Nel's New Day

May 9, 2019

White House Threatens Freedom of the Press

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 8:57 PM
Tags: , , ,

Does DDT think that the media won’t find out about him if reporters can’t go to the increasingly rare press conferences? Yesterday, the White House eliminated passes for most of the press corps and then said they would take requests for “exceptions.” Columnist Dana Milbank was the only one of seven Washington Post pass holders who wasn’t granted an “exception.” No reason was given. Milbank wrote, “There’s something wrong with a president having the power to decide which journalists can cover him.”

“Exceptions” can be revoked at any time without justification. Last year, a judge described the revocation of Jim Acosta’s press pass as “shrouded in mystery.” New credential requirements include presence in the White House at least 90 out of the previous 180 days—seventy percent of the workdays. DDT may not even be there for that many days, and new policies prevent journalists from attending events—forcing them to miss the quota. The new guidelines also fail to recognize campaign-trail reporting or presidential trips abroad. Those possibly losing their livelihood are freelance camera operators and technicians. Those not granted “exceptions” receive a six-month pass which doesn’t necessary offer access.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) tweeted that DDT’s “curtailing a free press and undermining the public’s access to government is a hallmark of authoritarianism & has no place in America. This purge of reporters is un-American and needs to be reversed ASAP.” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) agreed, “This is what dictators do.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders may not listen to her words; she celebrated the release of two Reuters journalists jailed over 500 days in Myanmar, calling it a victory for the freedom of the press. She said:

“A free press, freedom of religion and the rule of law are fundamental principles for any democracy.”

DDT had ordered all his administrative officials to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, a fundraiser for scholarships. In the past, members have expressed great concern for the lack of free press throughout the world, but some statements this year focused on the United States. On April 27, 2019, Olivier Knox, the WHCA’s president and chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM radio, said that his son was concerned about whether DDT would imprison his father. Knox said that the threats on his life as a foreign correspondent and to his career by former political administrations pale in comparison to DDT’s hostility toward reporters and the hostile environment DDT created. He said:

“And that’s because February 2017 is when the president of the United States called us the ‘enemies of the people. A few days later I was driving my then-11-year-old son somewhere, probably soccer practice, when he burst into tears and asked me, ‘Is Donald Trump going to put you in prison?’”

Knox said that later his son promised him that if Knox is ever thrown out of the U.S., one of the family’s relatives, who’s “a really good lawyer,” would be able to get him back into the country. Knox added:

“I’ve had to tell my family not to touch packages on our stoop. I’ve had death threats, including one this week. Too many of us have. It shouldn’t need to be said in a room full of people who understand the power of words, but ‘fake news’ and ‘enemies of the people’ are not pet names, punchlines, or presidential.”

Like at all his other rallies, DDT repeated the word “fake” to describe the press in Green Bay (WI) last week, and, like always, the hateful terminology brought cheers from the crowd. DDT complained about the harsh humor directed toward him and his administration by the comedian selected to entertain the audience at last year’s dinner so WHCA selected as keynote speaker an historian, a scholar who has written several books on powerful people in U.S. history. His 2004 of Alexander Hamilton inspired the Broadway musical hit Hamilton. In his speech, Chernow said:

“The thing that worries me most is the sustained assault on truth. What is happening today is … a relentless campaign against the very credibility of the news media.”

For credibility, the press needs to attend DDT’s press conferences, but the one today shows how useless these events are. Although the intended purpose was medical billing, DDT wandered away from its purpose:

He described his treatment of Puerto Rico as generous after the Hurricane Maria devastation, claiming that he gave them “91 billion.” Thus far, Puerto Rico has received about $11 billion. Hurricane Katrina cost $200 billion, most of it going to Louisiana.

He accused John Kerry of violating the Logan Act, which bans private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments without permission, and called for his prosecution. Last year, Kerry, a former Secretary of State, said he spoke with the Iranian foreign minister a few times since leaving office. Two people were indicted under the 1799 law, one in 1802 and the other in 1852, but no one was ever convicted

He deferred to Barr on Mueller testimony after he said that Mueller should not testify to Congress after he deferred to Barr about Mueller’s testimony.

He attacked Mueller, accusing him of a conflict of interest because Mueller had been considered a replacement for the fired former FBI director James Comey.

He claimed his son Donald Trump, Jr. was “exonerated” by Mueller.

He said he had been going easy on China and “gave China a break” on the tariffs. After tariffs are increased, DDT said, “We’re going to be taking in more money than we’ve ever taken in.”

About medical billing, not so much.

DDT attempts to hide the fact that U.S. consumers, not China, are paying for the fees and lies about the trade deficit size. DDT’s threat also caused his beloved stock market to drop the next day. Immediately before DDT tweeted his new tariffs, DDT met with Republicans who told him to end tariffs and not impose new ones. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) even tacitly held up the proposed North American trade deal as a bargaining chip. Earlier, GOP incumbents up for re-election argued against DDT’s efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Because of DDT’s tariffs, taxpayers have paid $900,000 for every job created in the steel/uranium industry—over 14 times a steelworker’s salary and an additional $11.5 billion cost to the economy per year. Steelworker jobs averaged 3,000 jobs per month this year. Consumers are paying $815,000 for every job created in making washing machines. Legally DDT can declare tariffs only for national defense, which makes his fist tariffs that were on washing machines questionable, and the World Trade Organization may stop him. No matter what DDT says, consumers are paying the taxes on the tariffs.

DDT’s steel and aluminum tariffs added 9 percent to the price of steel products sold in the U.S. last year, for a total of $5.6 billion in extra costs passed along to consumers. Tariffs added about $11.5 billion in annual costs to the U.S. economy. Yet the government isn’t making much more money. Additional tariffs should add about $32.5 billion a year, but the reality is less than half that amount at $15 billion. And that’s a small percentage of the $3 trillion annual revenue for the United States.

Sanders, who has held only two press conferences in the first four months of 2019, denied the guidelines. She said, “No one’s access is being limited.” Maybe it was just another one of those offensive trial balloons to see if anyone noticed.

March 13, 2019

Facebook Controlled by U.S. Government

Everything on Sue Hardesty’s Facebook page disappeared today, and she couldn’t post anything. Gone were all her writings and photos about marine life, dredging, a trip along the Oregon Coast, and much more. Disclaimer: I have never liked Facebook from its founding for misogynic cruelty through its formation via fraud and theft to the peak of aiding the election of a U.S. president. Now the ultra-wealthy Mark Zuckerberg, worth over $65 billion, has plans to take over the world by controlling everything that you do online—messaging, commerce, payments, etc. FB has destroyed self-esteem with the concept of “defriending” and eliminating privacy, especially for young people. Some people think it’s a nice way to make friends and keep in touch, but Facebook has a much darker side. Hardesty’s FB page may be back—temporarily—but my research shows how Zuckerberg’s company is controlling what you read.

Recently FB removed advertising information from Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren about breaking up Amazon, Google, and Facebook giants to unwind “anti-competitive” tech mergers, including Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram. Her ads read:

“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google. We all use them. But in their rise to power, they’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor.”

The message on the ads read: “This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebook’s advertising policies.” FB claimed that it took down the ads because it used their “corporate logo” but returned them after public protest. Warren responded:

“Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor.”

FB keeps material supporting Israel—including a page from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—while removing pages about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with “a strong bias in favor of Palestine.” In 2016, the Israeli Justice Ministry in 2016 bragged that FB removed 95 percent of content according to their requests and proposed a bill to allow government to remove content from the internet based on its preferences. Israel’s National Cyber Directorate announced that FB removed “thousands” of accounts ahead of municipal elections. The same thing could happen in the U.S.

