Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Profitability vs. Responsibility
By: Mildred Robertson

Donald Trump’s crusade against the media is somewhat ironic, in that it was the media that provided the vehicle by which he was able to ascend to the most powerful position in the world.  Trump’s outrageous antics made for good television. And the mainstream media, tabloids, and social media consumed his preposterous behavior like a fat man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

No one actually believed that the American public would actually elect this misogynistic, ill-informed, inarticulate, racist, bombastic, uncultured man-child to our nation’s highest office. Even the man himself, I believe, did not consider it a possibility at first blush.

So he was entertaining. He made good copy. He boosted the ratings. And high ratings meant high profit. It seemed like a win-win for the media and the would-be-king. Except, he actually became king.

The media allowed the Trump saga to suck up all the oxygen in the room; first choking out any viable opposition in the Republican Primary and then strangling every policy-wonkish pitch produced by the Clinton campaign; a campaign that struggled both with message and the onslaught from Bernie-ites on the left and chants of “lock her up” on the right.

Hillary clearly did not have the charisma of her predecessor; but she was every bit as qualified and prepared to take on the burden of making the hard decisions that are the rock-bed of our democracy. President Obama even established that as he campaigned for her across the country. 

Many of us, along with the media, thought that Clinton would surely lock this election up with the combination of a steady hand, and a gender advantage. Particularly when her opponent was so clearly unstable, and his opinion of women was so clearly objectionable.

And then there was that gender thing. It was 2016. The era should have been long passed when a glass ceiling could keep a woman from ascending to the highest seat in our nation. Women have risen to power in countries across the globe that are much farther removed from the democratic principles upon which our nation was built. So who would imagine that someone with Hillary Clinton’s record could possibly be defeated by someone like Donald Trump?

So, the media thought, let’s make the money. Let’s promote his every tweet. Let’s broadcast every speech he makes. Let’s discuss ad nauseam what he said and to whom he said it. Let’s talk about who would welcome his musings and who would be offended.

The media seemed to give little thought to the fact that Trump’s unsophisticated followers would accept every word from his mouth as truth, particularly when, at first, there was very little push back from journalists.  So he said that immigrants from Mexico were rapists and murderers…and the public believed him. He said that women were objects that you could just grab by the genitals…and they said, “Well, okay if you say so.” He said that he would build a wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it, and Trumpsters chanted, “Build that wall.”  The media broadcast his every word, his every tweet, without concern for the truth or the fallacy in them.

By the time the media realized the American public was falling for Trump’s vaudeville stick, it was far too late. They had already given him millions of dollars of free media, and had catapulted him to the center of the world stage. They had created a persona that was too big to defeat.

Having served its purpose, Trump then turned on the very entity that created him. It is clear that a special mission exists for the media in a free and open society. But the U.S. media failed to rise to that mission at this most critical time in our country’s history.

As we stand on the brink of a political shift that could possibly send our nation reeling into fascism it is imperative that the media take its place as the arbiter of truth. It seems that, after years of granting Trump a free pass, the media has finally embraced its revered status as the Fourth Estate. It appears the media is now ready to live up to its calling to help preserve and protect the very foundation of the Constitution.

That means speaking truth to power. That means giving no quarter to lies and half-truths. That means broadcasting facts and not propaganda. That means identifying an “alternative fact” as what it is—a lie. I believe that we must live up to the Journalist’s Creed written by Walter Williams in 1914, which states in part:

“I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.”

The media was not set aside in our Constitution to entertain us; but to inform us. They were not called to provide us opinions about the issues that threaten our liberty, but to give us facts. There have been times in our history when they have stepped up to that high calling. Now has not been one of those times.

It is imperative that a free citizen be an informed citizen. That is why the Founders set the media apart in our Constitution. We cannot allow this administration or any other to beguile the American public. If there ever has been a time when the media needs to embrace its calling and its creed, now is such a time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Women’s March on Washington – So What?

