Two-Faced Lying Liars

The 24-7 “Muslim Ban” reportage should remind us of the first rule of Journalism:

Tell the truth, then quit.

The Mainstream Media lies, but maybe not for the reason we think.

The yellow press of the 19th Century set a pretty low bar for truth culminating when Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal battled to drive up circulation.

Yellow Journalism presents “little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, sensationalism” and outright falsehoods. We us the term today “as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.”

Today, there’s talk that the low bar is set for political reasons.

Journalism transformed itself from making stuff up and muckraking to the investigative reporting of the mid-century. American reporters have discovered and reported on individual and corporate and government wrongdoing, secret practices, corruption, and witch hunts.

The iconic news organizations had a golden age. Murrey Marder exposed Sen. Joe McCarthy. Edward R. Murrow, the most distinguished figure in broadcast journalism, simply gathered news completely and then broadcast it. Walter Cronkite assumed the mantle of investigative journalism as a watchdog who delivered the facts as a CBS anchor. Woodward and Bernstein may be the last of the modern era “complete, factual” investigative reporters.

Reading the NewsNews writing and journalism transformed again in the 60s and 70s. The so-called “new journalism“ driven by writers including Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson moved the bar to the long-form narrative that uses novel-like scenes in stories instead of straight reportage of facts.

That’s where we come in today.

“Political reporters” in particular want to tell a story rather than tell a fact. That story is often not true. Let’s look at some examples.

Mark Hertsgaard wrote that press coverage of the Reagan Administration was “extraordinarily positive.” The media “abdicated its responsibility” to report accurately what the government was doing. Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee himself said the media had been “kinder” to President Reagan than to any other President in his time at the Post. Prominent journalists and news organizations, Mr. Hertsgaard wrote, “allowed themselves to be used” by the President’s political operatives. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

The Teflon™ didn’t stick (heh) around for George H. W. Bush. From the reports about the grocery store scanner to Bill Moyer’s insistence that the first Iraq war was based on lies, the media abdicated again but this time chose to report inaccurately what the government was doing. The media told at least some of the truth and the stories blamed the president.

“Read my lips. No new taxes,” may be the most famous line that sank a presidency.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” may be the most famous line that didn’t.

The press narrative covered Bill Clinton’s lies and none-the-less forgave him. They played by the Clinton rules. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

The Internet — Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, Google and YouTube, WikiLeaks, blogs, thousands of digital news and information sites — has pushed the media icons even farther away from the truth.

The botched 60 Minutes piece on George W. Bush’s National Guard service defined the tone for press coverage. It was, purely and simply, a lie. “The story we reported has never been denied by George W. Bush, by anyone in his close circles, including his family,” Dan Rather continues to say. In fact, Bush spokesmen have repeatedly denied it. In the other Bush narrative, the MSM to this day claims Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. The truth? Iraq certainly had chemical weapons but the MSM denial lives on. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories pilloried the president.

NBC News correspondent Lisa Myers found this statement in the 2010 Obamacare regulations: “A reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate is forty percent to sixty-seven percent.” Did you know that? From lies about health care to lies about the deficit to lies about tax cuts to lies about terrorism, to lies about scandals, Mr. Obama’s lies are legion but excused or buried by the mainstream media. The media told at least some of the truth but the stories excused it.

This weekend, a protest lawyer told ABC News “the immigration ban is unconstitutional.” The network treated that as fact. When a lawyer said the same about ObamaCare, the network immediately cut to “experts” explaining why the program was indeed constitutional. The media tells at least some of the truth but the stories blame the president.

Since the press chooses some Republicans and some Democrats for praise and different Republicans and other Democrats for excoriation, I can’t simply point to “liberal bias” or even “conservative bias.” Liberal papers like the New York Times were nice to Mr. Reagan. Conservative papers like the Wall Street Journal were (relatively) nice to Mr. Clinton.

I love news and data but I am ashamed of what I see happening in this most important bulwark of democracy.

I have long thought the media was star-struck by Mr. Reagan but hated Mr. Bush 41’s class. Since Democrats love to play the race card, perhaps the press excused Mr. Obama because they were afraid of racial accusations. Perhaps they simply hate Mr. Trump.

A lot is our own fault dear reader.

Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, Google and YouTube, WikiLeaks, blogs, and thousands of digital news and information sites means We the People read less real journalism today than ever before. And sadly, that means the “real journalism” we do read or watch tells us more lies by commission or omission than ever, just to try to get our attention.

We pay attention. And we believe the stories.

Can you hear the shades of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst chortling?

 

Burn the Bern

That’s the word that has gone out to every Demorat and Repuglican hit team, too.

