The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Media Tripe’ Category

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.

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

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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

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.

 

Complicit

Posted on: April 12, 2017

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“The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.” – Carl Bernstein

“When I entered politics, I took the only downward turn you could take from journalism.” – Jim Hightower

When the Pulitzers announced that David Fahrenthold of Washington Post was receiving an award for National Reporting “For persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities,” no one was surprised. He was the highly favored candidate. Fahrenthold was one of the very few mainstream reporters who did not spend the 2016 election cycle sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. One of the very few. (Because of his reporting on Trump’s charity donations, Fahrenthold was also the one to receive the Access Hollywood tape when NBC spent days trying to decide how and when to release it.) Fahrenthold began his investigation into Trump’s supposed (and non-existent) charitable donations on something of a hunch. He remembered Trump once saying on TV that he would donate $6 million to veterans groups and Fahrenthold wondered if Trump followed through on the promise. So he started researching and found a Pulitzer.

fahrentholdda

Do you know who didn’t find a Pulitzer? Anybody who was sifting through Hillary Clinton’s stolen e-mails. The vast majority of the news media spent 18 months questioning Clinton on her use of a private e-mail server and then combing through tens Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 8.09.37 PMof thousands of stolen e-mails from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. All they found was a risotto recipe and that one time Clinton and Huma Abedin split a crème brûlée. There
was also gossip. But nothing that a sane person could interpret as in any way significant to a Presidential campaign. And yet, according to statistics, E-MAILS was the topic of more conversation on the news than anything else. Though we might think the NY Times was the most egregious in their anti-Hillary coverage, it was – in fact, the Washington Post that by far led Hillary-hate; second only to Fox News.

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When CNN’s Jake Tapper was told by Robby Mook that there are allegations about stolen DNC e-mails and Russian interference via WikiLeaks, Tapper’s incredulous eye-rolling response should shame him for the rest of his life. (It won’t.) Not because he didn’t just take Mook’s word for it in the moment. But because Tapper never called any of his sources, whether in Congress or in the Intelligence Community, and ask: “Hey, what is he talking about? Anything to this?” Because he might have gotten an affirmative response and landed the biggest story of his life. By that time the FBI was alredy investigating Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. And the Gang of 8 in Congress was about to be briefed. Harry Reid would fire off multiple public letters to FBI Director James Comey, imploring additional information to be disclosed on Trump and Russia. To no avail. Comey was silent and the media treated Reid like a deranged lunatic. Very few reporters looked into these stories. Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek was one, and was widely derided by the Left and the Right. When David Corn of Mother Jones published an article about the Steele dossier in October, he was laughed at too. When Franklin Foer of Slate published an article claiming that a Trump server was communicating with a Russian Alfa Bank he was laughed at as well. His allegations were infamously dismissed by the NY Times as “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. sees no clear link to Russia” in an article by Eric Lichtblau. It is a headline that should be tattooed on Lichtblau’s forehead. (Lichtblau recently left the Times to be CNN’s lead investigative reporter…) The NY Times was flat out wrong. And they conducted an interview with Harry Reid for the story, and then threw it out unused. The story remains up, un-retracted. We, of course, now know for a fact that the Times was wrong. The F.B.I. was investigating Trump and they saw links to Russia. And Alfa Bank’s communications with Trump servers is one of the lynchpins of the investigation.

So what happens when journalism is wrong? Journalists love themselves because they say their job is to hold the powerful accountable for wrong-doing. But what happens when journalists are wrong? What happens when entire media empires fail to see the biggest story of their lifetimes and chase a red herring, plunging a nation into a crises? Where, to paraphrase, does a person the media ruined go to get their good name back? How do we collectively crawl our way out of the hole the media threw us all in?

The answer, I fear is…nothing happens. They pay no price. When the NY Times and Judith Miller published Dick Cheney’s fake stories about Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, then watched Cheney go on television and cite the Times as proof that Hussein had WMDs, and the country went to a catastrophic war in Iraq…nothing happened to the NY Times. They threw Miller out, as if her reports were not approved by editors above her and as if lawyers and standards/practices didn’t sign off on her reports. The Times paid no price. And they will pay no price for Clinton’s e-mails either.