Gone is the Hebrew @Polcartoons. Zuckerberg has partnered with the Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Lab (DFRLab) to decide what should be removed, and it claimed “curated cartoons from various Israeli news outlets that lampooned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conservative Israeli political sentiment.” DFRLab told FB to remove @StopMEK for promoting views against the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, an Iranian group opposed to the country’s clerical leader because it was “the largest and most active political opposition group against the Islamic Republic of Iran leadership.” Yet the FB of the Majlis, a coalition critical of President Hassan Rouhani much larger than the MEK, has 2.1 million followers, far more than the tiny MEK.

Atlantic Council, FB’s new partner to vet its content, has been described as a neoconservative “think tank,” directly funded and composed of groups connected to big pharma, the military complex, and government. Contributors include the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and multinational giants like energy titan such as Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, weapon-makers Raytheon, and banks such as JPMorgan Chase. Many foreign countries supporting Atlantic Council lack a strong belief in human fights and press freedoms. FB gave Atlantic Council almost $1 million. Now, Atlantic dictates who is permitted on FB and who is “removed,” and the federal funding takes away FB as a “private” company classification.

Immediately before midterm elections, FB purged years of hard work and six million followers for The Free Thought Project (TFTP) that now follows the government involvement in FB. Under the leadership of Nathaniel Gleicher, FB removed another 800 “pages” with missions of “anti-corruption” or “protest” movements at the same time, many of them antiwar and pro-peace—immediately before last fall’s midterm elections. FB claimed that they were spam. Top adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jamie Fly, took credit for the massive purge of antiwar pages.

Matt Taibbi, a highly respected investigative journalist, reported on the FB purges in December. He began his piece on James Reader, San Diego resident whose pro-Democratic site, Reverb, was judged “high for factual reporting, as all news is sourced to credible media outlets.” With 30 contributing writers, four full-time editors, and an IT specialist, the site reached 13 million people a week on FB and social media. He paid $2,000 to $6,000 a month to FB and followed their suggestions to grow the page. Starting in 2016, Reader’s articles went to right-wing FB groups with negative comments and reports to FB that his stories were spam. Traffic dropped, sales declined, and his investments in FB’s boosting tools weren’t successful. He couldn’t find a human at FB so that he could address these problems. On October 11, 2018, Reverb was taken offline, as an example of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That day saw the first of two purges with no leading announcement. Twitter accounts also disappeared. All on the same day. Reader was never told why his site wasn’t published. Also gone were his Everlasting TOP Stoppers blog and his America Against Trump with 225,000 followers. He said, “Everything I’d worked for all these years was dead.”

Liberal America from Tiffany Willis Clark was removed on November 2, 2018. With 750,000 followers, the site is about “raising conscious kids who are aware of the suffering of others.” The most political she got was the list “87 Things Only Poor Kids Know and Conservatives Couldn’t Care Less About” including “We go to the doctor when we’re sick, but mom doesn’t.” She put her life savings into boosting readership on a platform that “seems to be redefining its mission minute to minute.”

By claiming to be a “private” company” FB can censor at will, but its connection with official or quasi-official groups creates a problem with “soft censorship,” according to Eric Goldman of the Santa Clara University School of Law. “We’re seeing removal of content that isn’t illegal but the government doesn’t like. It’s a backdoor form of censorship.”

When U.S. senators met with representatives of FB, Google, and Twitter, they supposedly answer outrage about the Russian” fake news” that had been influential for the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed concern about content “intended to worsen racial tensions” with stories about law enforcement abusing blacks. Google revised its search tools that resulted in deep drops for reputable alternative progressive news sources such as Common Dreams and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now as they almost disappeared from the search sources. Traffic for a dozen anti-war, progressive-leaning sites dropped 67 percent, and Alternet went down 63 percent.

A major critic of FB, The Free Thought Project has suffered under fact-checking, but two of its four “false” ratings were later overturned. Yet the FB page was eliminated with no explanation. The methodology for removing pages is opaque. Many removals come from user complaints, another method of information suppression. As Taibbi wrote:

“We’ve empowered a small cadre of ex-spooks, tech executives, Senate advisers, autocratic foreign donors and mainstream-media panels to create an unaccountable system of star-chamber content reviews—which unsurprisingly seem so far to have mostly targeted their harshest critics.”

In the past day, FB apologized for banning content from Zero Hedge, a conservative anti-finance website that predicted the 2008 recession. Complaints have also come about censorship of cannabis content. FB blocks anything about sale or use of the product despite its legality in Canada and many states in the U.S.

After the “paranoia” about being removed from FB with no notice, people finally discovered—with no notice—that FB has been down for much of the day in both Americas and Europe. Nobody knows why, but it bodes ill for using FB for more than social media.

Hardesty has saved much of her beautiful FB posts, some of them in hard copy. Losing the record of her “friends,” many of them school classmates and other writers, would have been sad, but she could recreate some of the material on a new page. On the other hand, my eighth anniversary of writing posts for this blog is April 30, 2019. Publishing almost 400,000 words a year on Nels New Day, I have about 3 million words—far too many to copy. I sometimes use past posts for historical reference and illustrations that have been removed from the internet for political purposes. People like James Reader and Tiffany Willis Clark lost not only years of work but also hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We are all at risk; our history is being “removed.” I’ll subscribe to the saying, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you.” The loss of FB for a day or two may not be a problem to most people, but it should have been a wake-up call about what would happen if FB decided to take you off its social media.

March 4, 2019

State TV Fox Tied to DDT, Vice Versa

For several years, people have noted the close relationship between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Fox network as the faux news network has remained a combination of propagandist and feeder of falsities to the man inaugurated over two years ago. DDT has given Fox 44 exclusive interviews, with the number accelerating. In the past six months, DDT has tweeted over 200 Fox items to his 58 million followers. In the New Yorker, journalist and author Jane Mayer has detailed the relationship between DDT and Fox in an 11,000-word essay.

Instead of reflecting the news, Fox radicalizes the people with its fear-mongering. Conservative pundit Bill Kristol, employed by Fox as a contributor until 2012, said, “Before [Trump], it was conservative, but it wasn’t crazy. Now it’s just propaganda.” Sean Hannity has long been known as a confidant for DDT, often freely appearing at his dramatized events to toss him easy questions and one of the nightly triumvirate with Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham to scream over guest statements opposing DDT. Called the Shadow Chief of Staff, Hannity talks to DDT every night after his show. Fox Business hosts Pete Hegseth and Lou Dobbs offer DDT policy advice in the Oval Office. DDT thinks of hosts of Fox & Friends as his personal friends, and they pander to him with unvetted ideas.

Former Fox employees hired in the White House such as disgraced Bill Shine, former head of Fox News’ programming division, further burnish the Fox’s image with DDT devotees. Fox currently pays Shine while he collects his paycheck from taxpayers as part of the coordinated work between DDT and Fox. Former Fox contributors include HUD Secretary Ben Carson, national security adviser John Bolton, former deputy national-security adviser K.T. McFarland, and recently resigned UN Ambassador Heather Nauert. Donald Trump Jr., girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who also left Fox in disgrace works on DDT’s reelection campaign. Hope Hicks, DDT’s formers head of communications, went to Fox, and others such as Sebastian Gorka, are regularly on Fox. [Fox separated from Gorka as of this article’s publication.]

DDT’s political rise matched a shift in tone at Fox. Early on, CEO Roger Ailes opposed Fox being a shill for the Tea Party, but owner Rupert Murdoch created an audience that became the “party of Trump.” Before DDT, Fox ridiculed birtherism, Bill O’Reilly described its promoters as “unhinged,” and Glenn Beck, who hosted a Fox show until he went over the conspiracy edge, called them “idiots.” DDT made birtherism respectable, and Hannity got his way to promote the extremist far-right party. He described President Obama’s negotiations with North Korea “disturbing” but called DDT’s failed efforts a “huge foreign-policy win.” Fox built its audience by elevating Benghazi far above other embassy ambushes causing deaths in its constant attack on then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Hannity appeared on stage at a DDT rally with little objection from Fox. Murdoch went from correcting DDT by tweeting that “Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born” to tolerating Fox’s frequent diatribes about hordes of “illegal aliens.” Murdoch and DDT are both about the bottom line and ratings.

