September 17, 2019

THE COMPLETE STORY

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

THE COMPLETE STORY
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I always worry when people on one side of an issue praise a story I’ve done. Ideally, at least in the twisted mind of a journalist, all the parties should be upset. We should be viewed as equal-opportunity jerks. After all, this column has been described as “a gesture of defiance pointed in all directions.” (Actually, the gesture of defiance was specified. Use your imagination.) I am fine with that.
But if one side was filled with praise, was I being fair to the other side? And what does being fair really mean? Can it be defined as needing to bring a 50-50 approach to each report? Should such automatic equivalence be our standard? Or is false equivalence an inherent distortion? What about context?
And what about the indecisive navel-gazing through which you’ve just been forced to wade? Let’s face it, those of us in newsbiz are really neurotic. And why wouldn’t we be? Hewing to the harsh demands of hate-everybody journalism means we don’t have many friends. The ones we do have are only pretending to be buddies so they can promote their causes.

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September 14, 2019

FICKLE TRUMP

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

FICKLE TRUMP
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It’s the really big question in Washington, which goes to show how pathetic things can get here: Did John Bolton resign, or was he fired? President Donald Trump and his now former national security adviser disagree about that, much as they disagreed about everything else. It was not exactly a marriage made in heaven.
To call Bolton “abrasive” is definitely an understatement. “Caustic” is more like it. Since he became the administration’s third national security adviser, he had rubbed nearly everybody in the White House the wrong way. That would include, more and more, the Trumpster, who claims to enjoy vigorous internal debate but really prefers sycophancy.
It’s tempting to call John Bolton a warmonger, although Bolton would insist he’s really a “peace through strength” kinda guy. On the other hand, Donald Trump fancies himself as a master deal-maker, who can work his magic to turn enemies into partners in ending dangerous hostilities. Never mind that he has bungled each and every initiative so far. The latest one -- opposed by Bolton, of course -- would have brought representatives of the Taliban to Camp David, for not only a successful Afghanistan deal, but one with the kind of whiz-bang showbiz touches that Trump prefers.

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September 10, 2019

TRUMP AND WWE

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

TRUMP AND WWE
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It’s a good thing that President Donald Trump has spent time with WrestleMania. He obviously used that experience to finally muscle his way into the main event, when he had been body-slammed aside by the real reality of the devastation from Hurricane Dorian. Yes, I know “muscle” is probably not the first word you’d use when you think of the Trumpster, but there will be no fat-shaming here. Let’s leave that to him.
It clearly occurred to a few people in the White House, including the big guy, that during the network evening newscasts in the early coverage of storm, a broadcast or two went by where Trump was not mentioned once, when the consequences of Dorian were obviously too severe and compelling to spend time on political trivialities.
Obviously, POTUS and his enablers couldn’t have that, so that’s when he summoned the lessons he’d learned from his WWE encounters and applied them to the meteorology ring (actually it’s called a “cone” in the always-serious climate-biz, as in a “cone of uncertainty”; nevertheless, in his case “WWE” stands for “Wacky Weather Entertainment”).

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September 7, 2019

SHARPIES AND DULLARDS

FROM KING FEATURES SYNDICATE
BY BOB FRANKEN

SHARPIES AND DULLARDS
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Weather forecasting really has come a long way, as evidenced by the days and weeks of advance notice we get in our part of the world when disturbances that may become massively dangerous hurricanes form far, far away off the coast of Africa. But, as Hurricane Dorian demonstrates, the science has a long way to go.
Precisely how close to home a catastrophic storm is going to hit and indeed, just how devastating it’s going to be are truly speculative. Just look at the “spaghetti models” of various meteorological organizations that struggle to pinpoint the path any given storm will take and where it will land. Consider too the wide-ranging “cone of uncertainty” that accompanies any prognostication. Nevertheless, I am amazed at the relative accuracy of the forecasters, on camera and behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, there is always the hustler who will exploit his “cone of unreality.” Donald Trump, who long ago severed his relationship with the truth -- a kind of “Trexit” -- is fouling the turbulent air with his in-expertness, while trying to create a phony image of his being in charge of Dorian operations. As is so often the case, he couldn’t hide his lack of comprehension. That was made crystal clear in a tweet where he declared that the roster of states that might be hit included Alabama.
Understandably, that scared the bejabbers out of those residing in Alabama. Never mind that it was false. The National Weather Service in Birmingham quickly put out its own tweet: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”
Even though he demanded that their bosses in Washington tried to say that their earliest spaghetti strands did include Alabama, before they went away long before the hurricane arrived, it was another case where POTUS was simply wrong by the time he paid his usual inattention to the situation. But the Trumpster, in an effort to avoid having his ignorance found out, tried to bluster his way past his hurricane misstatement. He even displayed a map in the Oval Office showing the original cone of uncertainty projection from the National Hurricane Center. It still didn’t cover Alabama, except that someone had taken a Sharpie and had drawn an extension of the cone that now included the state. It was so obviously phony that Trump mumbled, “I don’t know” when asked who had drawn the Sharpie add-on. Obviously, not someone who was very sharp.

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