Calling them out

The corporate press in America preens about being an agent of accountability for public officials.  In recent years, though, many Americans have come to wonder “who watches the watchers?”

Thanks to the internet, the answer can be: everybody.  Knowing this, President Trump executed a genius communication move last night by announcing his “1st Annual Fake News Awards.”  While some may have laughed at the claim these were “highly anticipated,” events bore the description out as the hosting GOP website crashed for approximately two hours after the tweet (from all the incoming traffic), and on Twitter the hashtag #FakeNewsAwards trended globally (it still is as of this writing, more than 14 hours later).

Some in the press are trying to counter by pointing out the mistakes on the list were later acknowledged and corrected.  And for the most part, they’re correct — while still being disingenuous.  Any student of journalism knows the first copy is what gets the attention — retractions almost never get the same level of resonance.  What Trump’s compilation does is remind and show overall just how sloppy/slanted/partisan the news coverage was in 2017 as the press hurried to seize on anything that might remotely make him look bad, without taking time to verify or research context.  (Hint to media executives: when your only source is that another news outlet is reporting something, you’re on very shaky ground.)  It is a very damning list.

By releasing the compliation on Twitter, Trump circumvented the media gatekeepers.  His public stature prevents Twitter from blocking such a move, but it’s worth noting plenty of voices on the Right are being silenced deliberately there and on other prominent internet platforms.  The press is working overtime to respond to Trump today, but that means they are reacting to his messaging, rather than producing their own biased news cycles.  And in doing so, they are giving the compilation even more coverage, potentially showing more Americans the sum total of what the epithet “fake news” really means.

As I said, it was a genius communication move.

In desperation, some have taken to claiming that Trump’s effort to point out media errors amounts to attacking the First Amendment, and equating it to various dictators’ muzzling of opponents.  This childishness trivializes the very real dangers advocates of free speech, criticism and accountability face around the world today.  Let’s be blunt: the First Amendment does not provide anyone the right to print whatever they want without being challenged for it.  When corporate news have to have the administration’s prior permission to run their stories, or CNN’s Jim Acosta is arrested or killed I might reevaluate the vacuousness of this whining, but not until.

I still shake my head in amazement that our nation’s reached the point where Donald Trump could become president.  But as others have pointed out, he looks a lot better if you evaluate him by what he’s done, versus what he says or what’s said about him.  In the meantime, Trump is showing how to play offense in this struggle, the media are getting a dose of their own medicine and it’s clear they don’t like it one little bit.  To which I can only say:

It’s about time.

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Perhaps a new year’s resolution?

The Washington Examiner offers an extensive catalog of the “media’s bias-fueled failure fest” that was 2017.  Perhaps a resolution to adopt more of a Joe Friday (“just the facts, ma’am”) approach would be appropriate this year.

That won’t happen, though.  Instead, as a prominent internet pundit puts it, “Social Justice Warriors Always Double Down.”  Which means 2018 is probably already telling 2017 “you ain’t seen nothing yet…”

Buckle up.

Too many coincidences

Victor Davis Hanson does a good job today summarizing what to date has been a slow but steady drip of information indicating Special Counsel Robert Mueller grossly stacked the deck in terms of staffing his investigation of the Trump team’s activity during last year’s election.  Excerpt:

By now there are simply too many coincidental conflicts of interest and too much improper investigatory behavior to continue to give the Mueller investigation the benefit of doubt. Each is a light straw; together, they now have broken the back of the probe’s reputation.

In inexplicable fashion, Mueller seems to have made almost no effort to select attorneys from outside Washington, from diverse private law firms across the country, who were without personal involvement with the Clinton machine, and who were politically astute or disinterested enough to keep their politics to themselves.

It seems readily apparent from what has been revealed that the investigation is the logical culmination of the Obama administration’s partisan weaponization of government.  Much as the IRS illegally discriminated against Tea Party-affiliated organizations, there is evidence the FBI and other agencies improperly surveilled U.S. citizens during an election, selectively leaking information upon which to base an investigation.  The many media misfires in recent days is further indication this investigation is a conclusion looking for evidence, rather than the other way around.  Ironically (and most likely deliberately), much clearer evidence of mishandling classified information, and improper quid pro quos between Russia and the Clinton Foundation are completely free from any official scrutiny.

