Author Archives: Michael Winship

That was no debate, it was a 90-minute insult to America

If Trump stays in office, can ‘The Purge’ be far behind?

Years ago, when I was a high school sophomore, at the beginning of the academic year one of our teachers gave us an assignment to come up with ideas to reform the American political system. Continue reading

Here’s your hat, Donald Trump, what’s your hurry?

Even though opponents in the fight against slavery, the example set by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas could help light our way ahead.

The other night, amidst all our upending national disasters, I was taken with an offhand comment—or rather, offhand tweet—made by presidential historian Michael Beschloss. On March 4, 1861, Beschloss wrote, “Defeated candidate Stephen Douglas held Abraham Lincoln’s hat while the new president gave his inaugural address.” Continue reading

Do the right thing, fulfill RBG’s last wish

Give Justice Ginsburg the proper sendoff and let the election winner choose.

Two memories: in February, I attended a public conversation my friend and colleague Bill Moyers conducted with Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Union Theological Seminary on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She was there for the Judith Davidson Moyers Women of Spirit Award Lecture, and had postponed attending the year before because of health concerns. She was recuperating from the latest of her bouts with cancer. Continue reading

The loudest voices make the greatest changes

Playwright and screenwriter Richard Wesley on Black Lives Matter, Black Power, Trump, and the noise from the balcony.

In mid-May, this year’s Pulitzer Prizes were announced, and as I scrolled down the list of recipients, I was surprised and delighted to see that the award for music had gone to Anthony Davis’ opera The Central Park Five, its libretto written by my longtime friend and colleague Richard Wesley. The piece tells the now well-known story of the five innocent young men falsely accused of rape and assault by police and much of the public, including Donald Trump. Continue reading

Our fake commander-in-chief steps on a landmine—again

Donald Trump, the Godfather wannabe, treats our troops like toy soldiers to be thrown away.

Reading the latest story about Donald Trump’s grievous insults to the military, I thought of a scene that was cut from the original version of The Godfather. Continue reading

For Trump and GOP, no hope, just the audacity of lies

During the first Clinton term, I worked on the public TV series In Performance at the White House Continue reading

Don’t let this mad, manic president wear you down

The GOP convention reminds us that this freakshow of mayhem can exhaust and distract from the mission at hand.

Today’s conjugation lesson: I am worn out, you are worn out, we all are worn out. Continue reading

Stamp out the Trump attacks on our Postal Service!

The president and his obeisant postmaster general are out to destroy voting by mail—and democracy.

As one of our most august Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin would tell Donald Trump to go fly a kite. And hope for a major electrical storm. Then Ben would advise Trump to keep his mitts off our post office. Continue reading

COVID ‘has laid bare’ the crisis of healthcare in America

Wendell Potter’s new group, the Center for Health and Democracy, investigates money in politics and how it stubbornly resists health insurance reform.

Time flies. Hard to believe that it was twelve years ago that healthcare reform activist Wendell Potter left his job as head of corporate communications at Cigna and shortly after, loudly blew the whistle on the gross malpractices of the health insurance industry that had employed him. Continue reading

It’s easy to laugh at Louie Gohmert, but…

The Texas congressman’s a dangerous fool, like the president he so admires.

A few years ago, while I was president of the Writers Guild of America, East, several union members and I went down to Washington to hold a midday briefing on Capitol Hill about net neutrality. Continue reading

‘The world’s most dangerous man’ picks on Portland to pick up votes

Trump’s quest for scenes of urban chaos may not be over, but for now, it could be ending with a whimper not a flashbang.

Watching the news from Portland, Oregon, where night after night anonymous Federal forces in combat gear and camouflage continued to go after protesters with tear gas, flashbangs, rubber bullets and batons, doing their damnedest to make a tough situation worse, I was again reminded of a simple fact. It will come as a shock to no one other than the most credulous: Reality TV isn’t real! A pearl-clutching revelation, I realize. Continue reading

President, plague, bungler, camera, TV

Trump’s new round of COVID briefings is nothing but another attempt to blame others for his deadly mistakes.

Listening to Donald Trump’s White House coronavirus briefings this week, his first in 90 days, I remembered an old joke. Continue reading

Why the federal cops in Portland are all about election day

Strongarm tactics in Oregon may be just the warmup for a stolen vote.

A couple of days before the Fourth of July, I was walking home after a proper, socially distanced outdoor breakfast with a good friend, and noticed on my lower Manhattan block two white sedans marked in red and blue, “US Department of Homeland Security.” Continue reading

Trump’s bull destroys the china shop—and our role in the world

The notion of “America First” hasn’t protected us but instead wrecked national security.

Useful ways to pass the quarantine time: Since April, in response to the pandemic, I’ve been involved with a series of Zoom webinars examining a number of issues through the lens of COVID-19. So far, we’ve covered everything from mental health and addiction and recovery to the search for a vaccine. Continue reading

COVID-19 and the Masque of the Red States

Now that the pandemic is raging in the South and West, Trump’s governors finally are face-to-face with reality. Wear your damn mask.

I’ve bored family and friends with this story for years. Now it’s your turn. Continue reading

In the face of powerful protests, middle America enters the Twilight Zone

Trump and Barr are at the forefront, trying to scare the citizenry with tales of anarchy and destruction.

There’s a famous episode from the very first season of the legendary “Twilight Zone” TV series. Its title: “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” Continue reading

What George Floyd’s dying breaths tell our fractured nation

It’s past time for a radical restructuring of criminal justice.

