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Hello Widdershins!

Another week, more shenanigans from Sinenchin. AZ Senator who caucuses with Democrats went to fundraise in Europe while steadfastly insisting the filibuster is saving democracy and Manchin finally drew one red line on what he is willing to support: transitioning from coal to sustainable energy. We all thought Manchin objected to the cost of Biden’s BBB bill, but that ain’t it. It’s the pretty cheap part of the bill that transitions his state from coal. Manchin can’t have that. Coal must flow!!!! Even though it is a tiny part of the state’s industry (Arby’s employs more people than the coal industry). But Manchin looooooves coal. So.

Also Bernie Sanders released a blistering statement criticizing how the media is obsessed with the price tag of the bill, while the public has no idea what’s in the bill. Bernie is right (someone check hell, it must be freezing.) The press only talks about the $3.5 trillion price tag and the negotiations. They barely mention what’s actually in the bill. Naturally this sent the press (people like Magga Haberman!) into a tail spin of “This isn’t our fault, it’s your fault! It’s never our fault!” social media posts. Fact check: It is the media’s fault. 3.5 trillion % the media’s fault. The same media still insists their coverage of 2016 election was perfect. But I keep going back to Harvard’s Shorenstein Media Center’s study that ABC, NBC & CBS Nightly News shows – the most watched news programs in the country – spent 100 mins of 2016 discussing Hillary’s email. 30 mins discussing all political issues combined. And 0 of those minutes were on climate change. And yet, the media continues to insist their coverage is above criticism. Trump was right about one thing, if for the wrong reasons: media is the enemy of the people.

Happy Weekend Widdershins!

This past week, after screaming at Biden for not holding a press conference since becoming President (even though he speaks to the press every day and held a town hall), Biden finally held a press conference. And it was a disaster. For the press. They asked multiple questions if he intends to run for President in 2024. They asked if Kamala Harris would be on the ticket with him again. (It’s 2 months into his Presidency, btw…) But they did not ask a single question about Covid. Nothing about gun violence. Nothing about anti-Asian violence. Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan (who used to be NY Times’ public editor, a position NYT eliminated) wrote before the press conference that it was going to be a big test for the White House press corps. After the press conference Sullivan tweeted: “Welp.” And that, I think, summarizes our press these days.

What’s on your minds this weekend?? This is an open thread!

For our musical entertainment this is Madonna and Massive Attack’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.”

Happy Hump Day Widdershins!

We are approaching middle of March – and it’s hard to believe the insurrection was this year. So were Jewish Space Lasers. It’s remarkable how time can both fly and drag at the same time. Is there a word for that phenomenon?

Meanwhile the biggest story around is Major Biden. The poor rescue German Shepherd was in the news all day Tuesday. It was the lead story everywhere, journalists kept tweeting, several questions were asked of WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki who remarked at one point “Another dog question.” Although to be fair to the White House press corps, they also asked when the Bidens would be getting a cat. That’s hard-hitting journalism, it’s why we should be grateful to have the first amendment! At the end of the day the vicious mauling perpetrated by Major was a nip that did not break skin and the agent involved carried on with their duties without pause. But a Washington Post reporter, Annie Linskey, did ask Jen Psaki if Major would be euthanized. The answer was “Are you insane?” No that’s not what Jen Psaki said, but it’s what I would have said if I was WH Press Secretary.

The press is also really mad that Biden has not yet held a press conference since becoming POTUS. Remember they were obsessed with Hillary not having press conferences either. The fact is that Biden (as did Hillary) speaks to the press all the time and has given multiple sit-down interviews, plus a town hall on CNN. But the press doesn’t think the public asks important questions, like “Will Major be euthanized?” The press has their finger on the pulse of America and America must know about euthanizing Major. Also note that CNN and MSNBC have stopped carrying WH Press Briefings live. (Not enough lying by the Press Secretary, I guess. They carried every He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s WH briefing live.)

Everyone widely agrees that the HBO series “Veep” was a remarkable accurate representation of an administration and DC. And I always remember that one of its least likable and most scummy characters was a reporter.

This is an open thread.

My oh my. Looks like the Murdochs are gettin’ sued! And they’re preparing for a big fight. Apparently ousting Trish Regan for saying exactly what everyone else on the network said, miraculously didn’t cause people to think Fox News didn’t mislead and bamboozle the public into behaving dangerously. And although the first lawsuit didn’t seem to worry those malignant assholes, they do appear to be circling the wagons, gathering the troops, going to the mattresses, or whatever other hoary cliche you prefer.

