Media postsThursday November 01, 2018
NP Fucking R
Do I even bother?
Yesterday, NPR's “Morning Edition” spent seven minutes on a piece about a young woman from Minnesota, who claims a liberal background, voted for Hillary, and realizes, after two years of Trump, what bullies liberals are.
- The ICE workers she works with are nice.
- Though she's been sexually assault herself, and believes Dr. Ford, she thinks it wasn't Brett Kavanaugh who assaulted her.
- Democrats disturb people at dinner.
Basically she's following the GOP/Fox News line.
That would be my follow-up whenever anyone presents misleading or false claims during an intereview with a reporter: Where do you get your news? Of the above, 1) is misleading (ICE is just a gov't agency, full of people like you and me; you need to look at who's giving the orders); 2) is GOP/Fox spin on those events; 3) is true in a handful of cases.
I'd also be curious where NPR came upon this story: who pitched whom? And how much due diligence was done? What really stood out for me: The young woman, Alexa Gruman, never says “Democratic party.” She always says “liberal party.” Which isn't a thing. At all.
Seven minutes. The week after pipe-bombs were sent to Trump opponents, including former Pres. Obama; the week after 11 people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue over immigration issues; and the day after Trump announced his intention to executive-order the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, we get seven minutes of this woman's cheerful idiocy. It's presented to us like it's news.
NPR's Motiveless Crime
I was listening to an NPR report this morning about the pipebombs sent to former President Obama, former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, and financier George Soros. Since then, we‘ve learned bombs have been sent to former Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, and many others. The Manhattan offices of CNN were also evacuated due to a bomb scare.
What do they all have in common? Well, it’s pretty obvous. They‘re all frequent targets of Pres. Trump and right-wing propaganda networks like Fox News. No mystery there.
Except for some reason, this morning, NPR wanted to preserve the mystery.
Four times during the 3-minute talk between host Steve Inskeep and reporter Ryan Lucas, they cautioned against ascribing any motive to the crimes:
- LUCAS: But, you know, it’s unclear what the motive of the individual who left this this device may have been...
- LUCAS: Certainly a lot of questions as to the motivations behind whoever left it...
- LUCAS: And there are questions certainly as to whether there is a political motivation behind this...
- INSKEEP: Yeah. We should emphasize—no one has named any suspect. No one has said anything about the motivations of that suspect or anything else...
I get not ascribing a motive to the actions. But constantly warning us against doing so? What's the motive to that? It felt overdone. It felt like they thought that without their consant drumbeat, we would all take to the streets in a lawless fashion.
Here's what's worse: At the same time, Inskeep let us know that each of the recipients, Obama, Hillary and Soros, were “polarizing figures.” Just as he reminded us, on Jan. 19, 2017, how much, during his time in office, Obama had divided the country.
One Moment from the Seattle Times' coverage of the Schrier-Rossi Debate You Won't Hear More About
Here's another example of what's wrong with the mainstream media. Not to mention the Republicans. Not to mention the Democrats.
It's from the Seattle Times' coverage of the recent debate between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Kim Schrier for the U.S. 8th congressional district seat in Washington state. It's an open seat after Republican Dave Reichert, who's held the seat since 2005, decided to step down. The district was created after the 1980 census and has never not been held by Republicans.
Here's the coverage. It's from a piece by Jim Brunner entitled “4 moments from the Rossi-Schrier debate you may hear more about.” It's his second moment: “TWO: An insult to farmers?” It goes like this:
Asked about problems with the U.S. guest-worker program, Schrier said the system doesn't work well for farmers or immigrant workers. She said the system “can lead to sort of a pattern of indentured servitude, where a worker is sort of held hostage by a potentially abusive farmer, or farm owner.”
Rossi responded, “I don't believe our farmers are abusive” and that political posturing has prevented the kind of immigration reform the country needs.
I don't even need to know the details of the U.S. guest-worker program to see what just happened there. Schrier said the system can lead to abuses. She's raising a hypothetical with one possible farmer. Because farmers are human beings, with all the possibilities contained therein. Rossi twists her words so that her one hypothetical farmer becomes all farmers.
And does Brunner or the mainstream media clear this up? The opposite.
On Thursday, Andrew Bell, Rossi's campaign manager, pointed to Schrier's comment as evidence she's out of touch with the 8th District.
“Calling farmers abusive seems a strange way to court voters in a district that is rural,” he said, adding that the campaign already has heard from farmers offended by the comment who are considering how to respond.
And do the Dems fight back by pointing out what I just pointed out? The opposite.
Schrier's campaign backed away some from the statement Thursday, with Rodihan saying, “that's not how she would normally word it.” Rodihan said the larger point is that the farmworker visa program “is broken and both workers and farmers believe the program should be fixed.”
Except Schrier didn't word it that way—Rossi did. He twisted her words, the media didn't clarify, the Dems backed down. Way of the world. Since fucking forever.
The Republicans do this all the time—when it suits them. An immigrant commits a crime, all immigrants are bad. A Muslim commits a terrorist act, all Muslims are bad. A white guy goes into a black church and kills everyone in there, whoops, what a crazy, mixed-up kid.