Society of Professional Journalists writes: “Report the story, don’t become part of it.”  I wonder how they feel about NY Times’ Maggie Haberman receiveing an adoring write-up from CNN, as the reporter Trump hates the mostest. NBC/MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell sees Maggie and raises her by being the most hated reporter of all the Presidents in Politico. And CNN’s Brian Stelter is the Young Messiah of Washington Post’s ode. Each of these articles was reposted on social media by the author, the subject, every other reporters both sides work with. It’s a veritable journalistic circle jerk of love and adoration. There are no consequences for their failures – to them. The only consequences belong to us. The only ones to pay will be the public, which now clings to the same reporters who brought us to hell to help dig us out. “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” Washington Post says. Except they broke all of the lights.

 

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Let’s face it, it’s not as if The Media has ever really been entirely a responsible being. Yellow Journalism has always existed and often some of it has been controlled by the rotten likes of William Randolph Hearst. But today’s public trust of The Media (“Lamestream!” and otherwise) is down to 32%. This is down from its highest rating of 72% in 1976. Frankly, I’m surprised the current number is as high as 32%. We have watched The Media descend into a bloody feeding frenzy of click-bait headlines (BREAKING: AP analysis: More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation) and ratings-grabbing reality TV style programming. Everything on CNN is BREAKING NEWS! All the time!!!!!! Even when all they’re showing is a bear that broke into some lady’s fridge and ate all her fish or a Trump rally without any editing or commentary. BREAKING NEWS! I suppose it’s possible that at any moment the bear will start singing “Hallelujah!” and Trump will say something reasonable, which would indeed be Breaking News!  Alas, the headlines often turn out to be false (no, half of those Clinton met did not give money to Clinton Foundation) and the coverage lacking in integrity (Trump never did say anything reasonable), and all we have is a broken news media to show for it.

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While HRC’s relationship with the media is known to be controversial, it’s Trump’s relationship with the media that they should have been worried about. They allowed themselves get locked up in pens at Trump’s rallies, listened to Trump taunt them from the stage, especially female reporters (NBC’s Katy Tur received multiple public shellackings and at one point needed Secret Service to escort her to her car from a rally because she no longer felt safe from Trump’s supporters,) got physically assaulted at Trump rallies and heard Trump’s constant threats that he will sue one media outlet or another for coverage he doesn’t like by expanding libel laws. But all they worried about were Hillary Clinton’s press conferences. This was big big news for weeks, yuuuge news.  Even though Clinton always travelled with the full press pool and spoke to them daily and gave individual interviews, they were really worried about press conferences.  It was Breaking News for weeks! Well, fast forward and Trump hasn’t held a press conference since July. And he dodges the press pool altogether as President-Elect (vomit) when he wants to because, well, why wouldn’t he! The Media is annoyed now. Maybe Trump doesn’t like them as much as they thought? SAD!

Trump’s two years worth of attacks on the press and their integrity should have given them a clue that perhaps Trump was not their friend. But they only seem to have gotten a clue when the President-Elect (barf) invited them to an off-the-record meeting at Isengard Trump Tower. The brightest stars of TV news came out. George Stephanopoulos and Wolf Blitzer were there, and there’s David Muir and Charlie Rose! And look, it’s Chuck Todd and Lester Holt! And head of CNN Jeff Zucker, the man who was head of NBC when Trump started firing people for ratings. They ran to this thing like it was an orgy.  And then it turned into an execution. “It was like a fucking firing squad!” was how one person inside characterized it.  (There’s shooting at both orgies and executions, so I can see how everybody got their signals mixed.)

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Does my suit match the gold decor?

Trump apparently said: “’We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong,’” This is all allegedly because the meeting was off-the-record. So The Media isn’t commenting. But you can bet your pattootie Trump’s people were the ones who leaked this to the NY Post within minutes. The headlines from Breitbart and Drudge were appropriately gleeful. “Baghdad Kellyanne” Conway, everybody’s favorite contrarian, argued things weren’t as intense as all that. “… no he did not explode in anger. He’s the president-elect. He won … winning solves a lot of problems. Winning makes a lot of statements.” (Yes, yes it does Baghdad Kellyanne. Lots of statements have been made, though I wonder what Baghdad Kellyanne thinks the statements are when HRC is winning the popular vote by 2,000,000 and counting. What statement does that make Baghdad Kellyanne? Kellyanne? Bueller?)

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Just 3 best buds hanging out, nothing to see here, ok bye!

