Donald Trump Didn’t Honor Ryan Owens. He Used Him.

This is really hard to write, because in no way do we wish to minimize the death of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in Yemen on Jan. 29 in a raid President Donald Trump has said was highly successful.

Except it wasn’t.

Flash forward to Trump’s address last night to a joint session of Congress, when Carryn Owens, whose husband was the first American combat death during the Trump administration, received a long, richly deserved ovation.



Problem #1: That whole supposed Secretary of Defense James Mattis quote – “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence” – is entirely disputable since no military raid can be called a success that winds up with a) the death of a Navy SEAL, b) the death of multiple children, and c) the escape of the primary target.

Problem #2: It’s entirely possible that the Yemen raid has generated zero amounts of vital intelligence.

Consequently, it was stunning that Obamanaut Van Jones would wax eloquent on CNN about that moment in Trump’s address.




He became President of the United Staes?

More like President of the Benighted States.

We totally understand Carryn Owens’s desire for her husband’s sacrifice to be recognized by the country he so nobly served. And we honor that.

But we don’t understand how General Mattis can let himself be puppeteered by Donald Trump that way.

And we don’t understand how Van Jones can be suckered by Donald Trump that way.

But we do understand this:

Ryan Owens’s death was the result of a tragically ill-considered raid ordered by Donald Trump.

And there’s no finessing that.

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NYT Editing Slashback: ‘William Jennings Bryant’ Edition

From our Get Me Rewrite! desk

As New York Times public editor Liz Spayd noted earlier this month, the paper’s “editing architecture”has traditionally employed multiple layers of editors, with most stories blue-penciled by three editors, “with up to six or more if the article is headed for home page prominence or A1.”

But, Spayd writes, “soon this conveyor will be replaced by a bespoke editing system built primarily around digital.”

Well, here’s the latest example of what bespoke has begot. (Others here and here.)

From Maureen Dowd’s column this past Sunday:


Yeah, we know – Trump’s no William Jennings Bryan either.

(Fun fact to know and tell from Geoffrey Norman in The Weekly Standard: “It has been estimated that when [Bryan] was at the height of his powers, half the population of the United States had heard him speak.”)

The digital version of Dowd’s column, not surprisingly (bespoke, my heart!), gets it right and – to its credit – acknowledges the flub.

Correction: February 25, 2017
An earlier version of this column misspelled the name of a politician. He is William Jennings Bryan (not Bryant).

So is this the future for Times readers – a print edition that’s sort of a rough cut of the digital one?

Not very promising, is it?

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Real News Goes Full-Page Boogie at Donald Trump

Ever since Donald Trump became the tweeter-in-chief, the New York Times has been his favorite chew toy.

Exhibit Umpteen (from yesterday):




But the Grey Lady is punching back. From yesterday’s Times:



Interestingly, takes you to the subscription department, but hey – why not? The camping also includes a TV spot that will run during tomorrow night’s Academy Awards broadcast.



Coincidentally, this full-page ad appears in today’s Wall Street Journal, which finally has an eReader, although it’s not exactly screen-grab friendly.






Excellent! Let the wild Trumpus begin!

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Trump Coat Holders Howie Carr, Bill Belichick Ascend to NYT

From our Late to the Party of Two desk

As our kissin’ cousins at Two-Daily Town have dutifully noted, Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr is not only a charter member of the local Donald Trump fanboy club, he’s also a member of Trump’s swanky Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.

As is New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

And now they’ve made their way into the swanky New York Times.

From Sunday’s Page One:

For $200,000, a Chance To Whisper in Trump’s Ear

Membership at Mar-a-Lago Gives Titans Easier Access to Political Power


On any given weekend, you might catch President Trump’s son-in-law and top Mideast dealmaker, Jared Kushner, by the beachside soft-serve ice cream machine, or his reclusive chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, on the dining patio. If you are lucky, the president himself could stop by your table for a quick chat. But you will have to pay $200,000 for the privilege — and the few available spots are going fast.

And at least two of those spots, the Times notes, have gone to Boston “boldfacers.”

The list of members is a who’s who of the world of global finance and real estate, but it is also sprinkled with other boldface names, like Howie Carr, the Boston radio show host, and Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, according to three lists reviewed by The Times, from 2015 through earlier this year.

