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The No News News Media

8:55 am in Uncategorized by brasch

by Walter Brasch

 

There was a lot of news this past week.

Ostli News

News

Some of it was even reported by the news media.

First, there was a football player from Notre Dame who either did or didn’t know that his girlfriend was or wasn’t real, but died sometime during the season. Six column headlines for several days announced the fraud. Network news and talk show hosts rehashed it almost daily.

Two weeks ago, Lance Armstrong admitted he was a dope. Or maybe he just took dope. The news media kept sending urgent flashes all week of what he was going to tell Oprah. And then he told Oprah, and now we’ll be reading stories about it until Schwinn adds a jet engine to a 3-speed.

Subway is accused of making foot-long hoagies that are 11 inches, a problem that the executives wisely didn’t say was due to shrinkage in cold weather. The media seized this major fraud and, ignoring anything Congress or Wall Street was doing, slathered layers of hype on a story that should have died with three paragraphs in one day.

Of course, there was the inauguration. That became another way for bloviators and pretend-journalists to push their own agendas. They told us how unpopular this President is—attendance was way down from the first inauguration. Only 500,000 attended.  They didn’t tell us that second inaugurations always have much fewer people watching them in person than first inaugurations. And, that figure of 500,000? A little short of the actual number of one million. They said the inauguration was over-long and overpriced, although most of it was paid for by private donations. Something they didn’t mention was that the costs and day’s activities were about the same as for the previous president, and most presidents of the latter 20th century—Democrat or Republican.

Some of these pundits suggested that the President didn’t have a mandate, although he easily won by more than five million votes, and a near landslide in the Electoral College. A few of the more extreme even suggested he had stolen the election—how else could he have won over the nice businessman who bought and sold companies and helped improve the economy of Switzerland and the Canary Islands?

For the rest of the networks, the focus was on a constant blather of what would Michelle Obama be wearing. Whose dress? Whose gloves? This, of course, was mixed into all kinds of gushes and comments about her new ’do. You know, the one that had bangs. The day after the inauguration, the media was all over the story of the Beyoncé kerfuffle. Did she or didn’t she lip synch the National Anthem? Truly great news coverage there.

Hillary Clinton testified before the Congressional Inquisition of Televised Republicans trying to make their bones to either enhance their own chances for re-election or to block what they think may be her plan to run for the presidency in 2016. This would be some of the same people who thought she was faking a concussion to avoid testifying in the first place.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, scheduled for Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 2–10 was cancelled this past week. The Expo is the largest in North America, but the organizers decided that in the wake of the Newtown murders, they would put a temporary moratorium on the sale of military-style assault weapons because they believed “the presence of MSRs [military style rifles] would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests.” Only a dozen or so of the 1,200 vendors were affected; most were selling clothes, rifles, turkey calls, tents, and anything related to outdoor sports. But, one by one vendors, the media, and dozens of celebrities—all with NRA encouragement and support—decided not to attend, somehow believing that a hunting and fishing exhibition that didn’t allow the purchase of assault weapons was somehow anti-American and gave a message that those who did attend were opposed to the Second Amendment. The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that the cancellation led to a loss of $43 million in the local economy.

More than 32,000 will die from gun violence by the end of the year, according to the Brady Center. This past week, 78 Americans, including four pre-teens, died from gun violence. And, during this past week, as has been the case for hundreds of previous weeks, the NRA leadership, with the egos of a gang of schoolboys who overdosed on testosterone, continue to defy all attempts to reach sensible solutions to allow the purchase of guns, yet reduce the violence.

A 38-year-old sergeant died from wounds received near Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. had invaded Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden, but he became a lower priority less than a year later. The Bush–Cheney administration almost abandoned the war in Afghanistan and turned to Iraq. More than 7,600 American and allied soldiers were killed, and more than 50,000 wounded in both wars. President Obama, fulfilling a campaign promise, ended the war in Iraq and is months from ending the one in Afghanistan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who numerous times promised to reign in the abuse of the filibuster that blocked any meaningful legislation or presidential appointments, turned wimp this past week. He and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who once vowed his top priority was solely to prevent Barack Obama from serving a second term, may have been last seen hugging, kissing, and preparing to be married in Massachusetts.

