It Verges On A New “Berg’s Law”

What do I always say? 

If a liberal talking head – whether it’s Grace Kelly or Martin Bashir – says something about any conservative or conservative group?  Distrust but verify.  And then, having verified and found the claim vaporous, pretty much invariably continue distrusting. 

“What?  Even with a Rhodes Scholar like Rachel Maddow?”

Especially with a Rhodes Scholar like Rachel Maddow

 

They Know What Matters

Top priorities for Twin Cities Democrat politicians, staff, and media (pardon the redundancy):

Deal with the suddenly-crucial problem of cell phone theft:  ”Kill switch” legislation a priority since the Mark Andrew incident.  Because it’s not really an issue until it happens to a DFL politician.  Of course, they’re still going to spend the coming session fighting against the citizen’s write to keep and bear “kill switches” to help prevent thugs from hitting your “kill switch” with a club, knife, or gun.

For heaven’s sake, get Al Franken some cover from that “60th Vote on Medicare” thing:  There’s an election coming up, for Chrissake.  The editors put Kevin Diaz on the “Franken PR Flak” beat this time; his point is, naturally, that there were several “sixtieth votes”, potentially, over time.  Unmentioned; without Franken, all the others were irrelevant.

Cardiac screening is job one!:  OK, not yet.  But I have a hunch with R. T. Rybak’s close call over the weekend, the problem will receive aggressive lip service.

Eurasia Has Never Been At War Yadda Yadda Bla Bla

If you read this blog, you know that “Politifact”, the WaPo’s “Fact-Check” column, accepted as the sine qua non of political fact-checking by many in the industry (and more of the less-informed outside it).

Those people might not know that “Politifact” has been carrying President Obama’s water on the key claims about the Democrat’s flagship Obamcare legislation since the  beginning.  What they might not know is that : “Politifact” and its editor, Angie Drobnic Holan, have not only completely flip-flopped on the story, but are burying the fact that what they called the “Lie of the Year” in 2013, they called “True” with a side order of “you are an ignorant redneck for even asking” in 2008:

The highlight of Holan’s 2013 “Lie of the Year” article was that it completely ignored Holan’s own “True” rating of the “keep your plan” claim back in 2008. A sidebar to the article listed as “related rulings” Holan’s 2013 articles about Jarrett and Obama, and Jacobson’s 2012 article rating the claim as “Half True.” The text of the article cites also the 2009 “Half True” report. But nowhere does the “Lie of the Year” piece even acknowledge that its author once gave Obama’s promise its 100 percent “True” seal of approval.

Now, if you’re a conservative, you know “Politifact” is a Democrat propaganda machine.

The only real question is; do the media – especially those that call themselves “no rant, no slant” objective journalists – know?

Scott Gillespie And The Catechism Of Uselessness

Scott Gillespie of the Strib editorialized about the one-year anniversary of Sandy Hook.

At least he ended the piece constructively:

Those 26 faces will stay frozen, though. The children and their teachers, lost forever except in photos and home video. At least — if you believe it will help — say another prayer for them and their families. If we offer nothing else, at least say a prayer.

Other than that?  Gillespie foreshadows what will, I suspect, be the anti-rights movement’s two big hooks in Minnesota this year; guilt, and the vague need to “do something”, even if the “something” is completely useless at preventing actual crime, with both of them always, always, wrapped in the memory of people who would not have been saved by anything that they’re proposing.

But practical responses aren’t the issue, here.  This is about emotions:

You see those faces frozen in time on your TV screen now. They are angels, every one of them. You would like to look away, turn the channel and move on. Our Congress did, and most of our state legislatures. One year later, little has changed.

It’s not the Sandy Hook kids’ faults the were all white and upper-middle-class, and that the media focused on them and not the many, many more children slaughtered in ones and twos in Barack Obama’s Chicago – who are almost entirely black.  But it is Scott Gillespie’s fault that he ignores, or doesn’t know, that not a single law proposed in any state legislature, or in Congress, would have prevented Sandy Hook – but that the City of Chicago has “done something”, a near complete civilian gun ban, that is closely correlated with a skyrocketing murder rate in Chicago.

But those kids are black, and in a Democrat stronghold.  As always, they go unmentioned.

The emotions that Gillespie – and the anti-rights movement whose water he’s carrying – aren’t just about sympathy.  No, there’s gotta be ninety seconds of hate: 

Wayne LaPierre is on the screen now. You can hear the anger in his voice. If he feels any pain, any regret, he hides it. The perfect man for the job. Raise more money and spread more lies. Intimidate. Bully. Threaten. Win at all costs, from coast to coast. Not undefeated, but close.

Scott Gillespie, I hereby challenge you; where was LaPierre wrong?  What are the “lies?”  Let’s talk about that.  Preferably face to face, but I’ll do email.  Let’s hash this out.

No, it’s not that LaPierre lied; he didn’t, and doesn’t have to.  He was right.  His opponents were wrong.  And they – in this case Gillespie, but it could be any lefty columnist – are attacking LaPierre with the dim ad-homina and the scurrilous accusation – the “lies” – because it’s all they have, and a boogeyman, a Goldstein, is what they need.

And then there’s the murderer. We should ignore him and his story, right? Make him as abstract as possible because it’s too hard to answer the why question without that research. There are more like him, but how could we possibly know how to find or stop them? So we move on, trying not to say his name.

Now Gillespie is just making things up.   This is where LaPierre – and all of us on the human rights side of this battle – have been focusing; Adam Lanza.  The current system worked, in that it denied him a gun.  He killed his mother – already illegal in fifty states – to steal her legally-purchased firearms to use in the rampage.

And it’s on the crazies, like him, James Holmes, Harris and Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho and the like, that Wayne LaPierre – and, incidentally, all of the rest of us on the human rights side of the argument – are focused.

And not a one of them would have been affected by any of the laws that were passed in places like Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania or California.

So when Gillespie plaintively asks…:

The anniversary show is over now. Will there be another one next year, or the year after that? Why wallow, right? We are Americans. We press on. We buck up and never look back. Like LaPierre.

