Media posts

Thursday May 14, 2020

Reasoning Backwards with Dr. Christakis

This morning, the day after Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that reopening businesses and schools too quickly could lead to unnecessary suffering and death, with Pres. Trump responding that it wasn't “an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools,” NPR's “Morning Edition” ran a report about a pediatrician who is basically siding with Pres. Trump.

The pediatrician, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, who directs the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Hospital, is concerned with the mental health of kids in an age of Covid-19-enforced social distancing. He says: “The social-emotional needs of children to connect with other children in real time and space, whether it's for physical activity, unstructured play or structured play, this is immensely important for young children in particular.”

Of course. Makes sense. So what do we do? Christakis has written an editorial calling for “a panel made up of interdisciplinary experts to make school reopening a priority in the United States.” Then he says this:

“I think we should sort of reason backwards from the expectation that children do start school—that that's an imperative. And then how do we make that happen safely?”

Ah. So the thing that everyone in the world is trying to figure out—how to reopen safely—is the thing the panel needs to figure out. Got it. It's like someone saying: “We need to go to the moon. And all we need to do is ... figure out a way to get to the moon.” Which I guess is always the problem when you reason backwards. 

Meanwhile, yesterday's top story on The Washington Post site was about how countries that have eased restrictions are imposing lockdowns again amid spikes in Covid cases. Meanwhile, children with Covid-related inflammatory problems are spiking here and in Europe. 

We‘re not having the conversations we need to have.

ADDENDUM: A day later, another NPR report on same, this time by David Greene: “Researchers Examine Long-Term Effects Of Students Being Out Of School.” There’s a thing called “summer slide” that kids go through—they don't learn much during summer vacation and in the fall they‘re often behind where they were in the spring. So x 2 (at the least) for Covid. There’s also concerns about socio-economic disparities and language differences: ESL students who only speak their native tongue at home. It's not a bad report. Sadly, it's still framed against the Fauci/Trump difference about when to return kids to school. To me, it should be about how to make it work given our current situation, given the pandemic. Everything else is noise.

Posted at 08:27 AM on Thursday May 14, 2020 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Friday April 24, 2020

Now Do Climate Change

Posted at 01:07 PM on Friday April 24, 2020 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday April 02, 2020

If You're Wondering Where the Hell OANN Came From

“OANN [One America News Network] was founded 2013 by Robert Herring Sr., a millionaire Republican donor from San Diego who made his fortune in the circuit-board business before starting over in media. His son, Charles Herring, president of One America's parent company Herring Broadcasting, told The Post last week that the channel ”is designed to report just the news“ and that ‘we would not describe our news reporting as right-leaning.’

”But for a 2017 story, more than a dozen former and current employees described Robert Herring to The Post as a heavy-handed unofficial news director who frequently ordered coverage favorable to Trump. It was the first channel to carry Trump's 2016 campaign speeches live, and internal emails showed Herring directing that other candidates' rallies not get the same treatment.“

— from the article ”OANN threatened with removal from White House press room after correspondent Chanel Rion makes unauthorized appearances," by Paul Farhi, on the Washington Post site

Posted at 08:54 PM on Thursday April 02, 2020 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Wednesday April 01, 2020

‘The President Doesn’t Have Accurate Information': How NPR Contorts the Language and Avoids Responsibility

Yesterday morning, on NPR's “Morning Edition,” Rachel Martin spoke with the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, about the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic  See if you can spot the moment that made me want to throw the radio across the room.

(Hint: It's not anything the Republican governor said.)

HOGAN: Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer [D-MI] and I did an op-ed in The Washington Post today, together, talking about what governors need. And one of the things we need is what we—you—just talked about, which is more production and distribution and coordination of these materials and supplies, the PPEs, testing and ventilators. ...

MARTIN: But President Trump has suggested that the testing problems are over. They‘ve been fixed. It’s no longer an issue.

HOGAN: Yeah, that's just not true. I mean, I know that they‘ve taken some steps to create new tests, but they’re not actually produced and distributed out to the states. So it's a aspirational thing, and they have taken—they‘ve got some new things in the works, but they’re not actually out on the streets, and that's ... No state has enough testing.

MARTIN: Then how much concern does it give you that the president right now clearly doesn't have accurate information?

