Saturday, February 18, 2017

[cue "Sympathy for the Devil"] Trump, Fake News, and Me

I gotta say I know where #MrMendacity #DonTheCon Trump is coming from on this fake news thing. Makes me want to call him up with some advice:

Look, man, did nobody tell you this is the way it works in the public sector? I know you got ZERO experience with this. But look: It's not like private. The media ain't your bitch, doing your beck and call just because you've got the dinero.

The media rule! They got something behind them called the First Freaking Amendment and do you think they don't know it? And you're calling them the enemy? Who are you, Napoleon? Going to shut down a few salons because of the nasty gossip?

What's getting to you is that you can't control the narrative. What's that? It means they're not going to be your propaganda machine just because you think you're a swell dude and they should just love you the way Roy Cohn loved you.


They are going to report and develop stories that they think are important for whatever got-dammed reason, and they are going to fact-check those stories out the wazoo so don't go saying they're FALSE because the only thing FALSE around here is the fly-eaten shit coming out of your gob.

Did your mama teach you nothing? No, I guess it was all that love from Roy Cohn.


Mostly what I want to tell you though is: I completely understand what you're going through because I've been there, and I think you should benefit from my experience.

The press don't tell it from your side. You might want them to. Everyone in a public position wants them to. But they have no obligation to. They are not on your side. They are on their own side, which is a complicated mix of wanting to get facts out there but also wanting to develop stories that will generate revenue.

You understand revenue, right? Revenue is kind of like debt financing ... we'll talk about that later.

So here's my story: I was the director of a public library that had a nonprofit foundation whose purpose was to raise money for the library. It was a separate entity with its own board and its own director. I was on the foundation board ex officio due to my position as library director.

Ex officio? No, no, nothing to do with your previous wives acting fishy. I'll explain later.

So anyway one day my bookkeeper came to me--library staff had recently taken over keeping the foundation records (long story)--with some suspicious credit card receipts. Wow! It looked like somebody had been skimming the foundation monies for personal purchases.

So what? Well, it's the way 501(c)3 nonprofits work. It's considered to be against the law. No, no, I don't think people want you to change it.

Anyway, I investigated it, discovered the modus operandi, I mean the m.o., and the extent of the embezzlement. It was close to $25,000.

Chump change, yeah, I know. But almost enough for two years of Mar-a-Lago dues, though, right?

I know, I know. I said "almost enough." Yeah yeah yeah I get it that the initiation fee is 200 grand.

So anyway I reported the findings to the foundation board, and they decided to turn it over to the police. The police investigated my investigation and arrested the foundation director, who was charged with multiple counts of theft.

The arrest was headline news in my relatively small corner of the universe. What made it difficult was that it involved an entity--the library foundation--that was legally distinct from my entity--the public library--but initial reports weren't making that distinction.

So I got out there to make that distinction. In the course of which I got pulled into the media maw that seems naturally to want to spread the blame.

I had a clean story, I thought: a single person had stolen money. But some in what you call the "very, very dishonest media" wanted to make it a different story: who had hired this person, and were they also to blame for what happened?

Lo and behold, one media outlet--acting on a tip--found that the embezzler had a criminal record dating from 20 years and two or three names ago! So their question was well-taken: how had this person been hired? Did no one do a background check?

It got to the point--and you will relate to this--that all this negative press was overwhelming the many good things the library and the library foundation were doing. In the hopes that I could get some coverage of that, I agreed to an extensive interview. In the course of that interview I shared some insights into the hiring of the embezzler--how backers included all the influential captains of industry on the foundation board, how a previous employer was the Chamber of Commerce, and how the job immediately previous to the foundation one was director of development at a local liberal arts college.

Out of the entire interview, guess what was used? Right: only the segment about the embezzler. None of that positive spin I wanted to get out there. None. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. In fact, I believe that they cynically and dishonestly went into the interview on a fishing expedition for one little soundbite to advance their existing narrative and with no intention of saying anything about the bigger picture. But I have no proof--only the circumstances of what they broadcast.

Fake news? It sure as hell didn't tell my side. It sure as hell didn't tell the whole story. But it was not false. All of it was true, and all of it was real.

Take your lumps and stop lying, Mr. President.

Your mother loved you more than Roy Cohn.

No joke.

No comments:

Post a Comment