…the answer is “maybe, but nothing you’re proposing would change a thing”.

But Gillespie is part of a wave of mainstream media that are working to pave the way for the anti-gun movement’s next big campaign in Minnesota.

More – much more – in coming days and weeks.

Journalistic Ethics And Slippery Slopes

Last fall, Bill Glahn pondered the “journalistic ethics” of Minnesota Public Radio News taking underwriting money from one of the government bodies it’s supposed to be scrutinizing – in this case, MNSure’s sponsorship of Keri Miller’s “Daily Current” show:

The host’s interruptions of the token conservative are not just to challenge facts or opinion.  On two occasions, MPR’s Miller interrupts Republican Golnik to defend Democrat Governor Dayton—on the Vikings Stadium [30:22] and on MPR News’ sponsor MNsure.

Nobody’s mistaken Keri Miller for a non-biased journalist in 25 years; she’s about as balanced as Bill O’Reilly. 

But Glahn notes that, yes, MNSure – an agency of the government of the state of Minnesota – sponsors MPR News. 

So now, we get the news that the directors of MNSure and Minnesota’s Medicaid director took a vacation to Costa Rica together (as the MNSure site was debuting to terrible reviews). 

Now, is there a conflict of interest, here?  Knowing that if MNSure actually does crater, its victims clients will likely get thrown into Medicaid?   I don’t know – yet.  But I’ll find out. 

If there were a problem (and MPR’s coverage so far seems to tell us ”nothing to see here, move along, people“), would MPR be the one to tell us? 

Along with their acceptance of funding from the Joyce Foundation – the major funder of anti-gun-rights organizations in the US – specifically to provide gun-related content (and biased, slanted anti-gun content at that), I have to ask; when do people who care about actual journalism start asking questions about these financial entanglements?

It’s Apparently Not Just The Players Who Are Suffering From Concussions

To: Roger Goodell, President, The National Football League
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  It’s Apparently Not ThePlayers

Mr. Goodell,

You run a tax-exempt “non-profit” that is the biggest license to print money in the United States.

Your organization regularly loots city and state treasuries to build your venues – including mine.  You’ve crudely extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from our idiot governor and from a bunch of legislators who should have known better, using tactics that well befit the mobsters that are among the main beneficiaries of your profits.

Your athletes have turned, over the past thirty years, from role models into reprobates.

But you turned down this Super Bowl ad, from Daniel Firearms?

(To whom I’ll be giving free advertising, today and on Super Sunday, and likely more than a time or two in between)

I’m picturing the reasons.

Because you’re worried about violence:  So are we.  Especially when I go into a bar or restaurant where there might be NFL players present. (Yep, I used to DJ at the old Eddie Websters.  To be fair, back then the biggest danger was being on the same stretch of road as a Viking after closing time).

Because you’re worried about the game’s image:  Right.  Hey, is that Miley Cyrus’ ass at the halftime show?

Because you’re in bed with a bunch of liberal metro-area politicians:  Oh.  Right.

I think you might just be creating some baseball fans out there.

Rescued From Pre-Thanksgiving Doc Dump

It’s only the SCSU Poll – a poll we’ve pretty well shredded in the past for its systematic bias toward the DFL.

But even that can’t varnish the fact that it’s a whole new campaign for the DFL in Minnesota.  Approval ratings of everyone but Amy Klobuchar are in the toilet.  How in the toilet?:

Minnesotans came down in the middle on Franken and Dayton, two Democrats who will stand for re-election next year. Franken got a 51-degree rating, while Dayton was at 49.

Respondents are feeling cooler toward Obama, rating him at 46 this year, down from 54 in SCSU’s 2012 survey.

And that’s just the warm-fuzzy poll.  When you get into job approval, it’s even dodgier for the DFL incumbents:

Reflecting national polls, the president’s job performance ratings also dropped from last year and returned to 2010 levels. This year, 38 percent of Minnesotans rated him positively, compared to 47 percent in 2012.

For Dayton, less than half the respondents (44 percent) gave him positive marks this year, while a slight majority (52 percent) rated him negatively.

Franken had a low approval score of 39 percent, while 57 percent approved of Klobuchar’s performance.

The media will, of course, do their best to rehabilitate the DFL, Dayton and Franken over the next 11 months.  But they’ve got their work cut out for them.

Priorities

Our media allowed the most un-vetted, and unqualified, presidential candidate in American history to walz into the White House with scarcely a question. 

They shunted any suggestion that the federal or state Obamacare websites were catastrophies waiting to happen straight into the memory hole. 

They parrotted the Obama campaign and Administration’s (ptr) rhetoric – “The War on Women”, the “99%”, etc etc – without so much as a peep.

And they’ve tried – oh, lord, they’ve tried – to eradicate all mention of the IRS and Benghazi scandals from the public conversation.  They never happened, Winston. 

They’re participating like tail-swishing little lapdogs in the White House’s spin over SecState Kerry’s “Peace In Our Time” settlement with Iran. 

But don’t you dare tell me the American media doesn’t know what matters.

Because they totally do. 

For reals.

The Media/Non-Profit Racket

In past months, I’ve showed you how not only big-media-alum group-blog MinnPost, but “No Rant, No Slant” Minnesota Public Radio are on the take from the Joyce Foundation – which funds “Protect MN”, the anti-rights group run by Rep. Heather Martens.  I speculated that it might be the reason that MPR has been so incurious about Martens’ astroturf group, and why the MinnPost - with all its pretenses to legitimate journalism – spent the past year giving Martens a public tongue bath.

I asked – does this involvement go any higher in the Twin Cities’ “progressive” political world?

I asked, and Bill Glahn answered – ten months ago.  Joyce is a huge financial backer of “Take Action MN”, a non-profit that verges on being a political party in its own right, a descendent of “Progressive Minnesota”, which had its own unseemly connections with “non-partisan” institutions.