HOGAN: Well, it's ... We think it's important to get the facts out there, and I think there are people in the administration who are talking about the facts every day. And we‘re listening to the smart team, the coronavirus team, the vice president and Ambassador Birx and Anthony Fauci and people like that who are giving factual information on a daily basis.

Good news! A Republican governor is dismissing the Republican president—as all good Republicans should be doing. Look who he says are talking about the facts every day: Pence, Birx, Fauci. Who’s missing? You know who. As a country, we‘ve been in difficult situations before (Revolutionary War, Civil War, Great Depression, WWII), but during those times we generally had good leaders (Washington, Lincoln, FDR). Right now we’ve got a dipshit. People are going to die because 63 million Americans voted for a dipshit for president.

But I knew that. That's not what set me off.

What set me off was Rachel Martin's follow-up when Gov. Hogan told her that Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was saying things that weren't true in the midst of a global pandemic: 

Then how much concern does it give you that the president right now clearly doesn't have accurate information?

Doesn't have accurate information? Like he's asking for it and isn't getting it? Like it's in the next room somewhere? Like aides are keeping it from him out of some kind of deep-state conspiracy? Could she divorce Trump any more from the misinformation he's daily disseminating? From responsibility or accountability of any kind?`

Good god, NPR.

So what should the follow-up be? Maybe: “Why do you think the president is disseminating misinformation?” Sure, you might get the same response, but at least you'd been honing in on the real question. At least you wouldn't be avoiding responsibility. Both the president's and your own.

Posted at 08:31 AM on Wednesday April 01, 2020 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday February 20, 2020

‘Full-Blown National Security Crisis’

The crisis is also with the legit press since they always seem to miss the point. Brennan knows the crisis but The New York Times does not, or it's playing dumb for the sake of a feigned objectivity. The real headline isn't “Russia Backs Trump's Re-election, and He Fears Democrats Will Exploit Its Support,” but “U.S. Intelligence Finds Russia Interfering in 2020 Election, but GOP Won't Pass Security Measures.” The Times could argue both parts of its hed are true, but then so are mine, and mine gets closer to the matter. If there's a problem, you wonder what the solution is, not what someone benefitting from the problem will say. 

In other news, amid interference from both Trump and AG William Barr, Trump crony Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for obstructing a congressional inquiry and witness tampering. How many is that now? How many people associated with Trump have now been indicted or are now in prison? 

  1. Paul Manafort
  2. Rick Gates
  3. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
  4. Michael Cohen
  5. George Papadopoulos
  6. Rudy Giuliani?

ABC has a longer list here

Posted at 04:53 PM on Thursday February 20, 2020 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Saturday January 11, 2020

Training-Wheels Trump

This is dead on. It's one of the many ways legit news orgs are failing us and our democracy. I also know that once they get a Democrat back in the White House the press will be all over their ass about the details of their plans to make the lives of Americans better. It‘ll be a smart person trying to do good, and the press will be off to the side with hands on hips and a cynical look in their eyes. But with Trump they just look on helplessly. They straighten their ties and try to parse out what feels legitimate about what he’s saying—what feels presidential—and it's not much, and of course they‘re not paying attention to everything else—all the ways he’s a complete catastrophe, whch is most of the ways. Here's a small thing but a large thing. It's indicative of who Trump is. At a rally the other day, he called out a representative of the U.S. House and misrepresented his stances. Then he insulted his physical appearance. This is how The New York Times dealt with the story—and the only way they dealt with that story. It's the seventh graf of a story headlined: “At First Rally of Election Year, Trump Boasts About Strike on Iranian General” with the subhed: “The president, addressing supporters in Ohio, said that he had killed a ‘bloodthirsty terror’ and slammed Democrats for seeking to restrain his power to make war”:

Mr. Trump also singled out Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, offering a parody version of the congressman supposedly preferring to talk about taking out a terrorist instead of actually doing so. “You little pencil neck,” Mr. Trump then said derisively, as if addressing Mr. Schiff.

Trump constantly does this. He constantly demeans others by insulting their looks, or by inventing mocking nicknames for them, like he's a third-grade bully during recess. It's one of his main characteristics, and obvious as far back as 2015 and 2016, but the legit press barely touches on it. I think they think it's beneath their dignity. It is, but it's the president of the United States saying it, meaning it's a huge, huge story. It should be the headline: Not what the insult is (that just gives it more air), but the fact that he's making the insult. The president of the United States. 

