Friday, June 16, 2017

On WGBH: Interviews with conspiracy theorists, columnists and campaigns, and more

Tonight on "Beat the Press," Dan Kennedy (Northeastern University), Jon Keller (WBZ) and I join WGBH's Callie Crossley and Emily Rooney to talk about the media. We're discussing Megyn Kelly's upcoming interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whether newspaper opinion columnists should disclose their political ties, what role the media plays in the politics of violence, plus our rants and raves. Tune in at 7 p.m. on WGBH, or click on the players below for the various segments!

On interviewing conspiracy theorists:

On the media and violent political rhetoric:

On opinion columnists and campaign ties:

Our rants and raves:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

On WGBH: Trump, the Paris Deal, Health Care and More

I joined Scot Lehigh of The Boston Globe and Republican lobbyist Jessica Tocco on "Greater Boston" for a discussion (with host Jim Braude) about the president's possible plan to withdraw from the Paris climate deal, how the GOP-crafted Obamacare replacement is faring, and whether former FBI Director James Comey's anticipated testimony will make a difference. If you missed the broadcast, you can catch up by watching the clip right here:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#FakeNewsBoston: Talking about journalism in a post-truth era

Lylah M. Alphonse at the LEWIS #FakeNewsBoston event on May 18, 2017.

When I'm not in the newsroom at U.S. News & World Report, you can find me talking about the news on WGBH's "Greater Boston" or "Beat the Press" and at various speaking gigs along the East Coast. Most recently, I was in Boston to talk about the fake news phenomenon at an event hosted by LEWIS, an elite PR and marketing group run. Here's a Storified synopsis of what we discussed.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

On WGBH: Prying vs. privacy on "Beat the Press"

Back on WGBH tonight, this time on "Beat the Press," where I'm talking about the media with host Emily Rooney, Dan Kennedy of Northeastern University, WGBH News’ Callie Crossley, and Boston University College of Communications Dean Thomas Fiedler. Tune in at 7 p.m., or watch each segment of the show here:
Fake Forecast - National Weather Service withholds information:
Prying vs. Privacy - Popular podcast motive called into question
Much Ado - Rachel Maddow’s scoop on Trump's tax returns falls flat
Pool Problems - Should partisan outlets participate?
Rants & Raves - The panelists offer their rants and raves over some of what happened in the media world this past week

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On WGBH: Trump, tax returns and other shiny things

I'm on WGBH's "Greater Boston" tonight at 7 p.m. ET, chatting about Donald Trump, tax returns, and other shiny things with Jim Braude and The Globe's Frank Phillips. Tune in! Or watch it here:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On WGBH: The first month of Trump's presidency

Back on WGBH's "Greater Boston" tonight to talk about the first month of Trump's presidency with Jim Braude, the Globe's Dante Ramos and lobbyist Jessica Tocco. Missed it? You can watch it here:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Talking Politics With Westford CAT

I was so happy to chat with Joyce Crane of Westford CAT recently, for the new "celebrity series" of her show, "Main Street, Westford." It was a wide-ranging conversation, and we touched on everything from the fake news phenomenon to politics to my interviews (while at Yahoo) with first lady Michelle Obama. You can catch the whole conversation online at

Thursday, November 3, 2016

On WGBH: Cognitive Dissonance on the Campaign Trail

With six days left until the election, Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe and I join Jim Braude at WGBH's "Greater Boston" to talk about polls, election anxiety, the FBI and cognitive dissonance on the campaign trail. Read the write up at or watch the segment below:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CertaPro Review: Do Not Hire This Painting Company. Here's Why.

Updated, 5/23/17: Since this review was posted, the owner CertaPro of Needham has responded to a negative review with the Better Business Bureau by accusing us of trying to extort money from him. About a dozen other people have left reviews for the CertaPro of Needham  on Yelp -- most of them negative.

This is why you should not go with CertaPro painters: This area was not prepped properly before painting, and you can see the new paint inside the area where the old paint flaked off just six months after the work was completed.

