By Matthew Continetti • Washington Free Beacon
I used to laugh every time I heard someone like Elon Musk say that we are living in a Matrix-like simulation. These days, not so much.
Don’t call the funny farm just yet. On the major question of the nature of sense experience, I remain with Aristotle and against Bishop Berkeley. Matter is real. But there is also the question of how we perceive “the news”; how established media institutions present and frame information; how we are supposed to respond to the “takes” purportedly expert and knowledgeable voices serve up to us by the second on social media. And here, I’m skeptical.
It’s hard not to be. Think of the headlines we’ve encountered since the beginning of this year. We were told the Covington Catholic boys were smug racist Trump supporters on the basis of a snippet of video. A young man, a private citizen, whose only offense was traveling to Washington, D.C., to march for life, was transformed at light speed into a symbol of hate and systemic oppression. However, just as Nick Sandmann’s reputation as a villain was about to set in stone, additional videos revealed that the students’ encounter with a far-left American Indian activist and the Black Hebrew Israelites was far more complicated than initially reported. The Covington Catholic boys had been smeared. People who cast themselves as agents of professional knowledge, expertise, and moral authority had circulated and amplified a lie in the service of a political agenda. Not for the first nor last time.
We were told Jussie Smollett, a rising gay African-American actor and singer, had been Continue reading
By the Boston Herald
The left and its compliant media are willfully reporting false news to the American people. Whether it is a symptom of mass hysteria that is the genesis for this confirmation bias-style reporting or an intentional maneuver to spread anti-Trump propaganda, its effect is toxic and pernicious.
The report comes in the form of a tweet making its way through the Twitter-sphere in which a user named Mark Elliott has posted a video of Donald Trump who he contends is referring to migrants at the border as “animals.” Elliott, who has almost 20,000 followers added the comment, “@realDonaldTrump on people asking for asylum “These aren’t people. These are animals.”
In truth, the video is almost a year old. Last May, during a meeting with the president, Sheriff Margaret Mims of Fresno County, Calif., explained to Trump that she was frustrated over Continue reading
By Charles Hurt • Washington Times
The job of newspapers was once to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Today, that job seems to be to give voice to liars and shout down the truth.
You really cannot blame Democrat voters in America for fleeing in droves the fetid airwaves of MSNBC and CNN, which have suffered a collapse in ratings last week as viewers learned they have been steadily and spectacularly lied to for the past two years by the so-called “mainstream” media about the so-called Russian collusion “story.”
Examples abound of pundits and reporters from once-respected newspapers and cable “news” outlets leveling outlandish charges about this twisted fantasy of collusion between President Trump and the Kremlin. Equally alarming are the endless examples of these same “news” outlets airing and publishing outright lies told by politicians hellbent on destroying Mr. Trump.
It is a sad fact in our broken world: politicians lie. The whole point of the so-called “Fourth Estate” — that unofficial, quasi-fourth branch of government — is to Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
For the past two years, a large swath of the media engaged in a mass act of self-deception and partisan groupthink. Perhaps it was Watergate envy, or bitterness over Donald Trump’s victory, or antagonism towards Republicans in general—or, most likely, a little bit of all the above. But now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report on Russian collusion, it’s clear that political journalists did the bidding of those who wanted to delegitimize and overturn Trump’s election.
While bad behavior from partisan sources should be expected, the lack of skepticism from self-appointed unbiased journalists has been unprecedented. Any critical observer could see early on that Trump-era partisan newsroom culture had made journalists susceptible to the deception of those peddling expedient stories. Our weekly bouts of Russia hysteria all sprung from one predetermined outcome: the president was in bed with Vlad Putin.
The natural disposition of journalists—even opinion journalists—should be skepticism. Like him or not, the notion that the president of the United States, a wealthy showman who’s been in the limelight for decades, and ran one of the most chaotic major political organizations in history, had been secretly conspiring with Russia to steal a 50-state election should immediately have been deemed too good to be true by any decent journalist.