Campaign Outsider Pop Quiz (pat. pending)

Trump, Carr, Belichick, and ???

Who rounds out their golf foursome?

Enter now and win big prizes!!!*

(*Prizes TBD)

UPDATE: Did we say boldface? We meant baldface.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (Another John D. Haywood Edition)

From our Just Set Your Money on Fire desk

Over the past several years the hardworking staff has dutifully chronicled the quixotic ad campaigns waged by John D. Haywood in the New York Times. Quick recap from our last post in November, 2014:

As you splendid readers might (or more likely might not) remember, the hardworking staff has dutifully chronicled the per-ad-ulations of one John Haywood, North Carolina rich guy and erstwhile New Hampshire presidential primary candidate.

He ran a two-page ad in the New York Times a month ago that was promptly trashed by a one-page ad in the Times. Something about “Israel hatred rearing its ugly head.”

That latter ad came courtesy of self-styled “America’s Rabbi” Shmuley Boteach, who said of Haywood, among other things:




Along the way we’ve also seen Haywood launch an effort to turn “20 Now Red Texas Congressional Districts Blue” and sue two student journalists at St. Michael’s College in Vermont for accurately reporting that Haywood ran as a Democrat in New Hampshire’s 2012 presidential primary (see here for both).

Yesterday’s Times featured Haywood’s latest windmill-tilt:




Supreme Court nomineee, Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, Senate filibuster, whatever – let us know if you get it sorted.

Meanwhile, Haywood has launched the Just Say No to Racism Party, which identifies itself thusly:


All those dollars and no sense, eh?


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Wall Street Journal Dads Who Play Barbie

From our Changing the Culture Is Hard! desk

Just call her Totally Daddy’s Barbie.

Full-page ad in Friday’s Wall Street Journal:





The Dads Who Play Barbie website features videos like this one.











For handy tips, check out #DADSWHOPLAYBARBIE.

Other than that, we’ve got nothin’, since the hardworking staff is a professional uncle.

Except . . .

The Missus and I once saw Totally Wet Barbie at a rain-drenched Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, I dunno, 25 years ago.

We also sat next to a rain-drenched James Gandolfini at a Macy’s Day parade some years after.

But that’s another story.

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The Zero-Character Twitter Presidency

Donald J. Trump, America’s tweeter-in-chief, speaks in 140-character bursts. He also, to all appearances, thinks in 140-character bursts. But he acts with absolutely no character at all.

Just consider one hour in the Twitter life of the man who purports to be the leader of the free world.


Trump has almost singlehandedly rendered the term “fake news” – which once referred to misinformation (falsehoods) or disinformation (propaganda) – essentially meaningless.

Fake news, to Trump, is any news he doesn’t like, regardless of its accuracy or credibility. The man willfully – no, aggressively – lives in a fantasy information environment.

[Editor’s note: In Trumpworld, the previous sentence makes everything that follows fake news.]

P.S. The president of the United States sucking up to a suck-up cable news show is just so . . . meta. Not to mention pathetic.


Actually, the Russian connection was an attempt to paper-over the many shortcomings in Donald Trump’s campaign. Not to get technical about it.


Trump’s assault on the U.S. intelligence community is arguably his most craven action since taking office. In the past few weeks he has referred to “so-called” intelligence officials and likened them to Nazis.

In reality, a place Trump rarely occupies, most of those intelligence officials are dedicated public servants who are risking jail sentences (leaking classified information is a felony) to ensure that the American public knows what its government is doing in their name.

Some characterize the information as “revenge leaks,” but others believe the leaks are a reflection of intelligence officials’ concern that the Justice Department, headed by Trump toady Jeff Sessions, will refuse to investigate the Putin-Trump axis of ego.

P.S. The New York Times and the Washington Post are hardly failing – subscriptions for both are up substantially – and Trump knows that full well. He just chooses to ignore it – the same way he ignores how much he loved leaks during his presidential campaign.


Is this the same Donald Trump who said on CNN last August “[Putin is] not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want” – even though Putin had already seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula?


One last thing about Donald Trump’s lack of character.

On the same day Trump’s Twitter feed featured all those tweets, he was asked at a joint press conference with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States.

Trump started his answer by bragging, as he so often does, about his electoral victory.