Megyn Kelly asked DDT “tough” questions in the Fox-sponsored presidential debate, but insiders said that Ailes alerted DDT about the questions. Kelly wrote in Settle for More that DDT called Fox executives the day before the campaign to complain about her “very pointed question directed at him.” After the debate, DDT boycotted Fox, driving down until ratings until Ailes groveled.

During the summer when DDT became the GOP presidential candidate, Ailes’ sexual misconduct forced him out, and he joined DDT’s debate team. Fox gained two Ailes loyalists, Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, as co-presidents who turned the network over to DDT propaganda, furthering empowering him and Hannity. At 85, Murdoch claimed the CEO position, but insiders reported that after his serious health issues, “the lunatics took over the asylum.” During DDT’s campaign, a Fox reporter confirmed the story about his affair in 2006 with Stormy Daniels, but Fox editors denied her going public. She told colleagues that Ken LaCorte, then head of FoxNews.com said, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” The same reporter kept digging and discovered that the National Enquirer made a “catch and kill” deal with Daniels in which the tabloid bought the exclusive rights to story before it buried the information.

The story went public when the Wall Street Journal published the details about Daniels and the Enguirer, a year after DDT was inaugurated. The reporter was demoted, she sued the network, and her settlement includes a nondisclosure agreement banning her from talking about her work at Fox. LaCorte, still paid by Fox after he left, said that he squashed the story without talking to superiors because it hadn’t “passed muster.” Blogger Nik Richie called him out for being a “LIAR,” tweeting that he “was one of your sources.” Richie voted for DDT, but he thinks that the story would have swung the election.

Part of Shine’s job at Fox was to handle sexual misconduct complaints. Any woman who complained was gently treated unless she persevered, when Shine would warn her that her career would be destroyed. At least four civil lawsuits against Fox name Shine as defendant, and Fox settled on in 2017 for $90 million. That suit claims Fox spent $55 million to settle sexual harassment claims out of court. Shine was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in a Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s investigation into company funds for these payoffs, but Shine agreed to interviews by prosecutors. The investigation disappeared after Ailes death in May 2017, but Shine was his enabler as shown by payments he signed to accusers’ settlements.

Under Shine’s leadership in 2017, Fox and O’Reilly paid $13 million to five female employees accusing him of sexual misconduct with a sixth $32 million payment in negotiation. After advertiser boycotts and street demonstrations, Fox fired O’Reilly and then Shine. Hannity became Fox’s top-rated star and highest-profile DDT promoter and helped Shine get a job as White House communications director and deputy chief of staff.

DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has always been close to Murdoch, but Murdoch made up with DDT after calling him “a f**king idiot” to benefit from specialized treatment for his business interests.

  • DDT’s administration approved Fox’s sale of most of its entertainment assets to Disney for $71 billion, with the Murdoch family getting $2 billion and becoming a major stockholder in the combined company that accounts for half the box-office revenue in the United States.  DDT promised the creation of jobs from the deal that has resulted in thousands of layoffs.
  • DDT’s FCC blocked Sinclair Broadcast Group, more conservative than Fox, from buying Tribune Media Company that would have given Sinclair access to 72 percent of the U.S. population.
  • DDT’s DOJ stopped AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, owner of CNN, after Murdoch failed to buy Time Warner in 2014. A sweetener for DDT was retaliation against CNN, DDT’s most hated media source. Although DDT claimed that he was “not going to get involved,” he ordered Gary Cohn, then director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the DOJ to intervene in the sale although Cohn knew that DDT’s action was inappropriate for a sitting president and refused. A federal court has ruled against the DOJ and permitted the $85 billion merger—for the second time. [Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said that a president has the right to punish the media by blocking this merger.]

The more DDT does for Murdoch, the more Fox does for DDT. Yochai Benkler, a Harvard Law School professor who co-directs the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, said, “Fox’s most important role since the election has been to keep Trump supporters in line.” According to Fox, the only collusion is between Clinton and Russia,  the special investigator is perpetrating a “coup” by the “deep state,” DDT and his associates aren’t corrupt, U.S. courts are corrupt, illegal immigration is an invasion and not at a 15-year low, and all news organizations offering perspectives different from these are “enemies of the American people.” Benkler, author with Robert Faris and Hal Robert of Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics, said:

“It’s not the right versus the left. It’s the right versus the rest.”

Conservative media outlets focus on confirmation of the audience’s biases and provide propaganda and lies that spread uncorrected to Fox because viewers hate for falsehoods to be disclosed. Fox fired Glenn Beck for baseless conspiracy theories, but Hannity is rewarded for them. Only boycotts of Fox advertisers forced Hannity to drop his conspiracy accusations about murdered Democratic staffer Seth Rich.

Alisyn Camerota, former co-host of Fox & Friends, quit because of its lack of standards and wrote the novel Amanda Wakes Up about propaganda on a cable morning show. She said that the show’s producers would “cull far-right, crackpot Web sites” for content and never bothered with second sources. The primary standard was that “this is going to outrage the audience!” Guilfoyle got her information from an avid fan who sent her content for her topics such as “physically weak men” are “more likely to be socialists.”

Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters, thinks that Fox drives DDT more than the reverse. A recent example how DDT caused the 35-day shutdown and declared a national emergency because of Fox ridicule.

“The President’s world view is being specifically shaped by what he sees on Fox News, but Fox’s goals are ratings and money, which they get by maximizing rage. It’s not a message that is going to serve the rest of the country.”

Fox’s problem comes from its one-pony show of DDT to make money, and ratings fall when he looks bad. Fox’s evening ratings have dropped by 20 percent since the midterms with only a spike for DDT’s interview after Michael Cohen’s testimony. A change may be in the wind: much smaller since the Disney sale, Fox will be supervised by conservative Lachlan Murdoch who might move to center right. The test could be the release of Robert Mueller’s findings. At this time, Fox’s hosts and guests are swearing war. The question is whether Fox wants to start the war.

The most frightening part of Jane Mayer’s detailed look at the authoritarian DDT and Fox network is that it’s not as shocking as it should be for a country that prides itself on being a democracy.

February 18, 2019

Tell Scholastic to Publish Accurate Educational Materials

When I was young, we celebrated the birthdays of two presidents born in February, Abraham Lincoln (2/12/1809) and George Washington (2/22/1731), the latter being a national holiday for the past 140 years. In the past few decades, Lincoln seems to have lost his popularity, and only seven states celebrate his birthday. Even “George Washington Day” has largely become “President’s” or “Presidents’” Day in the states—although three states don’t celebrate the holiday.

For over a century, children were taught the myth that Washington said he could not tell a lie. Washington’s storyteller went overboard with this tale, but Washington insisted on paying the new nation’s war debts, despite his colleagues suggesting that the U.S. renege on payments to both its new citizens and French investors in the Revolutionary War.

The man inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States Presidents Day, the current occupant of the White House, reportedly told 8,158 lies during the first two years after his inauguration—almost 6,000 during his second year. That’s almost 16.5 a day, nearly triple the pace.

Almost two years ago, Scholastic Books, well-known in the past for being a reputable publisher of books for youth, came out two books by Joanne Mattern, both called President Donald Trump. The first, for ages 6-7, is in the Rookie Biographies series, and the second in True Books series is for children ages 8-10.

The younger book begins with this poem:

His buildings reached into the sky.

His businesses just grew and grew.

Then Trump became our president–

People wanted something new.

The first prose text states:

“Meet Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a famous entrepreneur. He is also a television personality. In 2015, Trump surprised many people when he decided to run for president. In November 2016, he won the election. Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States.”

And continues:

“Donald Trump inspired his supporters to try something new. He promised them a better future. Millions of Americans are counting on him to help improve their lives.”