Glahn:

The Joyce Foundation of Chicago, Illinois, was founded by Iowa lumber heiress Beatrice Joyce Kean.  This $760 million foundation has been involved with TakeAction since near the beginning of the Minnesota non-profit’s existence.  Joyce’s 2006 Annual Report (p. 25) shows a grant of $350,000 to be paid out to TakeAction over two years, “To develop and promote a political reform agenda focused on campaign finance, judicial, and voting rights reforms.”
Joyce’s 2009 IRS Form 990 reveals that the $350,000 grant to the 501(c)(3) TakeAction Minnesota Education Fund was renewed in 2008 for two additional years, “for ongoing efforts to reform and strengthen democracy in Minnesota.”[12]
Joyce’s 2011 IRS Form 990 reveals that, yet again, the $350,000 grant to the TakeAction Education Fund was renewed in 2010 for two additional years, “For advancing a political reform agenda that encompasses election administration, voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting, and judicial independence.”[13]

The Joyce Foundation’s website indicates that the TakeAction Education Fund received an additional $150,000 in 2012 for one year, “For advancing a democracy reform agenda using legislation, community organizing, movement building, coalition work, and unexpected alliances.”
Unexpected alliances?  In any event, the seven-year total of grants from the Joyce Foundation to TakeAction equals $1,200,000.

So let’s break this down:  The Joyce Foundation heavily sponsors “Progressive” non-profits, including “Take Action MN”, “Protect MN”, and (I strongly suspect) “Common Cause MN”.

And they pour money into at least two “non-profit” Minnesota media outlets that have pretensions to respectability; Minnesota Public Radio and the MinnPost.

I’ve sought comment from both organizations in the past, without success.  I’ll try again.

All of this carefully obfuscated money going to support “campaign finance…reforms” is one thing.

Going to buy friendly media coverage?

And finding willing takers, in an industry whose “code of ethics” tells journalists who avoid financial entanglements in their “journalism?”

Since The Subject Is “Integrity”

To: Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, Hosts, NPR’s On The Media
From:  Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Your Concern For Journalistic Integrity

Ms. Gladstone / Mr. Garfield

I caught your story in this week’s edition of On The Media criticizing NBC for paying, not only for footage (of this spectacular skydiving accident) but for exclusive access to the principals to the story.

This – paying for access to news – is one of those things that furrow the brows of journo-wonks.   And the two of you were audibly furrowed.  Gotta hand you that.

So – paying for access to a news story is bad.  Gotcha.

So is being paid by a partisan pressure group to run a news story even worse?

Get back to us on this.

That is all.

Blight of Day

Is Detroit’s new-found cause célèbre ignoring the past to cloud the future?

George Clooney had the Sudan.  Bono has Africa.  Anthony Bourdain – and much of the American media - apparently has Detroit.

Michigan’s So Not Grand Central Station: built in 1912 and on the national registry of historic places. It was closed in 1988 and is one of Detroit’s estimated 78,000 abandoned buildings.

In recent months, the city of Detroit has witnessed two narratives arise in Phoenix-like fashion from the economic ashes of the city, often in conjecture with themselves.  One is the purported economic revitalization of the city that gave birth to Motown and the American automotive industry.  It is a narrative fostered by Quicken Loans founder (and Cleveland Cavs owners) Dan Gilbert who, among others, has put millions into Detroit to try and restore its grandeur.  The other narrative, the so-called “ruin porn” seen in picture form below, depicts Detroit as a third-world ghetto.  A Somalia on the St. Clair River.

The former delights the denizens of Detroit with hopes of a better future.  The latter rankles them.  Gilbert himself expressed outrage when 60 Minutes balance their report on the Motor City between Gilbert’s altruism and the destruction of the out-lying portions of the city, comparing it to Dresden after the Allied bombing of World War II.  Gilbert tweeted a defiant message, stating “a city’s soul that will not die was the story & they missed it.”  But even a sympathetic, blue-collar soul as Bourdain, whose CNN show Parts Unknown highlighted the city last night, saw the need to balance Detroit’s attempts to pick itself up off the ground with the stark realities of a city undone.

The Fisher Body Plant: once part of the GM empire

Both narratives ignore the Chrysler in the room – how Detroit got to where it is today.

If the “ruin porn” industry renders pity without judgement, the acts of Dan Gilbert and others, as well-intended as they obviously are, seek a future for Detroit without acknowledging its past or present.  Not once in 60 Minutes‘ coverage did the story’s telejournalism deal with the political causes for Detroit’s decay - a corrupt, one-party institution burrowed like a tick into City Hall.  Equally, if differently, ignorant are the views of Gilbert et al who believe that once their plans to remove all of Detroit’s blight (78,000 buildings), capital will come easily rushing back into the city:

Gilbert is no fan of urban farming, though. When he envisions land cleared of  blight, he sees developers rushing in to build anew…

“When that blight is gone, maybe we don’t have to be talking about shrinking cities because it will be such a rush of people who want to get into low-value housing — when all the utilities are there and the land is pretty much close to free— not exactly free, but close to it — and all the utilities are there, it becomes very cheap for a builder/developer to develop a residential unit, and they are going to develop them and develop them in mass as soon as we get the structures down and maybe we don’t have to worry about raising peas or corn or whatever it is you do in the farm.”

The Highland Park Police Station: even Detroit’s police stations no longer want anything to do with the city

And what will cause developers (yet alone individuals or businesses) to return to a city with the highest property tax rate in the country?  What will encourage retail industries when Michigan’s sales tax is 6% on top of that?  Detroit’s backers can honestly claim that the city ranks no where near the top of the tax chain (Detroit ranks 92nd nationally; Minneapolis is 52nd by comparison).  But the tax climate is far from ideal, especially the dubbed ”most dangerous city in America” with a murder rate 10-times the national average.  Throw in a 58-minute response time for police, to attract businesses back, Detroit may literally need the fictional hero RoboCop (to whom a statue is being built - seriously).

There isn’t much evidence that Detroit is about to change its ways.

The Merrill Fountain at Palmer Park: has sat empty for 50 years since being moved from the Opera House.  Vandals have stolen much of it.

The Merrill Fountain at Palmer Park: has sat empty for 50 years since being moved from the Opera House. Vandals have stolen much of it.

