Unthinkable

SCENE:  A busy office at a major news network.   Ira KATZ and Melyssa HOOPERMAN-BELL, two senior network executives, are discussing an upcoming newscast.

KATZ:   OK.  So we’ve got this piece on the revolving door between Fox News and the Trump White House.

HOOPERMAN-BELL:   Excellent.  I hate Trump.

KATZ:  Everyone hates Trump.

HOOPERMAN-BELL:  And this connection between them and Fox News is a threat to democracy.

KATZ:  Unprecedented.

HOOPERMAN-BELL:  Who should do it?

KATZ:  Stephanopoulos.

HOOPERMAN-BELL:  Definitely Stephanopoulos.

And SCENE.  Always, forever SCENE

Not To Say The Media Is Pushing A Narrative Or Anything

Earlier this week, hundreds of students “spontaneously” walked out of Minneapolis’ Patrick Henry High School to demand legislators take away Second Amendment rights currently deemed unfashionable by Big Left.

The Media was waiting, cameras all a-whirl.

OK, I lied.  It was ten kids.

OK.  I only half lied.   The Strib was waiting anyway , there to give the “spontaneous” anti-freedom demonstration all the attention it wanted.

So when President Trump calls the media “the enemy of the people”, let’s just say my condemnation is muted to the point of nonexistence.

Almost Too Meta

So if wrote a piece about a fact-checking site “checking facts” on a satirical story, you’d either think that the “Fact Check” site was the one being satirical, or that the satire site had gone just a tad over the top.

Neither is apparently the case in this story, in which Snopes “fact checks” Babylon Bee – which, in its own way may be America’s finest news source today, if you think about it – and a “story” it did about Jussie Smollett getting a job at CNN. Babylon Bee was (so far) being satirical, and Snopes was not.

Oh, yeah – did I say the Bee was likely America’s most reliable source of news? I’m being a little less satirical than they are:

They may do news better than the Big Three, these days.

“Unexpected” Omission

American public media reports – or, in a sense, “Reports” – on the ironic rising cost of water in several Great Lakes-area cities and, naturally, its disproportionate effect on the poor.

The cities – they focus most especially on Cleveland, Detroit, Duluth, Buffalo and Chicago – have water rates that are rising extremely fast, as the ageing infrastructure starts to give out.

What it doesn’t mention?

Every one of the cities has been run by Democrats, according to Democrat priorities, as long as anyone can remember.

It’s Technically Only Satire If It’s Not 100% True

SCENE: Mitch BERG is shopping for a new casserole trivet for his Instant Pot (C) when MyLysa SILBERMAN, Reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats, rounds the corner.

BERG: Er…Ms. Silberman.

SILBERMAN: [visibly searching for name] . Er – hello, Merg.

BERG: So – any comment about the allegations against Ralph “Satchmo” Northam?

SILBERMAN: In these inflammatory situations and divided times, it’s a journalist’s responsibility to make sure they get the facts straight.

BERG: OK. So – Brent Kavanaugh…

SILBERMAN: [Abruptly screams, face red with rage] WE ALWAYS #BELIEVEWOMEN, YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!

BERG: Huh. So – Democrat governor Northam…

SILBERMAN: [Abruptly calm again] Get the facts…

BERG: Northam, Ellison, Clinton…

SILBERMAN: [Abruptly calm again] We can’t report a story where we’re not absolutely sure…

BERG: The Covington kids..

SILBERMAN: [Enraged again] . WHITE! MAGA! THE…SMIRK! I JUST WANT TO BURN THAT KID’S FACE OFF!

BERG: Right. So I’ve predicted that the media will declare Northam “rehabilitated” within the year.

SILBERMAN: Rehabilitated from what?

BERG: Er…yeah. Exactly.

And SCENE

When All You Have Is A Hammer…

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Gun use surges in Europe, where guns are rare.  What could be the cause of this? 
The article is a shambles.  It throws women afraid of being raped into the same bag as South American terrorists and Eastern European refugees – they all want guns and guns hurt people so guns are bad. 
The author’s inability to distinguish between citizens who desire guns for lawful self-defense in response to government unwillingness to crack down on refugee violence, versus the Muslims shooting up markets or the narcotics gangs killing judges and policemen, makes an analysis impossible and the proposed solutions worthless.
Is clear thinking really so hard to come by, these days?

On today’s left?

Rhetorical question, right?

Heads We Come Here, Tails We Move Here

Last week, I was listening to NPR.

I know, I know. Worth with me, here.

I can’t find it online – I didn’t try all that hard, but then I suspect it’s not the only piece like this. that’s going to turn up if you look hard enough.