Yet once-respectable, if biased, mainstream outlets churned out Continue reading
By Brent Scher • Washington Free Beacon
The number of Freedom of Information Act requests the Environmental Protection Agency received from mainstream outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post spiked immediately after Republican President Donald Trump took office, according to a Free Beacon analysis of FOIA requests by the media from 2013 to the present.
The figures, obtained through the government’s FOIA online database, reveal a clear increase in requests for information from the agency once Trump was elected president.
The New York Times, for example, made just 13 FOIA requests during the four years of Obama’s second term, sending 3 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 7 in 2015, and 2 in 2016. The number of FOIA requests the Times sent for Obama’s entire second term was nearly quadrupled in the first year of Trump’s presidency alone, when the Times sent 59 FOIA requests to the EPA.
Reporters at the Times have made 100 FOIA requests since Trump took office just over two years ago, a 669 percent increase of the number of FOIA requests it made during the four years of Obama’s second term.
By Lance Morrow • Wall Street Journal
The Democratic National Committee will regret its decision to bar Fox News from hosting any of its 2020 presidential primary debates. Just as the game begins, the committee has planted the idea that the Democrats mean to run a rigged election—not a happy thought to encourage in view of the way the party’s leaders fiddled with the process in 2016 to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
The Democrats consider Fox a propaganda arm of the Trump administration, but they have their own propaganda arms. Most of the mainstream media manifest a deep affinity for progressive Democrats and their agenda. To exclude Fox smacks of Soviet one-party theatrics.
The journalists at CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times and, broadly speaking, the elected officials and paid operatives of the Democratic Party—almost all of these people agree on the issues of the day: women’s rights, abortion, gay marriage and other LGBTQ issues, Black Lives Matter, gun control, immigration, the border wall, family separation at the U.S.-Mexican border, Russian collusion, Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness and so on. They agree, above all, in opposing and loathing Donald Trump.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” unfolds each weekday morning as a relentless, ritualized denunciation of Mr. Trump and all his works. With almost hilarious single-mindedness, the program’s repertory company addresses itself to the work of discrediting and—they hope—one day ousting the president.
It will be fatal to Democrats’ chances in 2020 to encourage the suspicion they won’t tolerate points of view that differ from progressive orthodoxy. Unbiased viewers know that Fox employs many credible journalists: Bret Baier, Martha McCallum and Chris Wallace, for example.
Anyway, Fox journalists asking the questions would only sharpen the debate and increase the candidates’ credibility. The ideologues at the DNC don’t grasp the virtue of competing ideas. Jacobins rarely do.
True, Sean Hannity whispers in Mr. Trump’s ear. That is probably a bad idea, but it has abundant historical precedent. The muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens of McClure’s Magazine, author of “The Shame of the Cities,” met often with President Theodore Roosevelt to advise him on progressive policy.
Arthur Krock, Washington bureau chief and a columnist for the New York Times, was in the Kennedy family’s pocket for years. He wrote columns in the late 1930s pushing Joseph P. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s father, for president. The journalist had the sense to turn down the patriarch’s offer of a car one Christmas, considering the bribe too blatant. Krock used his influence on the Pulitzer board to engineer a 1957 prize for JFK’s “Profiles in Courage.”
Henry Luce, co-founder and editor in chief of Time Inc., regarded his magazines as the voices of the American superego. He liked to tell his countrymen what to think, and presidents how to act. Presidents feared Luce and his ability to teach and preach to tens of millions of American voters every week. Luce had an especially proprietary sense of President Dwight Eisenhower, whom his magazines backed in 1952. Intellectuals damned Luce and envied him his vast readership and almost unique influence upon the American popular mind. Phil Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, was an intimate adviser to Lyndon Johnson, notably at the 1960 Democratic convention, where LBJ sought the top spot on the ticket but settled for the second.
President Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, of Newsweek and later of the Washington Post, had a glamorous friendship that was close and, from a journalistic point of view, not quite ethical.
The DNC made a bad move. One or two of the declared Democratic candidates might distinguish themselves now by demanding that the committee reverse itself and invite Fox News—and its audience—back into the American electoral process.
