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Wednesday May 01, 2024

Reminder: The Man Who Cries Fake News is the Man Who Creates Fake News

“I guess we knew a lot of this, but it's jarring to hear it directly from a witness—that through all of these allegations Donald Trump has made about fake news, and about the media and lying and everything else, there was a whole system he had in place for literally the planting of fake news and the killing or the deep-sixing of correct and true news. I mean, at some point, Pecker testifies on the stand that Michael Cohen would call me and say, 'We would like you to run a negative article on a certain—let's say for argument sake—Ted Cruz. Then he, Michael Cohen, would send me information about Ted Cruz or Ben Carson or Marco Rubio, and that was the basis of our story. And then we would embellish it from there.'

”So I guess there's nothing necessarily unlawful about that. I guess there's a potential seed of a defamation or a libel claim there. But this whole machinery of the creation and dissemination of fake news against the backdrop of Donald Trump making those allegations against the mainstream media, it's a little jarring, isn't it?“

-- Preet Bharara, ”Trump Fined and Weinstein Overturned,“ The Cafe Insider Podcast. 

Completely agree. At the same time, I'm old enough to remember when ”fake news" became news. In the runup to the 2016 election, The New York Times ran several stories about how, particularly on social media sites, misleading information or fake news was being disseminated, and post-election, when we saw the real damage it had done, there was much national hand-wringing over fake news and (Mark Zuckerberg notwithstanding) a brief attempt to come to terms with it. And then Trump took ownership of the phrase. Any story that included negative inferences to him became fake news. He repeated it, over and over, and his acolytes repeated it, over and over, and that became the drumbeat, drowning out any real discussion. And now here we are. And it's a beautiful day.

But I'm glad Preet pulls back like this occasionally for a bigger picture. Not enough commentators do. 

Posted at 09:07 AM on Wednesday May 01, 2024 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Sunday March 24, 2024

The First Trump Lie in the NY Times Appeared in 1973

The first time Donald Trump's name appeared in The New York Times, back in 1973, in an article about his father entitled “A Builder Looks Back—and Forward,” it was accompanied by a lie:

The Donald graduated first in his class at Wharton? Impressive!

Yeah, no. From The Daily Pennsylvanian, a student newspaper, in 2019, in article entitled: “Mary Trump says 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump cheated on SAT to get into Penn”:

The Times still hasn't corrected their 1973 story. But don't worry: There's way more where that came from.

Posted at 08:42 AM on Sunday March 24, 2024 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Wednesday March 20, 2024

'Completely Off His Rocker'

“I think one of the failures of the media is that they've tried to explain Trump in the way you would explain a normal, healthy, or somewhat eccentric human being. But he is completely off his rocker. ... The problem we're going to have with Donald Trump—and I think the floodgates are going to open—is that people have tried to normalize him for too long. He is definitively, manifestly, unwell. He's a sick person.”

-- George Conway on CNN

Amen. The mainstream media, legit journalism—The New York Times, The Washington Post, WSJ and NPR—have had 10 years in which to figure out how to cover Donald Trump. They've failed. The Times in particular, particularly with their headlines or their focus, continue to soften his rough edges, normalize his abnormalities, or ignore his batshit craziness altogether. If Biden did 1/10 of what Trump did, it would be blaring headlines. With Trump, it's barely there. 

Posted at 07:01 AM on Wednesday March 20, 2024 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Wednesday August 30, 2023

Bunch: Our Most Pivotal Year

“America is entering its most important, pivotal year since 1860, and the U.S. media is doing a terrible job explaining what is actually happening. ... What we are building toward on Nov. 5, 2024, might have the outward trappings of an election, but it is really a show of force. What we call the Republican Party is barely a political party in any sense of the word, but a dangerous antisocial movement that has embraced many of the tenets of fascism, from calls for violence to its dehumanizing of ”others“...

”This weekend, the New York Times' Peter Baker, an influential news analyst, noted on Twitter/X that in 1994 some 21% of Republicans and 17% of Democrats viewed the other party negatively, which has risen to 62% (GOP) and 54% (Dems). Baker was recommending a story condemning 'tribalism,' when what we are really seeing here is the vitriol of an authoritarian movement and the increasing condemnation from those who are appalled by it.“

-- Will Bunch, ”Journalism fails miserably at explaining what is really happening to America," The Philadelphia Inquirer. Amen, amen, amen. I feel this every day listening to NPR and reading The New York Times. That disconnect. They didn't get it in 2016, they didn't get it in 2018 and 2020, and they still don't get it. Love the takedown not only of the Times' Baker but the Post's Kathleen Parker. Now do Steve Inskeep. 