By Mildred Robertson
Following a day of boycotting inaugural news, it was encouraging to turn on the news and see the number of women and their supporters who poured into the streets of Washington, D.C., New York, and other states across the nation and the world to register their opposition to the new Trump Administration. Right here in Raleigh North Carolina thousands jammed the streets to lift their voices in protest.
The numbers were staggering. The visuals were inspiring and the outpouring of opposition was…well, puzzling. I hesitate to quote Donald Trump, but one of his tweets…just one…made sense. Where were these throngs on Election Day? 
Of course, I know it’s not quite that simple. Voter suppression is real. The Electoral College is outdated. Some Hillary detractors thought it was a good time to make a statement and some folks just didn’t even imagine there was a possibility that Trump would take the White House, with or without their participation. And the fact is, more Americans voted for Hillary than Trump.
As a black woman, I am somewhat off-put that white women would rise up the day after inauguration. Too little too late from my perspective. We did our part. We turned out. We voted. Our sisters of a lighter hue left us to stand almost alone.
There is no reason why the Electoral College should have even come into play. Had the millions who cried out against his inauguration voted against his election, January 20, 2017 would have been a much different kind of day, and the next year would be shrouded in hope rather than despair.
Don’t get me wrong; I am glad that millions rose up to say that Donald Trump does not represent the America they want to live in. I am happy that a movement is underway that will build road blocks to the destructive politics envisioned by the Republican Party with Trump at the helm. It is good that cabinet appointments will be questioned; that legislation will be challenged and politicians will be made keenly aware that they will be held accountable.
But here is my observation. It appears that when black people and brown people were under attack—when America was described as an “us” and “them” kind of nation; many did not rise up until they began to understand that they were not part of the “in” crowd. 
I know many will say, why are you looking back? My answer is simple. Donald Trump has not changed. From his first stump speech to his comments standing before the wall of the slain in the CIA headquarters he is the same belligerent, ignorant, ill-spoken, deceitful, brattish man-child we have known during the entire 2016 campaign.   So it is clear to me that many were not moved by the assault on blacks, or the immigrant, or the physically challenged. Even the assault on women did not move some, in that they appeared not to feel personally threatened.
But as it became clear that Trump would in fact dismantle healthcare, education and the EPA; as it became evident that he cherished the idea of war and a muzzled free-press it also became apparent that the suffering would not just be reserved for minorities and the poor. 
The phrase of the day was “intersectional politics.” I understand and applaud how that intersectionality created an awesome moment in history. But suffering and pain; equality and liberty should be championed whether it intersects with an individual’s own personal reality. How can I trust my plight with you, if your major concern is only whether you are going to be okay?  How can I know that you truly have my back?
I hope that this moment has revealed that every decision we make in America is an intersectional one. The loss of freedom and equality for one American makes that loss one step closer to every American.
So what’s next?
Do the marches on January 21st have meaning, or were they just a moment. Is there clarity about the danger that exists for Americans of all hues and backgrounds? And will solutions be as inclusive…as intersectional as they were the day the women of America marched around the world?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Congressman John Lewis Claims Illegitimate Presidency

John Lewis’ Principled Stand

by Mildred Robertson
Speaking truth to power…that is Congressman John Lewis’ legacy. This is not something that he just believes, it is something that he has actively pursued even under the threat of death. Lewis faced the fury of Southern racism on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 while fighting for the right of all citizens to take part in this country’s political process. He nearly died as a result. So this civil rights icon knows what it means to take a moral stand that is neither popular nor safe. It comes as no surprise that Lewis stands in opposition to what he calls the illegitimate presidency of Donald Trump.
Irregularities in the 2016 Presidential election span discriminatory voting practices across the country, FBI interference in the final days of the election, to a majority vote for the defeated candidate. These irregularities have left this country in a quandary as to what is the true will of the American people. It is difficult not to be partisan in our assessment, but as more and more information is revealed I believe it becomes clear to even an unbiased observer that irregularities in the process have distorted the outcome of this election.
Lewis’ refusal to acknowledge Trump’s presidency is both moral and brave. It is a bravery that many of us have not exhibited in our perhaps misguided desire to show that American politics is the ideal.  We are so very proud of our history of the peaceful transition of power. And we should be. But an uncommon outcome may require an uncommon response.
Many of us hold our tongues as embarrassed Trump supporters give weak excuses about why they voted for him. They implore us to give him a chance, or lament that Clinton was just so wicked that their conscience simply would not allow them to vote for her. They say that they do not hate Muslims or support racism, or sexism, or misogyny. They overlook his observable wickedness and declare that they do not condone the things he did or said on the campaign trail. Of course, he will do better when he is inaugurated, they predict. And we hold our tongues, reluctant to call our co-workers or associates the titles they deserve for catapulting this clearly corrupt man to the highest seat of power in the world.
Thank God for a John Lewis who will say what the rest of America seems to be too politically correct to say. While we huddle in groups, wringing our hands and whispering about what to do next, John Lewis stood up and cried, just as the child in the Hans Christian Anderson tale, “The emperor has no clothes.” It is Lewis’ position that Donald Trump is not the choice of the majority of Americans; his victory is ill-gotten and his presidency is illegitimate.
I applaud Congressman Lewis on his principled stand. History, I believe, will prove that Congressman Lewis stood on the right side of this issue. The question remains, what will the rest of us do. Will we support a presidency that threatens the very foundation of our nation or will we support democracy.