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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times

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.

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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.

 

Sometimes in the universe an unfathomable convergence of events unfolds that is quite literally inexplicable.  Yesterday was one of those unimaginable intersections no amount of planning could engineer.  July 21st was the ninetieth anniversary of the end of the “Scopes monkey trial” in Dayton, Tennessee.  By pure happenstance, it was also national Masturbation Day in Japan.  And for the proverbial hat trick, Donald Trump was the undisputed leader in polling for the Republican presidential nomination.Red Kangaroo

Go figure?  Was this a fluke?  Perhaps.  Happenstance?  Maybe.  A stroke of luck on the cosmic roulette wheel of randomness?  Quite possibly.  Or was it providential Kismet for a Trumpanzee wearing a kangaroo scrotum as a hairpiece to lead a national poll by engaging in a vulgar display of ego masturbation?

Why would I spend your precious time writing about the Trumpanzee?  Trump’s shenanigans not only hurt the Republican Party, but they hurt the country and all public policy in general.  This is particularly true when we need a robust conversation around real issues affecting real people about all too real problems.

Over the weekend “the Donald” allowed his mouth to again go joyriding without the benefit of a licensed brain.  He insulted John McCain and thousands of other veterans.  What is amazing is that I’m betting this won’t significantly hurt Trump’s numbers.  He is the poster buffoon for a disaffected slice of the Republican Party and while his insult would be cyanide to a normal candidate, it is merely catnip to the Trumpeters.

An explanation you are probably hearing on the teevee is much akin to something you probably heard from your mother, “It’s all well and good until somebody gets hurt and by then it’s too late to stop.”

TrumpIt was all well and good for Trump to call out President Obama about his birth certificate and to blow the “Kenyan dog whistle” until he was more red-faced than usual.  It was all well and good for him to indict an entire race as “rapists and drug dealers”.

Throughout these and other instances, nary a word was heard from any Republican during these episodic displays of bigotry.  Now that Trump has directed his bluster at Republicans, suddenly he is a dangerous public enemy and must be stopped.

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Bill Clinton, a Real President

Bill Clinton, a Real President

Several of our Widdershins commenters have pointed me to this article on Bill Clinton in the New York Times. I haven’t read the Times regularly since 1994, and now I remember why.

See if you can spot the ObamaNation talking points scattered throughout the propaganda piece. (Don’t worry, I’ll help you out.)

Bill Clinton loves to shop. On a March day in an elegant crafts store in Lima, the Peruvian capital, he hunted for presents for his wife and the women on his staff back home. He had given a speech at a university earlier and just came from a ceremony kicking off a program to help impoverished Peruvians. Now he was eyeing a necklace with a green stone amulet.

Standing all by himself, the former president of the United States moved his eyes methodically across shelves of wooden carvings, jewelry and sculptures as he searched for something distinctive to bring his wife. “She used to look forward to me coming home from wherever I’ve been,” he mused with a laugh. “Now I’m afraid I’ll be second fiddle to whatever world leader she’s just met.”

Talking Point: Bill’s a girl! He likes to shop! He’s totally emasculated by Hillary’s appointment as Secretary of State. Obama Roolz, Clinton Droolz!

The advent of a new Democratic administration, with his wife in the top cabinet slot, has opened a new chapter in the eventful life of the nation’s 42nd president. No longer in exile, yet not exactly in the inner circle, Clinton is trying to define his role and find his place in the Age of Obama. He agreed to some limits on his activities to satisfy the good-government advocates around Obama, but he is still traveling the globe, pushing his favorite philanthropic programs, collecting six-figure checks for speeches, dining with foreign leaders and in his own way speaking for America again. A couple of weeks ago, he agreed to serve as the United Nations special envoy to Haiti.

Talking Point: See? Obama has only been in office five months and already he’s got an Age. An Age, I tell you! He is the most historical-est, bestest Preznit EVAH! And did Bill have a clothing line and his own TeeVee station? I don’t THINK so! Obama Roolz, Bill Clinton Droolz!

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