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.
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.
Monday June 05, 2023
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.
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.
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.
Saturday April 15, 2023
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?
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.
Thursday April 06, 2023
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.
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “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.'”
- “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.”
- “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...”
- The New York Times (I like that NYT doesn't use the NEW YORK dateline. Because New York.)
- The Washington Post
- Associated Press
- Vanity Fair
- 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.
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.
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.
Saturday February 25, 2023
“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.
Wednesday January 26, 2022
Quote of the Day
A thousand times this.
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 , 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”
Wednesday October 20, 2021
If Anyone Would Like to Say a Few Words About the Deceased...
So this arrived yesterday via the usual social media circles. It's a eulogy for an American hero delivered by a former American president. And yet something seems slightly off about it:
Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America
Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, by anyway, may he rest in peace!
I know we expect nothing from this fuckstick, and so the notion that he would release the above a few days after the death of Colin Powell isn't exactly news. But it is news. Because former American presidents have never acted this way before. This is how Trump got away with it in office. He'd do this kind of shit, the mainstream press wouldn't cover it, thinking it wasn't news, and then he could do it again. On social media, his detractors would gasp, his supporters would guffaw, and on he'd go. There were no consequences. World without end.
I'm curious if any of his inner circle tried to prevent the statement's release? Or tried to edit it? “Mr. President, that first sentence doesn't quite make sense. I think you mean infamously rather than famously, and either way it gets in the way. I think it's smoother without. And I'd excise that whole second sentence. Don't make it about you—I know, but don't—and also aren't you implying that once you've died you hope the press will forgive all the big mistakes you've made? Yes. That's what you're implying. You're implying big mistakes, famous mistakes, on your part. And why repeat the mistakes thing in the last sentence? The whole statement is pretty short and you're already repeating yourself? I'd also lose the anyway, which is childish, and the exclamation point, ditto. I mean, the whole thing is childish. It's petty and pathetic and shows the smallness of your soul. Sir.”
The New York Times didn't cover it, by the way. Not news.
Sunday July 25, 2021
Harry Rosenfeld (1929-2021)
Bradlee, Dusty, Rosenfeld at the movie premiere. I like the drinks Bradlee and Rosenfeld are sharing. I like the plate under Rosenfeld's arm.
There's a scene halfway through “All the President's Men,” a front-page meeting/city-desk meeting, in which the various editors get together and figure out what the top stories of tomorrow's edition will be. There's some disagreement, a lot of banter and humor, and a healthy dose of cynicism. In tone, dress, posture, they remind me of my father's generation at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and thus the literal adults in the room when I was a child. Sadly, the adults in the room are leaving us.
For the film, Rosenfeld, the assistant metro editor at The Washington Post during the Watergate years, was played by Jack Warden, and he has a couple of memorable scenes—one in which he shoos away a nosy Carl Bernstein, who is asking about the burglary at the Watergate hotel. Both Bernstein and Bob Woodward were on the metro desk, a lesser beat, and they got the story because it was considered a lesser story—a “third-rate-burglary,” to quote Ron Ziegler, at a local hotel. Then their reporting, particularly tracking a check in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars directly to Nixon's re-election committee, helped turn it into a national and international story, so managing editor Ben Bradlee was considering giving the story to the National desk. It was Rosenfeld who voiced the objection: “They're hungry. Don't you remember when you were hungry?” Bradlee listened. And the rest is history. Not to mention historic.
I didn't know Rosenfeld had been born in Weimar Germany, witnessed the rise of the Nazis, experienced Kristallnacht first-hand. I like this quote from Peter Osnos. “He brought brash New York savvy to Washington before you could get a decent bagel there.” I like this quote from Rosenfeld on the theme of his journalistic career: “holding to account the accountable, the more powerful the better.” We need more adults in the room.
Monday April 19, 2021
NY Times Buries Lede on OAN
The New York Times ran a good article yesterday about OAN, the right-wing network run by Robert Herring, but under a lousy hed/sub:
One America News Network Stays True to Trump
A recent OAN segment said there were “serious doubts about who's actually president,” and another blamed “anti-Trump extremists” for the Capitol attack.
Why is that lousy? This is the fourth graf:
Some of OAN's coverage has not had the full support of the staff. In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel had broadcast reports that they considered misleading, inaccurate or untrue.
First: Not the full support of staff? I guess that's right. I guess 12% isn't full. Second: The 88% who disagreed with their own news coverage didn't do so lightly. It was vehement. Some even hoped that Dominion Voting Systems, which has sued Fox News for defamation, will do the same to OAN, since “maybe if they sue us, we'll stop putting stories like this out.” Which gets to the larger point: It feels like the Times buried the lede, while its headline missed it entirely. OAN staying true to Trump isn't exactly news. But OAN staff disagreeing with OAN coverage? And hoping it'll get sued? That's news. I don't know why you wouldn't highlight that. I don't know why the Times keeps softening its coverage of how off-the-rails the right-wing has become.
Actually I do know why. Goes back to Agnew. They're scared of being labeled “liberal news.”
This was the JFC moment in the piece for me:
Assignments that the elder Mr. Herring takes a special interest in are known among OAN staff as “H stories,” several current and former employees said. The day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Herring instructed OAN employees in an email, which The New York Times reviewed, to “report all the things Antifa did yesterday.”
Herring is another rich old codger holding America hostage with his delusions. Great.
Here's another word missing entirely from the Times story: propaganda. It's like when they couldn't bring themselves to call Trump's lies lies. C'mon, guys. Plant your feet and tell the truth. Do your job. Don't pretend you don't know what you know.
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