Posted at 03:37 PM on Wednesday August 30, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Tuesday June 20, 2023

What's Your Headline on the Trump/Baier Interview?

Here's some of the attempts:

  • Trump, Fox's Bret Baier spar over former president's 2020 election claims --The Hill
  • Trump went on Fox News to defend himself. It didn't go well. --Vox
  • Trump All But Confesses to Mishandling Classified Docs on Fox News --Rolling Stone
  • Trump reacts angrily as Fox News anchor directly tells him he lost the 2020 election --The Independent
  • 'I was very busy.' Trump gives new reason he didn't hand over classified documents --USA Today

This is what The New York Times, our paper of record, went with:

You lead with the lie?

On the plus side, they get rather quickly to what the record currently states:

The July 2021 meeting — at Mr. Trump's golf club in Bedminster, N.J. — was recorded by at least two people in attendance, and a transcript describes the former president pointing to a pile of papers and then saying of Gen. Mark A. Milley, whom he had been criticizing: “Look. This was him. They presented me this — this is off the record, but — they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him.” ...

According to the transcript, Mr. Trump describes the document, which he claims shows General Milley's desire to attack Iran, as “secret” and “like, highly confidential.” He also declares that “as president, I could have declassified it,” adding, “Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret.”

If it was news clippings, why would he say Milley “presented me this”? Why would he describe news clippings as “highly confidential” and “still a secret”? All of that is damning. And none of it is in the headline. In the headline is the excuse. It's a lie. And I'm tired of lies that we all know are lies becoming stand-alone headlines. 

Of course, the Times' headline beats National Review's:

  • Trump's Home Run with Bret Baier

Yes, editor Rich Lowry says, Trump probably didn't help his legal case with the interview; but since his best way of getting off is getting elected, Lowry feels he did help his case by being “a dominant presence.” What a sad statement that is—about Fox's viewers, Lowry's readers, the modern GOP, and the fragile state of American democracy and the rule of law.

Posted at 03:37 PM on Tuesday June 20, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Monday June 05, 2023

Todd Chucked

When I heard Chuck Todd was leaving NBC's “Meet the Press” after nine years as its host, my first thought was “Good riddance.” But I wasn't seeing that sentiment in much mainstream media coverage. (I'm off Twitter, where, I'm sure, that sentiment was widespread.)

So thank you, Jeff Tiedrich, for your post “Good fucking riddance to Chuck Fucking Todd.” 

Tiedrich begins his piece with this Journalism 101 lesson, attributed to many: “If someone says it's raining, and another person says it's dry, it's not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out of the fucking window and find out which is true.” Tiedrich adds: “Chuck Todd never looked out the fucking window. Not once.” 

Then he gives numerous examples of Todd's no-look reporting style. He also quotes Todd bragging about this tendency way back in 2013. It was in reference to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which, Todd said, Republicans “have successfully messaged against.” And it wasn't journalism's job to expose misinformation? “What I always love is people say, 'Well, it's you folks' fault in the media,'” Todd responded. “No, it's the president of the United States' fault for not selling it.”

On some level, yes, Dems should be pushing back harder against this shit, particularly when they see dipshits like Todd doing nothing. But people like Todd helped pave the way for Trump and possibly the undermining of American democracy. He'll never see it that way but he did. That's his legacy. Bye.

Posted at 02:04 PM on Monday June 05, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday April 27, 2023

Why Tucker Wasn't Fired

In his SubStack, Judd Legum runs through some reasons why Fox News might have fired their biggest ratings draw, Tucker Carlson, unceremoniously by loudly, earlier this week. Was it Ray Epps (whom Tucker alleged was responsible for Jan. 6) airing dirty linen on “60 Minutes” Sunday night? Was it the lawsuit from Abby Grossman (who alleges a hostile and offensive work environment on Tucker's show)? Was it fallout from the Dominion lawsuit (where, during disovery, it was revealed that Tucker sent disparaging texts about Trump and others in the right-wing biosphere)? Was it D) All of the above? Right now, Fox isn't talking. The one time we want them to say something, they've zipped their pieholes. Would that they kept it up. 

Legum adds the following:

More importantly, we know what was not a firing offense for Carlson. He spent years promoting racist, white nationalist conspiracy theories. Not only was Carlson not fired, but top Fox News executives defended his conduct.

Exactamundo.

