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
By Steve Cortes • Real Clear Politics
The treatment of recent news reveals an important chasm in 2018 America: the concerns of Mainstream Media vs. those of Main Street USA. In many ways, this divide represents a sort of tale of two cities. The first “city” of Washington-New York media elites explodes over every headline, including endless rumors regarding Russia and White House staff intrigue. In contrast, the second “city” of non-politically obsessed everyday Americans focuses on bread-and-butter issues that actually matter to their everyday lives.
For example, during the second week of August, according to a study from left-leaning Media Matters, MSNBC spent almost 16 hours of total airtime discussing disgruntled and discredited former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. For comparison, the channel spent a total of 45 minutes discussing immigration issues and 39 minutes on the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Moreover, contrast that concentration on innuendo and scandal with the actual issues of concern to most Americans. In a recent Gallup survey about the 2018 midterm elections, the number one “problem facing the country today” is immigration/illegal aliens. The second most important issue is, unsurprisingly, the economy. Matters pertaining to Russia, incidentally, earned a literal asterisk in Continue reading
By Nolan Finley • The Detroit News
Our feelings are hurt in the news media. The president of the United States is calling us the Enemy of the People and we don’t like it.
So across the nation today, newspapers are publishing editorials telling Donald Trump, “We are not, you are!” and reminding readers of our own importance.
Let me join them: The free press is not the people’s enemy. It is a vital pillar of our democracy and was assigned by the Founders the role of watch-dogging the nation’s institutions. It’s a mission we usually carry out quite well, even in this era of technological disruptions, changing consumer tastes and eroding resources.
But who really cares if Donald Trump is using us as a whipping boy to mask his many deficiencies? Presidents have done that before, and often.
Trump may be Continue reading
My father, who would have been 79 this week, was an enthusiastic Trump supporter. He died in October 2016, and, not being a resident of Chicago was unable to participate in the fall election, but in the primary earlier that year he voted for him proudly.
He was not a man to keep his opinions to himself. The prospect of a Trump presidency excited him, as he would tell anyone who would listen because it presented the best chance in some time to get the folks in Washington in line.
That, I suspect, is what a lot of people who voted for Trump believed. What he and they forget is that the Washington establishment—the poly-partisan conglomeration of policymakers, bureaucrats, professional thinkers, journalists, lobbyists, lackeys and other denizens of what the president and his supporters refer to as “The Swamp”—was not going to go down quietly. They can and will fight back against any real effort at reform, not because they believe it is good policy to do so (though they may truly believe that to be the case) but because it is in their inherent financial, social, and professional interests to do so.
Let’s stipulate for purposes of this column that the president is as awful as many of his detractors make him out to be. That he is deliberately divisive. That his tweets offend. That he is as arrogant as the essayists who write think pieces in journals devoted to social commentary make him out to be. Does that mean he’s also wrong about everything?
I submit the answer to that is “No.” Look around you. The economy, which was flat on its back during the entire Obama presidency, is once again roaring. Rather than celebrate that fact through, let’s say, enterprise reporting at the major cable news networks on the subject of “America Back to Work—How and Why Did It Happen?” we’re told at best the good news won’t last.
Does this reflect a liberal bias in the media? Yes, I suspect, but add to that the antipathy most reporters on the national beat and in the national spotlight seem to have for Trump. It is as though they propped him up during the early part of the primaries hoping he would lead the Republican Party down the pathway to implosion, ensuring the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton and at least another four years of progressive policies that were, among other things, destroying middle America.
Oops. That didn’t exactly work out as planned and so, possibly as repentance, the folks who congregate in the White House briefing room and their colleagues beyond are doing all they can to discredit him. The president helps, of course, giving them more than enough material to work with, but can anyone honestly deny they’ve taken the traditional adversarial position to extremes never seen in this country?
