Blogs > Frye on the News

Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Touting on the Red Wings

Here is why tonight's Game 7 between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks is historic, from Oakland Press Sports Editor Jeff Kuehn:

Guilt by denial and apology

In the case of the pizza CEO, the headline is what is misleading, making the apology sound like an admission.

In the case of the representative, it's a case of the denial sounding like an admission.

For the pizza man, it is CEO of Papa John's, John Schnatter, who rightfully apologized for an employee (or ex-employee, as he noted) leaving a voicemail of a customer after butt-dialing him and going on a racist rant about his supposedly low $5 tip... not that low for a $15 order, by the way.

Talk about stupid. The delivery man and the co-worker who laughed at the rant were fired, and Schnatter apologized. All seems right and proper.

However, the long-embattled CEO (fighting weakly against Obamacare by threatening the hours of his employees, being targeted by Deadspin for appearing drunk at the NCAA Final Four) did not get a nice headline.

"Papa John's CEO apologizes for racist rant," read's headline. Ouch. I saw that and thought, well, there he goes again.

The subhead clears it up, but the headline on the homepage had me thinking he was the racist, something I based on prior news coverage about him in recent years. I don't think he's racist, but he is from the South and he's had headlines about intoxication and the president. Throw in the restaurant business, and one thinks of Cracker Barrel and Waffle House lawsuits.

Glad to know he's toeing the right line here, though I still prefer Papa Romano's.

Next up, Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says she's quitting Congress, well not quitting, but she's not running for reelection, having squeaked out a meager victory in 2010.

The often-embattled Congresswoman posted a youtube video explaining reasons that did not impact her decision to leave the House.

It is not because she fears losing. It is not because of investigations into prior campaigns expense reporting, related to her short-lived attempt at the presidency. She goes into deep details about expectations she had her staff obey laws. She says that "eight years is long enough."

The weird thing about the video is that it is polished and filled with background music that it sounds like a campaign ad. Less than a minute in she starts the denials, making me think she is fleeing the scene. So what does she have planned next, TV commentary and a book, or some other seat? I'm guessing she's cashing in.

Here is the video:

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Crazed goat in Brazil

You know those annoying people who bother you with their political beliefs, usually national, but sometimes local, often hanging out in places you need to quickly visit, such as downtown Rochester shops or the post office.

They have creatures like that in Brazil:

Big radio debut

Dave and Chuck "the Freak" started this morning on WRIF-101.1-FM in grand fashion.

They took the high road, apologizing for something they didn't have to apologize for and sharing much appreciation for fans of their 89-X show as well as to fans of Drew and Mike, the pair they replaced. They praised Mike Clark and Drew Lane, apologizing if a Detroit Free Press photo that accompanied the story about them offended Drew and Mike fans. (The photo showed them cleaning the studio they have taken over.)

I don't understand why they should apologize, but that is what the high road is all about, apologizing if others perceive something that was unintended, and frankly, not even there.

I don't understand what people could read into such a photo, but it's clear longtime fans of Drew and Mike are angry that their tastes have been passed by and relegated to the oldies heap.

Like a good sports team looking ahead for a strong quarterback or pitcher of the future, WRIF seemed to make the right move, bringing in the hotter duo instead of being stuck with someone who would eventually struggle to make the playoffs, require lengthier stints on the DL or IR, and cost much more as they earn less and less.

I don' t listen much for morning radio, but change is good, even when it means saying goodbye to a long, longtime partner. But everyone moves on. And Dave and Chuck and Lisa started out strongly and with class, based on the parts I heard. They were gracious and appreciative, and as much as a few fans dismay at the change, it seems like the masses (what's left of that group, considering the fractured audience with all of today's many options) will be following them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Forgiving or just forgetting

America is a place where people can rebound mightily from great falls, but lately, it is seeming more forgiving than ever.

Politicians who market themselves as having better values, or at least the ability to know what values citizens should follow, have been proven scoundrels yet have rebounded.