“Well, I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory we had. 306 Electoral College votes. We were not supposed to crack 220. You know that, right? There was no way to 221 but then they said there was no way to 270. And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there.”

Then, on to the Jewish issue: “As far as people, Jewish people – so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren . . .”

It was a total non-answer. Today, when essentially the same question was asked at a press conference, Trump said it was “not a fair question.” He also said of the reporter, “See, he lied and said he was going to get up and ask a very straight simple question.”

Donald Trump has no scruples, no shame, no character. Period.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (Allie&Katie Buryk Tay-Sachs Edition)

Latest in a very long-running series

Yesterday’s New York Times featured this ad from twin sisters Allie and Katie Buryk, both of whom suffer from Tay-Sachs, a rare disease mostly associated with the Jewish population, but also present in the Cajun community of Louisiana — where their dad’s ancestors comes from — and in French Canadians.




For background, the hardGoogling staff found this piece from the Hilton Head Island Packet two years ago.

Hilton Head mother fundraises for Tay-Sachs cure


Katie Buryk sat stranded in her New York City apartment Monday morning as freezing rain slicked the pavement outside.

Even on a clear day, the former Hilton Head Island woman can’t jog, walk down the steps to the subway or wear high heels.

An icy sidewalk could be even more treacherous for the 26-year-old, whose muscles are weakened by late-onset Tay-Sachs disease.

Less than three months after she and her twin sister were diagnosed with the rare genetic disease, their mother has helped raise more than $100,000 from her home in Sea Pines for research to find a cure.

(Mom’s name is Alexis; dad’s is Bill; don’t know the dog’s.)

This Huffington Post piece last fall had the number up to $260,000 for the Katie & Allie Buryk Research Fund. The ad, meanwhile, says where some of the money went.




Two last things: More information here, and all best to the Buryk twins and their family.


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Nike Just Trumps It in Star-Studded ‘Equality’ Campaign

Unlike many other marketers, Nike has a long history of addressing social issues, often in its own interests, but sometimes for the right reasons.

Now comes this four-page spread in Sunday’s New York Times sports section.

First page:




Followed by this:




Followed by this:




Drive Trump nuts graf.




You can catch Nike’s whole Equality campaign here.

So right now we have worldwide brands from Nike to Starbucks to Apple – all aligned against Donald J. Trump, the most brand-conscious president ever to occupy the Oval Office.

Let’s see how Trump just does this.

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Really? We’re Now Deconstructing Donald Trump’s Neckties?

The hardworking staff couldn’t help but notice that two major newspapers yesterday addressed the eccentric neckwear practices of the President of the United States.

Exhibit A: Beth Teitell’s piece in the Boston Globe.

Trump’s ties? Now that’s a long story.

President’s neckwear goes against style and it’s not an accident

When it comes to a signature look, Donald Trump’s hair usually hogs the attention. But as his combover achieves “new normal” screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-1-49-10-amstatus, the public is now focusing on another curiosity: Trump’s remarkably long ties.

When comedian Jon Stewart recently caricatured the new president on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” he did so wearing a red tie so long it dragged on the floor.

“I thought this is how men dressed now,” Stewart quipped.

Well, one man anyway.

And then there’s the tape.

At 6-foot, 3-inches tall, Trump certainly isn’t a victim of a tie that is just too long for his torso. Rather, he intentionally ties it so it hangs long. The proof is in the Scotch tape.

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-1-48-36-amIn December, when he was de-planing in Indianapolis to tour the Carrier plant, wind blew his red tie up to reveal that the billionaire uses tape to keep the back side in place.

The DIY trick is needed, tailors say, because Trump makes the shorter part of the tie so short — to allow for the long front — that it doesn’t reach the inner, securing loop.

Exhibit B: Motor 200 miles south, and you’ll find this smartly knotted Richard Thompson Ford op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times.




Drive Trump nuts graf.

Lost in the excitement and outrage of Donald Trump’s first three weeks as president of the United States was a minor sartorial scandal: The putative leader of the free world cannot tie a necktie properly. Compared with religious persecution at our borders and the unraveling of decades-old international alliances, this may seem trivial. But could a misbegotten (and far too shiny) necktie reflect weightier issues of self-discipline, competence and integrity?

Hard to know what’s sadder here: Trump’s phallic coverage, or the news media’s Trump coverage.

Coin flip, yeah?

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