Upon finding out the good news, on the two newbie social media sites I'm on, I talked about Tucker as basically a street corner kid: eminently replaceable and there to draw your fire—not to mention ire—as he has done so well. And even though he's gone, someone else will take over that 8 PM slot and they'll be awful, too. That's the role of the 8 PM slot: to be awful. I said it's not O'Reilly or Hannity or Megyn or Tucker, it's the Murdochs. Follow the money.

It was a bit of a downer post, to be honest. I should've reveled more.  

“Whatever the reason Fox News cut ties with Tucker Carlson,” Legum writes at the end of his post, “it was not a moral stance. That ship sailed long ago.” Exactamundo.

Posted at 06:58 PM on Thursday April 27, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Saturday April 15, 2023

'Center Stage'

I meant to post this last week, but then I went to Ohio to see the play my nephew wrote and directed (this nephew, btw), and when I returned there was a lot of catch-up at work, and, well, here it is more than a week since I took these screen shots from The New York Times website and I'm only posting them now. The nice thing? They're still relevant. Fuck, they're evergeen. This will always look bad, Times.

Huh. And why does Donald Trump have center stage?

This:

Going forward, that'll be my euphemism for being charged, indicted, imprisoned. Al Capone has center stage. I hear author Michael Lewis had front-row seats when Sam Bankman-Fried was pulled onto center stage. Hey, anyone know if anyone has center stage on [latest mass shooting]?

One thing seems certain: It's not the last time this year Trump will have center stage. And the Times will be there with a shitty clickbait take on it. 

Posted at 10:32 AM on Saturday April 15, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday April 06, 2023

Amen

Posted at 06:15 AM on Thursday April 06, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Friday March 31, 2023

Guess the Lede in the Trump Indictment

Here are the ledes that appeared last night from our various national publications when news leaked that Donald Trump had been indicted by the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg. Can you guess which goes with which pub? Also, who nailed it? It's not like it was truly breaking news, after all. It was anticipated. 

  1. “Donald J. Trump was indicted in Manhattan on Thursday for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to five people with knowledge of the matter, a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation's first former president to face criminal charges.”
  2. “NEW YORK — A Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict former president Donald Trump, making him the first person in U.S. history to serve as commander in chief and then be charged with a crime, and setting the stage for a 2024 presidential contest unlike any other.”
  3. “NEW YORK — Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, prosecutors and defense lawyers said Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president to face a criminal charge and jolting his bid to retake the White House next year.”
  4. “Donald Trump is one step closer to being criminally charged, and potentially serving time in prison, after a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him for his role in the 2016 hush money payout to porn star Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. Stormy Daniels. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney's office said: 'This evening we contacted Mr. Trump's attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.'s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.'”
  5. “NEW YORK, March 30 - Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury after a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, becoming the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges even as he makes another run for the White House.”
  6. “In America, the freedom of the press is often exercised as the freedom to congregate in exactly the same place at the same time, not doing much. Two Saturday mornings ago, former President Donald Trump posted on his proprietary social-media platform, Truth Social, declaring that he would be indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney three days later—'on Tuesday.' That Monday, reporters from multiple continents and every major news network set up camp outside the seventeen-story Art Deco courthouse in lower Manhattan, where criminal defendants in the borough are taken for arraignment. Television cameras were planted...”

Answers:

  1. The New York Times (I like that NYT doesn't use the NEW YORK dateline. Because New York.)
  2. The Washington Post
  3. Associated Press
  4. Vanity Fair
  5. Reuters
  6. The New Yorker, of course

I'm teasing The New Yorker but any preference among the others? The Post and AP didn't mention the charges, just the fact that he was charged, and the historical nature of that fact. The Times mentioned why he was indicted with the proviso “according to five people with knowledge of the matter,” while Reuters was adept at mentioning the indictment after the probe into the hush money scandal. So it got that in there. Anyway we'll know more soon. 

Later in the evening, The New Yorker also gave us this stellar lede by David Remnick:

“Former President Donald Trump, twice impeached, yet impervious to shame, was indicted Thursday on criminal charges related to the payment of hush money to a porn star. There was a time in American history, almost impossible to recollect now, when such a sentence, such a plot point, would have been beyond our imagining. That has not been the case for a very long time.”

I think about that a lot. I imagine 2003 me reading 2017-2023 headlines and thinking, “What bullshit dystopian fiction did that come out of?” Sadly, the one we're living in. 

Again, yesterday was a good day for rule of law. I hope to celebrate March 30 until the day I die.