This time, however, might be very different from the Rich case. During a Sunday appearance on MSNBC, my colleague Gabriel Sherman said Fox insiders had expressed “real concern…that their early downplaying of the coronavirus actually exposes Fox News to potential legal action by viewers who maybe were misled and actually have died from this.” He went on to say that while the Murdochs are “privately taking coronavirus seriously”—Rupert Murdoch quietly cancelled his 89th birthday party on March 11—top hosts like Regan and Sean Hannity were actively “telling viewers that it’s a hoax…If it actually winds up being proved that people died because of it, this is a new terrain in terms of Fox being possibly held liable for their actions.”

[snip]

A [similar] poll from YouGov and The Economist conducted in mid-March showed that, compared to consumers of other types of news media, Fox News viewers are the least likely to express concern about coronavirus. That poll was cited in a disapprobation letter cowritten by Todd Gitlin, a Columbia Journalism School professor, addressed to Murdoch and his son, Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch. The letter has now been cosigned by over 100 professors, including from top journalism programs at Northwestern, UC Berkeley, and Columbia. “The misinformation that reaches the Fox News audience is a danger to public health. Indeed, it is not an overstatement to say that your misreporting endangers your own viewers—and not only them, for in a pandemic, individual behavior affects significant numbers of other people as well,” states the letter, enumerating misleading coverage.

This is a very interesting development, isn’t it? It’s been a very long time since there has been any accountability for those hatemongering sh*tbirds. But when you’re actually misleading people into dying, and killing other people too – now that could be a bit hard to defend in court.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Tawk amongst yerselves!

 

You know the old Chinese proverb: “What a year this week has been!” Actually, I don’t think it’s a Chinese proverb, but whoever coined that term should be famous. Kanye West has gone full MAGA (again. It should be noted he went MAGA before the election, then partially defrosted, then visited Dump in the Inferno Tower right after the election.)  Dump had a bizarre meltdown on Fox and Friends show, yelling things that Michael Avenatti probably found very useful. Even the drones who host that show were staring at the camera with stunned expressions.

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They were stunned

But nothing could compare to the bizarre media meltdown caused by Amy Chozick’s new book, “Chasing Hillary.” Chozick has been following Clinton for two campaigns, 2008 and 2016. From what observers say about their relationship – and indeed that’s how it comes across in her book – Chozick has a pathological need to be loved by Hillary. Hillary seems puzzled by this desperate creature with mommy issues. When Hillary does not deliver the love Chozick seeks – Amy lashes out. Chozick spent months pouring over stolen WikiLeaks emails. She poured over “Bannon Cash” too, the first person at the Times to get her hands on that Nazi-funded propaganda. And Chozick wrote, article after article, about Hillary, Clinton Foundation, Uranium, you name it. That is how Amy Chozick made her career; she is in a long and proud history of media people who have made their careers exploiting – chasing – the Clintons.

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Hillary Clinton with Amy Chozick in 2008

There is one Clinton, however, Amy isn’t going to be able to catch: Chelsea. Perhaps freed by the knowledge that her mom is no longer running for officer, Chelsea has been a bit freer the before to speak up. It starts with what Chozick wrote about Chelsea in her book, including the very first sentence which describes how Chelsea popped open a bottle of champagne on election night. That didn’t happen and Chelsea decided to tell Chozick so. It seems that, in fact, Chelsea was alone with her husband pumping breast milk when Chozick claims she was popping open champagne. Chelsea tweeted at Chozick, pointing out the mistake and expressing disappointment that Chozick never reached out to her to fact-check. That seems to be standard practice: either the author of the book or the hired fact-checker should check facts, which includes reaching out to the people being discussed. Chelsea claimed that Chozick never did this. Though Chozick did not respond to Chelsea’s message, in the NY Times excerpt of the book they updated the text to say that sources told Chozick that Chelsea was popping open a bottle of champagne. Chelsea repeated that her sources are wrong and reiterated that she was never contacted by anyone to confirm such details. Chelsea wrote all this in the most polite way possible: hello, please, thank you and have a nice day! Chozick remained silent. But she didn’t need to say anything. Her colleagues rode into action. Katy Tur jumped in:

The man fact checking @amychozick’s book is the same one who fact checked mine. The same one who is so nit picky that he called Delta to confirm flight times. I would bet on Chozick here, not @ChelseaClinton.