By Jeffrey Cimmino • Washington Free Beacon
The Washington Post issued an editor’s note Thursday admitting inaccuracies in its initial reporting on a January incident involving Native American protesters, high school students from Covington, Ky., and a group known as Black Hebrew Israelites.
The note sweeps away the provocative details that turned the story into a phenomenon, including the accusation that Covington students prevented Native American activist Nathan Phillips from moving away.
“A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial,” the statement begins. “Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict.”
The editor’s note acknowledges that the high school student facing Phillips contradicted the latter’s account of the incident, and that “an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos.” The statement adds that the Post reported on these subsequent developments.
The student at the center of this imbroglio, high school junior Nick Sandmann, filed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against the Post, and his attorneys claim the newspaper led a “mob of bullies which attacked, vilified & threatened” him.
In January, film emerged of Sandmann and a group of Covington Catholic high school students, many of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, appearing to taunt Phillips, a Native American and veteran, near the Lincoln Memorial. Initial reactions on social media condemned the mostly white students for seeming to mock Phillips.
Phillips initially claimed he saw the students taunting indigenous peoples near the memorial and tried to walk towards the monument before being blocked, but later said he stepped into the crowd to defuse tensions between the students and a nearby group of extremists known as Black Hebrew Israelites. Video showed Phillips banging his drum inches from Sandmann’s face, and Phillips claimed to feel threatened and blocked by the student.
Sandmann countered Phillips’ account, saying he was confused when Phillips approached him and was trying to calm down a tense situation. Sandmann added the students were engaging in school cheers before Phillips approached, in response to expletive-laden taunts being hurled at them by the Black Hebrew Israelites. Video released later shows this to have been the case.
Additional video revealed the students did not chant “Build the wall” or “Trump 2020” as Phillips claimed, and showed the students did not surround Phillips—he walked into their midst.
The Diocese of Covington announced earlier this month that an independent investigation exonerated the students and showed they “did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.”
“In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening,” Bishop Roger Foys said. “Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.”
By Mollie Hemingway • The Federalist
The Democratic National Committee is refusing to allow Fox News Channel to televise any of its candidate debates during the 2019-2020 cycle, according to the Washington Post.
DNC Chair Tom Perez cited an article written by liberal journalist Jane Mayer of The New Yorker for his decision. Her article alleged that Fox News Channel, which has been less hostile and hysterical about the man elected president by the United States electorate than its counterparts at every other television outlet, was too close to the Donald Trump White House.
Fox News’ opinion hosts include Trump-loving Sean Hannity. Its news hosts, including Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, Shannon Bream, and Chris Wallace, are far more objective than those at other broadcast media outlets. Liberal Trump critic Shep Smith is also billed as a news host. Other media outlets frequently blur the line between news and opinion, with CNN hosts Jake Tapper, Brian Stelter, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon mixing their liberal opinions with occasional bouts of news.
In recent years:
That’s just a few off-the-top-of-the-head examples of media and Democratic Party collusion regarding election year issues and debates. But it’s a problem that exists so constantly as to be a crisis.
NBC’s Chuck Todd showed his legendarily extreme bias on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” show. He falsely claimed Rep. Jim Jordan was sharing opinion, not facts, when he accurately discussed Michael Cohen’s testimony that he’d never been to Prague — a central claim of a discredited dossier, secretly funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, secretly fed to media outlets and intelligence agencies, and used to undermine the Trump administration for more than two years.
But when Sen. Mark Warner claimed there was evidence of collusion with Russia, Todd didn’t push back in any way, despite the lack of evidence. Last year, Tapper, a former gun control spokesman, hosted a rally that spun up a mob against gun rights and Dana Loesch while letting a corrupt sheriff off the hook.
The Democratic National Committee, whose allies select stories, frame those stories, and write and broadcast those stories at nearly all other major media outlets, has every right to use its media-enabled power against Fox News Channel, which tends to be less aligned with Democrats. It makes sense that the DNC would only want friends and ideological allies to question them in debates, particularly when they only need to ostracize one media outlet to accomplish that.
The question is, why do establishment Republicans allow Republicans to be treated as second-class citizens? They sit back and lamely accept the false narrative that Fox is a crazy right-wing propaganda network while the other media outlets are treated as straight news. This is pure gaslighting.
