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Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Art of the Ego

Donald & Marla, 1990
-- By Tom Phillips 

One night in 1990, my Presbyterian minister wife and I were seated on the couch, watching raptly along with thirty million Americans as Diane Sawyer scored her exclusive interview with the woman of the hour -- Marla Maples, the girlfriend of Donald Trump.  The real estate mogul was leaving his wife Ivana for this foxy anonymous model, and the nation was transfixed.  The tale was taking on biblical proportions, like David and Bathsheba.

Suddenly I sat up.  What the hell were we doing?  Neither of us cared a fig for moguls or models.  How had this semi-scandalous affair become a national obsession?  How had it sucked us in? 

Well, it wasn't her.  Marla soon faded back into anonymity, just another ex-wife.  But the Donald never went away.  I can't stand him, never want to be in the same room with him, cringe with terror at the thought of his becoming president.  But like millions of hapless onlookers, I still can't take my eyeballs off him.  What is going on?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A "Murrow Moment"?

Edward R. Murrow
-- By Tom Phillips

This year's presidential campaign is proving to be a challenge, or maybe just a temptation, for some journalists.  In the last week some have questioned the old standard of "objectivity" -- asking whether it's time to declare an emergency, jettison a disinterested approach to events, and ride like Paul Revere to the rescue of American civilization.

A front-page article in the New York Times asked rhetorically what reporters should do if they believe  Donald Trump is a demagogue who would be dangerous with nuclear weapons.  The answer: "you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, and approach it in a way you've never approached anything in your career."  Really?