This past week, the stock market hit new records, and it looks President Obama may receive some of the credit for helping to stop the Great Recession, something that upsets Republicans, delights Democrats, and has no meaning to anyone homeless or unemployed.

Yes, there was a lot of news this past week. Some of it may some day actually be reported.

Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster. It is available from www.greeleyandstone.com at a pre-publication discount.]
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Confessions of a Juiced Journalist

8:08 am in Uncategorized by brasch

by Walter Brasch

Pill bottle

Are the writers you love using performance enhancing drugs? Probably.

Before Congress creates yet another useless special investigation committee and subpoenas me, I wish to come clean and confess.

I took steroids. Strong steroids. The kind that bulk you up and make you look like Stone Mountain. In my case, they just fattened me up, gave me rosy-red cheeks, and destroyed about half of my systems.

The first time I took steroids was for a year when I was a high school freshman. My physician prescribed it. Its side effects were that I didn’t have to worry about acne or my voice changing. The last time I took steroids was about a decade ago. For the first four or five months of what would be almost two years, it was a heavy dose. My hematologist said the drugs helped save my life. They also saved my writing career.

It was in that summer that I slept only about three or four hours a night, wrote a critically-acclaimed book plus a few articles. I even did a lot of calisthenics and more to clean the house, something that startled my wife, but kept me from committing ’roid rage.

And that’s why I must confess now. While Stephen King, Aaron Sorkin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and thousands of other great writers used coke or pot to get high and produce great works, I used steroids. There’s no question that the steroids kept me alert, and opened my mind to new ways to organize my writing. I probably couldn’t have done that book is so short a time if I hadn’t been juiced.

This past year, I was honored by the Pennsylvania Press Club with its lifetime Communicator of Achievement award, the first time it awarded it in seven years. But, it may be tainted because part of reason I earned that honor was because of increased writing and public service while under the influence of performance enhancing drugs. I’m hoping the state association won’t make me return the honor.

There were three people in their chosen profession who didn’t have a chance to be honored. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa were not voted into the baseball Hall of Fame. To be inducted into the Hall, a player must be retired at least five years and receive at least 75 percent of the vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Clemens received 37.6 percent. Bonds received 36.2 percent.  Sosa received just 12.5 percent. All were steroid-stained by a scandal that was enhanced by a Congress that was impotent in so many areas except outrage at athletes. None were convicted of using steroids or any related charges. The percent of members of Congress and their staffs who used non-prescribed illegal drugs is probably the same, or even greater, than athletes who used them.

Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner in 24 seasons as a pitcher. He recorded 354 wins and 4,672 strikeouts, third highest among all pitchers. Before Congress, he testified he never used steroids; others claimed he used them. Congress referred the case to the Department of Justice, claiming Clemens lied under oath. The jury found Clemens not guilty on all six counts of perjury.

Barry Bonds is the all-time leader in career homeruns (762) and single season homeruns (73). He was a seven-time MVP. Although he tested positive one time for using a performance enhancing drug (PED), he was never convicted of that. Before Congress, he denied knowingly using drugs. Although he was never convicted of perjury, he was convicted in court of obstruction of justice.

Sammy Sosa hit 609 home runs, 2,408 hits and ran up numerous records. He was stained by being on a list of players who used PEDs, but that list and the names of the drugs was never revealed, nor was he given an opportunity to challenge his inclusion on that list. Before Congress, he swore he never knowingly used PEDs. He was never convicted of drug usage.

The baseball writers who judged these all-time greats decided not to vote them into the Hall of Fame—at least this time. If the writers had dug deeper, they might have learned that most players, including many already enshrined in the Hall—and probably some baseball writers as well—were also tainted.

[Walter Brasch, who won most of his writing awards when not on steroids, is a syndicated columnist and author of 17 books. His current book is Before the First Snow: Tales from the Revolution. His book, Fracking Pennsylvania, is scheduled for release Feb. 14.]

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