Trump supporters would say that this is all true. The book, however, just tells one part of the story, omitting how many children were frightened because of his promises to get rid of people of color (aka threats) and the hostile language that he used for everyone except white people. At least 1,000 people wrote Scholastic with their outrage about the book’s propaganda.

Scholastic responded to the negative comments by claiming “that discussing controversial aspects of any public figure’s life isn’t appropriate for our youngest readers” and that the True Books biography for older readers would “delve deeper into the controversial aspects of the Trump campaign and presidency” in their True Books biography of Trump for readers in grades 3-5. Scholastic failed in its promise to “delve deeper,” and they are wrong that Trump’s white supremacist statements aren’t “appropriate for our youngest readers.” Many children suffer from Trump’s push toward white supremacist because bullies—even ages 6 and 7—who listen to him.

The book failed to address how builders working for Trump being unfairly treated or how Trump discriminated against people of color who wanted to live in his buildings. Scholastic got around this by not mentioning people of color at all. Forty percent of people in the U.S. were ignored. The statement that “many people were happy” about the election silenced the dissent and resistance regarding the election except for one picture. Avoiding the hard issues about race—that most children of color know—supports the dominance of the ruling (aka white) class.

Kathleen Nganga and Sarah Cornelius wrote this review about the “True Biographies” version of Trump:

“The book dedicates 10 glowing pages to Trump’s business career, high rises, and casinos, but does not include a single detail about housing discrimination claims, his unfulfilled business contracts, and customer grievances such as the lawsuits against Trump University. In fact, the one time the book mentions Trump’s bankruptcies and alludes to organizational troubles, the book removes all responsibility from Trump by solely attributing these problems to the ‘weakened’ real estate market.

“There is a page dedicated to New York City’s Central Park where Trump is credited with rebuilding the Wollman ice-skating rink in 1986. No mention is made of another Central Park story, Trump’s crusade against the Central Park Five (all teenagers at the time), including spending $85,000 for full page ads in all four New York daily newspapers in 1989 calling for a reinstatement of the death penalty. This is a crucial story for understanding Trump’s use of racism and law and order rhetoric to garner support. There is also no mention of Trump’s lead role in the Birther Movement (questioning President Obama’s legitimacy as an American citizen). Both of these stories are relevant to his biography since they contributed to his base and eventual election as president. By dedicating most of the book to Trump’s fancy buildings and T.V. shows, the implication is that his business experience and stardom led to his election. While there are a couple of references to prejudice and discrimination, racism is not mentioned once.

“Regarding the election, Mattern writes: ‘[Trump] had no political experience. He had never held a public office or taken part in political activities. For this reason, some people thought he was not qualified to be president. Others loved the idea of an outsider coming in to shake up the way the government was run.’ In contrast, after detailing Hillary Clinton’s professional experiences the author states, ‘… many people did not like Clinton. They felt she was not trustworthy and would not bring enough changes to the government.’ While the book qualifies that “some people” were dissatisfied with Trump, dissatisfaction with Clinton is qualified with “many people.” This juxtaposition suggests that most people found Trump qualified and trustworthy….

“There is only one page dedicated to Trump’s campaign statements. It begins, ‘Trump made several statements during his campaign that were concerning to some people.’ That is an understatement. People were not only concerned, they were also demeaned, insulted, and threatened by these comments. It says, “For example, he promised to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.” There is no reference to the language he used to describe women, Mexican immigrants, POWs, Muslims, people with disabilities, and more.

“This is also the only place in the 45-page book in which people of color are featured, and they are protesting. While protest imagery conveys important ideas of non-electoral forms of democratic engagement, it is significant that the book’s only visual reference of people of color is one of them engaging in disruptive protests and surrounded by police….”

Scholastic may have muzzled Mattern in the book’s content. An earlier draft of the Scholastic book indicates its “changes” in the final edition. In a prepub draft, a page called “Troubling Statements read:

“Some of Trump’s biggest supporters were white nationalists. Their comments and actions during and after the campaign were racist and often dangerous. Trump did little to speak against them.”

In the finished book, the heading was changed to “Campaign Statements,” and the text read, “Some of Trump’s critics felt he did not speak out against prejudicial people and groups strongly enough.”

Penguin Young Readers has chosen to not publish any books about Trump at this time, and even conservative Regnery, which published the Pence picture book about the family’s pet rabbit has no plans for a young readers’ biography of Trump. In an update about First Ladies, Kathleen Krull found little information other than she was the third wife, a supermodel, and the wealthiest.

An example of using “bare facts” methodology that Scholastic used in its two children’s books about Trump:

“Hitler was a powerful leader. He promised to lead the German people out of their economic depression. He particularly wanted to help Aryan citizens. Many people were happy with his leadership style.”

The best advice for publishers, to paraphrase an old saying, might be: “If you can’t say anything accurate, don’t say anything at all.”

Scholastic has misled children in other books. Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of Houston made no mention of climate change, and Scholastic partnered with the American Coal Federation to distribute educational materials about the benefits of coal with no reference to the dangers. Scholastic finally pulled A Birthday Cake for George Washington after complaints about the happy depictions of his slaves.

People are growing more and more upset about the poor education in the United States. You can protest a major publisher for its misrepresentation that helps children grow up ignorant. Created almost 100 years ago, the huge publishing conglomerate of Scholastic wields great power over education for children in the U.S. The company needs to hear from people regarding this practice of promoting inaccuracies in educational materials that purport to be nonfiction.  You can contact them here. They need to know that you care about children.

September 4, 2018

Kavanaugh, Woodward, Plus More News

Democrats may not win the fight to keep Brett Kavanaugh out of the Supreme Court, but they’re putting up a good show. Only two nominees—Robert Bork and Harriet Miers—had lower poll ratings, and neither one was confirmed. Only 38 percent of people want Kavanaugh on the high court, and 39 percent think he should not be confirmed. Women in particular dislike him in their 46 percent opposition. One reason might be that he tried to imprison a 17-year-old immigrant pregnant from a rape although the Supreme Court has ruled that she had the right to one. Rachel Maddow has a 21-minute segment about Kavanaugh’s behavior on the bench that doesn’t match his assurance to gullible Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” In her opening statement at the hearing, Sen. Diane Feinstein explained how Kavanaugh has already ruled against Roe v. Wade. [visual]

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Kavanaugh started today, less than 15 hours after the White House finally released 42,000 pages of documents about him. In a fit of speed-reading, Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) claimed that he and his staff had reviewed all these documents in less than three hours. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) still withholds 93 percent of the records from the time when Kavanaugh was White House counsel and staff secretary for George W. Bush by invoking presidential privilege although Bush cleared the records for release. Some of these may have had to do with Kavanaugh’s support for torture. The White House alerted reporters to the Democrats’ comments, perhaps to show their obstruction. But instead the message may have been that an unindicted co-conspirator has nominated a justice for the nation’s highest court, one who he hopes will exonerate him by ruling that the president is above the law and refuses to release the nominee’s records.

Kavanaugh may also face questions about his possible lying under oath in an earlier confirmation hearing.

In a bad photo op for Kavanaugh, he refused to shake hands with the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was murdered at the Parkland (FL) high school earlier this year. Feinstein had introduced Fred Guttenberg (left) in the committee chambers so Kavanaugh knew who he was. Kavanaugh stared at him for a short time before he turned and walked away. When Kavanaugh returned, he bragged about coaching his daughter’s basketball team. Footage of the interaction with Guttenberg shows that the White House lied to cover up for Kavanaugh’s rude behavior.

Just when people thought that DDT had stopped fighting with AG Jeff Sessions, DDT spent the last day of his Labor Day weekend lambasting Sessions for the indictments of Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Chris Collins (R-NY) for misusing campaign funds/fraud and insider trading/securities fraud. DDT’s objection is that he wants the DOJ to hold off on prosecuting the charged congressional members so that they can win their districts. He is a loser in this argument; almost two-thirds of people oppose firing Sessions and back investigator Robert Mueller.

