The Widdershins

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In 1977 when Hollywood star Joan Crawford died, her life-long rival and arch-nemesis Bette Davis remarked: “You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good. Joan Crawford is dead. Good.”

This brings me to Roger Ailes. It may appear in poor taste to say GOOD that Ailes died. Certainly for the sake of his family. But then we read about Ailes 17 year old son Zachary who at his father’s memorial service raved: “I want all the people who betrayed my father to know that I’m coming after them and hell is coming with me!” So there’s an asshole-in-training.

We must also never ever forget what Roger Ailes has done to America, its government and its people by turning Fox News into the juggernaut of right-wing lies, racism, misogyny and every other kind of prejudice. It is impossible to even enumerate all the Roger Ailesevil things his network has done, and all the terrifying things their anchors have said, since he became its founding CEO in 1996. All in pursuit of ratings and money, billions of dollars. It is not an exaggeration to say that Ailes broke America. Those who watched his network, which peddled fear of everything except white, heterosexual and male (except for the blonde anchors in short skirts, who toed the line on the air, even as many of them were sexually harassed and assaulted by Ailes), have been radicalized over the past 20 years into Trump supporters. It is Ailes’ greatest “achievement,” the installation of actual white supremacists and neo-Nazis into the White House. They want to talk about radicalized Muslims. But we should really talk about the radicalized white people, radicalized into intolerance, radicalized into violence, radicalized into hate by Fox News.

It is also not an exaggeration to say that political gridlock which has eaten at our government courtesy of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan (and John Boehner before him, and Newt Gingrich before that, and Trent Lott too), is also directly linked to Ailes. Roger Ailes was evil. It is men like him who make me wish there is actually a hell because men like Roger Ailes deserve to burn in it for all eternity.

Even Monica Lewinsky felt compelled to write an op-ed in the NY Times.

Some experts have noted that viewers found Fox for the first time because of the crisis. John Moody, a Fox executive editor, reflected on that period: “The Lewinsky saga put us on the news map.” As he put it in another interview: “Monica was a news channel’s dream come true.”

Their dream was my nightmare. My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail — I was the original target of Kenneth Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit and other alleged crimes — or worse, me taking my own life. Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads to best exploit this personal and national tragedy.

The legacy of Ailes’ Fox News has been on prominent display since his death. One of the last remaining nut-job anchors Ailes inflicted upon the world, Sean Hannity, has been peddling a nasty, obviously fake “news” story about the murder of a DNC staffer in 2016.

The only thing we know to be true is that on July 10, 2016, a 27 year old employee of the DNC, Seth Conrad Rich, was shot and killed by unknown assailants in Washington DC. The police continue to investigate, but so far the conclusion seems to be that it was a Seth Richfailed robbery, with the assailants panicking and shooting Rich after he fought back. For a while now some segments of the internet have peddled the theory that Rich was actually murdered by the DNC and Hillary Clinton. (The day Seth was murdered, he was offered a job on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and was planning to temporarily move to NYC, where her campaign was based.) The conspiracy theory exploded into the mainstream after a Fox affiliate, and then the main Fox News channel, aired allegations from a private investigator (who happens to be a pundit on Fox) falsely claiming that he had been hired by Seth’s parents, and his investigation showed that Rich was the source of the DNC e-mails leaked to WikiLeaks and that his computer that would prove it was missing. The story fell apart almost immediately. The family said they never hired the man, they had their son’s computer, which had already been analyzed by the police and the FBI. It didn’t matter. Screaming headlines on Fox News and the alt-right web-sites were about DNC, Podesta and Clinton ordering the assassination of Seth Rich to punish him for leaking DNC e-mails. A previously known video of Seth’s parents thanking the internet for donating money to their GoFundMe page was now peddled by both Trump supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters as proof that the family agreed with the conspiracy. Sean Hannity, with guests that included Newt Gingrich and Geraldo Rivera, proclaimed for days that the DNC and Clinton murdered Seth Rich. Seth’s family released a statement saying that there was a special place in hell for people who peddled such painful stories. Hannity doesn’t care. The narrative for the conspiracy has been set. Rebuttals from CNN ,which described how even employees of Fox were disturbed by Hannity’s coverage, and many rebuttals from WaPo (both in print and via tweets from several of their reporters), were greeted with scorn from the believers. We are seeing Pizzagate Part 2 come alive before our eyes.

Today Seth Rich’s parents published an op-ed in WaPo asking people to stop politicizing their son’s murder.