Since Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to appoint emergency manager Kevyn Orr last spring, Detroit’s journey to bankruptcy has been managed with minimal (some would say no) input from City Hall.  As the case has headed to court, where Orr has testified about Detroit’s long-term debts of $18 billion, city officials have fought the measure almost every step of the way.  The election of Mike Duggan as mayor, the former head of the Detroit Medical Center, has been advertised as the promotion of a turnaround artist.  But while Duggan had success revitalizing the city’s Medical Center, Duggan also ran on opposing Orr’s decisions and comes as a political protégé of former Wayne County Executive Edward McNamara – an official who backed the cartoonishly corrupt Kwame Kilpatrick and had FBI agents and state police raid his own office in November 2002, over alleged corruption in airport contracts and campaign fundraising.  Meet the new boss.

The American Hotel: built in 1926, the hotel is 11 stories high with over 300 rooms. It has remained vacant since the early 90′s.

Oh, there have been the requisite platitudes.  Duggan and Orr have broken bread in what was described as a “very good first meeting.”  And Duggan has said all the right things that a reformer would state, such as being “a huge believer in lean processing. If you are not excellent at making systems work, you cannot survive…”

But the inertia of the status quo has been apparent even after only one week from the election.  The Michigan House Appropriations Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Fred Durhal, Jr. is angry that Duggan hasn’t called him yet.  Metro Detroit AFL-CIO President Chris Michalakis essentially threw down a polite ultimatum that Duggan must “honor” his commitment to working families, while suggesting the labor doesn’t trust the new mayor.  Duggan claims he just wants a seat at the table as Detroit’s debts are solved, and if Synder and Orr are smart, they’ll allow it.

Wilbur Wright High School: closed in 2005, this building actually is among the few on this list that has been demolished. 10,000 buildings have been torn down in Detroit since 2010.

The decision to abrogate Detroit’s city government in the bankruptcy process may have been politically necessary (Detroit certainly hasn’t come to grips with its position despite many, many, many opportunities), but doing so has allowed Snyder and Orr to play the villain while the usual suspects who caused this economic disaster play the victim.  However, it’s also allowed Snyder to take all the credit too.  67% of Michigan voters approved the move back in March (including 41% of Detroit), and the decision has given Snyder a welcome bump in his approval rating.  That’s a short term political fix to a long-term structural problem.

Mike Duggan may be a product of the system that failed Detroit, but he’s viewed warily by both it.  Orr’s contract expires in the fall of 2014; Duggan and the City Council can vote whether or not to renew it – almost literally the only voice they have in the process.  If that’s the first time Duggan has to impact the process, he’ll have likely caved by then to labor, vote to end Orr’s tenure and – more importantly – work to undo reforms set in place.  Should Rick Snyder not return in 2015, an opportunity to address Detroit’s deeper fundamental problems will have passed and a new administration will slap a band-aid bailout on the city, and hope more journalists write about Dan Gilbert than urban hunters who live off of raccoon to supplement their meals.

Rudymentary

Christie’s Real Weight Problem – the punditry’s baggage of Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 bid

Does Chris Christie have a Rudy Giuliani-sized lump on his body politic?

While the fat jokes about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie started long before he was elected (recall Jon Corzine’s much-maligned ad from 2009), Christie’s political weight has been the only thing in the governor’s mansion packing on the pounds in recent months.  Thanks in multiple parts to a weak Democrat challenger, a compliant press corps, and a Democrat-leaning special election held weeks earlier, Chris Christie’s 22% margin of victory in ultramarine blue New Jersey has vaunted him to the top of the incredibly-too-early-to-reasonably-speculate GOP sweepstakes.

Christie’s critics suggest his numerous derivations from conservative orthodoxy and penchant for picking fights with his own party spell his early primary doom – presumably because they’ve never met Mitt Romney or John McCain.  But the early line of attack that does seem to be gaining some traction with the only segment of the electorate who cares this early – the punditry – is that Christie is too east coast, too combative.  Too Rudy Giulianiesque: Continue reading

Less Than Relevant

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Diagram showing the value of politicans, the media and the public, in each other’s lives

 

.
Note this chart does not show the importance – politicians can screw up a much larger area of our lives and the media can influence as much – the chart shows the actual value of their contributions to our wellbeing.


Hat tip: smalldeadanimals.com   

Dunno that I completely agree: I think Media – if we count entertainment, at least – covers a lot more ground, for most of The Public.

Let Me Get This Straight

Minnesota’s media talking head-bots continually bellyache about wanting Minnesota politics to be “more civil” and “more like it was back in the good ol’ days”…

…but they give a continual pass to the antics of “Alliance for a Better Minnesota”, which every single day makes Minnesota a cheaper, dumber, uglier place to do politics?

Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative…

…sorry.  It’s getting so thick, I’m getting just a tad punchy.

There’s an election coming up.  And the Democrats are going to need to need all the racial tension they can generate.

And their wholly-owned subsidiary at NPR is there to help them - in this case, in a story about Senate hearings on “Stand Your Ground” laws helpfully entitled “Senators bicker over state ‘stand your ground’ laws”:

The 2012 shooting death of Martin, 17 and unarmed, [provided you leave out "fists" and "bulk" - Ed] and the acquittal this year of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman stirred racial tensions and sparked debate over stand your ground laws in Florida and at least 21 other states.

Well, no.

The case itself stirred no tensions to speak of – until the Obama Administration, desperate to get out the black vote, turned Martin into a campaign stage prop, with the willing and unseemly connivance of the mainstream media.

Now, if you recall the piece on “ProtectMN”‘s “strategy” for the coming year, one of their goals is to emphasize emotional stories.  This is a common debate technique, of course; as my lawyer friends tell me, “when the facts are against you, argue law; when the law is against you, argue facts; when both are against you, argue like hell” – which means “emotions”, when you get right down to it.

And the media aren’t going to do anything about it.

Case in point:

Lucia Holman McBath, the mother of Jordan Russell Davis, implored the Senate to resolve the nation’s debate. 

