…(third estimated tax payment due today)…
here’s the form


Fun, fun, fun:  Inglorious Basterds (if you’re not more than normally horrified by violence), In the Loop (if you don’t mind laughing until you hurt), Taking Woodstock (if you lived through the Sixties).


Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe.  Not their fault that their parents entered the U.S. illegally.  Yet the author does come to understand, if not share, the views of Tom Tancredo, the former Congressman and 2008 Presidential candidate who would deport millions of illegals (and does not accept Darwin’s theory of evolution).  Malcolm Gladwell says “Helen Thorpe has taken policy and turned it into literature.”  Read a review here.


Well, you win some and you lose some.  Yesterday, it was announced that PARS’s drug failed to beat the placebo.  The stock – that I had hoped might hit $2 or $4 or even $6 – dropped from the 29 cents where I first suggested it in July, let alone the 41 cents or so where I continued to suggest it, to 18 cents yesterday.  Better than zero, but then it’s only Tuesday.

The little basket of three baby drug stocks I suggested someone might bet on with money she could truly afford to lose has failed to make us in any way rich.  AVNR did report marginally good results that briefly doubled its stock – but it fell back too fast for many to take big gains and is now a little lower than when we started.  My guru is unexcited by its prospects.  JAV failed to score and the stock dropped a bit, but has some other stuff in the pipeline.  We’re holding on.

If you had put $1,000 into each of these three, you’d probably have about $2,000 now, unless you were nimble with the AVNR, and all I can say is that – having bought more than $1,000 worth of PARS myself – I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

That said, it was nice to see BZ up tenfold, and the BZ warrants up 24-fold, since being suggested last October (after having previously been suggested much higher, so only on the last purchases would you be sitting on these gains) . . . and to see the NAQ warrants close at 90 cents, up from 27 cents as noted August 11 (again, having been purchased previously at higher prices).

But in case you can no longer truly afford to lose whatever funds you may have been playing with here – sell.  And even assuming it remains play money, it’s always a good idea to sell enough so that, from here on, you’re essentially playing with “the house’s money.”


Things were different when my friend Bryan Norcross was running the news department of a network-affiliate decades ago.

Were the news still reported today as it was back then, 70% of Republicans would not have believed Iraq attacked us on 9/11.  And only a true lunatic fringe would have believed “that Barack Obama is a noncitizen brought here by people who hate this country and had the foresight to plant a birth notice in a Hawaiian newspaper 48 years ago, just in case they ever needed it” (to quote Gail Collins’ wonderful column).

I asked Bryan to elaborate for us:

By Bryan Norcross

This past Saturday’s network TV news programs led with coverage of the protests in Washington earlier that day.

Each network’s story – handled by seasoned reporters – was substantially a compilation of inflammatory statements by people in the street and behind the podium.  The accuracy of the statements was not important in determining which ideas were included.  If you were provocative or clever, you got on TV.

One guy’s complaint was about the “communism that’s in Washington, DC.”  A woman on CBS said that the president’s “agenda is actually to destroy this country.”  A guy from New York blamed Obama for Chrysler’s pulling his Jeep franchise.  A woman was upset about the Muslims in the government (a clip deleted from the online version of the story).  Senator DeMint from South Carolina misquoted the president.

The problem is this: people expressing inflammatory and provocative opinions, and making mostly inaccurate statements is NOT news. Even worse, replacing real news coverage of the rally with a compilation of vitriolic personal sentiments is detrimental to viewers’ understanding of the complex issues facing the nation.

The protest march would have been an excellent opportunity to shed light on the reasons the people interviewed were boiling over with emotion, fear, and mistrust.  Did their fear come out of zealotry, ideology, or simply misinformation?  Wouldn’t a discussion about the man’s fear of communism make good TV?  Where do ideas like that come from?  Obama’s proposal to increase taxes on the rich?  If so, Eisenhower was an extreme example of a communist president.

What did the guy who lost the Jeep franchise think would have happened if Chrysler had simply died without the government-led bankruptcy process?  I would like to know.  Maybe he has a point, but maybe he doesn’t.  We’ll never know because the stories didn’t cover the cause of the fire, just the flames.  In fact, from these reports, we don’t even know what’s burning.

There is no doubt that crazy people saying crazy things makes good television.  Sane people saying inflammatory, provocative things can also be good television.  Both belong on the Leno show, not the evening news without follow up and explanation.  Art Linkletter had a segment in his show decades ago called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”  What the kids said wasn’t news either.

In the cases above, a reporter challenging the statements about communism, the Chrysler bailout, or the Muslims in government, to understand the root of those opinions, would have made good television too, and it would have been enlightening.  Dealing with the depth of the emotion on both sides of the issues of the day is, in some ways, as important as the issues themselves.

Thirty years ago I was a news manager during a time of major change in the local news business.  We dressed up the presentations, picked up the pace, added stories on a wider range of topics, had great ratings success, and made the mature journalists of the era extremely nervous.  In time, however, even the most seasoned reporters came around to the understanding that style and substance can coexist in the same news presentation.  Adding production values did not compromise the fairness, completeness, and accuracy of the news.  Good storytelling can include a dash of spice, as long as it doesn’t confuse or mislead the viewer.

We learned that some production or story-telling techniques produced a more visceral response in news viewers.  People better remember and attach more value to stories that keep them interested.  It’s an attribute of humans that can be exploited when news stories are crafted, but there is no requirement that completeness and accuracy be abandoned when these modern production values are employed.

Unfortunately, news coverage today has too often degenerated, as Saturday’s network stories demonstrated, into all production, no content.  The marchers’ aggressive assertions of opinion and emotion were not leveraged to illuminate a complex subject, but instead, solely to create a visceral viewer reaction – exactly what the capital-J journalists of the 70’s were afraid of.

When Walter Cronkite ended his newscasts with, “and that’s the way it is,” he meant, “you now have knowledge of, understanding of, and perspective on the issues we presented, to the best of our ability.”  Perspective being the most important, and the missing ingredient in Saturday’s reporting.  Without perspective, a journalist’s story can be true, but can never be accurate.

Any news report that concentrates on the shrillest voices, by definition, lacks the perspective necessary to paint an accurate picture of the events or the issues involved.  Cronkite would have covered the 20 screaming people at an event involving thousands; but if they were crazy, he would have said so. 

The only institution in our society that can inform the uninformed, correct misimpressions, clarify complex topics, and provide a forum for honest and responsible debate is the media.  Even we neo-journalists of the 70’s felt the weight of that responsibility.  Many news organizations of today have gone off the road . . . and must find their way back.  Only our country is at stake.

Bryan Norcross
President & CEO – America’s Emergency Network
Former Senior News Producer and News Director


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