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Scoot's Blog

Tune in to "The Scoot Show" for lively, candid discussions about news, politics and culture with WWL's "Radical Moderate!"

Weekdays 1pm-4pm

Twitter: @scootwwl
Email: scoot@wwl.com
Facebook: Scoot on the Air

Scoot: Who is the enemy of the American people - the media or Trump?

"The FAKE NEWS media (failing NYT, CNN, NBC and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the America people. SICK!"

That was a tweet President Trump sent out Friday as he continues to ramp up his war against the media.

Shortly after sending that original tweet, President Trump edited the tweet by dropping the word "SICK" and adding ABC and CBS to the list of failing media.

Is the new media really the "enemy of the American people?" From the perspective of President Trump, the answer is "yes!" However, beyond Trump's inner circle and beyond Trump's most loyal followers, the news media is more the savior than the enemy of the America people. Judging the news media as a group is subject to bias.

The news media has its faults. There should be no doubt that certain stories get more attention and certain angles are applied to make stories more sensational and more reflective of the divide in America. Stories demonstrating unity over divide don't attract as much attention as those that ignite the national narrative, whether that narrative is real or rhetoric.

Advertising often uses the technique of repetition of a phrase, even if the phrase if not 100% accurate. There is a tendency by many to accept as fact something that is repeated over and over, even if that which is being repeated is not factual. President Trump appears to be using this tactic in his war on the media.

The news media deserves criticism, but to state that the news media is the "enemy of the American people" is designed to create unfair distrust from an institution that has a right and a responsibility to question authority – even the President of the United States.

Up to this point, President Trump may be winning the early war on the media, and only time will tell whether the media or the President is right or wrong. History is littered with presidents that rejected criticism from the media, only to be shown that the criticism was justified.

It is interesting to consider that so much of the information, including the rhetoric, President Trump presents to the American people comes from the source of the news media. The President is condemning the institution that is providing him with the information he needs to continue to fight a popularity contest.

At a campaign rally in Florida over the weekend, President Trump referenced a terrorist attack in Sweden the night before. When it was quickly determined that there was no terrorist attack in Sweden the night before, it was revealed that President Trump was referring to a report he had seen on the Fox News Channel.

Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus over the weekend about President Trump's declaration that the news media is the "enemy of the American people." Priebus made the point that less attention was paid to the positive news about Trump's early days in the White House then negative stories, like Trump campaign officials talking to Russian officials during the campaign. Chris Wallace told the White House Chief of Staff, "You don't get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time. But I gotta say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people."

We have a president and a White House that is attempting to control the news media. Ironically, it has been idea of the "liberal media" controlling the minds of the American people that have been the focal point of much fear.

When the President declares that the news media is the "enemy of the American people," the news media needs to fight back and prove that its role in politics in America is vital to our freedom.

Photo via USA Today
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Scoot: What if Obama had called Fox News "fake media?"

The sh*t would have hit the fan if President Obama had praised CNN and MSNBC while bashing Fox News as "fake media," but that is essentially what President Trump is doing by praising FNC and labeling their competitors as fraudulent.

I realize that I'm taking a chance on offending many Trump supporters with my professional observation about the media. It's easy to discredit the expertise of anyone you disagree with, but my 40 years of experience on the air and studying the relationship between mass media and society does allow me to have an educated opinion on media matters.

Perhaps I'm not 100% correct, but my professional observations are inspired by what I see and hear and not by any personal grudge against President Trump. Any conscious listener appreciates that my show takes positions about the issues, regardless of political affiliation.

That being said - President Trump is turning the Fox News Channel into an extension of the executive branch of government. The benefit for Fox News is the anticipation of expanding its lead over competitors, and that is based on the assumption that enough Americans will tune in to watch a pro-Trump spin on the news. Fox News has been complicit in creating a "safe zone" for President Trump and in return, the President appears to be favoring Fox to the point that if President Obama did the same with CNN and MSNBC, the criticism from Fox News viewers and right wing radio talk show hosts would have been loud and relentless.

This op-ed blog is not an attempt to bash President Trump – it is an honest observation about the scary reality of a biased media going so far as to become an extension of the executive branch. The one thing that continues to distinguish media in America from media in many countries around the world is that our media is free from government control.

