The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Journalism

Hello Widdershins!

Ever since You Know Who became POTUS all of our lives have been an endless whirlwind of news (usually bad) and events. We all hoped You Know Who leaving office would finally let us catch up on some sleep, but alas. The devastation left in is wake is ongoing. Besides the stolen top secret documents he was hiding in his basement (Republican say it’s ok, he is a former President and it’s perfectly safe… but do you remember where Hillary’s secure email server was??? That’s right, in a basement of a former President), anyway, Trump is just yelling non-stop against every government agency he remembers. FBI, IRS, I’m not sure he even knows the difference. At least we are seeing some progress from Merrick Garland. Some people point out that as a prosecutor Garland had a 100% conviction rate. Still, fingers crossed the DOJ not only continues its investigation, but they do it quickly because we have no idea what the midterms will bring, and certainly don’t know what 2024 will bring.

CNN has “fired” its Reliable Sources anchor Brian Stelter. They are cancelling the show. On one hand, Stelter was a both-side hack who allowed Republicans on the show to spew lies while asking about Hillary’s emails. On the other hand, the new chief of CNN basically thinks Stelter is too liberal for CNN. We should be worried about what this means not for Stelter, but for us because I think we will see CNN take a very noticeable right turn in the near future.

Russian fascist/neo-Nazi Alexander Dugin

And on the front of Russia’s war on Ukraine – an interesting development overnight. Alexander Dugin is a Russian professor who is a dedicated fascist and white supremacist/nationalist. For years he has been calling for the extermination of Ukrainians (and many others) in the name of Holy Mother Russia. He is something of a spiritual guide to Vladimir Putin. Though officially Dugin is not welcome in polite Russian society, like David Duke and Steve Bannon, Dugin enjoys the notoriety, inspires numerous psychopaths, and enjoys a winking relationship with the Kremlin. Well, last night it seems someone tried to assassinate him. His car was blown up, although at the time it was driven by his daughter Darya. Now, before one feels sorry for Darya, she is neo-Nazi/fascist nationalist as much as her father is. Though not as famous as her dad, she was a loyal follower of his teachings, holds rallies and delivers lectures to spread the Dugin gospel. Who tried to kill Dugin and killed Darya remains to be seen. It could literally have been done by anyone, including Ukraine and Russia. But Ukraine makes no sense here. If they wanted to take out a Russian propagandist deep in the heart of Russia and in a place where people like Putin have a home, Dugin wouldn’t be the first choice. Russian TV people like RT head Margarita Simonyan would have been my first choice. Any of the hosts on Russian TV would be a close second. It’s possible the bombing was carried out by the Kremlin/Putin. Frankly, it could have been carried out by Dugin himself. There was a lecture by Dugin in which he discussed how people having daughters was destroying Russia, and that it was time to start sacrificing some of them. It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out.

This is an open thread.

gado.jpgSaturday Night Massacre is really a 2016-2020 Massacre in Trump years. It’s better for the ratings. The latest victim of our slow motion descent into chaos is National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster. He was one of Trump’s beloved Generals. His predecessor in the post was Michael Flynn. Flynn is trying not to get locked up and McMaster is probably looking to get his 4 stars and retire ASAP. Stories are that Trump thought McMaster was too serious and talked too much. That must have been especially galling, to talk more than Trump. What is Trump supposed to do when a National Security Advisor talks too much? Listen? LOL. McMaster’s replacement – who needs no confirmation from the Senate – is John Bolton. Dubya first put Bolton in power as a U.N. ambassador, even though Bolton detests the U.N. So never forget that no matter how bad Trump is, Dubya was awful, awful, awful. And it’s only fitting that Bolton get a fancy new job the week we celebrate the anniversary of the Iraq War! It’s a nice present to one of the architects of that catastrophe.

Speaking of great ratings being delivered by Trump: Jeff Zucker, head of CNN, had some harsh things to say about Fox News.

“What has happened to that network in the last 18 months, especially the last year, is that it has just turned itself into state-run TV,” Zucker said. “TASS has nothing on them,” he said in reference to the Russian news agency.

[…]

Zucker said that Fox has “a handful of good journalists but they get lost in the propaganda machine.”

“The idea that they are a news channel is really not accurate at all,” he said.