[…] conservative news outlets and commentators continue, day after painful day, to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that Seth was killed after having provided WikiLeaks with emails from the DNC. Those theories, which some reporters have since retracted, are baseless, and they are unspeakably cruel.

We know that Seth’s personal email and his personal computer were both inspected by detectives early in the investigation and that the inspection revealed no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with WikiLeaks. Nor did that inspection reveal any evidence that Seth had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks or to anyone else. Indeed, those who have suggested that Seth’s role as a data analyst at the DNC gave him access to a wide trove of emails are simply incorrect — Seth’s job was to develop analytical models to encourage voters to turn out to vote. He didn’t have access to DNC emails, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee emails, John Podesta’s emails or Hillary Clinton’s emails. That simply wasn’t his job.

Even Julian Assange, who was previously coy when asked if Seth Rich was the source of DNC e-mails, later tweeted that WikiLeaks has never and would never reveal the sources of their leaks, debunking claims that he had previously confirmed the info.

Finally, perhaps after lawyers at Fox intervened, Fox published a retraction to the story, though as media ethicist Kelly McBride writes, their retraction was “woefully inadequate.”

It didn’t include a correction, which would have gone a long way toward showing that the network learned from its mistake and was truly contrite.

Corrections are inevitable in journalism. When done well, they serve a purpose for both the audience and the news organization.

Sean Hannity’s response to Fox’s “retraction” was that he retracts nothing and will continue to “investigate.” He is truly Roger Ailes’ spawn. And I can’t wait for the good day when he, too, is dead.

RogerMooreBond2_6917572

To change the subject from “good dead” to “bad dead” – I must acknowledge the passing
of Roger Moore at the age of 89. Moore was my first James Bond and for that reason retains a special place in my heart, though perhaps some of the movies he starred in have in some ways aged the worst because the fashion of the 1980s is just embarrassing, there were certainly some great ones Bond films too.  “Live And Let Die,” for example. Remember: it was Roger Moore’s 007 who ran across a row of hungry crocodiles as they snapped their jaws – one of the most iconic of all Bond moments. Moore’s humor and charm on and off screen were unforgettable. Below is a story about Roger Moore published on Facebook by a man named Marc Haynes. It may bring a tear and a smile. Rest in peace, Sir Roger.

As an seven year old in about 1983, in the days before First Class Lounges at airports, I was with my grandad in Nice Airport and saw Roger Moore sitting at the departure gate, reading a paper. I told my granddad I’d just seen James Bond and asked if we could go over so I could get his autograph. My grandad had no idea who James Bond or Roger Moore were, so we walked over and he popped me in front of Roger Moore, with the words “my grandson says you’re famous. Can you sign this?”

As charming as you’d expect, Roger asks my name and duly signs the back of my plane ticket, a fulsome note full of best wishes. I’m ecstatic, but as we head back to our seats, I glance down at the signature. It’s hard to decipher it but it definitely doesn’t say ‘James Bond’. My grandad looks at it, half figures out it says ‘Roger Moore’ – I have absolutely no idea who that is, and my hearts sinks. I tell my grandad he’s signed it wrong, that he’s put someone else’s name – so my grandad heads back to Roger Moore, holding the ticket which he’s only just signed.

I remember staying by our seats and my grandad saying “he says you’ve signed the wrong name. He says your name is James Bond.” Roger Moore’s face crinkled up with realisation and he beckoned me over. When I was by his knee, he leant over, looked from side to side, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said to me, “I have to sign my name as ‘Roger Moore’ because otherwise…Blofeld might find out I was here.” He asked me not to tell anyone that I’d just seen James Bond, and he thanked me for keeping his secret. I went back to our seats, my nerves absolutely jangling with delight. My grandad asked me if he’d signed ‘James Bond.’ No, I said. I’d got it wrong. I was working with James Bond now.

Many, many years later, I was working as a scriptwriter on a recording that involved UNICEF, and Roger Moore was doing a piece to camera as an ambassador. He was completely lovely and while the cameramen were setting up, I told him in passing the story of when I met him in Nice Airport. He was happy to hear it, and he had a chuckle and said “Well, I don’t remember but I’m glad you got to meet James Bond.” So that was lovely.

And then he did something so brilliant. After the filming, he walked past me in the corridor, heading out to his car – but as he got level, he paused, looked both ways, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said, “Of course I remember our meeting in Nice. But I didn’t say anything in there, because those cameramen – any one of them could be working for Blofeld.”

I was as delighted at 30 as I had been at 7. What a man. What a tremendous man.

