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 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.
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 Bjorn Lomborg • New York Post
Activists tend to exaggerate the impacts of climate change while underestimating the costs of tackling it. The reception to the new US climate assessment was instructive. The report largely attempts to remain soberly scientific, and follows the even more careful global report by the United Nations’ climate-science panel, known as the IPCC.
Sadly, accurate science doesn’t make for good television; predicting the end of times does.
Among many others, widely quoted climate scientist Michael Mann talked up the report to NPR and CNN, saying its predictions are already borne out in today’s “unprecedented weather extremes.” Continue reading
by Aryssa Damron • The Washington Free Beacon
Ken Dilanian, a reporter for NBC News, tweeted on Monday that the idea of North Dakota and New York having the same amount of senators “has to change” because of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change,” Dilanian tweeted, linking to a Washington Post article about the confirmation of Kavanaugh. “Senators representing less than half the U.S. are about to confirm a nominee opposed by most Americans”
It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change. “Senators representing less than half the U.S. are about to confirm a nominee opposed by most Americans” https://t.co/DAZWYT9Txg
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) October 6, 2018
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 Dennis Prager • Real Clear Politics
You and I are living through the greatest mass hysteria in American history. For many Americans, the McCarthy era held that dubious distinction, but what is happening now is incomparably worse.
For one thing, any hysteria that existed then was directed against the greatest evil in the world at the time: communism. Then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee notwithstanding, there really were Americans in important positions who supported communist regimes enslaving their populations and committing mass murder. McCarthy was on to something.
In contrast, the country is choking on hysteria over the extremely unlikely possibility — for which there is still no evidence — that Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 presidential election, and the absurdity that President Trump works for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For another, Continue reading
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
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.