When is the president’s State of the Union speech not a State of the Union speech
Morning Brief: Buffett’s experience with being a newspaper owner has not reinforced his once rosy outlook on the industry, now he sees only a few titles with a future
The president is to address the Congress this evening in the annual address that most observers call the State of the Union address. Technically, tonight’s address isn’t being called a State of the Union address as the president has only been in office a little over five weeks (though it seems a lifetime to many).
The problem is that there is only a one sentence line in the Constitution about the State of the Union address: He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
George Washington began the practice of giving a live speech, but Thomas Jefferson discontinued, preferring to send a written communication to the Congress to be read aloud by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson restarted the practice, but like many traditions involving the president, it was really Franklin Roosevelt that established the modern practice of giving the State of the Union address in person.
Each member of Congress is allowed to invite one person to attend the speech, while the president can invite 24, with several of them having some sort of political message attached to them. Often they are members of the military or their families, there to be praised for their sacrifice for the nation.
Tonight, reports are that the president has decided to go very dark by invited the family members of people who were killed by undocumented immigrants, as well as the widow of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.
The speech, by the way, is said to have been written by Stephen Miller, which pretty much guarantees that it will be divisive, written at a third grade level, and contain plenty of untruths – at least if his recent television performance is any guide.
Miller’s resiliency after fumbling the refugee ban offers a lesson in how to survive the Darwinian world of Trump’s White House. To win favor, you must amplify Trump’s belief that he’s already accomplished great things; defend even his most outrageous claims as self-evidently correct; and look sharp, while projecting unshakable self-confidence…
…Miller has the unwavering backing of Bannon. “I’m very sorry that the mainstream media does not like President Trump’s agenda,” Bannon says. “But they are going to have to embrace the fact that they, as the opposition party, who tried to destroy Donald Trump as a candidate, lost. And they lost significantly, OK? So they’re going to have to sit there, and they’re going to have to deal with the implementation of Donald Trump’s agenda.”
Bannon says Miller is being targeted by the media to thwart Trump. “When Joe Scarborough and the mainstream media attack Stephen Miller,” says Bannon, “it’s just like any opposition party. They’ll try to take out some of the best young people in any organization. Stephen is a tough guy, I can tell you from the campaign. He’s used to being absolutely vilified.”
Warren Buffett’s opinion of the newspaper industry has certainly changed since he became a newspaper owner. Back when he started investing in the industry he felt that newspapers were destined to survive because of their ability to deliver local news.
“Newspapers continue to reign supreme… in the delivery of local news. If you want to know what’s going on in your town — whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football — there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job,” Buffett said just a few years ago.
Now, however, Buffett has rather pessimistic, saying late last year that “newspapers are going to go downhill. Most newspapers, the transition to the internet so far hasn’t worked in digital. The revenues don’t come in.” Buffett said then, too, that he felt that only the WSJ and NYT were guaranteed to have a future. He repeated that idea in an interview with CNBC.
The chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday the Times and the Journal have an “assured future” because of their proven internet model. “They have developed an online presence that people will pay for.”
“If you look, there are 1,300 daily newspapers left in the United States. (Berkshire Hathaway has) 31 of them. There were 1,700 or 1,800 not too long ago,” Buffett said. “Now, you’ve got the internet. Aside from the ones I mentioned, 1,400 or 1,300 of them haven’t figured out a way to make the digital model complement the print model.”
Buffett also said The Washington Post — which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — may have a chance to survive.
Buffett’s not so rosy prediction about the future of newspapers does not mean, however, that there aren’t true believers in the platform. Most of those who continue to work at newspapers remain dedicated to them, and there are still those that will invest their own money to own a community paper.
It has been quite a while since I worked at a daily metro paper, having moved into the magazines, then digital space. But I still believe in the role newspapers play in our lives. But if there is one thing I think newspapers could do a better job of it would be to bring in those with experience outside the industry.
The real change began in the wake of 9/11, when suddenly Americans realized they were just as vulnerable as anyone else on the planet. People have lost touch with what this country is about and the principles on which it was founded. Some say Trump is ignorant of this, too, but I doubt it. I suspect everyone in his Cabinet and his cadre of advisers knows exactly what our country is supposed to be and how the media is supposed to function, and they know we’re a threat to their absolute authority.
The average Trump advocate doesn’t realize this. I’ve asked them, “What do you think we in the media are doing here, anyway?” Most of us don’t make much money. That’s not why we got into this business. Most of us love our country and care about our fellow Americans. We wanted to serve, but not on the public teat, like many who spend a lifetime on government payrolls (and then have the temerity to complain about government). We in the press do provide information and entertainment, but our main function is to stand as watchdogs against corruption, incompetence and malfeasance in government – from the White House down to City Hall…
I also ask you to support the Daily Press, or if you don’t live in Tahlequah, another local newspaper. Without your support, you could lose a vital element of your community, just as the people of Broken Arrow have. We’re doing for you what you don’t have time to do yourself, but what is important to you…
…We’re doing a lot more than trying to protect our jobs; we’re trying to maintain a vibrant, effective Fourth Estate presense here No blogger or Facebook poster can do it like we can. We’re trained to do it; most of us went to college to do it. We make mistakes like everyone else, but we’re not going to invent stuff, or malign innocent people. We are, and always have been, “real” news – back to the mid-1800s, when our successors first hit the racks.