Demorats have poured millions of dollars into discrediting his ability to beat Hillary Clinton now and any Repuglican in November. Repugs chant “socialist,” and “communist,” and “unwashed masses” — the codewords they bring out to tar that which they fear.

Why are the parties so afraid of Mr. Sanders, too?

He voted against the Iraq war. He rails against big business and the rich. One of his most popular quotes is that if a bank is too big to fail, then it’s too big to exist. He wants dump ObamaDon’tCare (say what?). Don’t worry, he’ll implement Medicare for everyone. Including US Congressmen. He’s Elizabeth Warren but louder. He strongly wants campaign reform. He calls himself “independent.”

Worse yet, people love Bernie Sanders.

The fact that Mr. Sanders has never actually passed a piece of legislation doesn’t seem to matter to anyone; he has his say!

The Demorats have it much easier than the Repuglicans.

They have 718 superdelegates whose sole purpose is to put their fingers on the scale to prevent nominations like that of Bernie Sanders from ever happening.

If Mr. Sanders shows up at the convention with more delegates than Ms. Clinton, you can bet the marching orders are, “Burn the Bern.”

Tomorrow is another big day with five presidential primary elections and a Repuglican party caucus (Florida, Illinois, Missouri, the Northern Marianas, North Carolina, and Ohio.)

I expect you’ll vote for someone tomorrow. I hope you won’t vote for the worst liars in the bunch (pantsuit-on-Fire Hillary Clinton, UnTrusTED Cruz, or second string Marco Rubio).

Who’s left?

We need a loose cannon in politics now more than ever but we’ve been growing little water pistols and arming them with blanks, I wrote four years ago. It’s even more true today, although the water pistoleers are starting to load acid.

Loose cannons Bernie Sanders on the far left and Donald Trump on the middle right. I hope you will vote for one or the other. Instead of burning the Bern, let’s burn the parties.

I wrote more about Derailing the Donald over here.

Who knows? With two “populists” running head to head in November, anything can happen.

 

Derail the Donald

That’s the word that has gone out to every Repuglican and Demorat hit team in the universe.

Forget Occupy Wall Street. Today it’s Occupy Donald Trump.

Repuglicans have poured millions of dollars into a negative ad campaign to discredit his ability to beat Hillary Clinton in November. Demorats chant “hatred,” and “racism,” and “uneducated masses” — the codewords they bring out to tar that which they fear.

Why are the parties so afraid of Mr. Trump?

“The Repubs are reaping the results of the misinformation, division, racism, and fear they have been feeding the public since Barack Obama took office,” my oh-so-liberal friend Fanny Guay said. That is the Demorat’s party line, but the reality is that the only people ever to play the division or race cards in politics are liberals.

And misinformation belongs to both parties.

Pundits and establishment Repuglicans alike pretend they have no idea what will come out of the Donald’s mouth next, but that’s not true either. We all know perfectly well what he’ll say and we think we know what he’ll do.

Establishment Repugs and Demorats alike know they won’t control a Trump administration they way they have controlled the process for decades.

The unholy triad of big government, big business, and big media reaps billions and they protect one another to keep it flowing. No one cares who sits in the White House as long as government keeps getting bigger, programs keep programming, and the money keeps flowing. It’s a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich. Everyone except thee and me. Everyone except We the Overtaxed People. We get ripped off.

The maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help so the Dems can’t control him either.

Worse, the radical Donald Trump may well prosecute the movers and shakers of that unholy triad, starting with Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton themselves and that keeps people up at night.

Even Bernie Sanders wouldn’t do what Mr. Trump could.

Hence the adjectives thrown around. “Toxic.” “Racist.” “Scam.”

Misinformation. It’s what they do.

Is Mr. Trump causing or simply riding the toxic atmosphere?


John Dickerson took Mr. Trump to task for the violence at his campaign rallies.

I call foul.

Mr. Sanders says “Donald Trump has been incredibly divisive…”

Interesting. It’s Mr. Trump’s fault when his supporters take a shot, but never the good guys who the first punch. Never, Mr. Sanders said. “Our campaign has never once organized any effort disrupt Mr. Trump’s rallies…”

In fact, every news report I’ve seen blames Mr. Trump for the increasing violence at his events and every news report I’ve seen fails to mention the Demoratic candidates the violent protestors represent. And no reporter would ever blame a Demoratic protestor for the rampages.

A Gallup poll last year found that six in 10 Americans say that their trust in mass media ranges from “not very much” to “none at all.” Trust in the mass media has fallen even more sharply among those younger than 50.

I wonder why.


Mr. Trump has 460 delegates to Mr. Cruz’ 370, Mr. Rubio’s 163, and Mr. Kasich’s 63. Ms. Clinton has 771 pledged delegates plus probably 460 “superdelegates” vs. Mr. Sanders’ 576.