It’s a safe bet that the Trump supporters who read this will agree, while those opposed to the president personally will probably think I should be locked up somewhere. But there are those in the middle, those who don’t like him but generally approve of the direction in which things are headed and who really do still consider both sides of any equation.
They aren’t sure, one way or the other. And they’re right to be confused. Trump uses his Twitter feed and his rallies and statements to establish a narrative. The media, writ large, use their interaction with the American people to set another. Mainstream media is clearly opposed, from an editorial standpoint and in some reportage, to the president personally.
This hasn’t escaped people’s attention. This week, an IPSOS poll of adults nationwide found 48 percent agreeing with the statement “Most news outlets have a liberal bias.” Only 19 percent said they didn’t. In the same survey, 43 percent said, “The mainstream media treats President Trump unfairly.” 39 percent said it didn’t, which, to be as precise as possible, is a tricky question to answer because it turns on how people define “unfairly.”
The problem, if there is one, is that not enough people allow their skepticism of the way Trump is treated and their awareness of media bias to process the way they perceive the news. Instead of looking for a more complete and thorough analysis, liberals and conservatives alike seek out news sources that confirm their bias. That’s not healthy for the democratic process.
My father, who came from nothing, worked hard for most of his life in pursuit of the American Dream. I like to think he achieved it. And he resented greatly those who suggested he ought to feel guilty somehow that he’d made it while others didn’t. He was a wise man, something I wish I’d been more cognizant of when he was still alive. He could see through the distortions, largely by thinking for himself. I sincerely hope that’s not a trait that’s not becoming uncommon. If it is, the next president, Republican or Democrat, will continue to fail in the face of mindless polarization, fed and watered by those who write the national narrative.
Fake News: Newspaper fact checkers were once a rarity. Now they’re in a position to determine what people can read online, despite their own checkered past. So, who keeps the fact checkers honest?
In the past, fact checkers tended to focus mainly on debunking urban myths or clearly false claims made by political leaders. But lately, fact checkers have appointed themselves as arbiters of the credibility of news outlets. And now, giant tech companies like Google and Facebook have enlisted these “experts” to weed out “fake news.”
If a fact-checking outfit deems a story not entirely true, for example, Facebook can limit its reach on its News Feed. Google now includes a “fact check” box on its main search results page to help “people make more informed judgments.”
Observing from six feet under the democratic anarchy and the anarchical democracy in the United States of America since the election of Donald J. Trump to the Presidency, good old Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, better known by his alias Joseph Stalin, cannot help but smile in his new grave at the seeming correctness of Karl Marx’s theory of history. Essentially, Marx predicted that capitalism will generate its own downfall because of internal contradictions and class conflicts. While this and another prediction of Marx, namely that the most developed countries will embrace communism first because of the greatest economic inequalities have turned out to be utterly incorrect, a minority of the clueless pseudo intelligentsia in the United States of America have endeavored to prove that after all Marx was right.
The crowning achievement of this Marxist minority was the election of a community organizer with questionable personal and intellectual pedigrees to the presidency in November 2008. Barack Hussein Obama wanted to “fundamentally change” American society.
By Mollie Hemingway • The Federalist
On Saturday night, heavily redacted copies of the FBI’s application to wiretap Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page were released. The portion of the 412-page document that was not redacted supported the claims of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), as well as those made by the majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The senators and the representatives had issued reports alleging that the FBI used an unverified Clinton campaign document to secure a wiretap against an American citizen, that the application for the wiretap used circular reporting and lacked verification for its central claims, and that it made materially false claims related to the source’s credibility.
President Trump tweeted triumphantly and hyperbolically about what the documents showed regarding the FBI’s behavior toward his campaign. Whatever you think about Trump’s reaction to the release of the FISA application, the media reaction to the story was disingenuous and even more hyperbolic than the president’s tweets. After a year of continuous and alarming revelations, the media are still more interested in proving the Trump campaign treasonously colluded with Russia than wrestling with the fact that the FBI spied on a presidential campaign, and used dubious partisan political research to justify their surveillance. Continue reading
By Bill Zeiser • Real Clear Politics
We at RealClearPolitics’ Fact Check Review are making an earnest effort to better understand how fact checkers work — and to share our findings with the public. We are doing so because much is unknown about the fact-checking process. What is clear, however, is that fact checkers are becoming increasingly influential — even to the point of being able to censor what you read.