What happens if our media volunteers to become part of the ruling class in our government?

As I have argued many times, Fox News has every right to be biased in favor of conservatives, but if Fox News does accommodate a pro-Trump stance and if the President continues to show extreme favoritism to that cable news network, and the Fox News ratings grow, then we can conclude that many Americans defy their own claim to want a media that is not biased.
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Scoot: For the first time, I'm deeply concerned about America

It is not my intent to offend the many Trump supporters that are a regular part of the afternoon audience of our show on WWL. However, failing to be honest about any political controversy would disqualify me as a credible radio talk show host.

Throughout the presidential campaign and in the weeks following the inauguration of President Trump, I have always strived to talk objectively about then-candidate and now President Donald Trump. In doing so, I have been accused of blind support for Trump as well as unfairly bashing him. But that comes with the job of not being a "cheerleader" for the right or the left, and I willingly accept that as the reality of how I choose to do my job.

The current controversy over reports that top advisers to Trump were in constant communications with high-ranking Russian officials known to U.S. intelligence officials - during the campaign - raises serious questions about Donald Trump's relationship with Russia and cannot be passed off as a politically motivated attack from the liberal media.

The questions about the possibility that Donald Trump has a financial relationship with Russia, or is beholden to Russia for assisting him in winning the election, have suddenly turned into legitimate questions that can no longer be dismissed as a left wing liberal media conspiracy to delegitimize the Trump presidency.

There has been a lot of speculation as to why Trump, as a candidate and now as president, seemed to stop short of ever criticizing Russian President Putin. Does the new information about close contact between Trump's top advisers and high-ranking Russian officials explain Trump's reluctance to go negative on Putin? Perhaps.

And oh the hypocrisy! The Trump White House is now saying that it is the leaks that are the real problem. When the Clinton campaign focused on the leaks of information about emails over the content of the emails, Trump and his supporters condemned Democrats for blaming the leaks and not the content of the emails for her campaign failings.

Now, The Trump Administration is pointing to the leaks as the real problem and not the alleged close and constant contact between Trump advisers and Russian officials. The hypocrisy is so obvious, but so many will refuse to see beyond their bias.

There must be an intensive investigation into Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia. Imagine the perils this nation would face if any president would make decisions and act according to his own personal/business interests over what is in the best interest of the American people.

For the first time, I am deeply concerned about the direction of this country. I'm concerned about the political manipulations on the part of the Administration, ranking Republicans and a large segment of the American voters. And yes, the voters on both sides of the political aisle are participating in the slow demise of America.

Bias is blurring the reality of politics and that is tearing our country apart and there seems to be no end in sight. And before you blame the politicians and the media – look in the mirror and consider how you may be contributing to this mess in America.

Allowing bias over reality to shape opinions is a fundamental concern for what will make America great again!
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Scoot: The media and President Trump are both at fault

One of the dominant news stories over the weekend was the story about the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids that led to the deportation of over 350 illegal immigrants in 12 states. The majority of those arrested were convicted felons, but the raids did include the arrest of some illegal immigrants with no criminal record.

The left blamed the new Trump Administration for sweeping through communities and rounding up and deporting illegal immigrants and the news media was quick to ride that wave, even while softly reporting that the raids had been planned under the Obama Administration.

The news media, in general, enhanced the angle that new raids under the new Trump Administration resulted in the immediate deportation of illegal immigrants. However, the information that the raids had been in the planning stages for months before Trump became president seemed less important. This further demonstrates that the media, the politicians and the public feed the more sensational side of news stories.

But the Trump Administration confused the story about the raids on illegal immigrants by saying that the raids were part of the new aggressive attitude of the Trump Administration and a fulfilling of Trump's campaign promise to deport illegal immigrants.

The argument that the ICE raids were planned under President Obama was in defense of President Trump – then President Trump says that his administration was responsible for the raids. Well, which is it?

Both sides are using immigration, like every other controversy, for political gain. And here's a fact that defies the political rhetoric on both sides – President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president!

In 2014, the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino advocacy organization, named President Obama "the deporter-in-chief" and demanded the pace of deportations under Obama cease.

