The Watering Hole, Monday, January 23rd, 2017: Freedom of the Press

We’ve all ripped both network and cable news organizations for their role in aiding and abetting this abomination of a Presidential election. But since the Orange Shitgibbon has won, and he and his spokesgoblins are taking more active steps to label any accurate and unflattering reporting of their words and activities as “fake news” by the “dishonest press”, this should be considered a very serious attack on the First Amendment right of Freedom of the Press. After having previously, in a fit of pique, revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials during the campaign, now the new Trump administration has shut down access to and from CNN.

According to a MediaMatters article:

President Donald Trump and his team continued their unprecedented attempts to delegitimize and blacklist CNN by refusing to have a representative appear on CNN’s Sunday political talk show, State of the Union, while booking appearances on the other major political talk shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co.
At the top of the January 22 edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper said that his show “asked the Trump White House for a member of the new administration to join us this morning, but they declined.”

 

During Trump’s first press conference as president-elect on January 11, Trump refused to take a question from CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta, calling his network “fake news” and “terrible.” Following the event, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer admitted to threatening to remove Acosta from the press conference and later demanded an apology. Trump ally and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich responded to the incident by asserting that Trump should use the altercation to “shrink and isolate” CNN and eventually “close down the elite press.” Acosta and his colleagues from across the media condemned Trump’s treatment of CNN.

 

The Trump team’s refusal to appear on CNN came one day after it declined to air the live feed of Spicer’s first press conference after the inauguration, where Spicer blatantly lied about the size of inauguration crowds. According to Variety’s Brian Steinberg, “CNN’s refusal to take the live feed suggests executives there are reluctant to put false statements on air, and, what’s more, do not think the new White House press representative is entirely credible.” From the January 21 report:

 

“CNN’s decision to not air the press conference live illustrates a recognition that the role of the press must be different under Trump. When the White House holds press briefings to promote demonstrably false information and refuses to take questions, then press ‘access’ becomes meaningless at best and complicit at worst,” said Danna Young, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who studies politics and the media. “Democracy works best when journalists have access to the executive branch, of course. But that holds true if and only if that access leads to verifiable, accurate information. The decision on behalf of CNN to wait and verify before airing it live suggests that the media are adapting quickly to this new era.”

 

To be certain, news outlets routinely make decisions about whether to air press events live, usually based on projections about news value. But this press conference, held just a day after the President’s inauguration, would have been a hot prospect for a cable-news outlet, and could have sparked hours of debate and follow-up on CNN’s schedule. In an unusual and aggressive maneuver, CNN aired its regular weekday lineup this Saturday, underscoring heavy interest in breaking news of a series of massive protests by women across the nation in response to Trump’s presidency as well as the new President’s first few days in office.

While I am still outraged by the fact that CNN had hired Corey Lewandowski fresh from the Trump team campaign, and paid the lying POS good money to NOT say anything bad about Trump, maybe, just maybe, CNN can redeem itself by employing real investigative journalism. There’s a lot to dig into in all aspects of Trump’s life/taxes/business practices/Russian connections/conflicts of interest, and a 24-hour news network is what’s needed to get to the bottom of Trump’s “alternate facts” swamp.

What do you say, CNN? Do the right thing, or cave to a tyrant?

This is our Open Thread–comments welcome.

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 3rd-4th, 2016

As George W. Bush so eloquently stated all those years ago, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

There are countless numbers of people who should have taken to heart even Dubya’s garbled version (perhaps he had been listening to The Who on his way to that day’s event) of the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”, during this past Presidential campaign and election. The vast majority of those people belong in that huge conglomeration known as “The Media”. Subgroups include, but are not limited to: cable and other news channels, their corporate owners and news division heads, “journalists”, “reporters”, newspundits aka talking heads, political strategists, and official spokeswhores for political candidates. I’m not even going to bother going into the internet “media”, that would be like peeling away every layer of the world’s largest onion (and would bring tears to your eyes, too.) Better to focus on the main offenders.

On Thursday, a “postmortem session” was held at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, attended by representatives of several of the above subgroups. Apparently this is a traditional event that’s held following Presidential elections. As described in general in this article in The Washington Post, this year’s event quickly devolved into a “shouting match.”

A lot of lies were told, and false narratives put forward; too many for me to address all at once, so I’ll limit myself for now and add further commentary as the weekend progresses and time allows.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri condemned [Steve] Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart, a news site popular with the alt-right, a small movement known for espousing racist views.