Which broadcast outlet, among NBC, CBS, ABC — not to mention the cartoonishly biased MSNBC and CNN — is not severely biased against Republicans and their domestic policy goals? The Washington Post is not neutral, as its full-court advocacy to utterly destroy the life and reputation of Kavanaugh reminded those who hadn’t figured it out in previous decades.
Most of its stories show this. To take, again, but one recent example of out many, the Washington Post’s smear today of a Christian judge reads as if it were lifted directly from the public relations arm of the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.
In what sense is The New York Times not the propaganda arm of the Democratic National Committee? Why, then, do Republicans let their declared enemies set the terms of their own debates?
Instead, Republicans play a big game of pretend, dutifully going on shows hosted by activists Todd and former Bill Clinton spokesman George Stephanopolous — two hosts who are far, far, far less impartial than Baier and Wallace.
The excuse the DNC used to boycott Fox was the story spun by Mayer, a woman known at least as much for her sloppy journalism as for her far-left activism. She was one of the bylines on one of the journalistically indefensible smears of Kavanaugh before his confirmation. The first “conservative” Mayer quoted to attack Fox News was Bill Kristol. I stopped reading when the second alleged “conservative” was the Post’s Jennifer Rubin.
The liberal activists at other networks and media outlets lapped up Mayer’s story. In response to the DNC boycotting Fox, CNN’s anti-Republican media analyst Brian Stelter wrote, “Yes, Fox has a news division. But Fox is mostly defined by its opinion division, where hosts and guests demonize Democrats from morning til night.”
This from the network that has for years obsessively pushed in its news programming, which is also its opinion programming, an insane conspiracy of treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election. It perhaps should be noted that CNN got in a bit of trouble when one of its employees was caught passing debate questions to Clinton during the 2016 primary.
In any case, one of the reasons Trump was successful and won the presidency was that he declined to play the game where he treated the media as if they weren’t biased and facing massive credibility problems. Do other Republicans enjoy being treated like second-class citizens? Do they think they must accept it?
What are they going to do going forward? The media aren’t getting better. They’re getting worse. And the alliance between Democrats and the media grows stronger every day. Is this of interest to establishment Republicans?
It is long past time for Republicans to acknowledge that nearly all of the major media outlets view Republicans as their political enemies. Given the media response today to Democrats blacklisting Fox News Channel, they have set the precedent that it is perfectly acceptable for Republicans to do the same with media organizations that have shown they have neither the desire nor the ability to honestly and fairly moderate political debates, much less intra-party debates or discussions that include Republican officials and the views they hold.
When Trump rattled off a series of economic successes in his State of the Union, he could have added one more. The public’s quality of life has improved sharply in the past two years.
“We have created 5.3 million new jobs and, importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs,” Trump said at one point in this address. “Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades … . Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low.”
Unemployment at historic lows? Wages climbing at a fast pace? Who knew? The news media, fixated on Trump scandals, hasn’t exactly been broadcasting that good news. And media fact checkers busied themselves after the speech nitpicking Trump’s economic boasts. Continue reading
By Christopher Jacobs • The Federalist
Researchers have raised legitimate questions about whether a policy change included in Obamacare actually increased death levels nationwide.
Some may recall that two years ago, liberals engaged in no small amount of hyperbolic rhetoric insisting that repealing Obamacare would kill Americans. They viewed that fact as a virtual certainty, and spent more time arguing over precisely how many individuals would die under the law’s repeal.
Somehow, however, the media that breathlessly covered claims about how repealing Obamacare would kill Americans hasn’t exactly rushed to highlight claims that the law could have increased the death rate. Continue reading
By Craig Bannister • CNSNews.com
Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell is among a host of conservative leaders calling on media to apologize to the students of Covington Catholic High School who falsely accused of racism and bigotry based on a deceptively edited video.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the conservative leaders condemned the harm done to the students by false reports fueled by liberal media hatred for both President Donald Trump and all pro-life Americans:
Over the past week, the liberal media and leftist activists viciously attacked Covington Catholic High School, falsely labeling the group of teenagers racists and bigots based on a deceptively edited viral video. The liberal media’s promotion of this false narrative incited death threats to these kids and their families. If not for the leftist media’s contempt for pro-lifers and President Trump, this “story” would have never reached the magnitude that it did.