“So I have another bad book coming out. Big deal,” said DDT in a conversation with Bob Woodward about his new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, about DDT’s time in the White House. DDT spent most of the talk either claiming that he would have liked to talk to Woodward for the book, saying that no one had ever told him, and explaining what a wonderful job he was doing. Woodward told at least six people with access to DDT that he wanted to talk to DDT, but DDT claims that no one except maybe Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had mentioned it to him. Kellyanne Conway admitted on the conversation that Woodward had talked with her about an interview with DDT.

Woodward writes that DDT’s closest aides, including Gary Cohn and Rob Porter, hid papers from his desk to keep him from signing them because they viewed DDT as a danger to national security. Woodward reported that Chief of staff John Kelly described Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said DDT has the understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader,” and former personal lawyer John Dowd called DDT “a fucking liar,” telling DDT he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to special counsel Robert Mueller. Dowd resigned the day after DDT told him that he would be a “real good witness.” DDT called AG Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and a “dumb Southerner”; DDT told Rudy Giuliani what he’s “like a little baby that needed to be changed.” Explaining his strategy in Afghanistan, DDT told his generals, “You should be killing guys.” Fortunately, Mattis didn’t kill Bashar al-Assad in April 2017 as DDT requested. The book portrays DDT as lonely and increasingly paranoid, obsessed with the media’s perception of him and with his base.

Fox analyst Howard Kurtz debunked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ defense by pointing out that sources for Woodward’s book are current as well as past employees.

U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia forces are deliberately bombing dozens of Yemeni civilians—some of them at least 40 children riding on a school bus in Yemen when they were taking a rare field trip. On the day of the attack, the head of the coalition stated that the bus was a “legitimate military target.” Later the report indicated that the attack was “unjustified” but only because the suspect was not on the bus, not that they had killed children. The U.S. sold the bomb to Saudi Arabians after DDT lifted the ban on these sales. DDT has said nothing about the tragedies in Yemen.

Desperate for new headquarters, the FBI lost their chance to move out of downtown Washington, D.C. across DDT’s hotel to the suburbs. DDT likely scuttled the deal to keep another hotel from moving into the area. Federal employees were ordered to not discuss any of his comments. To keep the FBI headquarters in place, officials greatly underestimated the cost of not moving the facility.

The white man who murdered two people at a video game tournament in Jacksonville (FL) and then turned the gun on himself to commit suicide has been described as having a mental illness. His easy access to guns was not responsible for the tragedy according to the state AG Pam Bondi; she blames the gathering of people to play video games, for example the football video game Madden. Intent on wiping out any taint of domestic terrorism by white men in the United States, Politico joined the myth by exonerating Timothy McVeigh of any terrorism. In 1995, the 27-year-old white man bombed a government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring over 680 others. Sam Anderson maintains that McVeigh was no terrorist—he was just depressed because his favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills, had started losing. Given his sad life, Anderson claims, “it is easy to imagine how this young man might have been lured into making a bad decision.” The article was abstracted from Anderson’s book Boom Town. Is it possible that the United States could reduce the murder and domestic terrorism rate by banning video games and football?

Pope Francis has a solution for the allegations that he covered up sex abuse by church leaders and lied about knowing nothing regarding his meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. He called for silence.

When he ran for president, DDT’s name was on 19 brands; now it’s on just one—furniture sold by a Turkish company selling Trump furniture.

DDT has reached 60 percent—in his disapproval rating. His approval rating is 36 percent, and 53 percent think that his interference with Mueller’s investigation is obstruction of justice. At 63 percent, an additional ten percent support the investigation. Mueller’s case against Manafort received 67 percent believing it was justified, and two-thirds oppose DDT’s pardoning Manafort. Sessions also gets 64 percent support from being fired, and 61 percent believe that DDT committed a crime if he told Cohen to make hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

DDT makes up his own approval ratings. In a call to a radio talk show, he said that he adds “another 7 or eight points’ to the existing approval rating, and at a rally in North Dakota, he recommended adding 12 to any of his polls.

DDT has greatly helped ratings for MSNBC and Rachel Maddow in particular. In August, MSNBC was the second-most-watched network across all of basic cable, and The Rachel Maddow Show was number one for total viewers on cable TV for the last week of August and top the 25-54 demographic throughout August, beating Sean Hannity. While MSNBC’s ratings rose over that in 2017, both CNN and Fox went down. All the MSNBC shows—Chris Hayes, Laurence O’Donnell, Brian Williams, Ari Melber, Hallie Jackson, Nicolle Wallace, Katy Tur, and Ali Velshi—had substantial gains and record-breaking numbers. Kudos to genuine news instead of screaming people and fake propaganda.

September 21, 2017

Don’t Go Away, Hillary!

Much of the coverage of a book released in September, What Happened, has been extremely negative as both right and left media tell her to go away. They treat her as badly as they did during her campaign and blame her for her election loss after a perfect storm of opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Russian influence, incessant lying about her, and the release of negative information from former FBI director James Comey less than two weeks before the election despite the his refusal to release evidence about Russians colluding with the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

Heather Digby Parton, however, has a different perspective, as the following article shows:

I’m not going to review Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened, since there are approximately 12,576 reviews out there already, with more to come. But I do want to discuss one issue that came up in the book that has been addressed in a couple of those reviews. That would be the fact that the press regularly and tiresomely slags Clinton for her failures in the 2016 campaign but have still completely failed to acknowledge their own.

There are many aspects of this story that are unique to Clinton. As Politico’s Jonathan Allen, then of Vox, wrote at the beginning of the campaign, there was an establishment media groupthink about her that was obvious, although the press itself seemed completely oblivious to it. (I wrote about this on Salon in real time as it unfolded and after the race was over. )

Allen put it bluntly:

“The Clinton rules are driven by reporters’ and editors’ desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family’s political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest.”

Indeed they did. (As it turns out, maybe some members of the Russian government did too.) And one aspect of the coverage verged on outright corruption: the “deal” The New York Times and The Washington Post made with a Steve Bannon associate to publish excerpts of a book of lies called Clinton Cash that set the tone for much of the coverage to come.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows addressed the press obsession with the Clinton email story in his review of What Happened:

“No sane person can believe that the consequences of last fall’s election — for foreign policy, for race relations, for the environment, for anything else you’d like to name (from either party’s perspective) — should have depended more than about 1 percent on what Hillary Clinton did with her emails. But this objectively second- or third-tier issue came across through even our best news organizations as if it were the main thing worth knowing about one of the candidates.”

David Roberts at Vox took on the subject by analyzing in depth the way the media reported one particular incident in the campaign: Hillary Clinton’s alleged “coal gaffe,” which he described as “navigating a hall of mirrors.” Her comment about putting coal miners out of business was poorly phrased, but as it was reported, it was also truncated and taken out of context. The way her response was then distorted by the GOP and the press as an illustration of Clinton’s disqualifying character flaws was the real crime, Roberts writes:

“Mainstream news outlets should stop treating ‘how it looks’ as though it’s some fact in the universe that they discover. They are the arbiters; they decide how it looks. They build and reinforce narratives. They seek out confirming evidence and ignore disconfirming evidence. They amplify some voices and not others. They direct attention, which is the coin of the realm in modern politics. If they draw attention to a bullshit scandal, they are the ones ensuring that it damages the campaign. If they play along with the ludicrous notion that Clinton loves firing coal miners, they are sanctioning and disseminating misinformation. They are not doing their jobs.”

Whether you are convinced by these arguments or not, it’s tempting to write them off as something that only pertains to Hillary Clinton. There is no doubt that the narratives spun around her in the campaign and for years prior were informed by systemic sexism. The press is no different from the rest of society in being unable to grapple with that reality. But in fact, this wasn’t the only time this happened.