Such politicizing of governmental institutions to overturn or thwart the result of a presidential election is a grave and present danger to the health of what’s left of our representative government.  It has further polarized a heavily divided electorate.  Those who support the administration see a partisan witch hunt.  Those who oppose him readily grab onto whatever “bombshells” are illegally leaked to the press from within the investigation in an attempt to further delegitimize Trump and his team–even though many of those “bombshells” quickly turn out to be less than meets the eye.

As Hanson notes, the existence of special counsels is already a poor reflection on the ability of representative government to reach just and fair conclusions in some circumstances.  If that safety valve is itself compromised (which seems highly likely in this case), what options for resolution of the issues are left — short of social unrest and violence?

Our political class continues to lead us down a very dangerous road.

Who needs credibility?

UPDATE: a good summary of a bad media week can be found here.

The mainstream press is tripping all over itself trying to manufacture scandals for the Trump administration — and in the process, shredding what little credibility they have left.  They are as uniformly hostile to Trump as they were protective of Obama, and anyone who believes their claims of objectivity is simply either not paying attention, or is beyond reasoning with.  The press is being aided in their efforts by Robert Mueller’s investigative politically partisan team, which is habitually (and illegally) leaking material to said press.

The Department of Justice would do well to look into both the leaking by the special counsel’s investigative team, and the editorial processes that keep producing these slanderous misfires by the press.

CNN thought it had a major scoop indicating Donald Trump and his inner circle coordinated with Russian-aligned operatives in 2016 to tilt the presidential election.

CNN was wrong

The CNN report hinged entirely on an email that was supposedly sent on Sept. 4. The September email to Trump and his team included a “decryption key and website address” for the WikiLeaks dump, the article added.

There’s a major, glaring error in this story, which CNN promoted all Friday morning and into the afternoon.

The email upon which the entire story hinges was sent on Sept. 14, not Sept. 4, meaning the email merely pointed Trump’s team to a trove of already-public hacked DNC documents.

The difference between Sept. 4 and Sept. 14 is difference between someone merely flagging already public information and someone quietly slipping the GOP nominee and his team advance access to hacked correspondences.

CBS News also misreported independently that the email was dated September 4.

It’s a mystery

At least, it’s a mystery to the New York Times why the phrase “Allahu Ackbar” has become synonymous with terrorism:

When H. A. Hellyer is out walking with his family, strangers sometimes approach him and declare, “Allahu akbar!”

RES_d9a28254-94e0-48b9-aa16-c2d467f16ac9SELRES_3ad5f98a-35b5-49d0-850d-c990a37560bfSELRES_7b62172d-4292-4cdc-a53d-5bcef31d7408SELRES_5a1912fd-94d8-4209-9025-b22fe1ce7809SELRES_d74be42a-80bc-484e-bbc1-10729004b017Many Westerners may find it hard to believe these days, but Mr. Hellyer does not recoil in fear.

“I’ll be walking out with my kids,” he said, “and someone will say: ‘Oh, they’re so cute. Allahu akbar.’ And I’ll joke: ‘Thank you — now stop talking to my kids.’”

The Arabic phrase, which means simply “God is great,” has, it sometimes seems, become intertwined with terrorism.

I wonder how on Earth such a connection could be made?  As he often does, David Burge cuts right to the chase:

Allahu Ackbar

It’s telling that one of the top priorities of the NYT and other major outlets after EVERY. SINGLE. ATTACK. is to leap to the defense of Islam and Muslims. I get it: we’re not supposed to judge an entire people by the actions of a few. The problem is, it’s not just the actions of a few and frankly, the foundations of that faith are more than a little problematic.