I wonder what the hallowed names of TV news like Rose, Blitzer and Holt think when the President-Elect (vomit) of the United States calls them liars to their face when they’ve tried to use every word except “liar” when covering Drumpf’s lies.When Trump tells Zucker in person “I hate your network. Everyone at CNN is a liar, and you should be ashamed.” What does Zucker, who employed journalist-assaulting Corey Lewandowski as a commentator while Lewandowski remained on Trump’s payroll, what does Zucker think? (He doesn’t think anything of it, actually). Did Zucker know Lewandowski and Kellyanne Conway were still working together throughout the campaign? Conway tweeted a photo of herself, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks and Lewandowski, 4 days before the election with the tag: “Team Work.” Hmm…. Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey. What does Jeffrey think? I think we have two options. Either Zucker is an idiot or he knows exactly what is happening and is ok with it because CNN is making big boatloads of money off their Trump coverage. About a billion dollars worth. CBS head honcho Les Moonves said: “”It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…The money’s rolling in and this is fun.”  I hope everybody is having as much fun as Zucker and Moonves!

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Donny Drumpf and CNN’s Jeff Zucker, just a coupla buds LOLing

So with our illustrious TV news anchors and executives executed neutered by the President-Elect (vomit) – what do we have left? I’d say we can expect nothing from the boob tube, it has truly been boobified beyond repair, Lamestream to infinity. I’m afraid print journalism is our only hope. The NY Times, so flawed in so many ways (it’s hard to like a newspaper that continued to employ Rita Skeeter Maureen Dowd… though they also still employ Paul Krugman.) Anyway, the Times also met with Drumpf, but they insisted that the meeting be on-the-record. Drumpf, still fresh off the TV Media massacre of 2016, attacked the “failing NY Times” on Twitter, cancelled the meeting, then re-scheduled it again. All in a matter of hours. Classic Trump! (Does anyone else think he’ll order the launch of a nuke, then change his mind? Will he change it quickly enough to cancel the nuke? Can a nuke be cancelled after it’s been launched? Stay tuned, it will be covered on Breaking News!) Then when Drumpf finally met with the failing NY Times, he said: “I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.” He then called them “a jewel.” (Charles Blow was having none of it.  He refused to attend the meeting with Drumpf and then wrote in an op-ed: “You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.”  Anybody care to guess what Rita Skeeter Maureen Dowd thinks?) I wonder if the Times meeting being recorded had anything to do with Drumpf’s fawning tone vs. the off-the-record TV luminaries meeting where he told them all to just go ahead and die? All I know is Drumpf is already up to #7 of this handy “Despots and the Media” Guide. He’s already making his own videos, bypassing the media altogether. Kind of like those videos Osama bin Laden used to make. In the meantime I can’t wait for Trump’s next Tweet about the failing NY Times. It will be tremendous.

media

# 1 – 7:  Done

Christiane Amanpour, accepting the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award at the Committee To Protect Journalists ceremony, delivered a blistering speech directed at fellow journalists. She had a lot of great things to say about The Media, its failures in the 2016 election, and what it must do to redeem itself.

So I feel that right now we face an existential crisis. A real threat to the very relevance and usefulness of our profession. Now, more than ever, I genuinely believe that we need to recommit to real reporting across a real nation and a real world in which journalism and democracy are in mortal peril….

Never equate victim and aggressor. Never create a false moral or factual equivalence. Because then, if you do, particularly in situations like that, you are party and accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes and consequences.

So I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth. We have to be prepared to fight, especially hard, right now, for the truth, because this is a world where the Oxford English dictionary just last week announced its word for 2016, and that is, ‘post-truth’.

What’s on your mind Widdershins?  Do you love The Media as much as it loves you?  This is an open thread.

Please forgive me for slapping you across the computer screen with that title without first offering a courteous good morning.  So, good morning Widdershins and a happy Friday to you.hillary-on-the-plane

For quite some time there has been a cavalier attitude in the media of, “The press is treating Hillary differently.”  Such an acknowledgement is followed by examples of their sins, a limp mea culpa, a yawn, and the enduring repartee first learned in the schoolyard of, “Yeah, so what?”

That bothered me something fierce since just calling it out again and again does nothing to get to the “why” of it.  To write these mea culpa articles saying that Hillary’s relationship with the media is irretrievably broken is to stand by and watch the offensive behavior, yawn, and in essence say, “Yeah, that’s bad.”

It’s not like this treatment started with this campaign.  It has been going on since the 1970s.  Here’s one of the very first interviews Hillary ever granted.

She was a month into her spell as first lady of Arkansas and was being interviewed on local television.

“You don’t really fit the image we have created for the governor’s wife in Arkansas,” says her inquisitor, a man with a brutal hair parting and disconcerting tie.

“You’re not a native. You’ve been educated in liberal eastern universities. You’re less than 40. You don’t have any children. You don’t use your husband’s name. You practice law. Does it concern you that maybe other people feel that you don’t fit the image that we’ve created for the governor’s wife in Arkansas?”