[I'm going to hold out on the actual incident that led Ms. McBath to testifying in the Senate for just a bit, here]

“You can lift this nation from its internal battle in which guns rule over right,” McBath told the panel.

Ms. McBath lost a 17 year old son to someone who shot him in “self-defense”.

So what was the miscarriage of justice that led to Ms. McBath’s son’s killer walking away based on a “Stand your Ground” claim?  I’ll add emphasis:

Her 17-year-old son was shot and killed nearly a year ago when Michael David Dunn, 46, allegedly opened fire on a Dodge Durango with four teenagers inside after complaining of their loud music and saying he saw a gun and thus a threat. Jordan had been inside. Authorities never found a gun in the vehicle, the Florida Times-Union reported.

And, may I add…:

Dunn’s trial is set for next year.

So Mr. Dunn hasn’t even been tried yet?

We do not know the facts of the case that NPR hasn’t deigned to report…

…well, yes. We do.  We’ve looked at this case in the past.  Dunn would seem to have done just about everything possible wrong for a “self-defense” case.  Is he claiming “stand your ground?”  Sure.

And if he’s found guilty – as I’d imagine he will be – of some degree of homicide or another?  It’s irrelevant to “Stand your Ground”, because every other factor of the shooting that would lead to a self-defense claim would seem to have been wrong.

The fact that he claims “Stand your Ground” in a shooting that is otherwise wrong in every legal particular is not a reflection on the Stand Your Ground law.

Not that NPR will tell you that.

The House Isn’t Burning; The Residents Are

Jonah Goldberg at NRO writes about a recent Roger Simon jape at conservative legislators – by way of addressing a much larger question; why aren’t the media offended by the left’s assumption that they’re biased?

Simon’s column reminds me of a point I’ve been making for years. Most mainstream journalists roll their eyes at the idea the MSM is biased. It’s a tired argument, I know.

It is.  I’m tired of having to make it.

And yet – as Goldberg shows us – it’s not only true, but getting more and moreso:

 But it’s simply remarkable that when supposedly objective reporters move on to the opinion column racket they reveal themselves as utterly conventional liberal Democrats. When any longtime New York Times reporter rewarded with a column at the Times or elsewhere — Nick Kristoff, Bill Keller, Maureen Dowd, Anthony Lewis, EJ Dionne et al. — rips off the mask it turns out that they were exactly as liberal as conservatives suspected…Just going by the law of averages, some of these reporters should turn out to be conservative or libertarian or at least ideologically heterodox. But it almost never happens. Indeed, when the Times needs to find a conservative columnist (Bill Safire, David Brooks, Ross Douthat) it always has to hire outside its own shop.

It’s true in the Twin Cities, too; the Strib had to hire think-tanker Katherine Kersten to give its columnist’s row a veneer of balance (as a generation of Strib columnists tut-tutted about What It All Meant).  While the non-profit MinnPost originally claimed to want to shoot for multipartisanship, the best they could do was Cyndi Brucato – as a reporter.  That, on a site staffed with DFL apparatchik Doug Grow, former Dayton comms guy Brian Lamberg, and a raft of other committed libs.

Jay Carney got his job working for Joe Biden, and later, Barack Obama because his employers knew from the get-go that the Time reporter was ideologically simpatico with the administration. The same goes for Linda Douglas, not to mention Richard Stengel, Shailagh Murray, and many others. I wonder if any of them ever feel insulted when Democratic politicians just assume that supposedly objective reporters would make great partisan hacks?

Locally?  Not only are the left’s “alt” media clogged with refugees from the Strib, PiPress and other mainstream outlets, but there’s been a steady parade of regional journos that’ve found post-media homes in the DFL, at left-leaning non-profits like MN2020, and as comms people for liberal pols.

Because it’s a safe assumption, I guess…

Because Racism

Earlier this week, the Joyce Foundation collected another installment on its payment for the MinnPost’s PR services in pursuit of disarming the American people – in this case, a “Community Voices” column by by Rebecca Lowen and Doug Rossinow, who are listed as “history professors at Metro State”.

Those who fail to learn from history, it’s fair to say, teach history at Metro State.

And if this reflects the current state of the victim-disarmament movement, it’d seem their strategy has shifted to “ad homina” and “making things up”.

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Rant And Slant

A few weeks ago, I pointed out that not only does the MinnPost appear to be selling news to the highest bidder (or, more accurately, biggest contributor), but that MPR News appears to have done the same.

The Usual Bona Fides:  Let me give you my usual disclaimer; I’ve always – or at least for the last ten years or so – believed that MPR News made a fairly credible effort at appearing, from an institutional level, to be fairly balanced and to keep its individual staffers’ biases firewalled away pretty well.   I know some people at MPR News, and I believe they operate with a level of integrity (although some of them also believe they’re above criticism by the hoi polloi; after I asked questions about MPR News’ “Poligraph” segment’s oddly incurious coverage of the Betty McCollum/Tony Hernandez debates, I got an email from a senior MPR News exec to Catherine Richert advising her “not to engage with that guy”.  He’d fumble-fingered and sent it to me, too).

All that aside, I’ve always believed MPR News – the news department, as opposed to NPR, or non-news programming, like Garrison Keillor – does an adequate job of compartmentalizing bias.

Or I did, until fairly recently.

The Shakedown We Pay For:  As noted above, I wonder why MPR News is covering Second Amendment issues under the direct sponsorship of the Joyce Foundation, the nation’s largest funder of gun-grabber organizations.

Bill Glahn covers some of the same ground in a piece about MPR’s “Daily Current” show, hosted by the bias-sodden Keri Miller.  The “Daily Current”, a look at their website notes, is a production of MPR News.

The hour was hosted by MPR’s Kerri Miller. Panelists included Denise Cardinal, the founder of Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM), Ben Golnik, a political consultant, and Kathryn Pearson, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota.

Cardinal is, of course, a major liberal mover and shaker and, as Glahn points out and I reported endlessly in 2010, architect of Alida Messinger’s epic, toxic sleaze campaign in 2010, which bought Mark Dayton barely enough votes to win.  Golnik is a fixture in MN GOP politics.  Pearson is Larry Jacobs’ understudy and contender for his title of “most over-quoted person in the Twin Cities media”.

