Learning through images

No longer do we learn through subject and verb, but rather through a verbal hybrid of images and slogans designed to spare us the rigors of closely examining issues for ourselves.

Our preoccupation with television imagery has helped make this generation curiously artificial and particularly susceptible to the counterfeit. Essayist Michael J. Arlen has called it the "tyranny of the visual." And countless other critics have lamented about the perils of images supplanting words in this culture.


If only: As Wash Post mulls a headquarters move, a reminder that I.M. Pei might have been its architect

While researching my biography of Katharine Graham (Power,Privilege and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story), I interviewed I.M. Pei in his New York office.  I wanted to talk to him about the commission in the mid-1960s  to design the Post’s downtown headquarters at 1150 15th St. NW.

Anybody who has seen the building — opened in late 1972 and which one Newsweek editor described to me as “a  box”—  would quickly recognize that Pei lost that commission.  A gentleman of the first order who had been a friend of Kay’s late husband, Phil, Pei was discreet, certainly exhibiting no bitterness.

I did manage, through interviews with people on the editorial and business sides of the Post, to get the back-story of how it happened that Pei was paid $2 million for his time and trouble before architects from Detroit were retained to design the building.


Apology to Michael Beschloss

I recently wrote an article about the legacy of Barack Obama, and I wrongly threw Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, under the bus.
This is what I wrote:
“Historians will rate President Barack Obama as one of our nation’s greatest presidents. The question is: Was he any good? That the history profession is dominated by a liberal elite comes as no surprise. Robert Dallek, Arthur Schleschinger, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss would all rank both Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson toward the top of the list, and Ronald Reagan toward the bottom. George W. Bush will never, ever get his due for how he handled the 9/11 attacks as he passed landmark education and Medicare legislation or for his remarkable commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa.”


Roger Ailes says farewell to Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio says hello to immigration reform, Hillary Clinton says farewell for now

To understand the true views of Roger Ailes, one of the smartest cats in media and politics, ask yourself: Who was his favored candidate for the Republican nomination in 2012? If you don't remember, read below. For now Ailes, in what may or may not be a hint of coming attractions at Fox News, has said farewell to Sarah Palin. Torches are being passed all over. As Palin fades from Fox, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) aspires to lead the conservative base toward more humane and creative policies, beginning with immigration. Kudos to Rubio. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton passes the torch at the State Department to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), whose experience will make him an outstanding secretary. Speaking of passing the torch, how about President Obama sharing a “60 Minutes” interview with Secretary Clinton?


Why do the media determine what's important?

It is astonishing that all of the major networks’ and cable stations’ top story is about the Notre Dame football player whose imaginary girlfriend supposedly died. How can this command the top spot in news when our country is about to be downgraded from its triple-A credit status and we continue ignoring the debt-ceiling debate?

This is symptomatic of what is wrong with our nation. We focus on things that are meaningless and completely ignore the things that will determine our viability in the future.


Media's contribution to the degeneration of society

Many have noted that are our society is in decline. Many, including President Obama, bristle at that notion, but an honest appraisal of the situation would certainly demonstrate otherwise.

There was a time when every program that ended on TV was punctuated by the seal of good practice. This meant that there was uplifting and moral content in the programming. That disappeared decades ago. There is no longer any attempt to elevate the thinking of American society.

In fact, the media seems engaged in an attempt to neutralize morality and to impose "Hollywood Morality.” In Hollywood it is quite acceptable to swap wives and have multiple marriage partners and multiple sexual partners outside of marriage. Drug culture is glorified. Excessive spending is idolized by that group, while demonizing the same spending by the Wall Street crowd.



Dates to mark. They will change the times.

Janu. 11: “Zero Dark Thirty,” which tells the story of the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden, is released to the public. Said to be one of the most effective movies ever made. There is no substitute for success and President Obama killed Osama bin Laden. It will be his story as well.


This is getting crazier and crazier

Did I dream this, or have questions been asked about the legality of "Meet the Press" host David Gregory holding up an empty gun magazine on television while interviewing NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre? Even after NBC asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives if there was any legal question about doing so and was told “no,” some experts now allege that it is a crime to publicly display an empty magazine, carrying a penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. NRA advocates reportedly complained to NBC.

It's legal to carry a loaded weapon in schools, bars, churches, wherever, but not to hold an empty magazine before a camera while discussing the subject of gun control?


The Drudge debate

First let me express my thanks, appreciation and respect to Matt Drudge for publishing my open letter to him about race-related stories. As I wrote to him, I am fully confident that in his personal relationships Drudge is a gentleman of integrity and fairness. This is a debate about professional standards. Let me respond here to some of the comments and private email I have received.

Most of the private reaction I have received, of which there was much, was thoughtful and friendly, including from many Republicans and including from some very high-level Republicans whom I promised not to identify but who thanked me for offering the advice I offered to Mr. Drudge and Republicans.


Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

You know what's actually intriguing is that gas prices are at record-high levels and it seems as though (thanks to the media with a Democrat in the White House) we have grown accustomed to $3- to $4-per-gallon gasoline.

We have also (again thanks to Obama's media PR machine) grown accustomed to sluggish economic growth and 8-plus-percent unemployment. In addition to this, we no longer seem to be alarmed by our rapidly declining international stature.