D.C. friends, keep your eyes open for my book on your morning commute. Books on the Metro has copies of my book and is placing them on the DC metro trains. If you find one, pick it up, read it, and then return it to the metro when you’re done for someone else to read. (And snap a picture if you can!) Happy commuting.
“Three months ago, things seemed a little bleak. But to be honest, everything worked out in the best way possible.”
I said this to my friend, Ria, this weekend. She stopped me and said, “Christa, that’s what always happens to you. And I’m saying this to you, making sure you know and understand that whenever you hit tough times, it does work out. So don’t freak out. It is always going to be okay. Okay?”
A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I was stressed about my move. How was I going to see all my friends before I go? How was I going to get this place packed up? Which movers could meet my timeline for a good price? (To be fair, a few were a little annoyed with me that my timeline is rather tight, but hey, that’s finding an apartment in New York City. It’s a just-in-time market!)
Today, I got a quote for half of what I thought it would be. I am able to rent a small SUV to drive some things up to DC myself for nearly the same price as a compact car. My building in D.C. can accommodate my move date and my building in New York is very relaxed about move-ins (and doesn’t charge a fee either!) It really is all going to be okay. Really.
Yes, I have work to do. A lot of sorting, packing, and cleaning. I’m going to get to spend time with friends here in D.C. before I go. Dinners, happy hours, coffees, and walks. And then I’ll drive up to New York with little Phin. We’ll move into our new place and it will all be fine. Everything will be better than fine.
In the moment, it can be difficult to remember to keep a longer perspective. What’s right in front of it feel so urgent and pressing. And it is, but we’ll get through it the way we always get through it: one step, one moment at a time.
It’s official: I’m set to move back to New York City next month. There have been so many synchronicities in this move: from my friend, Ria, telling me not to feel pressured into taking what would have been a terrible apartment because I thought that was the only option to finding my new place completely by chance with a building manager willing to show it to me via a Whatsapp video call before turning around a lease overnight. It’s on the Upper West Side, my very favorite neighborhood in the world where so much of my history lives and breathes. I’ve got many preparations to make, much to be grateful for in D.C., and much to look forward to as I return to New York. I’ll be reflecting on all of that in the coming days, weeks, and months. For now, I’m just smiling and feeling so thankful for this journey.
Phineas and I are excited to visit all of our old haunts in Central Park, and spend time with our New York friends—human, canine, and feline! Phin’s particularly looking forward to Dachtoberfest this Fall when hundreds of dachshunds from all over the New York area congregate at Washington Square Park to celebrate their breed. (More on that later.) New York, here we come!
I was in the room yesterday when Sally Yates and Ted Cruz went toe-to-toe. Senator Cruz was late to the meeting, missed Mr. Clapper’s entire opening and most of the opening by Ms. Yates, waited to asked his questions, and then promptly left after Ms. Yates won the argument. Top of his mind: Hillary Clinton’s emails and Ms. Yates’s “misbehavior” in defying Donald Trump’s unconstitutional travel ban, not the ties between Trump and Russia which was the topic of the meeting.
Though Senator Cruz was undone by this heated exchange in which he tried to discredit Ms. Yates and defend Donald Trump’s reliance on executive orders as indisputable law, Ms. Yates was not.And let’s be clear, several Senators were incredibly disrespectful to her several times.One commented, “Ms. Yates, who appointed you to the Supreme Court?” as if the AG has no right to question the legal validity of the President’s actions. She never once lost her composure.
She was prepared and passionate, while maintaining professionalism and grace. She stands with conviction and justice, even in the face of being fired from a job she loved. It was more important for her to do the right thing than to do what it would have taken to keep her job. That is patriotism.
Today marks a significant day in history: a public Senate hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. I am attending and will live tweet it on my Twitter feed at @christanyc.
The Honorable Sally Q. Yates, Former Acting Attorney General of the United States, and The Honorable James R. Clapper, Former Director of National Intelligence of the United States, will testify in front of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.
While other committees will likely hold many additional hearing in the near-future, this is the first time the public will hear from Sally Yates. Though the hearing won’t be televised, it will be live streamed on the subcommittee’s website at https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/russian-interference-in-the-2016-united-states-election.