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Eudocia Tomas Pulido (“Lola”), ages 18 and 82

Hello Widdershins,

This will be a short post today! In part because I would like you to take some time and instead of reading my nonsense, read a feature story in The Atlantic instead.

In March I wrote a post here discussing human trafficking.  When we talk about slavery too many of us think of by-gone eras. But slavery exists today and not just in far-off lands. It exists right here in the United States, perhaps involving our next-door neighbors. Nearly 21,000,000 human beings today are victims of human trafficking.

One of the stories I recounted in my post, told by Sister Joan Dawber, who runs a safe-house for victims of human trafficking in NYC, involved a young woman from Africa who came to NYC by family with the promise of going to school. Instead the family enslaved her for 5 years. She escaped eventually with the help of a suspicious neighbor. But how many do not escape?

In the harrowing and heart-breaking story published in The Atlantic, called My Family’s Slave by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Alex Tizon, Tizon describes his family’s slave – gifted to his mother by his grandfather. The woman they called Lola served the family for 56 years, right here in the United States. She cooked and cleaned for the family, she raised the children. She was not kept in physical shackles. And yet – she remained their slave. Tizon’s shocking realization as he got older than his parents kept the woman who raised him and his siblings as a slave is heart-breaking. Lola’s story is not unique and it needs to be told. (In a sad addendum, Tizon died suddenly on March 23, 2017 at the age of 57.)

Mom would come home and upbraid Lola for not cleaning the house well enough or for forgetting to bring in the mail. “Didn’t I tell you I want the letters here when I come home?” she would say in Tagalog, her voice venomous. “It’s not hard naman! An idiot could remember.” Then my father would arrive and take his turn. When Dad raised his voice, everyone in the house shrank. Sometimes my parents would team up until Lola broke down crying, almost as though that was their goal.

It confused me: My parents were good to my siblings and me, and we loved them. But they’d be affectionate to us kids one moment and vile to Lola the next. I was 11 or 12 when I began to see Lola’s situation clearly. By then Arthur, eight years my senior, had been seething for a long time. He was the one who introduced the word slave into my understanding of what Lola was. Before he said it I’d thought of her as just an unfortunate member of the household. I hated when my parents yelled at her, but it hadn’t occurred to me that they—and the whole arrangement—could be immoral.

“Do you know anybody treated the way she’s treated?,” Arthur said. “Who lives the way she lives?” He summed up Lola’s reality: Wasn’t paid. Toiled every day. Was tongue-lashed for sitting too long or falling asleep too early. Was struck for talking back. Wore hand-me-downs. Ate scraps and leftovers by herself in the kitchen. Rarely left the house. Had no friends or hobbies outside the family. Had no private quarters. (Her designated place to sleep in each house we lived in was always whatever was left—a couch or storage area or corner in my sisters’ bedroom. She often slept among piles of laundry.)

 

This is an open thread.

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As I have written many times, often writing posts in the Trump-age feels like an exercise in futility because by the time they are posted they are already out of date. I fear this post will be the same… so we must stay on top of latest news via the comments!

What we know: FBI Director James Comey has been fired by Donald Trump, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, with Rosenstein writing the explanation. (Rosenstein had previously been viewed as an honest man. He was confirmed just a few weeks ago to the Justice Deparment with a 94-6 vote in the Senate. But as Philippe Reines pointed out, if Rosenstein was an honest man he would have answered Trump and Sessions’ demand that Comey be fired with: “No, I refuse.” Instead, he wrote his own epitaph as a coward.) The administrations explanation for firing Comey is: it’s Hillary’s fault. Also, her e-mails.

I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.

It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement. At most, the director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.

This is, of course, laughable on its face and no one can take this explanation seriously except maybe Fox News, which suddenly shows great concern for how Comey treated poor Hillary Clinton. Even Roger Stone (!) expressed regret: “What Comey did to Hillary was disgraceful. I’m glad Trump fired him over it,” he said to Alex Pfeiffer. We know, of course, the firing had nothing to do with Clinton. It is about the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 Presidential election.

Comey

James Comey has been an enigma for a long time. His press conference announcing that his agency would not recommend charges against Clinton over use of a private e-mail server, while blasting her in such a public manner, seemed inexplicable. Some stories later suggested Comey wanted to reveal information about Russian interference in our election in the summer of 2016, but was stopped by Obama. Then Comey refused to sign on to other agencies’ announcement of this info in the Fall of 2016 because it was too close to the election and he didn’t wish to interfere. But his Letter just days before the election, announcing discovery of new e-mails on the computer of Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin’s husband, did precisely what he claimed earlier he didn’t wish to do: he changed the outcome of an election. What a bizarre story arc for a man who once rushed to the hospital bed of Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop the Bush/Cheney administration from spying on Americans. None of it made sense. Until last week when Comey testified before the Senate. Finally the fog lifted.