If your house is in need of an exterior paint job, you have plenty of providers to choose from in the Boston area. But there's one you should absolutely avoid: CertaPro Painters of Needham, which also does business as CertaPro Painters of Norfolk County. Their prep work was poor, their painting and repair work was poor, the customer service was terrible, and they are reluctant to honor the two-year guarantee they offer.

The reviews on their site are glowing, which is what tipped the balance in their favor when we were looking for painters in Oct. 2015. But $13,325 and more than a year later, now we know the negative reviews are removed from their site and from social media in exchange for refunds. That's what happened to us when we tried and failed to have the franchise owner address problems with their work on our house -- even though one of his own employees had documented the problems early on. We've been writing reviews of products and services in the Boston area for nearly 20 years; those reviews have been published in The Boston Globe, Yahoo and elsewhere online, and in all that time we have never been offered a refund in exchange for deleting a negative review. So that request -- which came with a legal document that we refused to sign as written -- was a first for us.

We agreed in writing that the house needed a thorough scraping, sanding and power washing, as well as repairing and replacing some rotted wood siding with new pre-primed boards. They finished the entire job very quickly, and it was immediately clear they hadn't properly scraped or sanded any side other than the front of the house. They thinned the paint with water, as if for spraying, but then mostly brushed it on, resulting in poor coverage in some areas. Where they did spray, they over-sprayed, covering outlets, brickwork, the concrete foundation and utilities.

Most glaring: They painted over the rotten wood instead of repairing or replacing it.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Raising Money to Help in Haiti

My cousin's daughter is raising money to help people in Haiti, where she lives. She knows full well that organizations solicit money for relief efforts that never get to those who are really in need, or that help only a handful, or that come with strings attached. She is personally buying, collecting and raising money for things -- non-perishable food, baby formula, flashlights, school supplies, etc. -- and then delivering them herself to places where they can do the most good. If you're able, please consider helping her efforts. More information is available on her GoFundMe page. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On WGBH: Previewing the Third 2016 Presidential Debate

I took a break from debate prep today to talk about the debate-turned-Reality-TV-show tonight on WGBH's "Greater Boston" -- that's me with host Jim Braude and guest Dante Ramos of The Boston Globe, above. Read the writeup at, or watch the segment below:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Defending Gabby Douglas and her Hair

This piece, published in August 2012, is still one of the most-popular posts I wrote at It seems worth resurfacing now, as Douglas prepares to compete in the Olympics again.

Gabby Douglas is proudly representing her country in the Olympics. She's poised under pressure, performing gravity-defying athletic feats in front of an international audience. She's 16 and the second female African American U.S. gymnast to ever make the team. But instead of lauding her achievements, some people are slamming her for... not getting her hair done. 

"I know that every black female looked at Gabby Douglas' hair and asked why? Just why?" Tweeted @stephaniebabe93.

Seriously? Douglas is an incredible athlete. When you're doing something like this on a 3.9-inch wide wooden beam set four feet above the ground, the last thing you're worrying about is your hair.

Some critics insist that Douglas needs to properly represent the African American community, and how her hair looks is part of that. And yet, most of the negative comments about her hair are coming from other African Americans.

"I find it sad that I have seen more Black women post criticizing comments about Gabby's hair than I have comments of praise about her athleticism or adding color to USA Gymnastics since Dominique Dawes," writes Monisha Randolph at