It’s unclear why Tur placed her bet on Chozick and all but call Chelsea a liar. Tur wouldn’t be familiar with Chozick’s actions and the fact that the fact-checker was so meticulous (she thinks) with her book doesn’t mean he was that meticulous with someone else’s. Chelsea wasn’t having it and she answered Tur. “Hi Katy! Neither Amy nor her fact checker reached out to me or my office at any point, about anything. I care about facts as I believe you do too.” Tur backed off: “Fair point. I can only vouch for my own experience.” Except, of course, she didn’t – she bet on Chozick.

Heer Jeet, writer at The New Republic, called the situation Chelsea’s “quarrel” with Amy and pointed out these “feuds get handed down from one generation to the next. Clintons & Times have been fighting since early 1990s.” Chelsea responded: “Hi Jeet! I don’t think asking someone in a work purporting to be nonfiction and fact checked, to not tell fictions and to factcheck is a ‘quarrel.’ How would you correct someone who told falsehoods about you? Thanks for any & all advice!” Jeet, like Tur, backed off. “I think you are absolutely justified to ask for factual corrections…”

It wasn’t just the champagne. Chozick also claims that Chelsea got her straightened with keratin. Chelsea said she’s never used keratin and this was another mistake in the book she’d like fixed. A Yahoo White House correspondent, Hunter Walker, blasted Clinton supporters for getting out of control, blasted Chelsea for “impugning” Amy Chozick, that it was really a matter of she said/she said, that why would people believe Chelsea over Chozick and he capped his twitter storm with:

And, as we point out Trump’s assaults on the fourth estate, it must be said that, albeit to a lesser degree, the Clintons have also tried to undermine the press when it suited them. Sad!

There’s a lot to unpack there. Surely Chelsea knows her hair routine better than Chozick. And Chozick – who has still not engaged with Chelsea in conversation – has also not denied not contacting Chelsea to factcheck. Chelsea addressed Hunter:

Hi again Hunter! Amy isn’t disputing that neither she nor her fact checker ever contacted me or my office. I think facts are important and hope you do too.

Hunter, like Heer and Tur before him, changed his tone. “I think it would be a pretty bad breach of standard practice if she made no attempt to reach out to you.” Yah, no shit Sherlock. That has been the point the whole time. And yet, how they love to attack the Clintons. It’s reflexive, it’s pathological, it’s a disease. There’s also a great deal of reporters forming a wall around one of their own, like cops protect dirty cops. Heer, Tur, Walker – and there were many others (CNN’s Brian Stelter was “Liking” tweets that blasted Chelsea) – have no facts and no horse in this race. And yet, they can’t help but attack a Clinton. Chozick appeared with Andrea Mitchell who called Chelsea a troll. Chozick then went on NPR and Brian Lehrer laughed at the controversy. Chozick then went on to read an excerpt from the book: the hair excerpt. Chozick then said she knows Chelsea’s hair dresser very well, which suggests she’s digging in and the hair-dresser is her source.

But Chelsea isn’t surrendering. It’s time the Clintons stopped giving a fuck and hopefully Chelsea’s insistence that her questions be answered is a sign of that. When a minor reporter attacked Chelsea and then blocked her, Chelsea wrote that she has not blocked anyone on Twitter. Christine Teigen respond: “Wait YOU HAVE NO ONE BLOCKED??? HOW ON EARTH? I have over….10,000 I’d say. Maybe 50,000. Lol.” Chelsea wrote the following response – it’s heartbreaking:

As a kid, I paid attention to what Rush Limbaugh said (he called me a dog when I was 12) & read tabloid headlines in line at the grocery store (apparently I threw myself off a roof? also at 12). I’ve always preferred knowing what’s being said, even with my alien sibling (at 13)

Teigen kindly responded: “[…] there are no words for how amazing you are and how much I (and so many others) love and respect you!!”

All this madness reminded me of a tweet from a year ago I have not been able to forget. It has festered:

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Politico writer Annie Karni didn’t even want Chelsea to smile on the cover of a magazine. That’s how deranged these people are. And if you follow the responses Chelsea received for her answer – well, never read the comments.

 


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