Mort Report is a labor of love by old-style correspondents with lifetimes on the road and young ones with fresh eyes. Our philosophy is simple: we report at first hand with analysis based on non-alternative fact, not opinion. If we get something wrong, we fix it.
PARIS - Two words sum up the existential threat to America. The first is obvious: Trump. The second is a catchall noun so vague it has no meaning, and yet it enables a would-be despot to twist truth and tie a superpower into knots: media.
Excellent news sources abound for people who find them amid a blizzard of bullshit motivated by profit or propaganda. Instead, many pluck dubious snippets off the internet and react with all the reflection of invertebrates stuck by a pin. For them, it is all “the media.”
Donald Trump understands this. If one reporter gets something wrong - or, more often, gets something right that annoys him - he dismisses “the media” with his trademark label: fake news. That works for him because of a worsening industry trend that helped put him in office.
Newspapers that once informed America are still with us, adapted to digital delivery, but most are shadows of their former selves. They replace solid up-close reporting with thumb-sucking at a distance or word sausages made up of news bits from slipshod common sources.
Now GateHouse is about to swallow Gannett and use its familiar brand name. America's two largest chains plan to merge into a Frankenstein's monster of more than 260 dailies and 300 weeklies in 47 states. That, they say, will “enhance quality journalism.” Talk about blowing credibility right off the bat.
PARIS - Ilhan Omar might have been one of those hollow-eyed Somali kids at the edge of survival I saw back in the early 1990s, covering humanity's ugly underside for the Associated Press.
The world had ignored foreseeable famine. A warlord despot battled with murderous rivals, all demanding chunks of whatever was left to plunder. Heading inland from Mogadishu, I wrote:
“On the blacktop road to Baidoa, a sunbaked corpse lies in the center, the chest emptied by vultures. It might have been a bullet, a bus or hunger. In Somalia, no one stops to find out.
“Scores of thousands have died this year, another 2,000 with every sunrise. A million may follow. But beyond the numbing statistics, the impact comes one death at a time.
“In Baidoa, Amina Sheikh Mohammed, a nurse, stood in the yard of a feeding center and told a visitor that six children had died that day. A man spoke softly in her ear, and her face clouded.
“'Make that seven,' she said.”
Omar was born in 1982, the youngest of seven siblings. When she was two, her mother died. After her father, a teacher, saw Somalia falling apart beyond repair, he led the kids on a harrowing trek to spend four years in Dadaab, a hellhole refugee camp in Kenya.
The family made it to New York in 1992 and sought asylum, the way my father's family escaped Russian mayhem in 1921. Omar became a U.S. citizen in 2000, at 17, six years before Melania Trump.
Decent Minnesotans put her in the state legislature. Hijab notwithstanding, she won 78 percent of the vote. After a single term of watching her in action, they sent her to Congress.
It is not likely Ilhan Omar hates her new homeland. And it is no surprise that she reviles Trump, who evokes the sort of ruthless demagogy and blind greed that pushed Somalia into a “shithole.”
No one still reading this needs a recap of Trump's cynical jihad against Omar. Yet a close look at how he distorts her words and twists their context shows depraved indifference to truth.