An earnest-sounding SEIU leader – y’know, a non-biased, politically-objective source, solemnly intoned:

“We don’t want to politicize the border and immigration issue . We just want policy to reflect the changing patterns of migration”

In other words: we want “ignore the national boundary so that people can migrate north to join our power base” to become the new normal.

Oddly, the NPR host said nothing about this.

Un-Delusionation

I’ve got friends who still say, with a straight face, that the media does a good job of playing things down the middle. 

Here’s 18 cases where the media displayed naked bias, shimmying around the narrative poll, waiting for Big Left to stuff dollar bills in its G-String.  

One example here:

After the Avenatti carnival turned the Kavanaugh confirmation upside down, NBC attempted to report the bizarre claims his client was leveling. NBC spoke with a supposed corroborating witness Avenatti produced, but that woman instead debunked most of the client’s claims. When confronted, Avenatti told NBC the woman debunking his client’s claims was in fact his corroborating witness, but after being told she didn’t corroborate anything, he shot back: “How about this, on background, it’s not the same woman [as the corroborating witness]. What are you going to do with that?” There was more back and forth and the “corroborating witness” ultimately said Avenatti was lying about everything, yet despite all of this happening before Kavanuagh’s confirmation vote, NBC didn’t actually publish the story until weeks later. The Daily Wire published a helpful overview

Seventeen to go.  Get reading

Don’t Mess With Fergus Falls

German “journalist” Claas Relotius spent many years on the European and world journalistic fast track, until it was realized he’d spent years falsifying stories.

One of those stories was about the xenophobic misanthropic fascist racists in…

…Fergus Falls, MN.

And he didn’t just make up the little stuff. Two local residents combed through the story:

There are so many lies here, that my friend Jake and I had to narrow them down to top 11 most absurd lies (we couldn’t do just 10) for the purpose of this article. We’ve been working on it since the article came out in spring of 2017, but had to set it aside to attend to our lives (raising a family, managing a nonprofit organization, etc.) before coming back to it this fall, and finally wrapped things up a few weeks ago, just in time to hear today that Relotius was fired when he was exposed for fabricating many of his articles.

The following was neither the dumbest nor the most extravagant of Relotius’ lies:

6. The view from the Viking Cafe
“You can see the power plant where he works when you look out the window of the Diner, six tall, gray towers, from which rise white steam clouds.”
The Viking Cafe is Fergus Falls’ most treasured downtown establishment — over 60 years old. One of the reasons we Minnesotans all like it so much is that it has a cozy, underground feeling. Why? Because there are literally NO WINDOWS in the interior of this restaurant. Sure, you can see a little bit out the small front windows, but nothing beyond the shops across the street. The power plant Relotius refers to is almost 2 miles away on the northeast edge of town, blocked from view by a neighborhood on a large hill, and sports a single smokestack. Relotius’ imaginings are dramatic for the movie version of Trump’s America someday, but is it accurate and true? Not in the least.

Further proof that if you read it in the mainstream media, and it’s even a little bit political, distrust first. Then verify.

Then, almost invariably, distrust some more.

A For Facts, C+ For Premise

Kevin Williamson on – ahem – “Why Alexandria Ocasio Cortez drives Republicans Crazy”, and I’m gonna stop right there.

She doesn’t “drive anyone crazy”.  She’s a walking, talking testimony to the media’s left-wing bias; Ocasio Cortez actually is as vapid and ignorant as the media would have had you believe Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann were, and much more extreme.

No matter!

Ocasio-Cortez, seen from that point of view, presents Republicans with a lot of things they despise — her far-left politics — wrapped up in a package that they very much want but cannot have. She’s everything they want and everything they hate at the same time: Odi et amo, RNC chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel might well say.

About those politics: Ocasio-Cortez describes herself as a socialist, a declaration mitigated somewhat by the fact that she doesn’t seem to know what the word “socialist” means. She is a reflexive practitioner of identity politics, immediately suggesting that any criticism of her is racist or sexist or both. And she is an unapologetic authoritarian, threatening to abuse congressional subpoena powers to retaliate against Donald Trump Jr. for posting something mean about her on Twitter. An avowedly socialist practitioner of identity politics and social-media bully: that, and not her views on marginal tax rates, is what gets up Republicans’ noses. Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist, too, but he’s a grumpy old Muppet from Vermont — a useful cat’s paw to maul Mrs. Clinton, but otherwise old news.

But Williamson notes there’s danger in making her too much the figurehead of Big Left’s “Resistance from Above”:

As a purely tactical matter, Republicans would probably be better off keeping Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer as their leading partisan archnemesis, inasmuch as neither of those candidates can deride the GOP as the party of rich old white folks without inspiring at least a little bit of a giggle.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may personify much of what Republicans despise about the distinctively millennial brand of censorious progressivism that currently dominates the Democratic Party, but, if they were smarter, they’d be grateful for that: If this callow dilettante is the best the other side has to offer, then maybe the Republicans — no strangers to callow dilettantism — still have a chance after all.