The latest is in South Carolina, where the one time disgraced governor Mark Sanford won a seat on the U.S. Senate. He had lied about where he was, hiding an affair with a woman he will now marry. His divorce has been brutal, including a recent police incident for violating a stay-away order. Yet, he won.

Now, disgraced former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner is seeking the NYC mayor's seat. He left Congress after lying about tweeting nasty photos and thoughts to a young woman. He claimed to have been hacked, prompting many others coming out about his transgressions.

But I don't think voters are forgiving. I think they are forgetting, or rather ignoring.

That's one reason these recent scandals are hurting the president's popularity. People who like Barack Obama, they like him. People who hate him, they hate him. No one is changing their minds or looking for news that attempts to take a middle of the road search for the truth approach.

And don't look for middle-of-the-voters to mind the intrusions into the media, which is as reviled as much as the president.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interviewing photographers

Has it always been common for cable news shows, interested in keeping a well-known story fresh, to interview photographers about photos they had shot?

I don't recall seeing that, though I know it's good to interview reporters about a closely watched trial. The beat reporter is often a good one to provide deep facts when you want to do an hour on a story and not just a five-minute update.

This morning, I heard two simultaneous interviews with photographers during cable tv news coverage of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes and school rescue/deaths as I drove to work. I had earlier seen the front pages showcased on the news, perhaps the "Today Show," and the follow ups inquired from the photographers first-person accounts.

It makes sense as newspaper photographers are there and can provide witness accounts, both as a human and as a professional journalist. It is interesting stuff, providing a factual and human element to a story that so often is fueled by speculation as cable news broadcasters rarely get time for lengthy eye witness accounts. Good job in both cases.


Death penalty

Twice last week and once just before that the nation's top news stories included the death penalty.

However, there came no (or at least little, for I didn't catch it) discussion on merits of death penalty.

These stories do not include the recent execution in Ohio of the man who raped a baby after a drunken night out, killing the baby in a horrific manner. That story was really a statewide story but it did cross the wires in Michigan and perhaps made it to sites like the Huffington Post. The man's own daughter still believed her father didn't do it or didn't mean to do it.

Last month, the bombings and terrorism in Boston prompted talk about the captured bomber receiving the death penalty, though more were interested in whether it was right to give him access to a lawyer and a reminder of the right to remain silent.

But the immediate news items with execution as a possibility included, of course, Jodi Arias, the darling bitch of cable news. Unlike Casey Anthony, she was found guilty and thus thoroughly reviled and unable to disappear. She reportedly said she preferred the death penalty instead of life in prison, prompting cable and social media debates about whether she was trying to use reverse psychology or deserved life to make her suffer more. The hatred, seemingly worse for her among many women than that sent to the Boston Marathon bombers but at least lasting longer in twitter trends, is interesting because all she did was kill a boyfriend.

"All she did," of course, is tongue in cheek in that domestic violence and killing a partner, though all too common, is a horrible act. I'm not against the death penalty, generally, but if domestic violence cases include it, we will be putting a whole lot of people to death.

Domestic violence is one of the more regular types of murders in our country, perhaps the most common. People hate her though because she is big news, due to her youth, her seeming prettiness, and the fact that she's tried to lie her way out of this. Oh, and there's sex.

She did not, though, kill a child, a group of people or terrorize the general public. She annoyed people.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, however, did kill many people, many babies, and he seemed a passive part of a horror story, running a filthy abortion clinic in a poor area and helping kill many unborn and just born babies. Many cried foul at the lack of coverage of this case, and they had a point; 'sexy' Jodi was on the cable news every night and the general media had a small Associated Press report on the complicated trial of the doctor and his practice. General news for the most part ignored both.

You can't say that the long trial was difficult to cover, as the Arias trial went on and on, and that was just great for cable news. But the murder of a boyfriend in a crazy relationship is less depressing than poverty, abortions and hopelessness. When Gosnell was convicted, though, the story turned, I thought, when it came out that he faced not just life in prison with the first-degree murder conviction, but he could face execution. That would be incredible, a professional who argued that he was doing legal abortions in tough circumstances now facing the worst penalty.