There are 718 superdelegates whose sole purpose is to put their fingers on the scale to prevent nominations like that of Bernie Sanders who displeases the party insiders. Right now the Repugs are wishing they had superdelegates. Right now the Repugs are probably rewriting the convention rules so they do have superdelegates.

Americans also gave the GOP a 63% favorable rating and the Demorats 61% in 2015. This is the only time since Gallup began tracking the parties’ images in 1992 that neither party has achieved at least 40% favorability from the public.

I wonder why.


Tomorrow is another big day with five presidential primary elections and a Repuglican party caucus (Florida, Illinois, Missouri, the Northern Marianas, North Carolina, and Ohio. Florida and Ohio are winner-take-all on the Republican side).

I expect you’ll vote for someone tomorrow. I hope you won’t vote for the worst liars in the bunch (pantsuit-on-Fire Hillary Clinton, UnTrusTED Cruz, or second string Marco Rubio).

Who’s left?

We need a loose cannon in politics now more than ever but we’ve been growing little water pistols and arming them with blanks, I wrote four years ago. It’s even more true today, although the water pistoleers are starting to load acid.

I wrote more about Burning the Bern over here.

Loose cannons Donald Trump on the middle right and Bernie Sanders on the far left. I hope you will vote for one or the other tomorrow. Instead of derailing the Donald, let’s derail the parties.

In any event, the only positive political ads on TV during the news are for Viagra and Cialis. Yeppers, we’re gonna get screwed.

 

News, Part II

I guess we don’t have my cuz to kick around any more, eh.

The Canadian federal election was held on October 19. A huge plurality of Canadians (OK, 39.5%) gave Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party the boot after nine years and elected Justin Trudeau to head a new Liberal government. Mr. Trudeau takes office on Wednesday.

Canada has 25 different political parties, all contending for seats in Parliament. From the Alliance of the North to the United (neither of which won a single seat) plus the Animal Alliance, Bloc Québécois, Bridge, Canada Party, Canadian Action, Christian Heritage, Communist, Conservative, Democratic Advancement, Green, Independent and no affiliation, Liberal, Libertarian, Marijuana, Marxist-Leninist, New Democratic, PACT, Pirate, Progressive Canadian, Rhinoceros, Seniors, and Strength in Democracy, There were almost as many Parliamentary candidates as Republicans running for U.S. President.

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trudeau campaigned on “Real Change” and “Hope and Hard Work.”

Voters could make up pretty much anything they wanted to match those slogans and the press did the same. Mr. Trudeau has promised to raise taxes and spending, run a deficit, oppose the oil industry, and plans to embark on a vast program of public works spending. Pretty similar to his father. And Mr. Obama. Except he supports international trade deals and the Keystone pipeline project.

Last week, we looked at the quantity of non-news behind the Twitter or Facebook “headlines.” This week, we’ll pay attention to the quality of the news and commentary you get from any source.

Justin TrudeauAmericanthinkerdotcom says of the Canadian election, “the disasters have already begun. Fasten your seat belts, Canucks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

The Canadian online conservative political and social commentary platform Rebel Media reported “The Canadian dollar dropped nearly two percentage points after Justin Trudeau’s Liberals swept to a majority in the federal election.

“That’s almost two cents in four days.”

Two whole cents!

Almost!

The pundits used the bumpy road to mean way more failures than successes ahead for our northern neighbors. I agree that Canada has more troubles ahead.

But these pundits want to stir you up about it by cherry picking a fact and spinning it. (And, yes, this column has picked just one reported fact for discussion out of the Americanthinker article.)

Rebel Media was founded in February by former Sun News Network host Ezra Levant.

Mr. Levant noted that the “precipitous drop” has a profound effect on Canadians. What Mr. Levant didn’t note is that the Canadian Dollar has fallen pretty steadily since 2011 and is now back down to about where it was from the 70s on.

“It’s like every Canadian just got a pay cut.”

               Famous Fakery
• Faked peer reviews prompted 64 retractions at Nature.
• 60 Minutes aired a story in 2004 that showed memos that showed then-1st Lieutenant George Bush had gone AWOL. Except the documents were obvious forgeries.
• Both New York Magazine and the New York Post reported on a Stuyvesant High School senior who made $72 million on stocks. Except that alluring story was, well, fake.
• The Rebel Media claim that the Canadian dollar dropped two points after Mr. Trudeau’s election. Except the election had little to do with it.

CBS rightfully fired Dan Rather over the Bush-National Guard story.