Hillary answered, “I think that each person should be assessed and judged on that person’s own merits. I’m not 40 but that hopefully will be cured by age, eventually I will be,” she quipped.

Just because this behavior has been going on for nearly 40 years doesn’t answer the “why” either.  If anything the behavior has gotten worse.  Just look at these two charts cataloging campaign coverage:

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This explanation is advanced:

There are two possible explanations for the bias against Hillary Clinton in the media. The first is that the media is punishing her for the scandals that occurred during her husband’s presidency, but the most likely explanations are related to gender bias. Individuals who hold executive positions in media companies are overwhelmingly white and male.

These are not the only theories being advanced.  There is the theory based in basic jealousy that goes something like this, “The Clintons have had their turn, now it’s someone else’s turn,” —  another ethical tenet right out of the elementary schoolyard.

Here are three more theories, one picking up on the sexism:

Sexism is one: Clinton is still struggling to fight the perception that she is not “presidential,” or that she lacks charisma, something that is rooted in the many ways in which being a female candidate makes her, for some people, uncomfortable and confusing to deal with.

Donald Trump’s personality is another: With a rival who is so flippant and resistant to any accountability, Clinton remains as the only candidate who can legitimately interact with the press. The media is increasingly numb to Trump’s outrageous, incendiary, and dangerous statements, due to the frequency and regularity with which he recites them.

But there may be another reason Clinton is held to a higher standard: the press essentially thinks she will win. Therefore, they pay more attention to her and take her more seriously than they do Trump.

hillary-at-u-nThese last two are quite entertaining.  Trump gets a pass because he’s crazy and Hillary gets lambasted sixteen ways from Sunday because she is sane; therefore, she’s going to win so she should be happy with the maltreatment.

I’ve read other reasons, like the fact that $120 million has been spent investigating her so the American public is entitled to know every last detail of her life.  There’s the “what do you expect” theory that so many investigations have left too many threads upon which to pull so you naturally get possible corruption stories.  Then there’s the “they can’t be innocent” theory since the Clintons have been in politics for forty years.

Let’s not forget the ever popular conservative dogma that Hillary is being held accountable for Bill’s sexual transgressions, i.e. blame the wife for the husband’s philandering.  If that were the case, Mrs. Roger Ailes would never be seen outside a confessional.

There are more theories, there are even rules about the brutal differences in covering Hillary, but nothing I have read encapsulates the theories better than a study conducted by Harvard investigating the stereotypical-based social costs that women face as political candidates.  These are the most relevant findings:

  • When participants saw male politicians as power-seeking, they also saw them as having greater agency (i.e., being more assertive, stronger, and tougher) and greater competence, while this was not true for their perceptions of power-seeking female politicians.
  • When participants saw female politicians as power-seeking, they also saw them as having less communality (i.e., being unsupportive and uncaring), while this was not true for their perceptions of power-seeking male politicians.
  • When female politicians were described as power-seeking, participants experienced feelings of moral outrage (i.e., contempt, anger, and/or disgust) towards them.
  • Participant gender had no impact on any of the study outcomes – that is, women were just as likely as men to have negative reactions to power-seeking female politicians.

These last two findings are “slap your mama” eye-popping and jaw-dropping.  Women seeking office are seen with moral outrage, feelings of contempt, anger, and disgust.  The last finding is Madeline Albright saying, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help each other.”  Women are just as likely as men to have negative reactions to female politicians.  Someone please read this to Mrs. Greenspan, Susan Sarandon, and Cruella van den Huevel.

Let that sink in for a moment.  No matter whether the reporter is a man or woman, Hillary is behind the 8-ball, at least at some level, before she utters the first word or advances the first policy.hillary-flag-2

So on top of the garden variety sexism, Hillary is seen as contemptibly disgusting by virtue of merely being a female politician.  Doesn’t matter if she is married to Bill or Homer Simpson.  Doesn’t matter if she is a Democrat, Republican, or Druid.  Doesn’t matter if she is running against a trained gibbon or a less trained Trumpanzee.  It is all the same because she is a woman.

Why?  The vilifying vagina is not treated the same as the palliative penis or so says this Harvard study.  This election is our chance to start changing that tired, sorry rule.

What’s on your mind today?


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Our 2016 Ticket!

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Busted: Glass ceiling

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She’s thinking “Less than 2 weeks I have to keep seeing that face”

Yeah I can make it

The team we’re on

Women’s March on Washington!

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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

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