 Let’s turn to MPR’s Kerri Miller for a moment.  As the show’s host and moderator, her chief means of controlling the narrative are by asking questions and controlling the show’s flow…As for flow, by my count, Miller interrupts the Republican Golnik at total of thirteen 13 times.  During one 56-second stretch alone [08:26 to 09:22] MPR’s Miller interrupts Golnik seven times to challenge his facts.

Not only do such constant interruptions throw off a guest’s rhythm, they telegraph to the audience that the “neutral” host believes the guest to be untrustworthy or evasive.

On the rare occasions Miller speaks during Cardinal’s or Pearson’s time, she never interrupts and stops the flow.  Rather, Miller will say a word or two to clarify or to reinforce a point—never to challenge or dispute—as can be heard at the 17:47 mark with Cardinal and the 25:52 mark with Pearson.

I urge you to try to find the recordings of Miller’s performance in the 2010 Governor’s race.  I listened to both interviews, and wrote about ‘em back then.   Her interview of Tom Emmer was harsh, acerbic, combative, laced with hostile interruptions.

Which is fine – journalists should ask questions, right?

But in contrast, her conversation with Mark Dayton was chummy, clubby, a rhetorical warm fuzzy blanket with camomile tea.  It sounded like they may have been painting each others’ toenails.

Miller hasn’t changed much.

Conflict Of Interest:  But here’s the part I wanted to draw your attention to; I’ll add emphasis:

The host’s interruptions of the token conservative are not just to challenge facts or opinion.  On two occasions, MPR’s Miller interrupts Republican Golnik to defend Democrat Governor Dayton—on the Vikings Stadium [30:22] and on MPR News’ sponsorMNsure [32:15].

Her defense of the Democrat Dayton during that latter exchange reveals volumes about the host and the outlet.  While the disastrous debut of Obamacare was makinginternational news, and the problems with the local MNsure rollout again on the front pages, Miller dismisses the problems with her corporate sponsor as mere “glitches.

Her defense of our liberal Governor is so over the top that she has to catch herself at one point [32:42 mark] with the walk back “not to speak for the Governor here,” played to laughter from the panelists.

That Miller is a shill for the DFL is not up for question by anyone paying attention.

That MPR News is taking money to produce the news is one thing; all commercial news operations have to work to create the impression there’s a high, thick wall between the money and news sides of their operations.

That MPR News is not only having its news coverage directly sponsored by advocacy groups, but is having its non-news, opinion programming – Miller’s show – sponsored by the government that MPR News is supposed to be covering?

How is this not merely a conflict of interest, but an undercutting of the integrity of a news operation that has always publicly wrapped itself in the flag of journalistic ethics (whatever they are?)

Tom Scheck?  Mike Mulcahy?  Rupa Chinoy?  Bob Collins?  Anyone?

Anyone?

Guardians Of The Narrative

NPR News this morning:

The officers who shot the woman at the Capitol are among the hundreds of thousands of government employees not being paid…

Tax money well spent.

UPDATE:  This was just  flip little thing I’d toss off onto the blog while I was sitting at a stoplight on my way to work. 

But the whole “federal cops are unpaid!” bit not only seems to be a coordinated bit of lefty narrative

but it’s completely wrong

So apparently the “top flight journalists” at National Public Radio are reporting lefty twitter-cant as fact, now.

He’ll Never Do Lunch In This Town Again

Remember the spring of 2009?  Obama and his hope’nchange had just been inaugurated – so everyone was still blaming Bush for everything. 

And at the Humphrey Center, a conclave of journalist fanboys attended a shinding with Village Voice journo Seymour Hersh, hosted by Walter Mondale at the Humphrey Center, to pimp Hersh’s upcoming book claiming that Bush and Cheney used Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as their personal hit squad (while not noting that JSOC was a creation of the Carter Administration in which Mondale served as vice president). 

I’m thinking his next shinding in the Twin Cities might be a little sparser in attendance; Hersh is now claiming that Obama used JSOC to falsify the narrative of the Bin Laden raid. 

And Hersh isn’t that impressed by his fanboys in the media, either:

The book will also discuss Hersh’s view that the U.S. media hasn’t committed enough resources to investigative journalism.

Hersh tells The Guardian that the ‘pathetic’ U.S. media ‘is afraid to pick on this guy (President Obama).’

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious,” Hersh said of the American media. “They are afraid to pick on this guy (Obama).”

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight,” he said.

“Now that doesn’t happen anymore. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.”

Now, we need to be clear about a few things up front; Sy Hersh is as a rule no more based in reality than Minnesota Progressive Project

And yet liberal media types revere him, along with Bob Woodward, as the acme of the craft.

 I’m guessing that’ll change, and the US media will start devoting resources to investigating…

..Seymour Hersh

Just a hunch.

 

 

Distrust But Verify

Last week, when the first news of the Washington Navy Yard shooting broke out, I thought to myself “let’s sit out these first reports – because whatever the mainstream media reports for the first 4-6 hours will be not just wrong, but hysterical and the result of templates being filled in from the MSM/Democrat narrative”.

I wasn’t the only one:

In watching the coverage of the Washington Navy Yard shooting as it unfolded last Monday, I had to remind myself that most of the reports I was hearing would surely turn out to be incorrect, in some cases wildly so. And indeed this turned out to be the case. We were told, for example, that there was more than one gunman, and that one of them was armed with an AR-15 rifle. Even worse, both CBS and NBC identified the wrong man as the shooter before issuing retractions.

The first of these errors is the most understandable. In the rush to beat their competitors, the editing filters ordinarily in place are often put aside in favor of greater speed. Reports from the scene, no matter how unverifiable, are broadcast live so as to be first on the air. Again, understandable and even forgivable in most cases.

Less so is the misidentification of the shooter’s weapon.

I’m going to guess that the writer (PJM’s Jack Dunphy) and I aren’t the only ones.