I could see two doors and they were both actions. One was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal. Because here’s how I thought about it, I’m not trying to talk you into this, but I want you to know my thinking. Having repeatedly told this Congress, we are done and there’s nothing there, there’s no case there, there’s no case there, to restart in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it would require an active concealment, in my view.

And so I stared at speak and conceal. Speak would be really bad. There’s an election in 11 days, Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we got to walk into the world of really bad.

In the end, this long term public servant fell for the oldest tragic flaw, the one Greeks wrote plays about: Hubris. Comey just thinks of himself as the last honest man in America. Our own Prolix has written a few times that Comey isn’t corrupt, he is Righteous and his own belief in his Righteousness is where things can get murky. It’s true that his Righteousness is why I think ultimately he could have been trusted with the FBI investigation into Trump/Russia. But his zealotry came with unintended – even by him – consequences: the election of Donald Trump as President. In an honest desire to be seen as non-partisan Comey managed to ruin the reputation of his favorite agency. With his fear of being taken to task by Republicans, who would smear him and the FBI if he did not tell them about the Abedin e-mails, Comey compromised himself as an honest broker of truth. He misassigned the concepts of “bad” and “catastrophic.” He thought not telling Congress about the e-mails would be catastrophic. In fact, not telling Republicans and becoming the target of their wrath would have been bad. Affecting the outcome of a Presidential election was catastrophic.

-Joy Reid Sally Yates comment

(There were also the grave issues that in his testimony to the Senate Comey gave inaccurate information about Abedin’s e-mails, falsely claiming “tens and thousands” of messages had been sent by her to her husband’s computer. It took 6 days, and prodding from ProPublica and Washington Post, for the FBI to issue a correction. The same day Comey was fired. Trump had his bodyguard Keith Schiller deliver the firing letter to the FBI headquarters, but they didn’t realize Comey was not in the office. Comey was delivering a speech and learned he was fired when the news popped up on the screen behind him.)

-COmey fired Petri

This brings us to the present. What does Comey’s firing mean in the larger scheme of things? Many Clinton aides have expressed concern, not joy, at the developments. That Clinton aides, who dislike Comey as much as anyone, are concerned about the firing speaks volumes about the Clinton candidacy and the people who supported her. We are more concerned about the Republic than petty revenge. Because what does Comey’s firing mean for the Russia/Trump investigation and the future of the Republic? It is impossible to know just yet. Some high profile Republicans, like Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, have lined up behind Trump. Collins told Judy Woodruff: “Well, the president didn’t fire the entire FBI.” Graham said: “I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.” This is worrisome because it shows a continued support for the insupportable Trump, his administration and his policies. The good news is that some others Republicans have expressed concerns. (And not just the Nixon Library tweeting an objection to people calling Trump’s behavior “Nixonian.”)

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John McCain tweeted that “Removal of Director Comey only confirms need for select cmte to investigate #Russia’s interference in 2016 election.” Tea Partier Justin Amash tweeted: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.” Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who heads the Senate investigation into Trump/Russia, wrote:

I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee.  Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.

Other notable Republicans who have expressed concern about Comey’s firing are James Lankford of Oklahoma, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and Senate Judiciary Committee member Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

I think we are at a cross-roads. What happens next is what history books will say about all of us. Will the firing of Comey bring about Trump’s downfall? Or will Republicans close ranks and save him, kill the investigation… and damn us all to a banana republic?

-History joke

Christiane Amanpour interviews Hillary Clinton. | CNN/David Holloway

Another week… another Twitter meltdown at the Clintons. Last week Chelsea was in the crosshairs, on Tuesday it was back to Hillary Clinton. And it’s all the usual suspects who returned into the arena.

Earlier in the day Clinton spoke to Christiane Amanpour in a town-hall interview at the Women For Women International, an organization that helps women in war-torn countries. Amanpour asked Clinton about the 2016 election and Clinton responded:

I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the short falls that we had. […] I have been in a lot of campaigns and I’m very proud of the campaign we ran. and I am very proud of the staff and the volunteers. It wasn’t a perfect campaign — there’s no such thing — but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off and the evidence for that intervening event is I think compelling, persuasive and so we overcame a lot in the campaign. We overcame an enormous barrage of negativity, or false equivalence, of so much else, and as Nate Silver … concluded, if the election had been on October 27, I would be your president. [ …] Did we make mistakes? Yes. [But] The reason I believe we lost was because of events of the last 10 days.