Posted at 06:18 AM on Friday March 31, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Thursday March 09, 2023

A Tale of Two Headlines: NYT

Here are two headlines from The New York Times. This was the lead story on their website when I woke up:

Raising taxes, wow. On you and me? Well, not really. That's the bit the headline leaves out. The proposed taxes would mostly fall on billionaires and corporate stock buybacks. The closest it gets to you and me is including earners north of $400k. But that's still a ways from me. Hope you're doing better.

Here's the second headline. It's one of the big stories making the rounds this week:

They shared a quandry, Gracie? What was that quandry? The subhed gets right into what the headline soft-pedals: “Fox hosts and executives privately mocked the former president's election fraud claims, even as the network amplified them in a frantic effort to appease viewers.” Yeah, that's a quandry all right. You push a narrative you privately think is nuts and dangerous because it's good for business; then that narrative helps lead to the gravest, most violent threat to the transition of power and American democracy in my lifetime. A “quandry.”

What do these headlines have in common? Both benefit Republicans. They push Republican narratives. The real story about Biden is beneficial to Biden. The real story about Fox is detrimental to Fox.

You can't help but wonder who's writing the headlines for the Times and what their marching orders are. I get the feeling there's a quandry there.

UPDATE: An hour later, the Times changed its Biden headline to “Biden's $6.8 Trillion Budget Doubles Down on the Power of Government.” But records showing Fox pushed a dangerous narrative it didn't believe in that resulted in Jan. 6? That's still a quandry.

Posted at 08:45 AM on Thursday March 09, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Tuesday March 07, 2023

Tucker Carlson Hates Donald Trump Passionately

Via The Washington Post:

Days before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, Fox's Tucker Carlson texted producer Alex Pfeiffer about how badly he wanted to stop covering President Donald Trump and how he had come to loathe the president.

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” Carlson texted Jan. 4, 2021. “I truly can't wait.”

“I hate him passionately,” Carlson added.

MAGA nation, please reconcile this discrepancy amongst yourselves—if you can. And if you can't, please sell tickets.

Posted at 07:19 PM on Tuesday March 07, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Saturday February 25, 2023

Corner Kid

“Abughazaleh is skeptical of the conventional wisdom that [Tucker] Carlson is one of the most powerful people in the United States. She and the other Media Matters researchers all seemed convinced that it was more the 8 p.m. Fox time slot that bestowed power. For millions of viewers, 'it's just a Pavlovian response to put on Fox News at eight o'clock,' [deputy director Andrew] Lawrence said. 'Tucker needs the eight-o'clock hour on Fox News way more than Fox News needs Tucker.'”

-- from “Watching Tucker Carlson for Work,” by Clare Malone, in The New Yorker

This has long been my feeling. In the parlance of “The Wire,” Tucker Carlson is a corner kid. He's eminently expendable and replaceable. If a scandal washes him away to Bill O'Reilly-land tomorrow, they'll just find somebody else to do similar schtick to keep the 1.6 million in a perpetual state of anger and fear. It's Rupert Murdoch you need to focus on. It's always been Rupert Murdoch. Follow the money, as the man said.

Posted at 10:00 AM on Saturday February 25, 2023 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Wednesday January 26, 2022

Quote of the Day

A thousand times this. 

Posted at 04:32 AM on Wednesday January 26, 2022 in category Media   |   Permalink  

Monday October 25, 2021

Fox & Fascists: What Birtherism Gave Birth to

“[Roger] Ailes tested something too: a Trump call-in segment on Fox & Friends. On March 28 [2011], the hosts teed up Trump to irresponsibly fearmonger about Obama's birthplace. Gretchen Carlson looked skeptical, but the men went right along with Trump's lies. Doocy even took a shot at the news media, telling Trump, 'They're trying to paint you as the mayor of Crazytown for bringing this up'...

”This, it turned out, was the first episode of 'Monday Mornings with Trump,' a weekly segment that changed the course of American politics. Ailes even ordered up TV promos for the segment. 'Bold, brash, and never bashful, the Donald now makes his voice loud and clear every Monday on Fox,' the announcer said. Trump loved it. He was ticked off that people weren't taking his political gambits seriously, and the segment helped him change that by giving him a direct connection with the conservative base. Through the weekly calls, he got to know Ailes's priorities. He got to know Fox's priorities. He got to know the people who became his voters. And they got to know him...

“The birther smear helped cement the impression of Obama as a foreigner in the minds of millions of viewers, wedded Trump to the Fox base, and foreshadowed Trump and Fox's full-throated embrace of white identity politics.”

-- from Brian Stelter's “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth”

Posted at 03:25 PM on Monday October 25, 2021 in category Media   |   Permalink  
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