This is all hilarious because Jeff Zucker made a choice during the election: he chose to elevate and normalize Trump and everything Trump stands for. Hours of uninterrupted and unchallenged speeches by Trump aired live on CNN for months. And everybody missed the Russian story and, now we learn, Cambridge Analytica story; because of “her mails.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that Zucker is one big reason we have Trump. But that kind of self-awareness does not exist in the media. To date not a single reporter* has stepped forward and said: “Maybe her emails were less important than Trump/Russia.” Not only has no reporter done that much self-reflection, many have dug in and insist that they did nothing wrong. Some pick fights on twitter with anyone who even suggests that they might have spent too much time on unworthy subjects. Ken Vogel of the NY Times, who wrote extensively about the Clinton Foundation, and has tweeted extensively practically foaming at the mouth with rage that the Foundation is a sinister money laundering scheme, tweeted that Cambridge Analytica story is overblown. That the company is harmless. That’s the state of modern journalism.

*The only reporters who have made the point that the media covered the wrong story were already saying it in 2016. People like Soledad O’Brien, Josh Marshal, Charles Pierce and David Corn. I would give 1/2 point to Matthew Yglesias, but only 1/2 point because his Clinton Derangement Syndrome is otherwise rabid.

A final word about Facebook: the story of Cambridge Analytica harvesting profiles and data of 50,000,000 Facebook users is only beginning to hit the front pages. For most of us it’s not a new story. The name of that company has been discussed for a a couple of years and Hillary Clinton talked about it publicly as far back as Spring of last year. At the time she was trashed by every pundit and reporter for refusing to take enough (all) blame for her loss and instead blaming everyone else. Once again, however, we see that Clinton was ahead of everyone else. What she was saying wasn’t so much blame-shifting as warning. Warning that there are layers to the treachery that are still to be uncovered and explored. But the very smart people in the media let their CDS get in the way. That will never change, of course. If Hillary had won the electoral college in addition to theRelated image popular vote she would have been buried under countless Republican investigations (no doubt she would already have been impeached.) Jason Chaffetz would still be in Congress and Trey Gowdy wouldn’t be resigning either. HRC’s administration would have been testifying on something every day of the week and the media would still be blasting her emails on the front page, in addition to some new scandal Alex Jones made up. She would also have been crushed by Democrats, who are incapable of standing by their own. (Trump really did manage to build a wall: a wall of Republicans protecting his every sin.) The Left would have been screaming that Hillary hasn’t given them a unicorn yet and the Right would have been screaming that she is taking away their rocket launchers. Trump would be starting his own media empire accusing HRC of stealing his election and whipping up right-wing paranoia of astronomical proportions. (Ok, the last part happened anyway.) HRC’s life is far more peaceful not being in the White House. Except I know that Hillary Clinton wishes she was saving us from the Apocalypse, even if it burned her first.

This is an open thread.

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Good morning Widdershins.

This week has been rough. On Tuesday and Wednesday Republicans passed the Money Redistribution Act. Not a single Democrat voted for this travesty that will gut whatever is left of the American middle-class. But Republican centrists, those honorable people likeSusan-collins-e1465230869154.jpg Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – heroines of the ACA repeal fiasco – showed once again that when it really comes down to it, they are as dishonorable as every other Republican. Both sold out the American public for a handful of dollars; actually, when I say a handful I mean a huge handful for themselves and their corporate overlords. Susan Collins, when told that McConnell would not honor his promise to her about the ACA mandate, lashed out at the media:

“I believe that the coverage has been unbelievably sexist, and I cannot believe that the press would have treated another senator with 20 years of experience as they have treated me,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “They’ve ignored everything that I’ve gotten and written story after story about how I’m duped. How am I duped when all your amendments get accepted?”

A certain female former Senator, Secretary of State and almost President might laugh at Collins’ self-pity. The GOP tax bill for all intents and purposes repeals ACA. Collins voted to repeal it after claiming she wouldn’t. Because McConnell promised her something he has no intention of delivering. If she truly thought he would – she may not look it, but Susan Collins was born yesterday.

In other news, the New York Times continued to demonstrate why they are – as I like to say – the rotting corpse of a once great news organization. Just a few short weeks ago they suspended their star White House reporter Glenn Thrush after stories came out that multiple women were accusing him of harassment and assault. On Wednesday Dean Baquet announced that Thrush would be back at the paper, just not covering the White House.

“While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively, we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired,” Baquet said in a statement. He said Thrush will receive “training designed to improve his workplace conduct,” and that Thrush is undergoing counseling and substance abuse rehabilitation on his own.

This is galling, especially when you consider that the Times previously wrote op-eds calling on Al Franken to resign. (Which he did and just announced that he will be gone atmaxresdefault.jpg the end of the year.) Thrush, one of the star male reporters who helped craft the narrative in 2016 that Hillary Clinton was unlikable and not trustworthy, was proven to be a misogynist. Perhaps considering the Times’ coverage, especially Baquet’s political coverage, one should not be surprised. But appalled and disgusted, yes. Or as Brianna Wu tweeted:

Dear . The issue with Glenn Thrush isn’t that he behaved “offensively.” It’s that he got drunk, sexually assaulted women he worked with, and then DESTROYED THEIR PROFESSIONAL REPUTATIONS with colleagues to cover his ass. How can you keep that in your newsroom?!