This is where the hyenas descended. Today it was Glenn Thrush’s turn to lead the pack. There were many messages from him over the course of several hours. One tweet read: “Hillary takeaways 1) Loathes Trump 2) blames Comey/Putin 3) the ‘real’ Hillary-funny, hard-edged, unguarded 4) blames everyone but self.”

Thrush’s Times colleague and mentor Maggie Haberman tweeted many messages of personal support for Thrush and critiques of Clinton. At one point Haberman actually said to Greg Sargent of The Plum Line, who posted an article in which he argued the fault  for the loss was not entirely Clinton’s, that one of her – Haberman’s – objections to Clinton’s statement, and the reason she doesn’t believe her, is that the order of Clinton’s statement was all wrong. Haberman argued that if Clinton ended her argument with contrition, it would have made all the difference. Am I the only who thinks this is one of the most preposterous things I’ve ever heard?

Then later in the day Bill Maher told Jake Tapper that he doesn’t understand why Hillary just won’t go away already.

Chris Cillizza also participated in this feeding frenzy, but I won’t even bother you with his nonsense.

To my surprise a number of journalists came to Clinton’s defense. More importantly, a number of them specifically criticized Thrush and Haberman, some times by addressing them directly, for the behavior.

Chris Hayes of MSNBC responded to Thrush: “I find this obsession with Clinton taking full responsibility for her loss from ostensibly “objective” observers really weird.” (To which Thrush answered without any irony: “I don’t care if she takes responsibility.”)

Mark Murray of NBC initially blasted Clinton, but then seemed to change his mind and posted a series of tweets showing poling data: “Just look at the national polls: Pre-Comey, she was up 5-6pts, Post-Comey, 3pts. From outside MOE to inside it.” Perhaps Murray was convinced by actual…data. Data doesn’t lie.

Because of data, Nate Silver has been one of the strongest voices in the “blame Hillary” debate: “We’ll have a piece out on this tomorrow. Issue is that some of the competing explanations for Clinton’s loss implicate the media’s judgment… / Did they jump the gun on Comey letter? Drop the ball on Russia? Cover email too much? Not fact-check Trump enough? / What were ethics of Wikileaks coverage? What role did Clinton’s gender play? Tough questions! Easier to say Clinton durg her own grave.”

Michael Cohen (no, not that one) of Boston Globe: “Genuinely fascinating that so many NYT reporters are so focused on Hillary Clinton’s self-flaggelation / I mean it’s never true that a single candidate is personally responsible for losing a presidential campaign. It’s a confluence of factors / So it’s mystifying how many reporters are adamant that Clinton must take personal responsibility for her loss… / did reporters insist that Romney take personal responsibility for losing? McCain? Gore? The media obsession w/HRC’s self-flaggelation is such an obvious case of diverting responsibility I can’t think of another explanation. / I mean it’s ok to say “we made some mistakes in how we covered the 2016 campaign.” None of [us] are perfect; pencils, erasers etc / and every time reporter tweets “it’s Hillary’s fault” it only serves to highlight how obvious this effort at diverting responsibility is.”

I was stunned when even Bernie Bro with serious case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome Matthew Yglesias of Vox wrote in response to Matt Viser of Boston Globe (Viser: “Clinton in one breath: “I take absolute personal responsibility.” Clinton in the next: “I would have won if not for Comey and Wikileaks.”). Yglesias’ response: “Despite the valiant efforts of many in the press these are not really contradictory statements. / To take responsibility for something is an ethical stance not a causal analysis. / When Harry Truman said “the buck stops here” he was not saying that all events in American life were under his total personal control.”

There is a “mean girls” quality to Thrush/Haberman/Cillizza/Barro/etc. attacks on Hillary (and Chelsea) Clinton. One person starts, the others jump in, sharks sensing blood. Or the last person standing in dodge-ball. The same names come up time and again. But I was encouraged to see several people – especially surprised by Yglesias – break with the pack and directly argue with them. Is this change temporary? Or a new awareness on the parts of some reporters that perhaps, maybe, just possibly they are not infallible?

But… back to Thrush and Haberman. On Tue they published a piece in the Times about Ivanka Trump, who has a book out, which she is not supposed to promote. Former Fortune publisher and current digital director of Columbia Law School Pamela Kruger tweeted at Haberman: “Ivanka gave this in depth interview just as her new book comes out. The book she isn’t promoting.” Haberman, who often reveals herself in spontaneous responses to others, fired back: “We were doing a profile and we went to them.” Kruger retorted: “Timing worked out pretty well for her.”