Many African American women choose not to work out in order to protect their hairstyle, Randolph points out. "The last time I checked when you play a sport, you sweat. I know I do. And when a Black woman who has chosen to wear her hair straight begins to sweat, her hair will (not might) begin to revert back to its natural coily, curly, or kinky state," she writes. "Some of us are sitting up right now with our hair done but suffering from high blood pressure, borderline diabetes, obesity, and/or a lack of energy. Oh, but the hair is on point."
Hair has always held a special significance in the African American community. Emmy Award-winning comedian Chris Rock was so struck by his daughter's obsession with her friend's hair that he made a documentary about it, "Good Hair," in which he goes on a quest to better understand why hair is so important to so many black women.
"There's always this sort of pressure within the black community like, if you have good hair, you're prettier or better than the brown-skinned girl that wears the Afro or the dreads or the natural hairstyle," actress Nia Long told him when he interviewed her for his film.
"They say it's for the men, but it's really for the women. Because guys don't care" about a woman's hair, he points out. His theory is borne out in the stream of tweets about Douglas' hair -- the most critical comments are by women. (Thankfully, some of the most supportive ones since have been by African American women as well.)
Instead of worrying about whether her hair is perfect, Douglas is focused on making history and winning Olympic gold. She is representing all Americans, not just one single group. She's achieved more by age 16 than most of us do in a lifetime. Shouldn't we be cheering her on instead of tearing her down? 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What would Sheryl Sandberg say about Jill Abramson's firing?

As a journalist who grew up reading the New York Times -- and as a woman whose interest in news and writing inspired her to become a journalist -- I’ve been following the coverage of Jill Abramson’s firing closely, looking for clues about why she was kicked out of the top position at the New York Times so abruptly on Wednesday. For those of you who aren’t quite as immersed in the insider-baseball world of print journalism, you can find a few good articles about the situation below:

Sultzberger Swings the Axe: Why He Fired Abramson

Jill Abramson Was Everything to Young Women at the New York Times

Jill Abramson Being Replaced as Top Editor at Times

Was Jill Abramson Fired After Complaining About Pay Discrimination?

In a nutshell:

As the news broke, the New York Times itself added fuel to the speculation fire, stating at the end of it’s first article about it that “the reasons for the switch were not immediately clear.” Politico, relying on two unnamed sources within the NYT newsroom, reported that the decision stemmed from “an issue with management in the newsroom.”

Other publications have offered up other possibilities. New York Magazine mentioned that Abramson recently found out she was being paid “considerably less” than her predecessor, Bill Keller. Several outlets have said that Abramson wasn’t interested enough in the Grey Lady’s digital and video initiatives. She reportedly incurred the wrath of newly appointed CEO Mark Thompson last year by sending a reporter to investigate his role in the Jimmy Savile scandal at the BBC after Thompson had agreed to join the Times (but before he his first day on the job). Her relationship with her boss, Times Company Chairman Arthur Sultzberger Jr., has been described as tense. The final straw, apparently, was her decision to recruit a co-managing editor without consulting her current managing editor.

And then there’s the unflattering 2013 portrait of Abramson published by Politico in which she was described as “stubborn and condescending” and “difficult to work with”; it also pointed out that while staffers agree she’s a skilled and experienced journalist, they “question whether she has the temperament to lead the paper.” Though some dismissed it as a hatchet job when it came out, others are turning to the Politico profile now as proof that Abramson had her abrupt dismissal coming.

It’s no surprise that the same qualities prized in male leaders are often derided in female ones -- if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been called “aggressive” or “bossy” instead of “goal-oriented” or “authoritative,” I could have retired comfortably in my mid-30s. Still, I’m hesitant to chalk Abramson’s firing up to gender issues or feminist failings. Her presence at the head of the New York Times table was inspiring to plenty of people, and the fact that she appointed a significant number of women to the masthead has expanded the perspective offered by the paper. And out of the ashes of this incident rises a phoenix of sorts: Managing Editor Dean Baquet was named as her successor, becoming the first African-American executive editor at the New York Times.

I’m pleased to see a person of color at the helm, of course, but as a woman I can’t help but wonder: What would Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg say about Abramson’s firing?

"Women are held back by many things. We're held back by bias, by lack of flexibility, by lack of opportunity," Sandberg said in the trailer for her book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." "We also hold ourselves back. We don't sit at the table, we don't raise our hands, we don't let our voices be loud enough."

So, lean in... just don’t fall over?