The legit press has to do a better job at this. I hope it's a constant discussion in the offices of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and NPR. 

Posted at 04:11 PM on Saturday January 11, 2020 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Wednesday December 04, 2019

NATO/NPR Leadership

Yesterday on NPR's Morning Edition, in anticipation of the 2019 NATO Summit in London, Noel King interviewed former U.S. Senator (R-TX) and current NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, who talked up:

  • the necessity of US leadership in NATO
  • the importance of the Kurds/YPG as allies
  • the continuing danger of Russian aggression

while also extolling:

  • Donald Trump's “forceful,” straight-talking leadership

with hardly any pushback from Noel King.

This is the way democracy dies: not with a bang but with hardly a whimper from NPR.

Posted at 06:54 AM on Wednesday December 04, 2019 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Friday September 13, 2019

What Liberal Media? Part 2,398

“There’s also a degree to which TV anchors and pundits offer an unspoken acceptance of a basic Republican idea, that taxes are somehow uniquely bad. You can see it in the way Matthews pressed Warren, acknowledging that total costs may go down but saying he didn’t really care, because what matters to him is whether taxes go up.

”Which, when you think about it, is utterly bonkers. The average insurance premium for an employer-provided family plan is nearly $20,000 a year. If that’s what you were paying, and I told you that I could give you back that $20,000 but your taxes would go up by $10,000 so you’d wind up with $10,000 more than you had to begin with, and you replied, “No deal — I don’t want to pay higher taxes!” you’d be a complete fool.“

— Paul Waldman, ”What is it so important to get Warren to say, 'I‘ll raise taxes’?" in The Washington Post

Posted at 05:04 PM on Friday September 13, 2019 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Sunday May 26, 2019

The Press Ain't Yellow, It's Chicken*

* With apologies to Bob Dylan.

Posted at 10:51 AM on Sunday May 26, 2019 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday April 04, 2019

On Deep Background, Mueller's Team Pushes Back

I'm glad some members of the Mueller team are apparently speaking up. This is from The New York Times yesterday:

Some of Robert S. Mueller III's investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel's office — is who shapes the public's initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller's team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel's findings, Americans' views will have hardened before the investigation's conclusions become public.

Who's helping shape that early opinion? Why The New York Times. Looks at this headline from a week ago:

Not even a “Barr Claims” or “Barr Says” or simply: “Barr:” at the front. Then if you go to their “Today's Paper” section from that day, you see some of their other stories:

  • A Cloud Over Trump's Presidency is Lifted
  • Trump Declares Exoneration, and a War on His Enemies
  • Barr Goes Beyond Mueller in Clearing Trump on Obstruction, Drawing Scrutiny

One thing Sarah Palin got right: The mainstream media is the lamestream media—but for the opposite reason that she was claiming. If anything, they tend to lean right; they get played by conservative forces. All the time. 

So what are we hearing from Mueller's team now? It's still fairly opaque; still on deep background. Mueller's team did write multiple summaries of the report, none of which AG Barr used. And much concern from Mueller's team apparently relates to what the Times euphemistically calls “Mr. Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation.” I.e., obstruction of justice. But the Times spends most of the article giving us Barr's perspective. Typical. And lame.

Posted at 10:42 AM on Thursday April 04, 2019 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday February 28, 2019

Yeah Yeah, That Adult Film Star Hush Money Thing with the President; Whatever

This was NPR “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep talking to reporter Ryan Lucas about the Michael Cohen hearings this morning: 

We should note that a lot of what Michael Cohen said essentially confirmed things that had already been reported. Yes, the president paid hush money to an adult film star through Cohen, Cohen said. Yes, the president paid for a painting of himself with charitable contributions. But what did you learn during yesterday's testimony that you had not heard before?

Pause for a second on that. Because when he said it I laughed out loud. I don't know whether to give Inskeep credit for raising these points again or to condemn him for doing so in such a dismissive way. Yeah yeah, the president of the United States had an affair with an adult film star then paid her $130k to keep quiet about it during the 2016 presidential campaign. Yawn. And sure, people donated their hard-earned bucks for a charitable cause and he used that to buy a painting. Of himself. But show me someone in Congress who hasn‘t done that. 