When I say Haberman often reveals herself in spontaneous tweets, the following may be one of the most revealing messages Haberman ever sent. After stories came out about in-fighting between Bannon and Kushner, Breitbart wrote an article attacking Kushner’s staff. To which Haberman tweeted: “Do folks there seriously believe hitting the president’s family, even by extension, is going to help their access?” I think this message needs to be framed because it reveals everything about not just Haberman specifically, but reporters generally who survive on the need for access.

I also ran into this tweet from Thrush that really made me cringe: “Anyone who thinks [Trump] is ‘incoherent’ has it exactly wrong. Every speech is 100% coherent. Every speech is 100% about Trump.” This message that Trump is a genius is something Haberman has stated in the past as well. A few months ago I followed her arguing with NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen. Rosen wrote that the idea that Trump is some sort of media genius is nonsense. Haberman responded that she’s been following Trump for many years and he is, in fact, a master manipulator of the media. I recall responding that just because Trump manages to masterfully manipulate her, doesn’t mean he is a master at manipulation.

Eric Boehlert summed up the day’s events fairly well: “for those keeping score, NYT reporters who typed up Ivanka puff piece today, spent the afternoon trolling Hillary on Twitter /



 but the newsroom gets very very mad when anyone threatens to cancel subscriptions.
 / 



keep in mind, same day WH press secretary Refuses To Take Any Press Questions, reporters spent afternoon attacking private citizen.”

Joy Reid

As I was finishing this post, I ran into an astonishing piece in WaPo by Dave Weigel. It shows how somebody in the media can take a single statement, misrepresent it, and create a tornado of attacks. In this case, no surprisingly, it was a statement by Hillary Clinton to Amanpour that was misrepresented by Phil Elliott of Time – creating a storm of attacks on Clinton.

Trump may be the first president whose plunge to 40 percent approval was marked by stories about the voters who still loved him. And Clinton may be the only politician who can talk about the need for rural broadband — at this point, an almost banal priority of rural politicians — and be accused of snobbery.

For a final laugh, see this from the NY Times, trying to explain Trump’s comments about Andrew Jackson:

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And then this:

Chelsea Handler

82_Damage_Control

Many people in the media continue to scream that the Democratic Party establishment needs to be purged. I think the media needs to be purged. Get the old, tainted blood out, replace with something new. The media’s behavior during the 2016 election was a catastrophe. The e-mails, the server, the speeches. Trump as an unhinged, uninformed, potentially treasonous idiot? They ain’t got time for that.

The recent release of that book, “Fucked” by Fucktard and Fuckface (again, I may have misspelled their names), was supposed to humiliate the Clinton campaign by publishing unsubstantiated gossip about infighting and incompetence. The pundits took the book one step further: they loudly declared it wasn’t so much the campaign, but Hillary Clinton herself who is solely responsible for everything. The blowback to these claims on the cyber has been pretty severe. The likes of Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Chris Cillizza, etc. etc., received enormous pushback from social media posters, getting Haberman down into the dirt with repeated defensive responses. If you feel compelled to respond that many times to strangers on the internet, something ain’t right.

Many of the “facts” presented in the book have also been also been challenged by members of the Clinton campaign. Things as obvious as the book’s claim that the Clinton campaign did no polling in the final two weeks of the election. Several former HFA staffers said that was patently false. If the writers couldn’t check something so simple, what else didn’t they bother checking? The book has mostly vanished from view within just a few days; the writers have been forced to hawk it to willing listeners on Fox. SAD.

In another example of insanity, Glenn Thrush, in response to news that Breitbart wants White House press credentials, declared on Twitter the following:

-Thrus on Breitbart

Yes, you read that right. Thrush just declared Breitbart a “legit news outlet.” I wonder which of the following Breitbart headlines Thrush thinks are “legit news.”

Breitbart Headlines

And then there were the Twitter events of Monday, April 24. It started with a Tweet from Matty Yglesias of Vox, a Bernie Bros with Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Yglesias has attacked Chelsea Clinton many times previously (on March 18 he tweeted: “Stop trying to make Chelsea happen”), so this random comment wasn’t in and of itself unusual.

