The Misguided Thrill of Advertiser Boycotts

Laura Ingraham once again finds herself the target of outrage should surprise no one. The paleo-conservative with a Fox News exterior on Wednesday spouted how “massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people,” as if the mere existence of people with a different appearance and heritage than her own served as an affront to Western civilization. David Duke cheered, think pieces abounded, and by Thursday the pundit walked back comments with a predictable my-racism-wasn’t-that-racist follow-up.

Sadly, the radio host also inspired a reaction from critics as tired and wrong-headed as her eugenics-lite message. In the Twitter-sphere, the answer to Ingraham always seems to be an advertising boycott. Continue reading “The Misguided Thrill of Advertiser Boycotts”

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The True Villain in our Unfolding History

The most exhausting thing living in the age of Donald Trump, especially if you work in the news business, has to be the inescapable Trump angle to every story. Whether it’s a story about the particulars of tax policy or next season’s line-up of primetime sitcoms, the president of the United States and his particular person style become the subject of every internet conversation and the pivot of every news article somehow.

That makes it difficult but important to assert that the nonstop coverage of the disastrous summit in Helskinki, an event where President Trump’s predictable stumbles prompted networks to break into their regularly scheduled programs, in fact ignores the most important personality on stage. The story of Russian meddling, of collusion, of undermining democracy, should start and finish with Vladimir Putin. Continue reading “The True Villain in our Unfolding History”

The inevitable end of Roseanne and the opportunity it almost provided.

It’s hard for an entertainment story to truly become the news of the day. Almost nothing breaks through the all-Trump-all-the-time rules of national media today, but it turns out one of his most notorious supporters has what it takes. The implosion of Roseanne Barr, and the sudden accountability for it, became for a moment the only thing that mattered in America. Continue reading “The inevitable end of Roseanne and the opportunity it almost provided.”

Gov. Scott wants FBI director’s head—this time.

Today’s no day to defend the FBI, so nobody should consider this as anything of the sort. The FBI has acknowledged that a tip to the agency that Nikolas Cruz posed a a violent threat to people in the community. That came a little more than a month before Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, yet nobody in the FBI’s Miami field office was notified. That’s terrible, and someone needs to be held accountable.

Yet, I find myself perplexed at the call today by Gov. Rick Scott that FBI Director Chris Wray should resign. And the political whirlwind around the FBI right now only clouds the issue more. Continue reading “Gov. Scott wants FBI director’s head—this time.”

Covering Culture, Nabbing a Cover

So there it is. My first national cover. It’s super-exciting to see an article I penned serve as the cover story on an important publication here and around the world. And I’m actually kind of pleased its not a political cover but one about an important cultural moment—namely the presence of openly gay men at the Winter Olympics for the first time.

Continue reading “Covering Culture, Nabbing a Cover”

Records that don’t need breaking

Watching the news from Las Vegas this morning brings me back to Orlando in 2016. For some, it will bring them to Aurora. Or Newtown. Or Columbine. Sadly, there’s so many mass casualty events in recent American history that virtually anybody can think of a community near them that became a part of a headline. I remember gathering stories from survivors and family members, tales that will touch me the rest of my days from people who had their course of life changed for ever by the devious act of a single man.

But I also find myself pondering words said to me in a Port St. Lucie bar days after the Orlando attack. A year and half ago, I was in town asking about the Orlando shooter, a man named Omar Mateen, known for a moment for the deadliest shooting in US history. Those in his home town were not interested in marking Mateen’s name down in history. “Now he’s got the record, but someday someone else will have it,” said Daniel Mundis. “Nobody will remember this as his shooting. It will be the Pulse shooting.”

Now the mass shooting record belongs to Stephen Paddock, another otherwise insignificant man whose last act on earth would change a community forever. His action last night go into the books as the deadliest mass shooting ever, but sadly, it won’t remain that way forever. Whatever cold comfort this provides to Orlando, people will no longer reference Omar as the man behind the deadliest shooter ever. Someday Paddock will lose that title as well. Infamy is not everlasting.

All that said, there’s a reason we learn these names for a time, and why so much attention goes to understanding the motivations behind such a shooting. Why did this man apparently plot out this attack at a concert? How could he get this type of weaponry both into the city and inside of this hotel? Why did he elect to shoot at this group of people? And lest the question get brushed off too easily, how did he obtain a weapon capable of this sort of havoc in the first place?

That’s a lot of questions that won’t be answered as easy as they get asked. It will take a long time to unravel the events of the day with deserved thoroughness. And as Orlando can tell you, it will take an even longer time for the community of Las Vegas to heal.

We need to know what happened in the life of Stephen Paddock right now. And this tragedy will never be forgotten. But history will not elevate this madman’s reputation. It cannot.