The Globe and Mail noted back in August that the Canadian dollar is under attack on several fronts, from the collapse in oil prices to the different paths being taken by central banks. “The loonie lost about 4% in July, sank to below 76 cents U.S. at one point [August 3] and again [August 4], and won’t stop there, according to analysts who expect it to tumble further to about 73 or 74 cents. It’s at 76 cents today.”

The loonie has been weakening for several years.

Editorial note: as a consumer of Canadian dentistry, I’m quite pleased in the return of the “weak” loonie. An exam and cleaning cost me $68 U.S. last month. The same service cost $95 U.S. in 2014.

So, the Canadian dollar did indeed drop a couple of percentage points after Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals won a majority in the Canadian elections but that’s probably not Mr. Trudeau’s fault. The two very real questions Canadian Conservatives should ask are
1. Why should we trust any media that cherry picks a few facts to lie to us?
2. What will Mr. T do to strengthen the loonie?

The rest of us have just one very real question to ask of the Twitter or Facebook or even our traditional news feeds:
Why should we trust any media that cherry picks a few facts to lie to us?

 

News, Part I

I guess we won’t have my cuz to kick around for a while, eh.

A plurality of Canadians have given Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party the boot after nine years and elected Justin Trudeau to head a new Liberal government in Canadian federal elections held two weeks ago. Mr. Trudeau takes office November 4.

I didn’t learn that on Facebook. It was probably tweeted but even the curated Twitter feed is too congested to pick out that tidbit.

In fact, I don’t get my news from Twitter or Facebook. Here’s why.

Here’s what is trending this morning on Facebook:

• Clear Food: Report Finds Some Vegetarian Hot Dogs Contain Meat, Traces of Human DNA
• Maureen O’Hara: Actress Known for Role in ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ Film Dies at Age 95
• Vancouver Island: Whale Watching Boat Sinks With 27 on Board, Killing at Least 5
• Jimmy Morales: Former TV Comedian Elected President of Guatemala in Landslide Victory
• Chris Christie: Governor of New Jersey Kicked Off Amtrak Quiet Car for Talking on Phone
• Comet Lovejoy: Researcher Says Comet Is Producing Alcohol and Sugar
• Germaine Greer: Feminist Writer Says Transgender Women Are Not Women During ‘Newsnight’ Interview
• Florida Bear Hunt: Federal Agency Ends Hunt in Central Florida After 207 Bears Get Killed

Truth? I don’t care if Amtrak kicked Chris Christie off the quiet car any more than I care that American Airlines kicked Alec Baldwin off a plane for playing games on his own cellphone. It was boorish behavior but it wasn’t news.

“I am more inclined to follow it on the internet. TV news is too slanted. Reporters deliver the news with political slants to the left or right and they dilute the actual facts of the event,” wrote a Yahoo forum correspondent.

I’ve watched plenty of people click every link in the “Trending” column of their Facebook feed. That, of course, pleases Mr. Zuckerberg. But they made the same fundamental error as our Yahoo correspondent.

That Yahoo correspondent thinks that Internet news is less skewed and is more fact-checked than other sources. We “drink from the firehose” of “information overload” in the best of times. Probably better that our firehose be pumping something of substance.

This is news, as reported this morning in the NYTimes:

• Health Care Co-op Closings Narrow Consumers’ Choices
• Criminal Charges and $50 Million Fine Expected in Goldman-New York Fed Case
• Afghanistan and Pakistan Hit by Huge Earthquake
• Right-Wing Party Roars Back in Polish Elections
• Broadband: New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Launching Probe Into Internet Speeds
• General Motors and the United Automobile Workers union [that owns 8.7% of GM stock, down from 17.5% in the 2009 car theft] reached a tentative agreement
• The Obama administration called for a testing cap so that no child spends more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time taking exams.

Every one of those stories has an impact on your life and mine.

The truth is that most news isn’t all that important when counted against your day-to-day life or mine. Facebook might argue that the “ambient engagement” and “community awareness” their Trending line offers provides the context we need to get through the day.

Really?

So, knowing that Germaine Greer thinks transgender women should use the men’s room helps me put food on the table?

I’m all for absorbing data by osmosis but the way we actually answer the questions of whether we can afford a new car this year or if it is safe to walk the street after dark rarely comes from the fake reports; it comes from the hard news of consumer prices, the Cleveland Clinic’s new mobile stroke unit, and what laws (if any) Congress passed last week.

News is more accessible than ever, but it’s up to us to find it. There’s more information in one daily NYTimes or Wall Street Journal than I can digest and the Internoodle just compounds the problem. The Interwebs deliver little but what you want to hear, not what you need to know.

Next week, we’ll look at the quality of the news instead of the quantity and the headlines.

As a side note, anyone who thinks hot dogs don’t contain stuff you don’t want to know about including traces of human and rat DNA, also believes their favorite politician told them the truth today.