Quickly, though, the ruling came that he would not receive the death penalty. Cable news eagerly awaits Arias' fate, sidetracked by the tornado.

Again, interesting to me is the lack of debate about the death penalty, a regular news feature during the many Texas executions and even the Oklahoma City bomber's execution.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jail over scandal?

According to the, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner asked, who is going to jail over the scandal at the IRS?

I hope no one.

If they do go to jail, it should be for a crime. A scandal is a public embarrassment, such as when Tiger Woods was caught by his wife while cheating on her. Some states used to make that a crime, but no one wanted him to go to jail. He lost some endorsements and his swing, for a while, but he didn't commit a crime.

It's up to Congress to make a law that prevents such targeting of groups by the IRS, if there isn't such a law already. Let's make sure that is taken care of, Mr. Speaker.

As for firings, as many want, yes, that's appropriate for public embarrassment or hurting the trust people should have in your organization.

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Tax time

Yes, that was a month ago, but I must note that Pontiac's tax return came more than a week ahead of the federal tax return, a first. I always send them at the same time, and I always get the federal first, then state, and then, usually much later, Pontiac's. One time, I got a Pontiac return more than a year later.

Of course, this year, I didn't get anything back from the state. Thanks, Mr. Snyder, hope we get all those jobs with the tax breaks for businesses.

In other news, the IRS story may or may not have legs, but it seems there should be more scrutiny of those seeking tax-free status, but it should not lean towards one side of the political spectrum. This, I thought, was the one scandal that could sway many to become critical of Obama, but then the AP phone dump occurred.

That impacted media types, but I don't think Americans in general care.

Funny part is that the it seems the story that sparked the interest was reporting on the good job done by the government, something they just didn't want revealed. But making everything a secret in the name of security damages those freedoms leaders said were what Muslim extremists hated about our country.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ghastly news

Yes, terrorism happens, as it occurred in Boston. That's dramatic and frightening — as is a mass murder, such as Newtown's Sandy Hook elementary school.

Then we have the man opening fire on police in Ohio with an AK-47, caught on police dashcam. Again, the video adds to the horror and terror.

And then we have continuing story of the women escaping a decade of captivity.

News, it seems, is much more like a CBS crime drama, such as "Criminal Minds" or "Numb3rs." Throw in Charles Ramsey, the black man who helped save them and gave funny interviews, it is a bit of "The Mentalist" or other shows with grim horror mixed with refreshing laughs.

Is it that we want our news to be more like our entertainment, putting into a context we relate to? Or is it that the news is more horrible? I'm thinking the former, as there have always been horrible stories, such a serial killer out west in the 1950s or the Michigan school bombing in the 1920s. And those were sensationalized, though mostly in print.

The continuous airing of highlights, set to music, adds to the drama. Producers want an emotional impact, but is that at the expense of being informative and putting events into perspective.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Media critic criticized

Howard Kurtz is kinda the go-to guy when it comes to media criticism.

He is good on TV, engaging in social media and a sharp thinker and writer.

And he's everywhere.

Well, he was everywhere. Mostly seen on CNN's "Reliable Sources," he won't be read anymore at the Daily Beast (and Newsweek) as he was fired after a poorly written commentary on the Jason Collins coming out story that accused the NBA veteran of not disclosing he had been engaged. Collins did address that, not enough for Kurtz to notice.

But the commentary may not have been why he was fired. The criticized commentary spurned a look into Kurtz's other jobs, including writing and promoting a small web site, the Daily Download. Does he like their work, or is he an owner? 

Small issues for most, but big for him. I enjoy listening to and reading his work, but when your job is to criticize, well, it's like painting a target on your own back, especially if you don't disclose your own relationships.

It's an interesting story within the business.

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