I’d love to ask a mainstream media figure – is your industry’s adherence to Democrat narratives (and in some cases money) worth the damage your credibility is taking among people who pay attention?

An Open Letter To MPR News

To:  MPR News
From:  Mitch Berg,Uppity Peasant
Re:  Re-Joyce And Be Glad

MPR,

Last week, in a similar open letter to the management at the news-blog MinnPost, I asked how they squared the fact that they were accepting sponsorship for their “news” coverage – let alone sponsorship from non-profit issue advocacy groups and the government that journalists are supposed to hold accountable - with professional journalism’s purported ideals and ethics.

These ideals are – we are told – set forth in the “Society of Professional Journalists’ “Code of Ethics“. 

Now – in 2011, MPR accepted a grant from the Joyce Foundation supporting the production of a series, “Following the Firearm“.   As Joyce notes…:

The Center selected reporters working in the Great Lakes region and awarded them fellowships to enable them to undertake in-depth investigative reporting projects. The fellows also attended workshops to learn from experts in gun crime and gun policy. MPR News reporter Brandt Williams spent four months researching the story. The four-part series looks at the sources of Minneapolis crime guns, sentencing for gun crimes, the impact of gun violence on the African American community, and the challenges surrounding firearm tracing.

Now, as has been noted in this space, the Joyce Foundation is the primary sponsor of gun control groups in the United States.  They donate a lot of money to groups like Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns“, the Violence Policy Center (whose “research” on Second Amendment issues is notable for its strident inaccuracy)…

and the MinnPost, whose own “journalism” on the subject has been increasingly suspect for the past year or so; the MinnPost would seem to have turned into a PR firm for the “Gun Safety” movement.   

But enough about them; let’s talk about MPR.

The SPJ Code of Ethics’ “Accountability” section says that the journalist should…:

  • Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.  So how does reporting news on a controversial subject that is directly sponsored by a group that is a generous advocate for one side of the story not a real conflict of interest?
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.  I’d say getting sponsored by a key pressure group – including having, according to Joyce, a parade of Joyce-approved “experts” paraded before your reporters – qualifies. 
  • Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.  Seems pretty self-explanatory.
  • Disclose unavoidable conflicts.  Was there disclosure?  Yep, there was, to a point; Joyce’s involvement was noted, although Joyce’s stake in the issue - its funding of gun control groups to the tune of tens of millions of dollars – was, near as I can tell, not. Strikes me as avoidable. 
  • Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.  How does MPR News’ acceptance of sponsorship from a special interest group not qualify?

 Your series aired back in 2011 – and to be fair, it presented factual information without pushing a political point of view especially overtly.  But neither did it go out of its way – in my opinion as a news consumer, activist on the subject and one-time reporter – to present much considered dissent from material supporting Joyce’s desired narrative, either. 

Which would make for an interesting parlor discussion – not that MPR News is especially interested in parlor discussions with people outside the Journo tribe. 

But beyond that?  About a month after the Joyce-sponsored series ran on MPR, the MPR News website published a commentary piece by Heather Martens - director and one of very few members of “Protect Minnesota”, a gun-control group.  The piece was notable for its complete absence of fact; every single non-numeric assertion made in the “Commentary” was false.  Every single one.  

And since I can’t imagine MPR News would publish a commentary by, say, a 9/11 Truther, or someone who favors white supremacy on biological grounds at all, much less without some sort of dissenting comment, I thought it was odd that MPR News granted her the bandwidth they did.

“Protect Minnesota” is also sponsored – almost entirely – by the Joyce Foundation, which had underwritten MPR’s series the previous month. 

Am I connecting dots that don’t belong connected?

Perhaps.  But if MPR had allowed its reporting to be sponsored by the NRA, and then ran an unaccompanied op-ed by Ted Nugent, people would talk, wouldn’t they? 

I don’t expect an answer, of course; MPR News doesn’t like engaging people outside the tribe (as I found last year, when one of your executives mis-addressed an email telling an MPR News staffer not to engage with me, to me). 

But since MPR News spends such time and effort claiming the moral and ideological journalistic high ground – claims to which I’ve given public credence in the past – it’s worth asking. 

Even the SPJ Code of Ethics says so.

Sincerely,

Mitch Berg
Uppity Peasant

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Somewhere In The Moral Swamps Of Jersey

(SCENE:  A darkened alley in Newark, New Jersey, on a dark, drizzly April evening.  A broken down school bus full of inner city middle-schoolers returning from a trip to the ballet in New York sits by the side of a dismal road, steam rising from its up-tilted hood, in front of a deserted chemical plant.  The driver, a cute, plucky Puerto Rican single mother of three named Maria LOPEZ, looks under the hood along with passerby Tobias “Wang Dang Doodle” JACKSON, a grizzled 60-something black man in a porkpie hat and a worn black suit.  Mitch BERG pulls up, driving a rented Ford Focus, and climbs out to try to render assistance, carrying a cell phone and a nearly empty bottle of lemon-lime Powerade).

BERG:  Can I help?  Has anyone called a tow or anything yet?

LOPEZ:  I called the police, the district and a wrecker, but there won’t be any help coming for at least an hour.

JACKSON:  Those infernal garages aren’t what they used to be. 

BERG:  OK.  Well, maybe we can figure out what’s wrong here…

(A black BMW sedan pulls up beside the bus.  Out pops a dapper African-American man, who walks briskly to the bus).

MAN:  Hi.  I’m Corey Booker, and I’m the mayor of Newark. 

LOPEZ:  Hello, Mister Mayor!

BOOKER:  Hi.  We don’t have much time.  The CIA just called me.  A band of Serbian narcotraficantes are apparently en route from the docks in Elizabeth to pick up several drums of methamphetamine stored in that disused chemical factory, and they’re not above killing everyone that gets in their way.

BERG:  Isn’t this a job for the police?

BOOKER:  They’re all busy.  It’s up to us. 

BERG:  I hate it when that happens.

JACKSON:  Newark police are, let us say, sub-optimal. 