The core of our project is hosting a site where you can view and search the data we are collecting about fact checks and the organizations that publish them. But to provide context beyond the numbers, we have also been regularly writing about observations we make while assessing the fact checks.
Since our only agenda is to better understand, we do this with no partisan or institutional bias. That means we offer praise and criticism as appropriate. For the fact-checking site Snopes, one of the longest running in the business, we have done both.
By John Lott Jr • The Hill
President Trump’s half hour, impromptu interview on “Fox & Friends” last Friday sent the media’s fact checkers into overdrive this weekend. Everyone from PolitiFact to The New York Times to virtually all the Sunday morning national talk shows piled on, calling Trump a liar.
But the media can’t stop lying about what the president says. Sometimes it can’t distinguish a legitimate point of disagreement from a lie. It is no wonder that people have tuned out much of the constant attacks on Trump.
Just take the hyperbole on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Before playing a compilation of clips from Trump’s interview, moderator Chuck Todd exclaimed: “Let me put together this list of just outright misstatements, lies.” After showing the clips Continue reading
By Inez Feltscher Stepman • The Federalist
The latest in Facebook-policed “fake news” is a claim echoing through the conservative Twittersphere, including from my own account, that two bills outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown signed impose such draconian water use standards that fines could be imposed for taking a shower and running laundry on the same day. Snopes rated these assertions as “mostly false,” and Facebook flagged stories about them as fake news.
But Snopes, Facebook, and others purporting to “fact check” conservative frustrations with the law are the ones misleading about its effects. The way these allegedly neutral fact-checkers present repackaged liberal assumptions as hard fact is a great illustration of how the Left pulls off the kind of logical ju-jitsu that allows them to label conservative arguments as fake news in order to dismiss them.
In this particular case, none of these “debunking” articles actually dispute the three most crucial facts: there is a daily per-person 55-gallon limit ratcheting down to 50 gallons over the course of a decade, fines will be imposed upon violation, and, for at least some users, a reasonable-length shower and running the wash will put them over. In fact, most of the articles in question actually confirm these three vital points, usually squashed into a final paragraph that contradicts the headline. Nevertheless, they conclude that conservatives are spreading false information.
Fines On Providers Are Fines on Consumers
For starters, they point out that the $1,000 per day ($10,000 a day during drought) fines are levied on water providers, not directly on individuals. The first liberal assumption embedded in the narrative is that those fines will not be passed on to consumers.
If you think water companies will eat thousands of dollars of overuse fines without passing them on to consumers in the form of higher water costs, company fines for violators, or hard-usage cutoff caps, I have an infrastructure project to sell you in Brooklyn. But regardless of where you fall on economic theory questions, this is an arguable assumption, not an indisputable fact.
Secondly, the Snopes article assures California citizens that the 55-gallon standard is quite relaxed, and that most will easily be able to take a shower and do laundry while staying under the limit. The outlet buttresses its math by calculating that the average shower uses about 17 gallons of water, while high-efficiency washing machines use 15-30 gallons per load. Second liberal assumption: most people take extremely short showers and own super-efficient, expensive appliances.
The reality, of course, is that these numbers need a fact check. The U.S. Geological Survey—that well-known purveyor of right-wing fake news—says a ten-minute shower can run about 50 gallons of use without special water-saving showerheads, while washing machines vary from 25 to 40 gallons per cycle, depending on efficiency.
Again, the claim that a shower and laundry don’t run over the legally imposed limit is not based on hard facts ignored by ideological opponents, but on ideological (and fantastical) assumptions: that everyone has or wants a brand-new efficient washer and shower head, or that people take very brief showers to save water.