We now know the kids of Covington Catholic were the real victims of the altercation in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the truth, despite an apology from the Bishop, despite some apologies from some journalists, despite media retractions, despite the deletion of tweets, some leftists in the press and other liberal elites are still perpetuating the lies about the innocent Covington kids. This is bigotry and its own brand of hatred. It is an ongoing display of anti-Trump, anti-life, anti-Catholic, and anti-Christian bias. These are blatant bullying tactics designed to make conservatives and people of faith think twice before standing up for their beliefs or even having the audacity to wear a “MAGA” hat in public, let alone smile while doing it.
We denounce any media outlet that continues to so dishonestly attack the Covington Catholic kids and we call on them to apologize for the bullying behavior that continues to result in threats of violence against the kids, their school and their community.
By John Kass • Chicago Tribune
What exactly triggered that hateful leftist social media mob — shamefully egged on by prominent American journalists — to unjustly attack the students at Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School and denounce them as racists?
The school has been closed. Death threats and bullying continue. Students and family complain they’ve been doxed — their identities revealed so that the hateful mob can harass them some more.
So, what happened? Why were the students vilified?
Was it simply for the sin of being white, Roman Catholic supporters of President Donald Trump, the boys having the gall to wear their “MAGA” hats at the March for Life?
Or was it something else? Continue reading
By Kyle Smith • National Review
The First Amendment has never been stronger. Yet freedom of speech is under dire threat. Both of these things can be true, and both are.
The kinds of corporations that frequently proclaim their dedication to the First Amendment — and are quick to denounce President Trump’s taunts of the media — are doing something Trump has not done and will not do: muzzling writers. Publishers are presenting authors with contracts containing clauses that essentially say, “We will cut you loose should a Twitter mob come after you.” It’s a revolting, shameful trend.
As Judith Shulevitz writes in the New York Times, Condé Nast, publisher of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and many other magazines, recently started burying in its standard writers’ contracts a landmine. If the company should unilaterally rule that the writer has become “the subject of public disrepute, contempt, complaints or scandals,” the publisher can void the contract. Shulevitz mislabels such stipulations “morality clauses.” To paraphrase Mae West, morality has nothing to do with it. “Cowardice clauses” would be nearer the mark. Continue reading
The mainstream liberal press may have had a “slobbering love affair” with President Obama (as CBS News veteran Bernard Goldberg once aptly put it). But they’re absolutely obsessed with President Trump. Data compiled by Real Clear Politics shows just how bad this Trump obsession is.
A fascinating article, “Measuring the Media’s Obsession With Trump,” looked at the percentage of airtime the three main cable networks — CNN, MSNBC and Fox News — devoted each day to stories about Trump.
The author, Kalev Leetaru, then compared that to the share devoted to Obama over the past nine years. Continue reading
By Victor Davis Hanson • American Greatness
Donald Trump on occasion can talk recklessly. He is certainly trying to “fundamentally transform” the United States in exactly the opposite direction from which Barack Obama promised to do the same sort of massive recalibration. According to polls (such as they are), half the country fears Trump. The media despises him. Yet Trump poses no threat to the U.S. Constitution. Those who since 2016 have tried to destroy his candidacy and then his presidency most certainly do.
When, and if, we ever lose our freedoms, it will not likely be due to a boisterous Donald Trump, damning “fake news” at popular rallies, or even by being greeted with jarring “lock her up” chants—Trump, whom the popular culture loves to hate and whose every gesture and, indeed, every inch of his body, is now analyzed, critiqued, caricatured, and damned on the national news.
In general, free societies more often become unfree with a whimper, not a bang—and usually due to self-righteous pious movements that always claim the higher moral ground, and justify their extreme means by their self-sacrificing struggle for supposedly noble ends of social justice, equality, and fairness. Continue reading