The coverage of the 2000 presidential campaign, and to a lesser extent the 2004 campaign as well, had similar characteristics. In the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, the media mercilessly abused the latter with a series of shallow character attacks that were both unfair and untruthful. Roberts’ analysis of Clinton and the “coal gaffe” is exactly the same sort of prejudicial coverage the media gave Gore for his “I invented the internet” and “Love Canal” gaffes, among a dozen others.

One vivid illustration of journalists’ collective disdain for Gore was reported in Time’s article about an early New Hampshire debate between Gore and his Democratic primary rival, Sen. Bill Bradley:

“The 300 media types watching in the press room at Dartmouth were, to use the appropriate technical term, totally grossed out. Whenever Gore came on too strong the room erupted in a collective jeer, like a gang of fifteen-year-old heathers cutting down some hapless nerd.”

Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank explained why the press corps was so hostile:

“Gore is sanctimonious, and that’s sort of the worst thing you can be in the eyes of the press. And he has been disliked all along, and it was because he gives a sense that he’s better than us — he’s better than everybody, for that matter, but the sense that he’s better than us as reporters. Whereas President Bush probably is sure that he’s better than us — he’s probably right, but he does not convey that sense. He does not seem to be dripping with contempt when he looks at us, and I think that has something to do with the coverage.”

Reporter Margaret Carlson explained in her book that one of the reasons the media gave Bush such good coverage was that he served Dove bars and designer water on the press plane, while Gore only offered granola bars and sandwiches.

As far as I know, the media have still never given their coverage of that campaign a second thought. Four years later, John Kerry was mocked for ordering the wrong cheese and drinking green tea and otherwise being a snobby New Englander without the common touch of George W. Bush, originally of Kennebunkport, Maine. And then there was 2016 and “her emails.”

None of this is to say that these candidates weren’t flawed or bear no responsibility for the outcome of those races. The point is that the press corps made a collective decision that they didn’t “like” these people and obsessively covered them in a trivial manner, as if they had been running for homecoming queen instead of president of the United States. With fake news and social media and foreign propaganda distorting our democracy, it’s past time for the press to stop behaving like the mean girls of D.C. High.

Parton’s comments above demonstrate the control that the media has over elections. Canadian Kristen Pyszczyk also published a piece discussing the disproportionate scrutiny Clinton received as a woman. Mitt Romney used private email when he was the Massachusetts governor and then destroyed them when he left office. Congress ignored the 13 attacks on U.S. embassies killing 65 people, and embassy attacks during the Reagan presidency killed hundreds. Pyszczyk wrote:

“We live in a culture where women are shamed for speaking up, seeking power and existing successfully in the public eye. (Check out the comments section to this piece if you don’t believe me!) The mere fact that Clinton is still speaking out is incredible.”

Pyszczyk was 100-percent right about the comments. She also repeated Carly Fiorina’s “joke” on the campaign trail:

“If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Hillary Clinton.”

Here are a few:

First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School. Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic. Former civil litigation attorney. Former Law Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Former First Lady of Arkansas. Former First Lady of the United States, and the first FLOTUS in US History to hold a postgraduate degree. First ex-FLOTUS in US History to be elected to the United States Senate. Elected by the… State of New York to serve two terms in the United States Senate. Former US Secretary of State. GRAMMY Award Winner.

And a few more. Clinton:

  • Laid the groundwork for today’s healthcare plan supported by a majority of people.
  • Helped develop State Children’s Health Insurance Program for poor children.
  • Helped create the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.
  • Successfully fought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and asthma at the National Institute of Health (NIH).
  • Spearheaded investigations into mental illness plaguing veterans of the Gulf War revealing Gulf War Syndrome.
  • Championed the Violence Against Women Act
  • Helped create the DOJ office on Violence Against Women.
  • Worked to secure over $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment after 9/11.
  • Drafted the first bill to compensate and offer the health services for 9/11 first responders after taking a leading role in the investigation of these health consequences.
  • Introduced the Pediatric Research Equity Act to alleviate over-dosages for children with chronic diseases like epilepsy and asthma.
  • Proposed a revival of the New Deal-era Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to help homeowners refinance their mortgages in the wake of the 2008 financial disaster.
  • Brokered human rights with Burma and acted as a major proponent of ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.
  • Called for the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that led to his death.
  • Constantly traveled as Secretary of State in diplomatic missions.
  • Co-founded the Clinton Foundation that improves living conditions for nearly 400 million people in over 180 countries.

Before that:

  • Founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families to educate the public on children’s issues.
  • Chaired Arkansas Educational Standards Committee, which created new state school standards.
  • Founded Arkansas Home Instruction Program for Pre-School Youth.
  • Helped created Arkansas’ first neonatal intensive care unit.

This article has more.

And Carly Fiorina? She was fired as an executive because of serious problems at the company. Clinton has spent her life helping women, children, veterans, etc. while DDT who lies, bullies, cheats, and destroys everyone except the wealthy.

January 5, 2017

What Passes for News on NBC:

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 8:46 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Criticized for being close to Donald Trump (DT) and advising him on his campaign, Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s The Morning Show, claimed that people had to be good friends with political figures in order to get news from them. The conservative “news” show host has stayed while MSNBC fired progressive talk show hosts and replaced them with hacks such as Chuck Todd who has a daily show on that cable network as well as destroying the reputation of Meet the Press.

Now NBC has picked up Megyn Kelly from Fox, despite the latter’s offer of $100 million for her to stay. Kelly became a Fox star after she verbally attacked DT in the first primary debate. Now NBC is trying to boost its ratings by scheduling her as host of a daily daytime show and a Sunday newsmagazine program while she covers major political events.

Here’s some of Kelly’s past “journalism”:

Santa Claus is white. Kelly responded to a Slate column suggesting that black Santa Clauses make people of color feel more included:

“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know? I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.”

A journalist should know that “white” didn’t exist in first-century Palestine or third-century Turkey. Or that Santa Claus is not “a historical figure.”

Oh yes, Jesus was also white.

Victims should be blamed. Kelly said that Dajerria Becton, a 15-year-old black girl thrown to the ground by a police officer, deserves blame because of being “no saint.”

“The girl was no saint, either. He had told her to leave, and she continued to linger. When a cop tells you to leave, get out.”

Becton was doing exactly what the cop ordered: he said to leave “now” and she walked away. Corporal Eric Casebolt yelled at her, ran after her, grabbed her, and dragged her to the ground. He only stopped because two other officers grabbed him. He resigned, and she was not charged.

Pepper spray is just “a food product.” Kelly says that being sprayed is not any problem.

“It’s a derivative of actual pepper, it’s a food product, essentially. A lot of experts are looking at saying is that the real deal. Has it been diluted?”

Police-grade pepper spray is 5.5 times hotter than the hottest known pepper, the ghost chili that has been compared to “a cocktail of battery acid and glass shards.” A U.S. Army study stated that pepper spray’s active ingredient “is capable of producing mutagenic and carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities.”It can cause corneal damage and was associated with 26 deaths in California between 1993 and 1995—one in every 600 people sprayed by state police officials. The product is banned for military use overseas by the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use of “any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals.” 

Criticism of the Vietnam War sounds like Osama bin Laden. Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, agreed that it was fair to criticize his actions in bombing government buildings during the 1960s but that people should criticize violent actions that the U.S. takes in its military campaigns throughout the world. Kelly responded:

“I hear you saying — You sound like, with respect, Osama bin Laden.”

People in Colorado can commit voter fraud by printing out ballots at home. No they can’t! Kelly failed to understand the vote by mail process when she claimed that a new law “literally allows residents to print ballots from their home computers, then encourages them to turn ballots over to ‘collectors’ in what appears to be an effort to do away with traditional polling places.” Only people living abroad or serving in the military can receive them via email.