Terrible Management Caused California’s Water Woes
Fact-check wars aside, few conservatives would complain about strict water restrictions if California’s drought woes were truly unavoidable. But the state’s chronic water troubles are the result of decades of leftist mismanagement.
California is among the highest-tax states in the nation and boasts a booming tax base of large industries, from the Silicon Valley technology hub and Hollywood to enormous agriculture and viticulture sectors. Yet the state, the arid southern half of which is naturally short on water, has not authorized new reservoir construction for 20 years.
Brown’s administration not only failed to build a single reservoir for the droughts that are sure to plague the state’s future, it is actively fighting a federal project to enlarge the capacity of the Shasta reservoir by adding to its dam, citing environmental protection. In the midst of record droughts several years ago, the state actually flushed millions of acre-feet of lifesaving reservoir water to help boost the population of a three-inch bait fish living in the Sacramento River Delta.
If the most basic duty of a state government is to keep its citizens safe, close behind is the fundamental obligation to build and maintain basic infrastructure such as roads, schools, and, in the case of a desert state, ensuring that enough water remains in reserves to operate through a drought. It’s hard to argue that California’s natural water problems outstrip those of a true desert state like Arizona, yet Arizona has a reservoir system that can keep the state operating through even intense and prolonged drought.
Instead, the California legislature spends billions on social leveling schemes that have, if not produced, than at least failed to alleviate the growing gap between rich and poor and skyrocketing homeless rates in the state. Then when the 2015 droughts finally forced the legislature to confront the issue, its solution has been to impose draconian water use restrictions on individual use, even though that makes up just 10 percent of the state’s overall water use (50 percent is environmental, 40 percent agricultural).
Because the Left has stranglehold over the mainstream media narrative, and now over many of the social media platforms we use to communicate, the unspoken premises that underlie their “fact checking” rarely get brought to light. In the case of the California water wars, Brown and the Left are hoping citizens will focus on ideologically contingent claims of fake news and miss their decades of irresponsible mismanagement in the Golden State.
By Andrew C. McCarthy • National Review
The media are in a lather over the Justice Department’s grand-jury investigation of contacts between several reporters and a government source — the former Senate Intelligence Committee security director who has been indicted for lying to investigators about his leaks to the press.
The same media are in a lather over the refusal of the president of the United States, at least thus far, to submit to questioning by the special counsel in the Russia investigation. The president is placing himself “above the law,” they contend, if he rebuffs prosecutors or defies a grand-jury subpoena.
Whether we’re talking about journalists or presidents, the situation is the same: An investigative demand is made on people whose jobs are so important to the functioning of our self-governing republic that they are given some protection, but not absolute immunity, from the obligation to provide evidence to the grand jury. Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
At a Las Vegas tech conference last week, former president Barack Obama told an audience that his presidency had been scandal-free. “I didn’t have scandals, which seems like it shouldn’t be something you brag about,” Obama joked, according to Newsweek. We hear this talking point quite often from Democrats.
Now, perhaps the president didn’t experience the fallout from a scandal, which is very different from never having been involved in one. For this confusion, Obama can thank the political media.
Why does it matter now? For one thing, historical revisionism shouldn’t go unchallenged. Democrats are running to retake power, and many of them were participants or accomplices in numerous corrosive scandals that have been airbrushed. Continue reading
Anyone expecting President Trump supporters to soften up on their allegiance to the president heading into the November midterm elections is sadly mistaken.
This past week, Democrats, the FBI and the liberal elite media gave Team Trump strong reasons to remain solidly behind the Republican commander in chief and his “drain the swamp” cause.
One can also argue that women voters and independents are getting tired of the incessant Trump bashing — especially when the president and his supposedly short-staffed administration (excluding the “traitorous” leakers) are piling up significant Continue reading
Inconvenient Science: NASA data show that global temperatures dropped sharply over the past two years. Not that you’d know it, since that wasn’t deemed news. Does that make NASA a global warming denier?