For what it’s worth, I spent quite some time overseas interacting with Muslims in their home nations. I don’t recall a single time the phrase “Allahu ackbar” was uttered in such a casual fashion as the NYT describes. I heard plenty of “inshallah,” (if God wills) and “Alhamdulillah” (basically “praise Allah”).  But what the NYT is trying to get us to do is ignore observable reality: when the phrase “Allahu ackbar” pops up in the West outside of a mosque, bad things happen.  I just have one response to them for that attempt at obfuscation:

Go to hell, Wormtongue.

Hagiography exemplified

hag·i·og·ra·phyˌ   haɡēˈäɡrəfē,/        noun

1. The writing of the lives of saints.
derogatory: adulatory writing about another person.
– biography that idealizes its subject.

See for example the New York Times article about “How Mao Molded Communism to Create a New China.”  In amongst the portrait of Mao as a “tiger” and “monkey king,” the article completely fails to mention Mao as the greatest mass murderer in history, responsible for an estimated 45 million deaths.

It’s as if the newspaper’s “Red Century” series is meant to indoctrinate a new generation into believing communism wasn’t all that bad

For more fun examples, see the Times’ story on “Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s Odd Journey From Victim to Criminal”…   (Note to the Times: entering a ‘naked plea’ — essentially “no contest” — on charges of desertion tends to have that effect.)

Don’t think she’s alone, either

We’re living in a time when many masks and pretenses are dropping.  In this case, it’s because one side believes they’ve achieved enough power to no longer need hiding:

Among her elite social circles in Washington, DC, and the Hamptons, Washington Post religion writer Sally Quinn did not keep her use of black magic a secret. In a lengthy and glowing profile, the Washingtonian reveals that Quinn’s fascination and outright use of the dark arts were just another part of her wide and varied social scene.

***

Ouija boards, astrological charts, palm reading, talismans—Quinn embraces it all. And yes, she has been in contact with her husband since his passing. Through a medium. Repeatedly.

Some friends have voiced reservations that Quinn is now showing all her cards, so to speak. “Don’t play up the voodoo too much,” one implored. But Sally does nothing by halves. (emphasis added) She reveals that, in her less mellow days, she put hexes on three people who promptly wound up having their lives ruined, or ended.  ((Since she believes she was responsible, shouldn’t this be tantamount to admission of assault and murder?  After all, we’re told repeatedly to accept the sincerely held beliefs of everyone…  — Jemison))

Quinn co-founded a regular column on religion in the Post that later morphed into a standalone website, but neglected to mention these little tidbits until it came time to write her memoir.  Thus, under the cloak of ‘journalism,’ she published many columns seeking to undermine orthodox Christian beliefs and their proponants.  Contrast this approach to that of the late Charlie Reese, who made a point of ensuring his readers knew where he was coming from by publishing periodical columns about it.

[Note: I recommend regular readers here to look at the three linked columns in the previous sentence.  I read Reese’s columns as a young adult.  He, along with Thomas Sowell, caused me to think deeply about governance and economics, though they are far being from my only influences.  Reese’s transparency about his worldview was the inspiration for the “About” tab at the top of this blog, where you can get a basic overview of where I’m coming from.  It’s a practice I think should be standard among writers who aspire to be more than mere propagandists.]

Why would Quinn conceal her beliefs as a columnist for a decade, only revealing them when it was time to cash out?  Likely because for that decade she was but one of many agents undermining the historical value systems of this nation, an effort moving much swifter and closer to its goals than the now-revered 1960s.  That Quinn felt free to “tell all” in this month’s book shows two things, I think:

  1. She does not fear social, much less physical, repercussion
  2. She and her publisher believe there is a large audience for what she now says openly

Keep in mind this woman moved in the highest social circles of Washington D.C.  According to a reviewer, the memoir contains many examples of highly selfish, manipulative and admittedly demonic-spirited behavior.  While the reviewer occasionally seems to cringe at the material, she concludes by quoting the author’s expectation of respect, and calls it “courageous.” — the same label applied to anyone who publicly jettisons and/or attacks Christian beliefs.   D.C seems filled to overflowing with such “courage” today, and its true colors are showing through.

Does it become more apparent now why I’ve long nicknamed that city “Mordor?”

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)