The New Black Panther Party is the greatest threat to American democracy ever. Six years ago, Kelly found prominence on the Fox network through her “shocking” reports about the organization that she accused of leading a vicious voter intimidation campaign during the 2008 election. In reality—not something of importance to either Kelly or Fox—two Black Panthers stood outside a heavily black Philadelphia voting place. Police removed them after complaints. Two years later, one Black Panther was at the same location, politely opening the door for voters. Media Matters reported that Kelly “devoted 45 segments, totaling more than 3.5 hours, to the investigation in a two-week timeframe” on the “scandal.” Her story was one of anti-white racism from Eric Holder, then head of the Department of Justice, who protected the NBPP and refused to investigate black people.

“Well, think about that. Think about that. … Now you’re going to have instances like this where Black Panthers and others can go to the polling stations and do this if they so choose. And they just basically are gonna get a pass because while it’s not an official thing, it’s been made very clear to all the rank-and-file voting rights attorneys in the DOJ those cases are not to be pursued.”

Racism has no relationship to police shootings of black people. Again not true! Yet Kelly continually used former Los Angeles Police Department officer Mark Fuhrman on her show to dismiss any racism. She also decried the “anti-cop, thug mentality” in black communities and criticized the Obama administration for encouraging integrated neighborhoods “whether the communities want it or not.”

megyn-kelly

Kelly gently searches for Donald Trump’s (DT) sensitive side. After her original attack on DT in the first primary debate and his refusal to attend another debate because of her, she changed to a cozy interview after he gained his GOP candidacy. At one point, she asked:

“Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?”

Racist “jokes” among officials are acceptable and normal. After a police officer killed Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO), an investigation uncovered blatantly racist email exchanges among the town’s commanders, police officers, and court officials. For example, the comment that President Obama would not keep his job in the 2012 election because “what black man holds a steady job for four years” and depicted him as a chimpanzee. Another example was the “joke” about a man seeking “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”

Most of the points above illustrate Kelly’s racist approach in her “news.” Her move to NBC appears to be a support of racist conspiracies and falsehoods in mainstream news.

Over a year ago, Andrew Lack, head of news for NBC and MSNBC, said that he was shifting away from left-wing hosts to save the network. Since then, the networks concentrated on presidential candidate DT over his competition and became another venue to tout the right wingers.

If NBC hopes to bring Fox network watchers to its network, they’re sadly mistaken. Reading the comments on the NYT article shows that the conservatives dislike her more than the progressives do. Of course, the highly conservative CEO of NBC won’t mind copying Fox in its non-progressive policies.

A much quieter move from Fox to MSNBC was accomplished by Greta Van Susteren. It appears that Megyn Kelly had already sucked all the oxygen out of the two networks.

December 17, 2016

President Right about Media, Clinton

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The way that Russian hacking may have controlled the 2016 presidential election was a major subject of President Obama’s last press conference this year.

“Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI, our entire intelligence infrastructure—many of whom, by the way, served in previous administrations and who are Republicans—are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.”

He also talked about the danger of the belief “that it’s okay to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people”—issues that may become popular in the next few years. He added his worry about “certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a [Russian] government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being okay, because ‘that’s how much we dislike Democrats.’”

Part of his comments, however, dealt with how the mainstream media in the U.S. acts like a Russian propaganda machine through obsessively searching for anything negative about Hillary Clinton—including such ridiculous pieces as a risotto recipe from her former campaign manager John Podesta.

The media largely ignored the president’s comments directed toward them or took umbrage. Slate chose to misrepresent what he said as referring only to “fake news,” and Atlantic only provided a few of his quotes with no comments. The Washington Post, a conservative publication that supported Trump until it thought he could win the primaries, declaimed “First Amendment rights” for accenting Podesta’s risotto recipe over DT’s involvement in Russian hacking. A pundit on MSNBC said that the president should have pushed the media harder if it wanted them to publicize the corruption and fraud of DT’s campaign and foreign involvement.

A review of the political media for the past 18 months more than supports President Obama’s comments about the media:

Clinton’s Emails: While the media obsessed with the non-existent scandal of Hillary Clinton’s private server, they glossed over the extensive list of DT’s alleged sexual assault victims and his other misogyny. At the same time, mainstream TV “news” equated the two; for example, ABC’s Matthew Dowd tweeted, “Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don’t talk about one without the other.” Pushback to his tweet brought the response that people who thought sexual assault was worse than Clinton’s legal actions were “partisan.” Clinton was asked twice about her email server in debates, and DT was asked only once about his sexual abuse.

Violence from DT Supporters: Pundits, including those from the supposedly “liberal” New York Times,  incessantly claimed that “both sides” fueled an acrimonious campaign. DT promised to legally defend anyone who punched a protester in the face, told another than he would “beat the crap” out of him, and called on anti-DT people to be “roughed up.” He constantly lambasted journalists to the extent that at least one of them had to be protected by guards as she left a rally. Clinton never said one inciting word. There was no proof that Clinton backers caused the violence from Trump supporters, the media accused the campaign of causing these problems.

“Race Relations” instead of White Supremacy: The false rhetoric used in the media implied a conflict between two equal parties instead of attacks from white supremacists wielding their power over minorities. In the debates, Lester Holt insisted on the need to “heal the divide” between races, and Elaine Quijano asked, “Do we ask too much of police officers in this country?”  No one discussed the problem of minority subjugation.

Equaling Anti-Racism and Racism: This campaign saw the rise of opposition to “political correctness,” and columnists such as David Brooks promoted the position that fighting oppressors is as bad as oppressing, similar to considering hostages in a bank robbery as equal bad as the bank robbers if they try to overpower their captors:

“But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.”

MSNBC has been accused of being so liberal that it’s the opposite of the Fox network, but Joe Scarborough, host of The Morning Joe Show, was a propaganda shill for DT, going to far as meeting with him at the Trump Tower to help him plan campaign strategy.

As soon as Clinton announced her run for president in 2015, mainstream media gloried in putting out massive negative coverage, according to a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on media coverage.

“Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”

The study found a ratio of 45 negative stories to one positive story on emails, most of them generated by the GOP and Fox network before being repeated on mainstream media. Eighty-four percent of Clinton’s coverage in this period was negative before the primaries with 90 percent negative during the negatives. The belief in Clinton’s unworthiness came from the media.

The media obsessed over the false accusation that Clinton was putting the United States at risk because of a private email server while it expressed no concern about DT considering Gen. David Petraeus for Secretary of State. Eighteen months ago he was convicted of passing classified information to his girlfriend while he was director of the CIA. The media, including the supposedly progressive Public Broadcasting System, has also totally ignored the fact that both Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice—strong supporters for the Russia-connected Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson—are on the payroll of Exxon, Tillerson’s employer.

In addition to admitting sexual assault, DT has broken the law in countless other ways including using illegal immigrants and mob help to build the Trump Tower, not paying sales taxes, committing federal income tax fraud, spending money from his personal non-profit charity foundation for personal expenses and bribery, failing to pay his workers, conning students at Trump University, paying off prosecutors with political donations, and now using his position as president-elect to blackmail other countries into better business deals. And he also destroyed his own emails to avoid problems in court. Clinton broke no laws, but the media has spent 18 months avoiding DT’s illegal activities while making Clinton’s legal activities seem the reverse.

Mainstream media incessantly called out Clinton for her speaker’s fees from Wall Street but said nothing about how a network marketing company judged to be a pyramid scheme paid DT $1.35 million for three speeches last year. Taxpayers paid $127 million for a golf course on top of a Bronx garbage dump that is named after DT. He keeps almost all the money for its first 20 years while taxpayers pay for the utility bills.

The media touts DT as a good businessman, but he passes along all his losses to other people as he consistently fails at his projects. Most of the structures with “Trump” in the name are owned by others; they pay DT for the name. Then there are the 250 buyers who lost money, sometimes their life savings, for a project in Baja, licensed to a third-party developer. He could have gotten them some money back, but he lied about not having insurance after it failed. The media let him get away with all his bad business deals just as they printed his lies about shutting down offshoring manufacturing and failed to report on his massive offshore retail deals.

