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What should this mean in an Internet and information-cluttered world?

What happens when news media organizations seize clear opportunities to advance ratings and profits, and focus on making stars out of attractive anchors and articulate reporters?

In other words, should NBC be bragging about its “Anchor for America,” or CBS its “trio of self-admiring morning stars” matter to us at all?

Or should investigating the existing president, and inviting adversaries to say whatever they will, be what “speaking truth to power” means to us?

Or should a focus on popularity polls no longer frame the approach of media organizations, when explaining facts, truth, and context, are much more important?

Should we therefore expect much more of news media organizations than focusing on advancing their own successes?

The answer is NO! Why? It’s very clear that we cannot “un-invent…”

The Cell Phone

The Internet

Social Media Platforms

The Digital Camera

TV News

Somehow we now live in a world where national security has become dependent on international collaboration. It’s amazing that a courageous young president in a place called Ukraine would be the person to teach the world this lesson. He, together with new media, have made the realities of globalization permanent.

Mr. Putin’s thinking is a relic of the old world… and this is why it’s inevitable that he will fail. We get to see and hear everything he’s doing every day. Would-be autocrats and dictators better be paying attention!

Putin has made it clear that his mission is to bring back the Soviet empire

  1. Stalin established the Soviet empire, often using violence on his own people.
  2. The appealing idea of this empire no doubt has been in Putin’s mind since his service in the KGB.
  3. Toward that end, he made brutal attacks on several former Soviet countries. including the Ukraine.
  4. In today’s internet and social media world, he could be thinking that this is his last chance to bring back that empire.
  5. Rather than admitting defeat, he might actually prefer to “go down” fighting, and have history record that he was the one who tried.
  6. The big issue for the EU and NATO: Would Putin actually resort to chemical and/or nuclear weapons?
  7. If so, how will they respond? Right now the answer remains unknown.
  8. Whatever happens, it certainly is clear that the vast majority of the world prefers democracy and freedom over the control of autocrats and dictators. Would-be autocrats better be paying attention!
  1. “Putin’s folly” is being brutally exposed on television for all to see every single day!

2. Early pictures of beautiful Ukraine cities, modern music halls, impressive museums, state-of-the-art hospitals and people going about everyday business, remain in our minds.

3. But these are constantly contrasted with horrible images of destruction by a mindless dictator’s brutal assault on a peaceful country.

4. We see homes bombed into rubble, and women and children leaving cars by the roadside as they struggle to get out of the country.

5 We see babies crying as adults are dying in the streets.

6. Over time, these images accumulate and linger in our minds with a relentless staying power.

7. Digital technologies which have be used to produce confusion and political divisions, are finally being used to save democracies everywhere.

8. The people of Ukraine, and the reporters covering their stories, are showing the world just what it takes to end tyranny… and to hold on to a life of freedom.

Putin’s dream of empire could very easily become his worst nightmare…

He must have thought he could overrun Ukraine in a day or two.

He clearly underestimated the willingness of the Ukrainian people to stand their ground.

Reports are that many in Putin’s army look confused and uncertain about what they are doing.

Many of his tanks are running out of gas… an indication of inadequate training.

He might try to intensify his assaults… but sanctions, world support, and resistance will only increase.

NATO and EU support has become more unified and focused every day.

Many other countries around the world have also pledged their support.

Putin’s recent nuclear threats will very likely backfire… and could also cause his own officials to stop him.

Citizen protests in Russian cities are growing… and they could intensify out of fears of a nuclear war.

Putin’s power inside and outside Russia will come to an end… maybe even sooner than many thought.

Is the political pendulum in Texas swinging once again?

My wife and I moved to Texas in 1966 so that I could begin a teaching career at TCU. By 1974 I had become Director of Continuing Education… and also became TCU’s representative to the state legislature in Austin. I found Democrats in charge there, but I also found bipartisan cooperation. Democrats were liberal in that they were interested in social programs and education reform, but they were also conservative in financial matters.