This Mother’s Day, honor an amazing mom, or someone who is like a mom to you, by giving the gift of food and hope to mothers who are working hard to feed their kids with the help of the Capital Area Food Bank. It’s one of my favorite charities because they support over 700,000 D.C. area residents every year who battle food insecurity. They’ve set up a special fundraising effort for us to honor mothers by helping mothers and families who are less fortunate: https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/mothers-day/.
I honored my mom with a donation to CAFB this year and I hope you’ll join me! And if you need a first-hand account of all of the incredible work CAFB does, read this story by CAFB team member Christel Hair:
“IN HONOR OF MY STRONG SINGLE MOM
Everything is a struggle when you’re a single mom with kids. I know this first hand.
After losing my father, my mom was a single woman in the 70s with two girls to raise. It wasn’t always easy, but she was smart, hard-working, and tough. Sometimes we ate whatever was on hand – Hamburger Helper, toast, applesauce, a vegetable. But she served up everything with love, and we felt comfortable and safe.
I followed her example when, years later, my husband passed away and I was raising two little boys on my own. I was fortunate to have a job and the support of my family, but there were still times when getting dinner on the table after a long day at work was a challenge.
During my time at the food bank, I’ve met so many women who are working and raising children like I was, but doing it without enough food. And as hard as it was for me, I know it can be much harder.
This Mother’s Day, honor an amazing mom – or someone like a mom – in your own life by giving the gift of food and hope to mothers who are working hard to feed their kids. Moms make sacrifices all the time. With your help, food doesn’t have to be one of them.
And to my own mom: thank you for showing me how to lead and love my family with strength and pride.”
“The viability of news organizations today rests in their ability to make themselves relevant by providing news that improves people’s lives.” ~Bob Schieffer
The Newseum’s event “The President and the Press: The First Amendment in the First 100 Days” attempted to open the dialogue on the present and future of the press in politics. At times contentious and at other times collegial, all of the conversations were open and honest. And this idea was clear: journalists are determined to uncover the truth in every facet of their work and they won’t rest until they do. Their commitment and passion, often at their own personal expense, is inspiring. This isn’t a job; it’s a calling no matter where a journalist sits on the ideological spectrum. This is sacred work and it deserves respect.
The state of news today
And that said, the criticism often leveled at the press must be listened to and acted upon. Feedback, whether or not we agree with it, is a gift because it allows us to figure out what matters to us. 21% of Americans have little or no faith in media. That is a massive number. We think more highly of nearly every other profession.
And it shows in the sales numbers. In the past ten years, we’ve lost 126 newspapers in this country. Today many remaining ones are thinner than our water bill now. “If we don’t fix this,” said Bob, “we will see unprecedented corruption across society. It’s the great crisis of journalism today.”
So how do we fix it? What do we do? What do we stop doing?
And I go back to Bob Schieffer. He’s been a journalist for 60 years. And in his long history in the only profession he’s ever had, he sees the answer as not only relevance but in impact. The news must make people’s lives better.
How do we do that? I think we need to get more trained reporters on the ground in more communities uncovering the facts, listening to people, and telling a greater array of stories. I appreciate data, but I appreciate the narrative the data reveals even more. As a society, we’ve become analytical to the point of sacrificing our humanity. We’ve been so busy assigning labels to ourselves and to others that we’ve actually forgotten to walk in their shoes.
Does more data make us wiser or overwhelmed?
In his closing address, Bob Schieffer went on to share a few quotes that had a powerful impact on me.
“We have started thinking in statistics and analytics,” said Peter Hart, NBC/WSJ Pollster. “That’s doesn’t work. [Polls] don’t tell you what’s in people’s hearts.” That’s quite a claim from a man who makes his living in statistics, but we can’t deny its truth. Our latest presidential campaign revealed that a significant number of voters, though not the majority, had more faith in Donald Trump than the polls ever thought possible.
“We look on polling data as higher truth,” wrote Jill Lepore, Pulitzer Prize winning historian at Harvard and staff writer for The New Yorker. “Too many times we are replacing beat reporting with polling data. Publications don’t send reporters to PTA meetings or local bars anymore, to talk to people. They can no longer afford it and there aren’t enough reporters to do the job.”