Perhaps more than any other paper, the New York Times has been responsible for normalization of Trump and White Supremacy, and the destruction of Hillary Clinton. If anyone still has a subscription to it, I urge them to cancel it. (Also worth noting Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, announced his retirement from the paper effective December 14th. His place as the head of the paper was taken his son, A.G. Sulzberger. Because, well, of course.)

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On Sunday, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo posted an article about some latest poll Democrats must be worried about, adding in his own words: “Democrats need to be for something and about something to make gains with voters.” Someone left a comment that “Dems were about something. The media were about her e-mails.” Cuomo responded to this person: “Main slogan was ‘I’m With Her’ – doesn’t exactly top the list of making it about the voter.”

As anyone who followed the Clinton campaign knows, Clinton’s actual slogan was Slogans.png“Stronger Together.” It was right there on the campaign bus, on the backdrop behind Clinton at rallies, and on the cover of her book of proposed policies. “I’m With Her” was a twitter hashtag started by her supporters, which the campaign sometimes also used. If Cuomo knew this and forgot, or if he literally didn’t know the actual slogan of the candidate whose campaign he covered on CNN for over a year, we’ll never know. His response to people who criticized him for a factually incorrect statement was a link to Chuck Schumer’s Hillary bashing article in WaPo with the words: “’You guys’ like Schumer?” He then went on to say that everyone really missed the point. Yes, everybody missed the point.

The WaPo article Cuomo linked to with Schumer had nothing to do with Clinton’s slogan. It was the classic journalistic whataboutism. Instead of admitting he made such a public mistake, Cuomo deflected, and with a straw-man argument. The intellectual dishonesty would have been breathtaking if it wasn’t so common among journalists.

The same day some in the media celebrated the one year anniversary that Jeff -Jeff MasonMasonbecame president of the White House Correspondents ‘Association. Mason launched his tenure with an op-ed in USA Today titled “Trump, Clinton both threaten free press: The White House Correspondents’ Association is alarmed by the treatment of the press in the 2016 presidential campaign.” Let us remember Trump’s attacks on the free press…so so many. And that at the White House has held almost a month’s worth of off-camera White House briefings. But yes, tell us more about how Clinton and Trump both threaten the free press…

This is all coming on the heels of the preposterous New York Times interview with Donald Trump by Maggie Haberman, Peter Baker and Michael S. Schmidt. (A few days later Baker wrote the NY Times article saying Trump’s treatment of Bob Mueller is exactly like Bill Clinton’s treatment of Ken Starr…) The insane discussion with Trump was pure Trump: confused and malicious. The response of the Times reporters was pure NY Times: confused and juvenile. The reporters (how many NY Times reporters does it take to screw in a light bulb?) all talked over one another, giggled, and let Trump ramble. Nobody corrected him or steered him anywhere. There is a school of thought in journalism that this is how journalists should behave. After countless readers lambasted the trio for not fact-checking Trump’s insanities in real time and to his face, some reporters came to their defense. Nick Riccardi, of the Associated Press, tweeted: “You don’t interview people to ‘call bullshit.’ You don’t interview people to put them in their place or DESTROY them a la John Oliver.”

This is, frankly, preposterous. Riccardi essentially believes reporters are stenographers. To question the subject of their interview with facts is, apparently, bad journalism. One should simply write down what the subject says and occasionally whimper: “And then what happened?” This approach to journalism is what is wrong with American journalism. It allows people to get on TV and blather on whatever they wish. It seems many in the profession do not believe it is their job to correct the facts. I’m reminded of this interview with Jon Snow (no, not Game of Thrones guy) with Carter Page on BBC. Snow’s behavior would horrify American journalists like Riccardi and Haberman (Haberman is only good with twitter snark; that’s easier than putting facts in someone’s face.) Snow has his facts down pat and he doesn’t let Page get away with anything. The results are breathtaking. Because if Snow “destroys” Page, he does so with facts. The idea that facts don’t belong in an interview is beyond preposterous.Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 9.56.34 PM 1.png

Dan Froomkin posted a lot of fascinating highlights from the Times interview that demonstrated the complete and utter failure of the 3 reporters. (It is to Froomkin’s comments that Riccardi was responding.) You can see them in his thread here:

 

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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