That condemnation of President Obama did not benefit the left's image of being tolerant of illegal immigrants or the right's view that the Obama Administration was allowing illegal immigrants to openly come to America, where they will be protected once in this country.

The right has used the illegal immigrant issue to attract votes from Americans who are more apt to believe perception than reality, so the idea that President Obama was deporting more illegal immigrants than any other president did not support their agenda.

There are also statistics that contradict the widespread belief that illegal immigrants are flooding across our border to the south. The stats show that more immigrants are leaving America than entering – a trend that predates Trump becoming president.

With the media and politicians – facts are either convenient or inconvenient. But facts should be facts.

The news media and President Trump's handling of the weekend raids on illegal immigrants perfectly illustrates how the media and politicians use the media to brainwash us to secure their own selfish political power.

Sadly, the American public is contributing to this disturbing trend through the process of "confirmation bias" – the belief in what fits one's preconception over reality.

Photo via USA TODAY
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Scoot: Does a full moon really make people crazy?

Tonight a full moon will hang in the sky and there will be much speculation that it will have an effect on human behavior. But does a full moon really inspire lunacy? I did some research and discovered some interesting information about full moons and human behavior.

The moon has always been a mystical object in the sky to humans and even though man has walked on the moon, the mystery of the moon is still present today.

The word "lunacy" comes from Luna, the Roman Goddess of the Moon. One definition of "lunacy" is those moments of insanity believed to be related to the phases of the moon. A person who is acting in a crazy or abnormal manner is often described as a 'lunatic.' In 19th-Century England, lawyers actually used the defense of "not guilty by reason of the full moon" to prove that their clients should not be held responsible for their crimes.

The relationship between the moon and human behavior is well documented. A Roman scientist and military commander believed that the full moon created a heavy dew, which made the brain extremely moist and affected behavior. The power of a full moon to turn a human into a werewolf has been part of a literary myth since 1941.

It's easy to understand how the full moon got this image. Before modern lighting, the light of a full moon kept people awake at night and the lack of sleep led to behavior that was out of the ordinary. The full moon also provided light for people to carry on drinking and participate in general debauchery well into the night.

The phases of the moon affect the tides of the oceans, and the body is 65% to 75% water. So, does the moon affect the human body? Full moons have been blamed for increases in violent crime, suicides, epileptic seizures, sleep deprivation, births and even deaths.

But is a full moon to blame for abnormal behavior in humans? The answer seems to be no! Despite the belief by some police offices, ER nurses and doctors, mental health professionals and the general public that strange behavior increases during a full moon, there are no studies to support the myth that a full moon actually has the power to make people do crazy things. There have been a few studies over a 50-year period that established some correlation between a full moon and abnormal behavior, but follow-up studies have proven the original conclusions to be false.

Romanticize about a full moon and perpetrate the mysterious powers a full moon has on human behavior, but insisting that a full moon enhances deviant behavior can be link to the workings of a lunatic mind!
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Scoot: Is President Trump making politics entertaining?

Yesterday during the show, I received texts from listeners who were commenting on how the show was so much "fun" to listen to, because some of the callers were ignoring reality and adamantly defending President Trump. One text said that his co-workers wanted to know why he was literally and figuratively LOL (laughing out loud) in the workplace, and he explained that he was listening to our show on WWL.

Other texts suggested that some of the callers were turning the show into what seemed more like satire than political talk. Recently, the creators of "South Park," Trey Parker and Matt Stone, announced they would no longer be satirizing President Trump because they just couldn't keep up with all that was coming from the White House and that the comedy being produced by the Trump Administration was better then anything they could create. One of the TV shows known for its topical satire is stepping back - and allowing the reality of the Trump Administration to entertain instead!

I would not go so far as to describe what is coming from the White House as "comedy," but much of what we are witnessing is bizarre. I'm not referring to the aggressive pace of the early days of the Trump Administration and the fulfilling of many campaign promises, which may be setting a new standard for the immediate work load of future presidents - I'm referring to everything else.

The recent tweet from President Trump bashing Nordstrom's for dropping his daughter Ivanka's clothing and accessory line, the negative comments about the judges ruling on his temporary travel ban and the numerous verbal faux pas from the Administration that defy facts are all of the things that give the perception of political reality turning into political comedy. Since what some perceive as comedy is indeed political reality – there's really nothing funny about it!