The evolving role of social media in news today
Many of the conversations at the Newseum focused on the integral role of social media and the press. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold credits his Twitter following with helping him win the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Trump’s charitable contribution claims. Facebook is now the number one source where we access and share news. CBS now has a 24/7 streaming news network, and during the election it often had more engagement than hallmark programs such as the CBS Evening News. Dan Rather’s News and Guts is another fantastic example of new channels for news.
“Hillary Clinton challenged norms [of what a woman should be.] And the hatred that has hung around her for that is irrational.” I put that quote from former Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri on Twitter and it drew immediate attention for and against Hillary, much of it very intense, and that level of response sums up the key insight I got while at this event. The news, in every channel, has become more a point of connection for people and less a vehicle to change hearts and minds. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a fact.
The Buddha said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Nowhere is this more true than in journalism. Martin Luther called the printing press “God’s highest act of grace.” That was in 1436. It took centuries for society to make full use of his invention. It may be many more years before we realize the full extent of the power that we now have in all of our current communication channels and the many more that are to come. Equilibrium, as Bob said, is going to take some time. But we’ll get there.
The gift of the First Amendment
As I walked home from the Newseum, I kept thinking how lucky we are to have our First Amendment. While we may fight vehemently and against one another for our beliefs, the fact that we can do so is a priceless gift. The freedoms of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and complaining to / seeking the assistance of government are the lifeblood of our society. They must be protected by all of us, not just those in elected office. And if anyone, our elected officials included, attempts to take those rights from others, it is our collective responsibility to fight that injustice. The press fights for us every day, and we must fight for the press.
The job of every journalist, and every citizen, is to ask questions, and keep asking until we get an answer. A deep and unabiding ability to question everything and everyone is the foundation of our society. We cannot silence ourselves or others, and we cannot allow anyone else to do so. Nevertheless, we must persist.
More Newseum programming
The Newseum is offering a year-long program about the relationship between the Trump White House and the press. Many of the events will be available on live stream. You can learn more by visiting http://www.newseum.org/.
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I had the most amazing day today at the Newseum’s #TrumpandthePress event. I expected the event to be incredible, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. I feel curious, hopeful, and abundantly motivated by everything I learned. My head is swimming with ideas about media, journalism, and my own personal writing journey. I’m letting all of it turn over in my mind for a bit and promise to post my thoughts on Friday to round out the week.
I’m honored and thrilled to be invited to a fascinating discussion today at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. entitled The President and the Press: The First Amendment in the First 100 Days. And it’s going to be a doozy. I’m anticipating a rousing, spirited discussion about the media, democracy, and the current administration. The agenda and speaker lineup is among the most diverse I’ve seen on the subject and I have to commend the Newseum staff for bringing so many disparate views to one venue. It’s an incredible feat. I’ll be live tweeting and will share what I learn in tomorrow’s post. You can also watch the live stream at http://www.newseum.org/live/.
From the Newseum event page:
The Newseum will host a half-day forum that will explore the Trump administration’s relationship with the press in the critical first months. The program will be held at the Newseum and will feature one-on-one conversations, panel discussions and individual presentations. Participants, including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, will explore pertinent challenges to the First Amendment, a free press and protecting the free flow of information in a divided nation.
- Jim Acosta, CNN
- Mike Allen, Axios
- Bret Baier, Fox News Channel
- Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico
- Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President
- David Fahrenthold, The Washington Post
- Ari Fleischer, Fmr. White House Press Secretary
- Julie Pace, The Associated Press
- Jennifer Palmieri, Fmr. White House Communications Director
- Bob Schieffer, CBS News
- Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary
- Charlie Spiering, Breitbart News
- Brian Stelter, CNN
- Greta Van Susteren, MSNBC
- Cecilia Vega, ABC News
- Glenn Thrush, The New York Times
- Kristen Welker, NBC News
- Michael Wolff, The Hollywood Reporter
Colony Club, a local coffee shop, is the place I will always remember as the setting where Emerson Page – Where the Light Enters stepped into her light. I just met with my publisher for 2 hours and couldn’t be more excited about the launch of my book this Fall. We’re on our way. More details soon!