For writers like me, one of the soundest pieces of advice over the last week came from columnist and film historian Mark Harris, who tweeted on Saturday, “I am calling on all my white colleagues to join me in a 24-hour moratorium on personal essays about our feelings.” Continue reading

COVID-19 and the unmasking of Donald Trump

The pandemic proves once and for all that this president is the enemy of the people.

I keep fantasizing about a moment in Washington like the one at the end of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy accidentally throws water on the Wicked Witch of the West. The witch melts and suddenly the evil spell she’s cast on all her creepy guardsmen and flying monkeys is broken. They snap out of it and come to their senses. Continue reading

Never have so few done so much to destroy America

Comparing Trump to Winston Churchill is a laugh riot.

In this Age of COVID, there was a time long, long ago—about six weeks past! –when Donald Trump began referring to himself as “a wartime president.” Continue reading

Mission imperative: Come November, Trump must go

In case you needed a reminder, the pandemic reveals everything rancid about this presidency.

There must be one mission above all, one goal supreme: Vote this monster out of the White House. And along with him, tow to the nearest dump the clown car of malefactors who gave him license to cripple our republic. Continue reading

Fifty years later, the gunfire at Kent State still echoes throughout America

Today’s pandemic alters our tradition of protest and dissent.

There are certain events in the life of the nation we revisit whenever there’s a significant anniversary. The assassination of President Kennedy, 9/11, the moon landing, even Woodstock—these are iconic milestones we think are worthy of remembrance and reflection—especially because so many of us experienced them together. Continue reading

In the face of death and disease, who’s sorry now? Not Donald Trump—yet

There’s no imaginable excuse for his words and inaction, but a simple apology couldn’t hurt.

What’s the smartest thing Donald Trump could say to the American people right now? I mean, other than, “I resign.” Continue reading

Live from Planet Television, Donald Trump—every night!

Deprived of rallies to inflate his ego, the president muscles in on sickness and death.

As we all know, Donald J. Trump sees the entire world as one big television show—about him. Everything is weighed against the success of his former NBC reality show “The Apprentice,” and frankly, as far as Trump’s concerned, the world just isn’t measuring up. Continue reading

As coronavirus rages on, Trump junks your mail and attacks the Postal Service

Distracted by the disease, we’re being conned by a White House intent on using contagion to disrupt democracy.

In our last episode, mail had finally arrived at my building in downtown Manhattan after many days without, all because of the devastating impact of COVID-19 at my local post office. Continue reading

Lost in the mail

The pandemic threatens letter carriers, their customers, the US Postal Service itself—and even the November election.

We finally got the mail on Thursday. None had arrived for a week, except for some packages. Our main local post office downtown, at the southern end of Manhattan’s West Village, has been hit hard by COVID-19. Continue reading

Pandemic be damned, the business of America is business!

Trump tap dances at the Masque of the Red Death.

Greetings from the epicenter. We are ensconced in my small downtown Manhattan apartment, social distancing as best we can and, so far, safe and healthy but warned that the worst is yet to come, an “apex” of contagion they believe is on its way over the next couple of weeks. Continue reading

Who’s in charge here?

‘The Buck Stops Here’ becomes ‘Hey, Don’t Look at Me!’

A number of years ago, I wrote a documentary about John Gardner, the remarkable public servant who served as President Lyndon Johnson’s secretary of health, education and welfare. He later founded the citizen’s group Common Cause and was, by the way, a liberal Republican, if you can remember a time when such people existed. We can thank him for the implementation of many of LBJ’s Great Society programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Continue reading

Trump’s brand is chaos

‘Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.’

Back in 1992, while running for re-election, President George H.W. Bush was speaking at a New Hampshire town hall and accidentally read aloud some stage directions handed to him by his staff: “Message: I care.” Continue reading

Donald Trump’s State of the Mighty Me

A speech not worth the paper Nancy Pelosi tore apart.

As Dear Leader wound up his State of the Union, and Nancy Pelosi tore its pages in quarters as she stood behind him, I had the same reaction that many colleagues out in the Twitter universe had. We all instantly recalled George W. Bush’s words at the end of Donald Trump’s inaugural address in 2017: “Well, that was some weird shit.” Continue reading

At a church and on Capitol Hill, the battle for democracy

In Washington, two events on the same day show the promise of American democracy–and the mortal danger to it.

On Friday, I was in Washington, DC. No, not to witness the final throes of the Senate’s impeachment trial of Donald Trump, but to be at the memorial service for a former colleague, newsman Jim Lehrer. Continue reading

Thank you, Adam Schiff

For a job well done, the nation should be grateful. But…

On October 16, 1939, Hollywood director Frank Capra premiered Mr. Smith Goes to Washington before an audience of US senators and House members, Supreme Court justices, journalists and assorted other DC dignitaries. It was an all-star event, sponsored by the National Press Club and held at Constitution Hall. Some 4,000 were in attendance. Continue reading

The imperative of pulling together to beat the Trump who would be king

Soon will come a time when fighting among Democrats must cease.

Hey, Sanders, hey, Warren, hey, Biden and the rest of you. Listen, I know from party divisiveness. As a very (very!) young man, I worked on the campaign staff of Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. There now will be a slight pause as you imitate explosions and other sound effects from your favorite disaster movies. Continue reading