Writing in Real Clear Markets, Aaron Brown looked at the official NASA global temperature data and noticed something surprising. From February 2016 to February 2018, “global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius.” That, he notes, is the biggest two-year drop in the past century.
“The 2016-2018 Big Chill,” he writes, “was composed of two Little Chills, the biggest five month drop ever (February to June 2016) and the fourth biggest (February to June 2017). A similar event from February to June 2018 would bring global average temperatures below the 1980s average.”
Isn’t this just the sort of man-bites-dog story that the mainstream media always says is newsworthy?
In this case, it didn’t warrant any news coverage.
In fact, in the three weeks since Real Clear Markets ran Brown’s story, no other news outlet picked up on it. They did, however, find time to report on such things as tourism’s impact on climate change, how global warming will generate more hurricanes this year, and threaten fish habitats, and make islands uninhabitable. They wrote about a UN official saying that “our window of time for addressing climate change is closing very quickly.”
Reporters even found time to cover a group that says they want to carve President Trump’s face into a glacier to prove climate change “is happening.”
In other words, the mainstream news covered stories that repeated what climate change advocates have been saying ad nauseam for decades.
That’s not to say that a two-year stretch of cooling means that global warming is a hoax. Two years out of hundreds or thousands doesn’t necessarily mean anything. And there could be a reasonable explanation. But the drop in temperatures at least merits a “Hey, what’s going on here?” story.
What’s more, journalists are perfectly willing to jump on any individual weather anomaly — or even a picture of a starving polar bear — as proof of global warming. (We haven’t seen any stories pinning Hawaii’s recent volcanic activity on global warming yet, but won’t be surprised if someone tries to make the connection.)
We’ve noted this refusal to cover inconvenient scientific findings many times in this space over the years.
Hiding The Evidence
There was the study published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate showing that climate models exaggerate global warming from CO2 emissions by as much as 45%. It was ignored.
Then there was the study in the journal Nature Geoscience that found that climate models were faulty, and that, as one of the authors put it, “We haven’t seen that rapid acceleration in warming after 2000 that we see in the models.”
Nor did the press see fit to report on findings from the University of Alabama-Huntsville showing that the Earth’s atmosphere appears to be less sensitive to changing CO2 levels than previously assumed.
How about the fact that the U.S. has cut CO2 emissions over the past 13 years faster than any other industrialized nation? Or that polar bear populations are increasing? Or that we haven’t seen any increase in violent weather in decades?
Reporters no doubt worry that covering such findings will only embolden “deniers” and undermine support for immediate, drastic action.
But if fears of catastrophic climate change are warranted — which we seriously doubt — ignoring things like the rapid cooling in the past two years carries an even bigger risk.
Suppose, Brown writes, the two-year cooling trend continues. “At some point the news will leak out that all global warming since 1980 has been wiped out in two and a half years, and that record-setting events went unreported.”
He goes on: “Some people could go from uncritical acceptance of steadily rising temperatures to uncritical refusal to accept any warming at all.”
Brown is right. News outlets should decide what gets covered based on its news value, not on whether it pushes an agenda. Otherwise, they’re doing the public a disservice and putting their own already shaky credibility at greater risk.
Conservative leaders are joining together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.
In a statement released Tuesday, a number of conservative organizations and leaders detailed their concerns:
Social media censorship and online restriction of conservatives and their organizations have reached a crisis level. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s hearings on Capitol Hill only served to draw attention to how widespread this problem has become. Conservative leaders now have banded together to call for equal treatment on tech and social media.
Conservatives have encountered problems across platforms — Twitter, Facebook, Google, and its video platform YouTube especially. Social media firms have banned gun videos and rejected pro-life advertisements. They have skewed search results and adjusted trending topics in ways Continue reading