Gradually, however, the legislative climate changed. My impression was that conservative-leaning Democrats were gradually becoming Republicans, and bipartisan cooperation was beginning to fade away. Soon, redistricting lead to gerrymandering, and gaining and maintaining political control became the objective. Power politics became the name of the political game.

It now seems to me that the political pendulum might be swinging once again! Two thoughts:

1. A large number of people seem to be simply getting tired of power-driven politics. They appear to be rejecting the intense polarization and anger produced by control-driven politicians. They also seem to be accepting that the U.S. is a country of immigrants. Book banning, voter suppression, and “cancel culture” confusion are add to this growing fatigue.

2. New candidates are running against those currently in power. Could they actually be splitting the power-politics vote? Cross your fingers.

Maybe the pendulum is slowly swinging again… possibly away from the small group currently in power and toward meeting the genuine needs of the majority. Such a swing could pave the way for smart people with new and more unifying ideas to find their way back into Texas politics!

!

Right now Biden must focus on his successes…his handling of Ukraine and NATO, the COVID slow down, passing the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and improvements in the economy.

In addition, issues messaging must focus specifically on current crises… not past ideas and experiences.

Internal party bickering must stop.

Use of internal and external focus groups will help find and clarify appropriate messages.

These groups will also assist in developing brief “talking points” for staffers and others in the party.

Using both old and new media every day will help reach broader audiences and age groups.

Disciplined use of consistent messaging is needed to stop internal disagreements and external criticism.

Today’s TV news organizations inadvertently produce confusion on important topics and issues. Here’s how:

  1. TV news can’t resist the temptation to seize opportunities to increase profits.

2. They add lots of commercials… and even shorten them to cram more into more frequent breaks.

3. They promise new information on previously reported stories… but only change words and pictures.

4. Anchors and reporters talk faster and louder to add drama, cutting stories short, with no context.

5. Anchors are selected with star-potential and are groomed into fashion-conscious celebrities.

6. They point out that the entire story is on their website… but know few viewers will actually go there.

7. Mainstream stations invite opposing experts or politicians to argue… resulting in more confusion.

8. Also opinion-driven stations find commercial success by serving only viewers that agree with them.

To serve the broader public interest, mainstream TV news programs must slow their pace, report complete stories, and provide much more context. In other words, “Lester Holt, the anchor for America” should end.

Prof. Barbara F. Walter explains in her book, “How Civil Wars Start,” that a civil war is very close when really important groups begin to fear losing their power and influence.

A political party, a minority group, a religious group, a current government, a key institution or organization, or even an antigovernment militia group, can be one of those groups.

Right now the leading group in the U.S. is the Republican Party.

Examples elsewhere around the world include Hindi and Muslim groups in India; Shia and Sunni groups in Iraq; Catholics and Protestants in Ireland; Walter lists and explains many more.

In today’s Internet and social media-driven world, Walter explains that civil wars usually begin with groups or inspired individuals making personal attacks… but they often also go on to include street protests, militia wargames or dry-run attacks, labor strikes, targeted assassinations and bombings, and more.

There are many ways to stop modern civil wars… these include finding leaders to call-out and explain over-and-over what’s happening; asking prominent reporters and respected pundits to urgently repeat every day the “democracy in danger” message; offering civics and media literacy education in schools and community groups. Walter’s book lists more.

Walter’s book is an argument that we in the U.S. are very close to a civil war… and it issues a strong warning that this is how other democracies have been lost.

I highly recommend this book… it is very well-researched, and her examples and practical suggestions are all based on historical facts.

Preserving American democracy must quickly become the President’s primary priority and message.

This message must include legislation to guarantee voting rights.

Other issues must be addressed by other supporters… i.e. COVID confusion and infrastructure.

Political parties and individuals that are creating barriers must be “called-out “aggressively every day… one-by-one, and by name. The democracy threat has become that serious!

Otherwise, history will record that this is the president who didn’t save American democracy.