Yesterday, The Seattle Times editorial board officially endorsed Dino Rossi for the 8th district. Yesterday, I spent most of the day in the 8th canvassing for Dr. Kim Schrier. Because we need a check on the real abuses of the Trump administration, and Dino Rossi will most assuredly not be that.
More than anything, though, I'm tired of this pattern: where language and logic is held hostage by abusive Republicans and remains unclarified by the hapless media. Sadly, that's not close to a hypothetical.
I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
Dark days. When I feel myself get down, I remind myself that's what Mitch McConnell wants.
Last Friday, the New York Times ran a story about how, during other recent dark days, in the aftermath of Trump firing FBI director James Comey, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire around Trump. Here's how it looked as the lede on their website:
How do they know this? Somebody said it. Who? They‘re not saying. Does he/she have an agenda? Who knows? All I can think of is Judith Miller in 2002. Her deep source on Iraq was Dick Cheney, she printed what he said without attribution, then he held up the Times and said, “Look, even the New York Times is saying so.” Was Miller obligated at that point to say, “Wait, that was you”? Obligated as a citizen, I mean. As someone who cares about truth, the country, where it’s going.
It feels like the Times got played again. Feels like, instead of getting us deeper into war, they‘re getting us deeper into a constitutional crisis. What I particularly dislike is the certainty in the above. This happened. This way. Not: According to an unnamed source... who may have an agenda... “ No, they planted their feet; they went provocative. They went third-person omniscient.
Rosenstein immediately denied the substance of the piece, and subsequent reports say that in the conversation Rosenstein was being sarcastic, joking. As in: ”What do you want me to do—wear a wire?“ But the above is the story. It will always be the story. I don’t know how you make it not the story.
Anyone who doesn't see where this is going didn't see Trump winning in the wake of Comey's 11th-hour reopening of the Hillary email case. The New York Times make it sound like there's partisan hackery in the DOJ. They make it sound like Rosenstein has an agenda, and that's why he hired Mueller. So it gives justification to fire Rosenstein, and for the new appointee to fire Mueller. And then where are we?
Read your David Simon. I like this graf in particular:
Given all this, I fear a good newspaper, and at times a great newspaper, has in this instance performed disastrously. The newspaper encountered a rational and inevitable process by which professionals, while balanced on a very real ethical precipice, are meeting and spitballing their status and options — as say a bunch of reporters or editors might contemplate all manner of option, express all possible concerns, evaluate all possible risk, and likely employ all forms of sarcasm or wit when addressing their ethical role and a complicated task at hand. And then, given some available shards of information about that process by interested parties — as all sources are interested parties — the Times foolishly made itself party to what amounts to a first-news-cycle justification for an authoritarian administration to fire a torpedo into the very idea that we are a nation of laws. Because this kind of journalistic malpractice isn't happening in a vacuum: These are perilous times. Much is no longer normal in our governance. The stakes are high.
No one mention ”liberal media" to me ever fucking again.
Extraordinary! Really Wild Ride!
More NPR. I know. Apologies. You picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
So here's Korva Coleman on “Weekend Edition: Sunday” this morning, explaining the week we just went through:
Last week, by almost any measure, was an extraordinary one for news. The meeting between Pres. Putin and Trump in Helsinki reverberated throughout the week and particularly on Capitol Hill:
- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA, 28): “This was a wholesale betrayal of the values and interests in this country.”
- Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “It made us look as a nation more like a pushover.”
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “I think the Russians need to know that there are a lot of us who fully understand what happened in 2016, and it better not happen again in 2018.” *
NPR's Mara Liasson is here to help us process the past week and prepare for the next one. Good morning, Mara.
Mara, the post-Helsinki week was a really wild ride, full of clarifications and walkbacks from the president, and meanwhile Putin and the Russians appear to be defining the post-summit narrative. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will go to the Hill this week to talk to members of Congress. What will they want to know?
* For more and how much Mitch knew about Russian interference in the 2016 election, please consult this Dec. 2016 Washington Post article. Please.
Sigh. How horrifying does a week have to be before NPR will call it horrifying? How embarrassing before it's embarrassing? Instead, what adjectives do we get? “Extraordinary” and “a really wild ride.” They could be advertising the roller coaster at Six Flags. How would they describe Kristallnacht? Amazing? Astounding? A helluva party?
Oh, and NPR is still saying Trump is clarifying when he's obfuscating. I guess that‘ll never go away.
As for perspective, Mara doesn’t tell us much we don't already know. Putin and Trump met for an hour, alone, and what came out of that no one knows. Putin offered to let federal agents interrogate the 12 indicted Russians (currently safe in Russia) if we fly a former U.S. ambassador to him to interrogate, which is both shocking and, to Pres. Trump, “an incredible offer.” Trump also wants to meet Putin in the U.S. in September. I doubt Republicans up for re-election are enthused about that.
For true perspective, I'd recommend Andrew Sullivan's most recent column (Trump actually believes what he says; i.e., he wants a zero-sum game where the powerful bully the weak, and NATO and western values are meaningless because they don't let us do that); and Adam Davidson's New Yorker piece, “A Theory of Trump Kompromat” (Putin isn't dictating to Trump; Trump simply believes the Russians have something on him—probably financial—and is acting accordingly).
See you next week. I'm sure by Friday NPR will be calling it “exceptional.”