Yglesias original

Chelsea Clinton responded to Yglesias that, in fact, she was not running for any office. If you thought that would be the end of that, you are woefully mistaken. What followed was an hours long orgy of several mainstream media (male) pundits and journalists attacking Chelsea Clinton. Chris Cillizza of CNN and Aaron Blake of WaPo jumped in. Josh Barro accused ex-Clinton staffers who came to Chelsea’s defense of working for her. Nick Merrill, who was Hillary’s press secretary, responded: “1) Because we know Chelsea, and find that your rants bear no resemblance to reality. 2) Because you’re really annoying and it grates on us.” Ben Jacobs of The Guardian got into an argument with Neera Tanden, who told him to knock it off. “You’re better than this,” Tanden wrote. “Nope, I’m not” Jacobs responded. Chelsea again reiterated she wasn’t running for any office, which – she noted – apparently had to be stated twice in one day. The pundits continued their assault. Byron Tau of Wall Street Journal led the attacks with comments like: “Chelsea Clinton, a scion of a wealthy and powerful political family, is cooperating on friendly profiles and launching a book tour.” (Someone pointed out that Tau’s Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch and his scions (male) and they try and do influence politics across the globe.) Tau then exchanged cutesy messages with Politico’s Marc Caputo about how funny accusations of misogyny were. Chelsea responded again:

“Goodness gracious! I’ve no plans. How much clearer can I be (since you ask for clarity)*

*Apparently twice a day reminder was optimistic.”

Late in the evening I collected screen captures of the various messages directed at Clinton and, tagging all the reporters, tweeted: “Tonight @AaronBlake @ByronTau @CillizzaCNN @jbarro @mattyglesias @Bencjacobs @MarcACaputo engaged in rape fantasy orgy after a woman said NO.” This prompted Caputo to add me to his “Assholes” list. I must say, that and Glenn Greenwald blocking me have so far been my two greatest twitter accomplishments.

About 12 hours after the Great Chelsea Clinton War of April 2017, Ivanka Trump went to Germany as a Trump representative at a women’s conference. There she shared a stage with, among others, Angela Merkel. When Trump said that her father was a great champion of women’s rights, the women in the audience hissed and booed. Chris Cillizza wrote a lengthy article decrying such attacks on Ivanka.

You can hate Donald Trump’s views on and treatment of women – and lots of people do! But, to expect Ivanka Trump to publicly condemn her father or his record on women’s issues is a bridge too far. It’s impossible for us to know what Ivanka Trump does (or doesn’t do) to influence her father’s views behind the scenes. And, because of that – and the fact that she is his daughter! – booing her for defending her dad is poor form.

Sarah Lerner, a feminist writer, noted: “Ivanka reinforces white male dominance & Chelsea challenges it. That’s why these dudes go after the latter.” She also wrote a brilliant summary of how the media treats Chelsea vs. Ivanka. A Tale of Two First Daughters.

In our current political climate, where there is a distinct possibility that our president may be beholden to a foreign power, it is almost unfathomable that Chelsea Clinton would appear more threatening than Ivanka Trump, a corrupt accomplice to her father’s fascist, grifting regime. But when one (former) president’s daughter actively challenges white male dominance while the other upholds it, the result is altogether unsurprising: Tear down the former at all costs, let the latter pass go and collect $200.

-Ivanka boss

It’s Sunday. Another weekend down, another week coming up. Fredster will resume his Sunday activities next week, I am filling in today. Let’s try to unwind our exhausted brains before we hurl ourselves into a new week of insanity.

As everybody (?) knows, I’m something of a movie buff. I studied film in college and currently work as an editor in television. I thought we would spend this Sunday combining movies and music with some of our favorite movie music! It could be orchestral melodies or songs from musicals. Whatever your hearts desire. It just has to either come from a movie or have been featured prominently in a movie.

Here are a few of my favorite things to get things started (I have sooooooo many):

 

A few weeks ago Dump’s chief cheerleader Kellyanne Conjob said that journalists’ Twitter feeds “are a hot mess.” The obvious irony of her remark can’t be avoided, of Silence-Deafens1course. But like a broken clock, for a person who talks as much as she does, she’s bound to say something true and that might have been her one true statement. Journalists’ Twiter feeds are a hot fucking mess. I’ve been following a few, and see many more re-tweeted. And the problem with legitimate reporters having Twitter feeds is that their commentary turns them into pundits. Maggie Haberman (everything is Clinton’s fault all the time), Katy Tur (after SOTU Dump became President with Capital P) and Jake Tapper (everything is Clinton’s fault) constantly engage commenters, defending their own opinions. I don’t particularly care that they have anti-Clinton opinions, but any opinion they so openly express and defend makes them no different than Jeffrey Lord. Of course we can’t expect reporters not to have opinions. But airing them as they all do brings into question their reporting. Bill O’Reilly mixes news and opinion into one telecast. Is it really so different when Maggie Haberman files a Clinton story in the NY Times and then writes on Twitter that Clinton is obviously at fault for not pushing Trump/Russia story harder during the election? The line between Haberman and O’Reilly blurs.