Donald Trump was elected President of the United States because he was a political outsider that represented change and what we are seeing are changes that should have been anticipated from a political neophyte. Presidential etiquette is being broken and that in and of itself is not a bad thing, but when the President of the United States uses the power of his office to publically condemn a major retail store for a business decision that negatively impacts his own daughter, who is an active part of the Administration, we all get a better glimpse into what really drives President Donald Trump.

As a father, I understand the parental instinct to protect your children, but Donald Trump, the man, should distinguish between his role as a father and business owner from his role as President of the United States.

President Trump used the power of his office to inflict public damage to a major retail chain because he was personally offended by the company's rejection of his daughter's clothing line.

In a statement, Nordstrom's said Ivanka's clothing line was discontinued due to sagging sales. Whether that's true or not does not change the right Nordstrom's has to freely decide what clothing lines it carries. Only time will tell whether dropping Ivanka's line was a positive or negative move for the store. Some will be happy and some will be angry. I would think that for those who are interested in buying and wearing Ivanka's clothes and accessories, online sales might skyrocket.

The point is that Ivanka Trump is an official part of the Trump Administration and is therefore not immune from the wrath of politics and even comedy. That's a reality that comes with the conscious decision to be part of the political system.

We often hear people say, "The government should be run like a business." But the innate nature of government is definitely different from business. As a businessman, Trump is used to the option of seeking revenge when it comes to dealing with those with whom he disagrees or the ultimate action of, "You're fired!"

Serving all of the people of the United States as President requires a different set of skills, not the least of which is the ability to understand that criticism and compromise are part of the job.

The tragedy in all of this is that we are reminded that politics has infiltrated into every aspect of our lives. Political stances have caused us to choose or boycott certain fast food businesses. And now, we are being challenged with thinking about political positions when we shop for clothes. Sad!

Photo via USA Today
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Scoot: Trump's "war on the media" suffers casualty

President Donald Trump's war on the media suffered a significant casualty in a recent strategic attack. Speaking to U.S. soldiers at the U.S. Central Command in Florida this week, the President said that the media is covering up terrorist attacks and said the soldiers at U.S. Central Command "understand why."

First of all, it is inconceivable that the media, which thrives on breaking news and the extended follow up, would purposely fail to cover a news story that would potentially yield massive attention-grabbing coverage. Secondly, there is a disconnect between President Trump's assertion that the media is covering up terrorist attacks, and the fact that the media has covered terrorist attacks.

President Trump has a right to call out the media for its many flaws, but the invention of facts to discredit the media will only weaken the President's position.

President Trump, like President Obama, has loyal followers who will believe anything he says and condemn any source that uses legitimate information to discredit an absurd assumption. Those are the American voters who demonstrate that you have a right to believe things that are not factual because that's what you want to believe, but belief is something that is simply not true does not make it any more true. It could be called an "alternative fact."

The media put itself in the position of being criticized for its strongly biased coverage of the news, and the media should do a better job of presenting the news objectively. The exceptions are the radio and TV talk shows that are driven by opinions. This is a segment of the media that should be immune from criticism of bias.

Too many Americans lump all media into one group and that's a problem. If CNN was criticized for being the "Clinton News Network," then today, it's fair to describe the Fox News Channel as "Trump TV." But the shows on the cable news networks are different from the presentation of news within the format of a newscast. It is clearly up to the viewers to understand and make that distinction.

President Trump's insistence that the only reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton was because of massive voter fraud has no credibility - even among many Republicans.

President Trump is creating the "fake news" he condemns when he says something that cannot be backed up with facts. The President has been taking advantage of the public's negative overall image of the media, but as time goes on, the President will only enhance the media's credibility by spouting ridiculous claims for the sole purpose of bashing the media.

Since the loyalists to President Trump will not see the truth – it's up to the rest of us to hold the media and the President accountable. The time is coming when even some Trump supporters will start to question many of the charges President Trump wages against the media because of the false precedent he is setting.

The media can be rightly criticized on many fronts – so why is President Trump so intent on fabricating scenarios outright to fit his narrative?

