What they don’t tell you

The Associated Press runs a story this morning that epitomizes why Americans shouldn’t trust the U.S. corporate media to keep them properly informed:

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Hillary Clinton told an audience in India that the United States did not “deserve” Donald Trump’s presidency and these are “perilous times.”
The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate spoke over the weekend at a conference in Mumbai.

Clinton said the Republican president has “quite an affinity for dictators” and said Trump “really likes their authoritarian posturing and behavior.” But she said she thinks it’s “more than that” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia.

Clinton was critical of the reality campaign tactics of her opponent and questioned whether she should have provided more entertainment to voters who responded to Trump’s brash style.

She also believes former FBI director James Comey’s Oct. 28, 2016, letter to Congress about her private email server cost her support from white women voters.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

That’s the entire write-up from AP.  Note that it utterly failed to include these comments, which insult roughly half the population of the United States for failing to elect her:

According to Her Hillariness, the only reasons people voted for Trump were out of racism, sexism and xenophobia.  I truly hope the Democrats are stupid enough to run her a third time in 2020. The campaign ads are already writing themselves. For all those who complain Trump isn’t “presidential,” I’ll simply note he has yet to go overseas and bash Americans for failing to support him.

It’s worth pointing out that the supposedly healthy Hillary also had considerable trouble navigating stairs during her visit to India.  Wonder if she’s seeking too much liquid comfort while nursing her grudges.

As for keeping informed, be sure to include foreign news organizations in your perusing habits.  They offer more insight into what’s actually going on in America than the American press does.

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Do they even listen to themselves?

Showtime’s “Homeland” series takes a few swipes at the Trump administration in an interview with ITK, as reported by The Hill.  In the process, they show either an inability to connect the dots, or a belief the rubes in the heartland can’t:

Each year, the team behind “Homeland” takes a weeklong research field trip to Washington to prep for the espionage thriller’s upcoming season. But this time around, when Showtime’s crew touched down in D.C. two months after President Trump’s inauguration, the mood was different…

In preparation for production, the “Homeland” team started asking what recourse intelligence officers and National Security Agency workers had if “they see an administration going off the rails.”

Gansa says he found “there was a strange sort of new alliance that was taking place between the intelligence community and the fourth estate, which we found interesting.”

After admitting they wouldn’t be pursuing a storyline about a ‘paranoid president’ had Her Hillariness been installed in 2016, they then backtrack on what they’ve just said:

Asked what Trump might take away from this season, Gansa replies, “I doubt he’d learn one thing. I think he might be amused just to watch an administration convinced that there was something called the ‘deep state’ aligned against her. Clearly that’s a fear that the Trump administration feels every day.”

Well gosh, when the stars of a hit TV series are deliberately pushing the message the President is paranoid, while noting in the real world there’s “a strange sort of new alliance… between the intelligence community and the fourth estate (the media),” I can’t imagine why the Trump administration might be concerned about a Deep State working against him.

Can you?

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.

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.