The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times

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Good morning Widdershins,

Hurricane Harvey has been a massive catastrophe. As I was writing this on Tuesday evening, a levee in a county south of Houston has breached. “NOTICE: The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached!! GET OUT NOW!!!” Brazoria County said on Twitter on Tuesday morning. Many trillions of gallons of water have fallen. The entire Texas National Guard has been deployed. Meanwhile president Dump and his wife (wearing 4” heels) went to visit and Dump wondered at the size of the crowd assembled. “What a crowd, what a turnout,” he declared in Corpus Cristi. Meanwhile Glenn Thrush of the New York Times declared that Dump “used the dulcet, reassuring and uplifting language of prior presidents” when speaking of the disaster, in an article with the headline: “Harvey Gives Trump A Chance to Reclaim Power to Unify.” I assume that’s when Dump wasn’t wearing his $40 hats his company sells while making appearances in Texas. The New York Times has reached peak dumpster fire in their apologia and legitimization of Dump. Just a few days ago their reporters (you know the ones) were screaming on twitter that everything is Hillary’s fault. (I’m sure I’m wrong about it being peak. Bigger dumpster fires are yet to come.) The only person at the Times with any sense of decency is Paul Krugman who sent out a series of tweets pointing out the media screwed up. Sadly the political desk at the Times, headed by Dean Baquet, doesn’t listen to Krugman.

Speaking of Dean Baquet, read this remarkable article about Baquet, the media, Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, and Meredith McIver, who took responsibility for stealing Michelle Obama’s words. Is McIver an actual person? Who knows! Even though the Times, among others, wrote glowingly about her, nobody seems to have met this woman in at least 10 years. And Baquet thinks the reporter who asked to confirm that someone at the Times actually has met this woman is a “moron.”

…we really don’t know if Meredith McIver is real, alive, and well, or not — she may very well be. But I know the explanations from Team Trump for what happened at the time were completely ridiculous — one involved Sean Spicer and a My Little Pony box (please, Google it); I know that other people searching for Meredith have received anonymous threats; I know that a phone conversation I had with Meredith’s alleged ex-boyfriend, Stephen Palitz, led to far more questions than answers; I know that fake social media accounts for Meredith popped up immediatley after she accepted blame…and suddenly and inexplicably began communicating in Russian before disappearing again.

A few months ago, Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the NYTimes, fired the paper’s public editor. The public editor was originally hired after the paper’s disastrous coverage leading up to the Iraq War. Now Sulzberger declared the role was no longer necessary because the public would keep his reporters honest. On Tuesday evening Peter Daou, a former Clinton staffer who is very vocal in his defense of Clinton on twitter, announced he has now been blocked by 3 major Times reporters, including Thrush and Haberman. How does one keep reporters honest – when reporters block you?

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What’s on your minds Widdershins? This is an open thread.

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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

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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