Photo via USA Today
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Scoot: Our new President and the rise of "alternative facts"

America has a new president and a new phrase that suddenly became a trending item over Donald Trump’s first weekend as President of the United States.  The new phrase is “alternative facts.”

ALTERNATIVE FACT:  President Trump’s inaugural audience was the largest to witness an inauguration – period.

FACT:  President Trump’s inaugural audience was not the largest to witness an inauguration.

ALTERNATIVE FACT:  The dishonest news media started the crowd controversy to bash President Trump.

FACT:  President Trump started the controversy over crowd size on Inauguration Day.

Sunday, on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Trump Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway justified White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s statement that the crowd at President Trump’s Inaugural Address was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period!”  

Conway fired back at “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd saying that the Trump Administration, which was upset over media reports that the inaugural crowd was not as large as the one that witnessed President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, gave “alternative facts” to Spicer that supported his statement.

What are “alternative facts?”  That phrase became a hot item to be Googled over the weekend because people were not sure of its meaning.  Using common sense one might deduce that an “alternative” to a “fact” is something that is not a fact, but we all know how rare the practice of using common sense is today.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s insistence that President Trump drew the largest crowd in U.S. inaugural history may have been an attempt to divert attention away from the millions of people that were participating in anti-Trump marches in American and around the world.  The assertion that the Trump crowd was the largest was so absurd that it did get a lot of news media and social media attention, but there was still significant focus on the marches.

ALTERNATIVE FACT:  Facts that do not favor President Trump are simply falsehoods, or fake news, designed to show media bias against the President.

FACT:  The news media’s collective bias should not render the reporting of facts insignificant.

It’s appropriate for President Trump to challenge media bias, but the danger comes in the form of rallying his troops to dismiss any facts that shed a negative light on the new administration.  

From the beginning, the role of the news media has always been to fact check the president and all government officials.  The origin of the press was founded on the idea that an outside group must hold the government accountable for the citizens. Fact checking is not a new trend that was born during the era of biased media.  Its roots can be traced back to the role of the press in American society.

The age-old question of whether “size matters” is usually confined to the physical proportions of the male anatomy and there is considerable debate over the importance of size, but throughout the campaign and now continuing into the early days of his presidency, Donald Trump has shown a pattern of the significance he places on crowd size, which could be interpreted as a need for instant gratification.

During the campaign, Trump was right to point out the large crowds he was attracting because it seemed the news media, in general, avoided showing that overwhelming support.  It was a fact that, as a candidate, Trump was attracting record crowds, but as a new president, it was a fact that he did not draw the largest crowd in the history of inaugurations and that was something Trump, himself, was not willing to accept.

The controversy over crowd size on Inauguration Day is insignificant in the face of more important issues, but the fact that President Trump ignored facts about crowd size to promote that he attracted the largest crowd ever is very significant.  And what is especially significant about it is the idea that people may learn to ignore facts that are inconvenient or contrary to the Trump Administration’s popularity.

Facts cannot be dismissed simply because someone doesn’t like what the facts represent.  The fact is, it doesn’t matter and shouldn’t matter to Trump or anyone if he attracted the largest inaugural crowd in history.  The fact is that Donald Trump is President of the United States and his infatuation with insignificant matters is a troubling sign.

This is just the beginning of the new Trump Administration and it is possible that President Trump will evolve into a president that becomes less focused on the little things, like size.

Maybe these are the innocent consequences of electing a person who is not a politician and has never been in public office, but the public and the press can and should hold any president to acknowledging the facts.

Facts are important and efforts to use media bias to dismiss basic facts are a move to dismantle the role of a news media that is uniquely free from government control.

For those who still may not be clear on what is meant by “alternative facts..."

ALTERNATIVE FACT:  Scoot is bigger than Saints OL Zach Strief.

Trump photo via USA Today
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Scoot: "Hidden Figures" and race issues in America's space race

“Hidden Figures” is a movie that brings new emphasis to the word “race” in America’s space race in the late-50s and early-60s.  It is also a movie that deserves credit for being the first movie since “Good Will Hunting” to make mathematical calculations riveting and suspenseful on the big screen.

“Hidden Figures” is based on the true story of three African-American women whose intellect combined with their strong perseverance demonstrated the immoral flaws of segregation. The movie tells the story of Katherine Goble (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (played by Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Played by Janelle Monae).  