Media support for DT comes from corporate greed. The CBS CEO openly admitted that he wanted the money he got from ratings. A DT presidency will lower taxes on network CEOs and senior executives as well as cut regulations that make media accountable for the public interest. NBC in particular will benefit from the “reality show” coming out of the White House because DT is the executive producer. DT’s “reality show” of rallies, tweets, and other announcements dominated during the campaign.

Clinton got attention only when she was attacking DT, and the media complained about her having no policies while they ignored the ones that she presented. The sole goal of making more money in network television came from the end of the Fairness Doctrine, any enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and independent television after the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

There’s a good reason that the official word of 2016 from the Oxford English Dictionary is “post-truth.” The media. The people who claim that they aren’t the “truth squad” know that they can get away with anything by denying that they’re doing anything wrong. Business as usual: the mainstream media cozies up to DT and normalizes the oligarchy that he wants to bring into the White House. And then says, “It’s not my problem!”

August 19, 2014

Why We Can’t Trust the NPR

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 7:33 PM
Tags: , , , ,

People who ridicule the Fox network and get their news from National Public Radio (NPR) might want to read Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman’s response to NPR’s spin on the government’s accusations that “former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden harmed national security and allowed terrorists to develop their own countermeasures.” A four-minute story on August 1 from national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston used information from “a tech firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.” Recorded Future supposedly worked with “cyber expert Mario Vuksan, the CEO of ReversingLabs,” to prove the government’s allegations against Snowden.

The first 80 percent of the story repeated the report’s key conclusion that “just months after the Snowden documents were released, al-Qaeda dramatically changed the way its operatives interacted online” and, post-Snowden, “al-Qaeda didn’t just tinker at the edges of its seven-year-old encryption software; it overhauled it.” Only 44 seconds at the end showed any skepticism with a quote from security expert Bruce Schneier, who questioned the causal relationship between the Snowden disclosures and the new terrorist encryption programs, as well as the efficacy of the new encryption.

Missing from NPR’s story is that Recorded Future is funded with millions of dollars by the CIA and U.S. intelligence community. In 2010, the firm filed forms to become a NSA vendor. Jason Hines, the company’s vice president, has refused to answer any questions about the current relationship between Recorded Future and the NSA. According to public reports, Recorded Future “earns most of its revenue from selling to Wall Street quants and intelligence agencies.” In July, 2010, Wired‘s Noah Shachtman stated that the company is backed by both “the investment arms of the CIA and Google.”

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of both the CIA and other intelligence agencies including the NSA, has seats on Recorded Future’s board of directors. The company’s websites lists Recorded Future as one of the companies in its “portfolio.” The New York Times noted these connections in 2011: “Recorded Future is financed with $8 million from the likes of Google’s venture arm and In-Q-Tel, which makes investments to benefit the United States intelligence community, and its clients have included government agencies and banks.”

Temple-Raston had this information. In 2012, NPR’s Morning Edition broadcast her profile of Recorded Future and its claimed ability to predict the future by gathering internet data. At the end of her report, she noted that the firm has “at least two very important financial backers: the CIA’s investment arm, called In-Q-Tel, and Google Ventures. They have reportedly poured millions into the company.”

As Temple-Raston knows, “cyber expert” Vuksan also has significant financial ties to the U.S. intelligence community. In 2012, In-Q-Tel touted a “strategic partnership” with ReversingLabs to develop new technology for the Department of Homeland Security. Vuskan hailed the partnership as vital to his company’s future prospects.

To use this story as independent analysis is the same type of fear mongering that keeps the hawks threatening to attack more countries for the financial benefit of their constituents. Hiding CIA connections with Recorded Future, former NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker used the report to argue in The Washington Post that “the evidence is mounting that Edward Snowden and his journalist allies have helped al-Qaeda improve their security against NSA surveillance.” Long before Snowden’s release of information, however, terrorists have successfully developed encryptions and other methods to protect communications from electronic surveillance.

A 45-page, single-spaced manual called a “Jihadist Handbook,” last updated about September 2003 and translated into English in 2005 or 2006, appears to be an excerpt from a 268-page document called Abu Zubaydah’s Encyclopedia, self-described as the “cumulative result of efforts of the brothers who walked on the path of jihad.” It contains highly specific and sophisticated instructions for avoiding electronic surveillance. Included are directions on keeping landline and mobile telephone calls, emails, and online chats secure because SIM cards in cell phones can be used by the NSA as tracking devices.  Instructions explain how to remove both the battery and SIM card from cell phones. Also described are how code words should be used for all online communication. Many sections are identical to the 2010 manual from the British intelligence and security agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), to operatives explaining how to keep communications secure.

Recorded Future’s chronology gives September 2013 as the roll-out of “the first Islamic encryption software for mobiles,” but “jihadists” had been working in this area for at least a decade. Al-Qaeda’s release of software in 2007 and 2008 shows a continual approach toward message encryption. The software was popularized in the first issue (July 2010) of Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s quarterly online magazine, in a post entitled “How to Use Asrar al-Mujahedeen: Sending and Receiving Encrypted Messages.” Every issue since then has a “how-to” section on encrypting communications, recommending MS2 as the main encryption tool.

In February, 2001, USA Today reported that al-Qaeda and other groups have been using “uncrackable encryption” since the mid-1990s. Terrorists did not need Snowden’s material to know that the U.S. and its allies are working to monitor their communications.

Recorded Future did admit that Al-Qaeda has had at least one encryption product but described a “significant uptick” after the Snowden reporting with no data about this. One impetus may have been the federal government boasting in August 2013 to McClatchy and The Daily Beast that the State Department ordered the closing of 21 embassies because of what it learned from an intercepted “conference call” among Al Qaeda leaders. Daily Beast reported:

“Al-Qaeda leaders had assumed the conference calls, which give Zawahiri the ability to manage his organization from a remote location, were secure. But leaks about the original intercepts have likely exposed the operation that allowed the U.S. intelligence community to listen in on the al-Qaeda board meetings.”

As The New York Times reported one month later:

“Senior officials have made a startling finding: the impact of a leaked terrorist plot by Al Qaeda in August has caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. The drop in message traffic after the communication intercepts contrasts with what analysts describe as a far more muted impact on counterterrorism efforts from the disclosures by Mr. Snowden of the broad capabilities of N.S.A. surveillance programs.”

Schneier thinks these leaks will “help U.S. intelligence efforts” because fear will make “people abandon good algorithms and software for snake oil of their own devising [that is less successful].” Chris Soghoian, technologist for the ACLU whose lawyers represent Snowden, noted that security companies occasionally put out reports “on the use of bespoke encryption software by terrorists, and then media eats it up.”

In response to this criticism, Recorded Future supplemented its report with a claim that the terrorists “are not using home-brew crypto algorithms” but rather “off the shelf” methods of cryptography. Both Schneier and Soghoian suggested that the developments claimed by Recorded Future make it easier, not harder, for the U.S. government to monitor the communications of extremists. According to these two experts, “using terrorist-specific encryption tools will only attract the attention of intelligence agencies.”

Basically, NPR used a report from a CIA-dependent company responsible for spreading pro-government propaganda, no matter how ridiculous. In the past, Recorded Future boasted that its monitoring media coverage of Occupy Wall Street detected Iran’s “growing influence” over that coverage. As Greenwald and Fishman wrote:

“None of these serious doubts, fallacies, or questions about this company and its ‘report’ were even alluded to by Temple-Raston in her NPR story, beyond a cursory and very limited Schneier quote tacked onto the end. It’s hardly surprising that these kinds of firms, linked to and dependent on the largesse of the U.S. intelligence community, produce pro-government tripe of this sort. That’s their function. It’s the job of media outlets to scrutinize these claims, not mindlessly repeat and then glorify them as NPR did here.”

The key revelation of the Snowden reporting is that the surveillance system built in secret by the NSA and its partners is directed at hundreds of millions of ordinary people and entire populations rather than “the terrorists.” People need to pay attention to the conservative bent of NPR since Koch brothers started “buying” it.

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