The latest onslaught of Hillary bashing comes from publication of a new book called “Clusterfuck” by Fuckface Fucktard and Fuckity Fuckass. I might have gotten the name of the book wrong and misspelled the names of the authors. But it’s something like that. The book is the first in what will surely be many years of autopsies of Clinton’s campaign. The gist of it is that it’s all Clinton’s fault, and mostly Robby Mook’s fault. (Nobody was allowed to speak to Hillary except via Huma and Mook is a “professional political assassin”.) The sources are, of course, largely anonymous. And the content isn’t really surprising.

What is also not surprising are the reviews. I know a graph I posted last week showed that Washington Post’s anti-Hillary coverage was only second to Fox’s, but somehow New York Times’ has always carried much more weight. (And I wonder if Chris Cillizza’s Clinton Derangement Syndrome skewed WaPo coverage overall. He is truly demented and has transferred his psychosis to his new job at CNN. More on Cillizza below.)

Michiko Kakutani reviewed the book in New York Times:

“Shattered” underscores Clinton’s difficulty in articulating a rationale for her campaign (other than that she was not Donald Trump.) And it suggests that a tendency to value loyalty over competence resulted in a lumbering, bureaucratic operation in which staff members were reluctant to speak truth to power, and competing tribes sowed “confusion, angst and infighting.”

Kakutani has a long history of reviewing both Clintons’ books and it’s not a good history. Compare to Steven Ginsberg review in Washington Post:

Does it really matter who was pissy at whom in Brooklyn when we still don’t know what role the Russians played in the election or why FBI Director James Comey publicly announced a reopening of the e-mail investigation in late October? Those questions are largely left unexplored here, other than as targets of Clinton’s post-election ire.

I also liked this paragraph from Ginsberg:

Much of the post-election analysis has criticized Clinton and her campaign for focusing on “reach” states such as North Carolina instead of putting more resources in the upper Midwest. That view is both echoed and called into question in “Shattered,” which depicts a vexing Goldilocks-style problem for Clinton across the region.

In Wisconsin, she didn’t show up enough. In Michigan, local organizers thought it was best that she stayed away. In Pennsylvania, she campaigned as aggressively as anywhere in the nation. In all three, she lost by less than 1 percent of the vote. So what should she have done?

Charles Pierce wrote a great takedown of New York Times’ Clinton problem. It’s worth reading in its entirety. Pierce reaches back to William Safire and Whitewater, the source of Times’ Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Several other reporters and writers also pointed to the nonsense of the book’s premise and the subsequent flogging of Clinton.

Dave Weigel of WaPo tweeted: “Obviously Clinton screwed up by forcing every cable channel to play Trump speeches live for a year.”

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo: “Remember: Every losing campaign was run by idiots. Every winning campaign by geniuses. Rinse, repeat.”

Greg Sargent of The Plum Line: “Weird how people who cite Nate Silver constantly suddenly don’t ever cite his conclusion about Comey impact.”

And, of course, Paul Krugman: “When journos who hyped e-mail pseudo-scandal pile on over HRC campaign errors, it’s partly CYA over their own role n Trump disaster.”

I do wish Krugman would walk over to Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush and smack them.

A note about Cillizza. His Clinton hate is truly one of the most rabid among the media. I try to think of someone who might match it at the moment and really, I can’t think of anyone who’s not, say, Rush Limbaugh. After his latest “It’s all Hillary’s fault” article from today, an Unworthy writer Parker Malloy put together a collage of some of Cillizza’s articles from WaPo on Clinton. (The handle in the images reads CillizzaCNN, but that’s because he’s changed it to his current job; the old username from WaPo days was not archived separately.)

 

If you want to know what real, fearless journalism looks like, read the story of Elena

Elena_Milashina_IWOC_award_2013

Elena Milashina

Milashina from Novaya Gazeta.  Milashina is the reporter who told the world about the kidnapping and torture of gay men in Chechnya, reports that put her life in danger. Novaya Gazeta is the same newspaper Anna Politkovskaya worked for. Politkovskaya reported a lot on Putin’s actions in Chechnya. She was murdered.

Another example of courageous reporting, also from Russia, is in this Jim Rutenberg report.

It’s important American journalists pay attention to these stories. Because Trump wants to be like Putin. And if Trump becomes Putin, he’ll go after journalists first.

 


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Yeah I can make it

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