In 1962, two years before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ten years before the Women’s Lib Movement, Goble, Vaughn and Jackson were, indeed, hidden figures as they worked in the segregated background of the Space Task Force on NASA’s Friendship 7 program.

During the height of the Cold War, Russia beat the U.S. into space with the successful launching into orbit of the Sputnik 1 satellite.  In addition to the concerns of spying on America, there was also the real fear that the Russians had the capability of putting an atomic bomb in space that could be dropped on the United States.  

As a young child, I was well aware of the fear of a nuclear war with Russia through the news that was on every night in our house and the conversations my parents had with neighbors.  One night, I recall standing in an open field with my Dad as we watched Sputnik 1 travel over America.  The satellite appeared only as a star moving across the sky, but my young mind was smart enough to sense what this meant to our safety.  The fact that you could best see Sputnik 1 at night made it all the more eerie. 

At a time when African-Americans were still not treated as equals, the important role three African-American women played in the U.S. catching up with Russia in the strategic space race underscores the reality of the moral and legal mistreatment of fellow American citizens.  

“Hidden Figures” also reminds us that today’s Baby Boomer establishment has first hand experience with the unjust treatment of African-Americans.  While much has changed, the racial scars of our past are worn by many adults today.

The storyline of the movie, which was the storyline of real lives, accents the strength and determination of black Americans in the face of discrimination, but it is also important to notice that the battle was never purely black vs. white because the white supervisors of the three women ultimately recognized how their talents and abilities were juxtaposed to their unequal status.  As is the case today, there are many white Americans who continually fight the injustices against black Americans.

Head of the NASA engineering department in charge of calculating the mathematics that would be used to launch a man into space and to orbit the Earth, Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) understood that Katherine Goble was more intelligent in the discipline of math than NASA’s white head engineer, Paul Stafford, (played by Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory”).  Upon learning that Katherine Goble was taking 40 minute breaks because she was forced to walk, and sometimes run, a great distance to another building just to use the restroom, Harrison took a sledge hammer and literally knocked down the sign that designated the restroom for “colored women” and said that the policy ends there and anyone can use any restroom at any time.  There were many not-so-subtle signs of segregation in the movie while the movie painted a bigger picture of how wrong separate-but-equal was in American society.

“Hidden Figures” tells a compelling story of victory over racial injustice, but it also captures the tense excitement of the race into space.  The movie does an excellent job of documenting the politics and the panic behind the Russians beating the U.S. into space and the scenes with astronauts and their capsules hurling through space achieve cinematic realism.  The capsule and space scenes rival similar scenes in the movie “Apollo 13.”

Katherine Goble’s story also includes the heartwarming chapter in her life and the life of her children when an extraordinary man came into their lives and she became Katherine Goble Johnson.

While orbiting the Earth, a problem with Astronaut John Glenn’s (played by Glenn Powell) capsule necessitated that his scheduled number of orbits be cut to three and new calculations were desperately needed to get him back safely.  Katherine Goble Johnson had been advised that she was no longer needed after the launch because of upcoming cutbacks to the space program, but at the request of John Glenn, Al Harrison brought her back and she was the one who recalculated the figures that led to Glenn’s safe return to Earth.  

Since Hollywood often takes creative license with true stories, I cannot be sure what John Glenn’s exact words were, but in the movie when he realized new calculations were needed to bring him back he ordered Harrison to get “the smart one” to figure it out.  The recognition of Katherine Goble Johnson as “the smart one” rather than the black woman, seemed to summarize the movie’s theme of not judging people by the color of their skin.

“Hidden Figures” has a message for everyone.  In particular, to white America, the message is that it has always been unfair to judge a person by the color of their skin.  For black America, the message is to stand up for and be proud of equality, but also recognize that many white Americans that were always on your side of this debate.

“Hidden Figures” brings to light an endearing chapter in race relations in America.

Photo via USA Today
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Scoot: Being honest about the Obama years

On the day that President Barack Obama gives his farewell address to the nation, Americans on all sides of the political spectrum will judge the past eight years of the Obama Administration.  Books will be written about the place in history President Barack Obama occupies, but as his administration comes to a close, we can consider an objective overview of the past eight years.  