She – and her elder sister in entitled identitymongering, Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren – are in that sense gifts to conservatism.  Is the GOP – conservatism’s current vessel – smart enough to know what to do with them?

As Reported In The Budapest Star/Tribune

On NPR the other morning, I heard a story about Hungarian protests against a new overtime  law.

The protesters complained to NPR’s reporter on the scene that the main broadcaster in Hungary – which is governed by a conservative, putatively “Trumpist” popular government led by Viktor Orban – is controlled by the state, and that all major private media is controlled by allies of the government.

And I thought “Hmmmmm”, as I listened to NPR on the local Minnesota Public Radio station, and looked at the copy of the Star/Tribune in the passenger seat of my car.

But I continued listening.

One of the protesters complained that the media didn’t accurately report the numbers of people at their demonstrations, when they bothered to report about the demonstrations at all.

And I pondered for a moment, remembering when the media reported “hundreds” of attendees at Tea Party rallies at the Capitol in 2009-2010  that drew closer to 7,000.

And I thought “Huh.  So there are examples of media bias that the mainstream American media will report on”.

Politifact: Smear By Association

Politifact long ago gave up any claim to being non-partisan, at least among people who pay attention.   Fact-checking Politi”fact” is itself a target-rich environment for fact-checkers and “progressive” dogma-untanglers.

This year, they were kind of sly about it – the “winner” was “the “online smear machine” that attempted to “take down Parkland students.”

They’re referring mostly to Alex Jones’ reprehensible claims that the Parkland massacre was a setup and that the kids are “crisis actors”, and the small but vocal social media crowd that echoed the claim.

Of course, this brings up a logical problem, and a condundrum

First the logical problem, as David Harsanyi points out in Federalist:  –

Although I know of numerous Twitter accounts that have accused gun-rights advocates of being “terrorists,” many of them featuring blue checkmarks, I can’t recall a single conservative in Congress, anyone in the National Rifle Association, or any other mainstream right-wing group accusing the Parkland kids of being “crisis actors.” I do recall a single article on RedState questioning David Hogg’s actions the day of the mass shooting, which was quickly corrected and apologized for.

Yet PolitiFact spends much of its time detailing the Parkland kids’ cause by highlighting their political opponents who have nothing to do with the smear, implicitly linking them to the “Lie of the Year.” The piece is framed in a way that intimates that anyone contesting the Parkland kids’ political cause is now in league with the online mob – and Russian bots!

By the way, even if we allow that kids who experience this tragedy should dictate the contours of a policy debate, it is worth noting that there are “Parkland kids” who hold diverging opinions regarding the Second Amendment and arming teachers. They are largely ignored by the media.

It’s not the kids’ fault that they find themselves the focus of ugliness on social media. It’s the fault of those who attack them and the adults who exploit them for political causes. Young people should be given some leeway in their activism, even if they say ridiculous things—and David Hogg and other leaders of the March for Our Lives movement often say things that aren’t even in the proximity of the truth. There is no need for ad hominemattacks. But the “Parkland kids” were also given a massive stage on which to offer their uncontested emotionalism to drive the debate. Kids or not, Americans have every right to challenge their contentions.

And Politifact using Jones as the figurehead of this criticism is a strawman that tries to paint all criticism of Hogg and company as the same breed of crazy.   And yet Hogg and the rest of the kids that’ve been propped up with liberal plutocrat money deserve criticism; they are little petty tyrants in the making, and they are serial liars to boot.

Now the conundrum; without Politifact to tell people who Alex Jones was and what he was claiming, would anyone outside the alt-“right” fever swamp have ever heard of him?

The “online smear machine” is an amorphous and ugly entity that isn’t confined to any ideology and spares virtually no one in the public eye. But any way you look at it, imbuing it with an importance it doesn’t deserve isn’t doing public discourse any favors. Even if it makes conservatives look bad.

And finally – given that almost nobody in this country hears about Alex Jones except when the media expresses its high dudgeon over him, are his antics really “the biggest lie” of the year?  Or even the biggest lie about the Parkland massacre?

It’s debatable, in fact, that it was even the most significant lie disseminated about the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High. The sheriff of Broward County, after all, was featured at the widely covered CNN anti-gun rally where he misled the nation about the failures, cowardice, and incompetence that allowed the shooting to occur. And the sheriff of Broward County isn’t some random Twitter troll.

Yet.

Further evidence that the mainstream media needs to be distrusted but verified – and then, especially on hot-button topics like this, almost invariably distrusted some more.

Spree Shootings: Burying The Lede

Last month, we covered the story of an attempted mass shooting at a Kroger in Louisville, KY.