I’m reminded again how corrupt Trump is and how weak our current system is. Scandals that might unseat a president, or at least hound his entire presidency, are here almost footnotes.

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Breitbart, Drudge and the GOP generally have a lot to answer for. Also NPR. The day after the Cohen testimony, and they touch on it twice in their three-hour(?) broadcast. They spend the majority of time on Wilbur Ross and the failed North Korea Summit. What are they afraid of? 

Posted at 08:45 AM on Thursday February 28, 2019 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Monday December 31, 2018

Some Shitty 2018 New York Times Headlines

Not a comprehensive study, by the way, just the ones I had lying around. I basically took the screenshots when I: 1) noticed, 2) cared enough/was incensed enough, and 3) had the time. But there is a theme.


It's the “Trump says” theme. He says North Korea is no longer a nuke threat, Germany is a captive of Russia, and, maybe most absurdly, he “laid down the law,” when at best he laid it aside. He threw it away. He stomped on it without even knowing or caring he was stomping on it. 

Why is it a problem to simply report what a powerful person said? Here. From “Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign against Joseph McCarthy” by David A. Nichols:

Sensing the chance to gain more headlines, [Joseph] McCarthy terminated his honeymoon and rushed back to take charge of the Monmouth investigation. Once back, he rolled out sensational charges every day. He was free to emerge from closed-door hearings and tell the press anything he wished, accurate or not, knowing that reporters would report whatever he said.

One hopes that in 2019 The New York Times and other responsible media outlets will try to avoid this construction as much as possible.

Posted at 10:45 AM on Monday December 31, 2018 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Tuesday December 11, 2018

For NPR, ‘Trump Implicated in Felony’ Creates Dilemma for Democrats

So the president of the United States was implicated in a felony in federal court on Friday—for buying the silence of McDougal/Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election regarding affairs with each of them. Here's the headline the next day in my hometown newspaper:


That's straightforward. Much of the rest of the mainstream press was less so. They prevaricated as much as possible.

Did anyone do this more than NPR? When I listened to Morning Edition on Monday, the focus of their broadcast, for the 15 or so minutes I listened, was on the dilemma all this causes for Democrats.

I shit you not. 

NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson, in breaking down the matter, refers to Trump once; she refers to Democrats six times. 

INSKEEP: Now, you said unindicted co-conspirator. Of course, the key word there is unindicted. He's not indicted here. He's just named for his involvement in a crime, or Individual One is. It is a matter of dispute whether a sitting president can be indicted by a grand jury, but he certainly can be impeached by Congress. Do Democrats want to do that?

LIASSON: Some Democrats do. Most Democrats don‘t. Democrats want to keep the right balance when they take over power in the House. They want to exercise oversight. They want to investigate the president and the administration in a non-showboaty way.

BTW: Some people might consider the key word “co-conspirator,” Steve. 

Then Morning Edition’s crack team immediately went to a long interview with Jonah Golberg, senior editor at National Review, who also talked about what a dilemma all this was for the Democrats. Particular, he added, because of the demands of its base:

The base of the Democratic Party wants impeachment. They crave impeachment. They hunger for it. They're sort of like werewolves. At the full moon, they must feed. And if they must impeach over this stuff, they may in fact impeach over this stuff.

Rachel Martin brings up how the Clinton impeachment actually backfired against the GOP, to which Goldberg says: 

I agree. I think politically it would be a bad idea. It was a bad idea for the Republicans to do it politically, but they sort of had to follow through on their own, you know, line of reasoning and consistency.

Got that? Dems are werewolves, Repubs follow a “line of reasoning.” And the illegalities of a Republican president create dilemmas for the other party. So glad NPR is here to help me make sense of the world.

Posted at 05:07 PM on Tuesday December 11, 2018 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday 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.

Her evidence:

  1. The ICE workers she works with are nice. 
  2. Though she's been sexually assault herself, and believes Dr. Ford, she thinks it wasn't Brett Kavanaugh who assaulted her. 
  3. 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.

Posted at 04:17 AM on Thursday November 01, 2018 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Wednesday October 24, 2018

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.

Posted at 09:57 AM on Wednesday October 24, 2018 in category Media   |   Permalink  
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