant sign that said “Fire Isaiah” until security kicked me out. (They didn’t kick me out. Instead, a news photographer “made” me as participating in a stunt, and I bailed, angry and ashamed I’d folded to the pressure to go in the first place. The next day, the editor who had sent me admitted the whole thing was a bad idea.) It didn’t prepare me to chase Paul McCartney’s new girlfriend through a grocery store for a quote.  And it didn’t prepare me for the dozens, maybe hundreds, of times people I talked to told me I was scum for doing my job.

Reporters are often found on the lists of profession most-hated. According to this source,

Idealistic young journalists look back on a golden age of journalism that may not have been so grand after all. Time and again, the same greats’ names are uttered breathlessly, with hushed reverence — Murrow and Cronkite, Woodward and Bernstein. The profession that once inspired so much admiration now regularly resides at the bottom of public approval polls. Unfortunately, for many people the lines between the bottom-feeding, sensationalistic blogger who can string together a couple of sentences and the trained industry professional have become almost indistinguishable.

In fact, a lot of the jobs that came up in my employment searches were for writers to put together a lot of short stories in a little amount of time for almost no money. You’ve seen these pieces, I’m sure: lots of links, often in the form of “slide shows” that make you click and click until you get to the actual heart of the matter.

This is what it’s come to, alas…

If you don’t want to watch the whole 19-minute segment (sadly, well worth it), try this, which appears at the end. But then you;re just feeding into the whole problem of shortened attention spans. Just sayin’.

Press brief blues

Don’t worry, not going to inflict another ukulele ditty on you…yet.

The nice thing about the new job is that it gives me a fair amount of time of during the week so I can watch the White House pres briefings on CNN.

When Sean Spicer was “in charge” (as if anyone can really be said to be “in charge” of anything in the current regime), there were the obvious missteps from the beginning, such as when he out-and-out lied when stating

It went downhill from there. Credibility — not that there was ever that much to begin  with — was a non-starter.

Now we have a new minion in Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who similarly can’t offer a straight answer to the simplest of questions. To be fair, I’m paying a lot more attention now than I ever did when it comes to these things, so I can’t say that previous administrations didn’t do the same things. But it doesn’t seem likely. Her attempts at humor are embarrassing, like that one kid in your high school class who was always trying to be funny but failed miserably. In today’s conference, Sanders was asked if Trump lied when he claimed to have received congratulatory calls from the leaders of the Boy Scouts and the president of Mexico, calls which both of the supposed callers denied.


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a reporters question during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, July 31, 2017. Sanders was asked about President Donald Trump's decision to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director after 11 days and other topics. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Asked about Trump’s claim that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called him to praise his border policy, a claim Peña Nieto disputed on Monday, Sanders said Trump was in fact referencing “a conversation that they had had at the G20 summit.”

Trump on Monday [Aug. 1] claimed specifically that Peña Nieto “called” to give him “the ultimate compliment” on his border policy. Peña Nieto’s office on Monday said he had “not recently communicated with President Donald Trump by phone.”

Sanders also defended Trump’s claim that the Boy Scouts called him to praise a speech he made at the organization’s national jamboree.

“In terms of the Boy Scouts, multiple members of the Boy Scout leadership following his speech there that day congratulated him, praised him, and offered quite — I’m looking for the word — quite powerful compliments,” she said.

“I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful,” Trump claimed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal (Politico published the transcript).

The Boy Scouts told Time on Tuesday that they were not aware of any call from the organization’s leadership to the White House.

“But the President specifically said that he received a phone call from the President of Mexico and the leader of the Boy Scouts,” a reporter said to Sanders.

“They were direct conversations, not phone calls,” she replied.

“So he lied. He didn’t receive that’s a phone call,” the reporter pressed.

“That’s a pretty bold accusation. The conversations took place. They just simply didn’t take place over a phone call. He had them in person,” Sanders said. “I wouldn’t say it was a lie.”

Yes, Sarah, we know you wouldn’t. But this is representative of the type of non-information we’ve come to expect from these little get-togethers.

And if Trump can’t tell the difference between talking to someone on the phone and in person, well, that’s worrisome. Of course, he could always clarify his comments (not offering an apology, heaven forfend), but you know he won’t.