BOOKER:  Be that as it may, we’re going to have to get these children out of the way before the Serbian narcotraficantes get here and kill everyone in their path.  You, maam, and you, sir (points to LOPEZ and JACKSON), start walking those kids to safety in that community center on the other side of that culvert.  You, sir (points to BERG) and I need to divert them to provide cover. 

BERG:  Er…OK. 

(LOPEZ and JACKSON start to herd the kids out of the bus and into the ditch).

LOPEZ:  Hurry, kids!

JACKSON: Remember, gentlemen – fire and movement!

(In the distance, a pair of panel vans stop and disgorge 20 Serbian narcotraficantes,all carrying AK47 assault rifles.  They form a skirmish line and start charging toward the bus.  Scattered shots ring out as the line moves forward.  LOPEZ and JACKSON start the children running in single file down the ditch by the side of the road as a few sparks fly from the bus’ chassis).

BOOKER:  You flank them to the right.  I’ll draw their fire. 

BERG:  Flank them with what?  Your state’s idiotic gun laws bar me from bringing my legal handgun, much less something I can use against…

BOOKER:  GO!

(BOOKER springs to the left, waving his arms wildly.  BERG, nonplussed, crawls to the right and crosses the road.  The Serbian narcotraficantes fire picks up and their charge gathers speed, as they yell “get the meth!  get the meth!” in Serbian)

(BOOKER dodges incoming bullets in a complex, acrobatic display that makes The Matrix look like that old SNL “Bears Fans” sketch.  An RPG fires, the rocket tracing an angry red slash across the field.  BOOKER catches the rocket by the tail and throws it back at the Serbian narcotraficantes; it explodes, sending several Serbs diving for cover as others blaze away at the Mayor).

(Berg, in the meantime, as closed the gap with the Serbs, who are focused on blazing away at Mayor BOOKER.  Having no weapon, he looks around, and sees a puddle of New Jersey rainwater.  He ducks down and starts filling the Powerade bottle).

(Two more RPG rounds rocket toward the Mayor.  He catches them, cross-handed, just before they’d have impacted his chest, and in a grandiose double-pirouette, throws both rounds back at the Serbs.  One splashes into the mud at the feet of Branko SLRBÇ, the leader of the Serb narcotraficantes.

SLRBÇ (yelling in Serb with subtitles):  Is this even plausible?

(The round explodes, and SLRBÇ vanishes in a gout of gore and flame). 

(The second round slams into the grill of the first of the narcotraficantes’ vans, exploding it in a gout of flame.  The rest of the Serbs go to ground, panicked and pinned down).

(BERG caps the bottle of New Jersey rainwater, and with a mighty heave, throws it at the second van, which explodes into brilliant blue and green flames).

(The surviving Serbs get up and run back up the road toward their rally point, a giant Exxon sign which, unfortunately for them, gives the local cops plenty of light by which to apprehend them).

BERG (soaking wet, walks back to Booker, who is somehow still dry):  Wow.  How did you do that?

BOOKER (As police cars pull up all around them)  It’s all in a days work for the Mayor of Newark

(BOOKER tips his hat and climbs into his car, and – notwithstanding that a dark cloudy night fell over two hours earlier – drives into the sunset as LOPEZ, soaking wet, walks back up the freeway.  She and BERG look at each other, drenched, before embracing in a passionate kiss as the camera pulls back to a wide shot of the full post-battle vista).

(And SCENE)

2004: Rant. 2013: Slant?

I was listening to MPR News the other day.

I heard a “Jennifer Vogel” on the air.  She’s working for MPR’s “Ground Level” project.  Her mission – and that of the “Ground Level Project” – “focuses on complex issues playing out in Minnesota’s cities and towns”

Check out the page above.  Ms. Vogel is spending all sorts of time in Greater Minnesota.

She sounded familiar.

So I checked the archives.  Yep – it’s the same Jennifer Vogel who wrote the seminan patricial classist rant, ”F**k The Suburbs“, for a Seattle version of a City Pages-style Village Voice knockoff – an article which provided us all sorts of fun in this space back in 2004.

It started:

Minneapolis and St. Paul sit on either side of the upper Mississippi River, in what amounts to the middle of nowhere. For three hundred miles in any direction, there are no cities of size, only prairie, gas stations, and big open sky. We may be on the Mississippi but no one comes here by boat. There are no containers from Japan piling up on the dock. People arrive by bus and car, dusty and road-worn, mostly from the small towns of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas–places where ambitious and misunderstood kids grow up despising their parents’ lives.

OK, a lot of us who move from what Vogel calls “The Big Nowhere” think those sorts of things – at one point or another.

But Vogel – like most writers for freebie lifestyle ‘zines, and by “most” I mean “every one I’ve ever met“, who are by the way white and upper-middle-class to a geometric fault – saw racists behind the hedges:

As the city changed, the “family values” folks moved away. However, they didn’t move all the way away. Oh, no. They moved to the suburbs. Tract housing began to sprawl in all directions as many wild-eyed whities climbed over each other to get the hell out of town. And good riddance, I say. Except that these defenders of all that’s wholesome have formed a band around the city, a ring of red that’s threatening to strangle the very idea of beneficent government.  

You get the idea.

Read the whole, depressing thing.   Or don’t.  You really do get the idea; Vogel hates conservatives, and seems to loathe the sort of people…

…that MPR has her reporting on today.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t begrudge that she got a job.  They’re hard to get in that racket these days.  A lefty “Journo”‘s gotta wait until a generation of former Strib and WCCO reporters dies off before they can hope for a gig at a non-profit or in the DFL Comms Office.  These are tough times.

And who knows?  Maybe Vogel has grown up in the past nine years.  Maybe she has learned to see people as more than collections of stereotypes classified by exterior decorating choices, zipcodes, ethnic food preferences and skin tones.  Maybe she’ll approach the people she’s reporting in Greater Minnesota with less of the seething, patrician, classist contempt she showed nine years ago.

I do like to believe the best in people.

Yeah.  Maybe that’s it.

(PS:  Here’s a story idea for Ms. Vogel:  More immigrants are moving to the suburbs than the city these days. Sounds like an idea for an article! You’re welcome).