Actually, only some Americans will be able to consider an objective overview of the eight years President Obama was in office - the rest have already made up their minds based on bias, and not facts.

As a radio talk show host, I am beholden to no political party or rigid political ideology.  Like a majority of Americans, I cannot be conveniently defined as “right” or “left.”  The true conservatives and the true liberals may receive a disproportionate amount of attention in the mainstream media, but neither group can boast of controlling the outcome of general elections. And Donald Trump’s victory is no exception to that political reality.

President Obama leaves office with an approval rating over 50%.  Many of President Obama’s supporters are overly enthusiastic and many of those who have disliked the President from the first day of his presidency are overly critical and blame him for everything wrong with America and in many cases, even for the things that have gone wrong in their personal and professional lives.

During the eight years of the Obama Administration, America has faced numerous tragedies and challenges, but there has also been many positive developments to recognize.  The problem is that those who from the beginning have had a positive opinion of President Obama refuse to recognize the negative aspects of what happened during his reign as president and those who have had a negative opinion of President Obama will not admit to any of the positive and encouraging developments over the past eight years.

Republicans campaigning for Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign were adamant about President Obama destroying the U.S. economy if he was re-elected.  The President was re-elected and I see no signs that our economy has been destroyed.  In fact, many conservative Republicans have made financial gains through the incredible performance of the stock market.  

Excuses are given by those who wish to discredit the President to deflect any positive influence of the his Administration, but it’s certain that if the stock market tanked there would be wholesale blaming of the President.  

The U.S. economy is cyclical.  Bill Clinton got credit for a booming economy, but the economy had been improving in the latter part of the George H.W. Bush Administration.  Clinton reaped the benefits of that in the same way the Donald Trump will reap the benefits of an economy that, in the past year, has shown signs it is strengthening.  

Generally, the economy doesn’t suddenly rise or fall with the election of a new president.  There are factors that led to stimulation of grown or decline in growth following an election, but our massive economy tends to make long, slow turns and the Trump Presidency begins with positive signs in the economy.

The current unemployment rate has plummeted from where it was eight years ago.  Those who instinctively condemn President Obama will give excuses for why that number is down, including saying that the job market is so bad that people have given up and they no longer register in the system.

There is some truth to that, however, the same system that produced the high unemployment numbers that was used to condemn the President was praised when the numbers were high and now discounted when the numbers are low.  Poll numbers and stats are either praised or condemned depending on what agenda or message is being promoted.

The U.S. economy can be growing in the right direction, but if an individual loses his or her job, their economic situation collapses.  That’s understandable, but it’s not always fair to blame the President.

Sometimes poor performance or bad business decisions or the failure to adapt to a changing marketplace can led to the lose of a job or the closing of a business, but there will be those who refuse to accept personal accountability and pass the blame onto the President.  And that happens whether the president if a Republican or a Democrat.

Race relations in America became more contentious under the administration of the first black president.  That will be the topic of books and discussions for years to come.  While there were times President Obama appeared to speak more from the standpoint of a black president than a president, racial tension fueled by the media increased dramatically under the Obama Administration. I doubt that it’s fair to blame President Obama to the degree many do.

President Obama did not cause racial tension as much as he was the president during a time when America was very racially divided.  Donald Trump will not improve race relations because the perpetrators on both sides of the race debate have little interest in coming together.  If the perception of race relations in America were as good as it appears to be in our personal and professional day-to-day lives, the perpetrators would lose significance and power.  By blaming a president for what’s wrong with race relations in America, those who seek attention and power define an enemy with which they use to rally their follows.  Every leader needs to have an enemy in order to gather and maintain a following.

Presidents get the credit or the blame for the good and bad in America, but a president has less direct influence over the actions of individuals that collectively define our society than we are led to believe.

It’s wrong to blame President Obama for many of the things that are not right in America and it will be wrong to blame President Trump for every negative event that occurs while he is in the White House.  That, however, will not stop the blaming.

On our talk show weekday afternoons, we will interpret and analyze the top news stories daily from the perspective of setting the record straight on what is and is not the accomplishments or the faults of the next President of the United States with no concern for political parties.  I look forward to having you join us for our unique attitude on the air!

Photos via USA Today
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