The article I wrote was based on media reporting that said that the killer told one of his victims “whites don’t kill whites”.   The killing was later ended by a good guy with a carry permit.

As John Lott points out (in an article I’ll be revisiting later this week), the media left out a key fact of the story:

National media outlets such as ABC and NBC covered the attack, noting that the alleged gunman told another white man that: “Whites don’t kill whites.” It sounded as if the gunman was merely reassuring a bystander that he had nothing to worry about. But reporters left out the crucial first part of the quote. The killer said: “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.” The other white person was pointing a permitted concealed handgun at the killer.

The killer ran, murdered another (black) woman, before being engaged by Dominic Rozier, a good guy with a gun and a family to defend.

There’s a lot of other good stuff in the article; more later this week.

 

The Club

Jon Stewart – the former TV host, not the former Twin Cities blogger – has a few words for the media – and they’re mighty close to the words I have for them, as luck would have it.

Stewart calls them narcissists.  I’ll stick with “whiners”:

Amanpour pushed back against Stewart’s suggestion, saying journalists react to Trump’s attacks this way because it’s “hard for us to be dispassionate when words from the White House are aggressive against us.”

“You’re not used to it,” Stewart replied, saying journalists should keep in mind the other struggling communities in U.S. before making the fight all about themselves.

“Think of the communities of color, think of Muslims, think of the black community. When journalists rise to this outrage of ‘How dare you say that about us,’ think of the lives that they’ve been leading under this and what they’ve been put under,” he said.

The problem with the media in recent years is their mission has morphed to “Afflicting those who are comfortable afflicting the media, and comforting those who comfort the media’s afflictors”.

That Moment When…

….you see it in black and white:  Big Left’s “elites” really, really don’t understand the Constitution, federalism, checks and balances…representative republican government.

There are times the idea of complete national divorce – preferably peaceful – sounds almost dreamy.

Layers And Layers Of Gatekeepers

NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sen. Grassley’s referral of Julie Swetnick and her “teenage rape gang” story to the FBI:

 

Mr. Todd: Isn’t it your job to figure that out?

Perhaps – radical thought, here – before you run the story?

Poll-Proof

Jim Geraghty writes in NRO about how the blue Tsunami might in fact be a leaky diaper.

The whole piece is worth a read – but this bit in particular caught my attention, vis-a-vis polling and dire-sounding media coverage:

Folks on the right get used to hearing that they’re going to lose, how the Democrats have all the advantages, and they develop the ability to just keep plugging away in a tough environment. GOP grassroots activists are used to bad news, critical coverage, and ominous poll results. They’ve seen their candidates give amazing debate performances and then watch the coverage declare the Democrat the big winner. They’re used to having their attack ads denounced as vicious and unfair while the Democratic candidate’s ads are merely “hard-hitting” or “tough.” They’re used to seeing unflattering photos of candidates on the front page, comments taken out of context, fact-checkers that get the facts wrong, headlines that leave the wrong impression, and glowing editorial-page endorsements of the opposition. They’re used to having their yard signs stolen.

And they get up every morning and knock on doors and make the calls and participate in get-out-the-vote efforts anyway.

Of course, this rings true for Minnesota Republicans; if you didn’t get used to ignoring Dave Schultz and mocking the Minnesota Poll, you’d never get out of bed…

It’s That Time Of Year Again

It’s that time of election season when everyone who, for any reason or no reason at all decides not to vote Republican will get their Warhol – mandated 15 minutes of fame.

Is it a “gun owner” “resisting tthe NRA? Is it an evangelical congregation where a few members have broken with conservatism?

Or is it a republican “Leader” with impeccable moderate credentials of whom nobody has heard for 10 years, loudly and theatrically leaving the party?

Belly up to the media bar!

In the article, the “X Republican”, Randy Johnson, says he has retained his same conservative principles. So I did a little digging – and it turns out that with “Conservative principles”like Randy Johnson’s, why would anyone need the Minnesota DFL? One of his great “achievements”on the Hennepin county board was inflicting Target Field on the voters.

The only faster way to become a household name (for 15 minutes) is to be an exceptionally obscure “Republican” with an outlandish view on something. For 15 minutes, you will be more famous than Justin Bieber.

Glad we could settle that.

The Twin Cities Media Won’t Cover This…

…I don’t suspect – but I will:

The governor’s race is inside “Statistical Noise” levels.   Ditto Housley and Smith.   (Klobuchar is shown nine up over Newberger, which is closer than other polls as well).

Last week, an NBC/Marist poll claimed Walz and Smith were pulling away – this being the same poll that showed Tim Pawlenty and Lori Swanson winning the gubernatorial primaries in landslides.   Was that a media/Democrat attempt to “bandwagon” Republicans into staying home?

Maybe, maybe not.

But don’t get bandwagoned anyway.