“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”

“You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri…”

Yes, you did, Kellyanne. Trump’s rants freed the voices and actions of a legion of bigots, including and especially white supremacists. But you and other Trump campaign spokeszombies denied, deflected and disowned reports of rising anti-Muslim anti-immigrant, anti-minorities threats and violence, along with Nazi-related graffiti, etc., often in Trump’s name; you did everything but denounce it in the strongest of terms. Forfuckssake, your candidate actually gained ground when he refused to tone down his violence-condoning rhetoric.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” Conway asked. “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”

Well, Kellyanne, Secretary Clinton DID have a “decent message for white, working-class voters” – the problem was that Trump’s unsubtle dog-whistle message stripped away the veneer of decency from certain segments of “white, working-class voters.” Maybe if Clinton had couched her economic message and policies in lurid hyperbole instead of measured, factual terms, the “media” would have given her more coverage, and more “white, working-class voters” might have paid attention. Or not. I think that once Trump opened his campaign with his lying anti-Mexican slurs, the inner xenophobe in too many Americans sat up and proclaimed “now, that guy speaks MY language.” (Yes, when your language is ‘limited vocabulary/poor grammar’ Americanese.) Trump’s angry shouting drowned out any more mundane, pragmatic offerings from Hillary Clinton. And “the media” simply ran with the loudest “monster-shouter” (H/T Stephen King’s “The Stand.”)

Trump officials said Clinton’s problems went beyond tactics to her weaknesses as a candidate and the deficits of a message that consisted largely of trying to make Trump unacceptable.

[Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook posited that the media did not scrutinize Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns as intensively as the issue of Clinton’s private email server.

Conway retorted: “Oh, my God, that question was vomited to me every day on TV.”

First the only weaknesses candidate Clinton had were that she’s center-right (which means dangerously left to the impaired judgment of the right-wing), her name is Hillary Clinton, and she’s a woman. She was not “the most crooked politician ever to run for President”, or anything even close to it. She did not murder anyone, despite all of the “body count” conspiracies. And, despite millions of dollars and thousands of hours of fruitless investigations, she did not cause the deaths in Benghazi. Hillary stayed on message the majority of the time, but how could she NOT point out all of the myriad reasons why Trump made HIMSELF unacceptable? Especially since “the media” wasn’t doing a damn thing to inform voters of those reasons?

Second, yes, Kellyanne, you were asked about Trump’s tax returns every day, because neither you nor Trump ever answered the fucking question. As with so many other important questions, you were the one who was projectile-vomiting nonsensical talking points, redirecting the interview right back to Hillary and her emails, or Benghazi, or whatever the current Clinton faux-scandal was on your agenda.

“Conway accused Clinton’s team of being sore losers. “Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said. “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”

Well, ‘hashtag’ FUCK YOU, Kellyanne, would Trump have accepted the election results if he had lost? You know the answer to that one, you slimy harpy twat. And fuck every goddamned Republican who dares to demand that we kowtow to Donald Trump and his minions, after every word and deed from the right wing for the last eight years were meant solely to stop duly-elected President Obama from actually acting as the American President. Donald Trump is incapable of giving any dignity or credence to the Office of the President of the United States; IMO, he doesn’t even aspire to do so. “Sad.”

Kellyanne, you’re a paid professional liar, and you sold your shriveled, empty soul to an amoral selfish greedy disgusting excuse for a human being. If there really is a Hell, I’m sure that you’ll eventually end up being the spokeswhore for Satan.

There was so much more that I hope to address eventually. Plus, there’s a more detailed account of the discussions at the Harvard event here.

“The media” seemed to feel that its job was to sit back and let Trump be his deplorable self, almost idly marveling in wonder as to how Trump got away with telling the out-and-out lies that he did. It took until the last month or so before the election for “the media” to, to a small degree, come out of its collective catatonic state and finally challenge some of the lies, but there were too many and it was too late. “The media” owns a yuge chunk of the blame for this election’s horrific outcome. But that’s a topic that also needs more time than I have at this moment. But an important part of that discussion involves both Jeff Zucker and CNN’s endless and usually uncritical coverage of all things Trump, along with the insidious, duplicitious role of Trump campaign advisor/CNN political “pundit” Corey Lewandowski and his current role in the Trump transition.

This is our Weekend Open Thread – discuss whatever you’d like.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 30th, 2016: The View from Outside

We’re all tired of the U.S. media’s love/hate minute-by-minute coverage of The Donald, so I thought that ThinkProgress’s article on Trump’s international coverage might be interesting.

Occasionally humorous, i.e.:

MEXICO: “…the man who managed to make us miss the Bush clan” and “El Deforma, a satirical news site similar to The Onion…has included articles about Canada building a wall in case of a Trump victory and Pink Floyd building the wall if Mexico doesn’t pay for it.”

SOUTH AFRICA: “South Africa’s the New Age called Trump “arguably the most successful internet troll in today’s political spectrum,” noting that much of his social media commentary “reads like a laundry list of troll tactics.”

Sometimes insightful:

CANADA: “…the Globe and Mail’s conservative columnist Margaret Wente noted that a majority of Americans “would rather swallow arsenic than vote for Mr. Trump” and predicted his fall. “If Donald Trump were a stock, my advice would be to sell it now,” she wrote. “The one thing that has to happen is that Mr. Trump will have to change. And he can’t. His most deadly foe is himself. Mr. Trump has no situational awareness. He has no ability to take advice, or build bridges, or learn from others, or direct a team.”

Some surprisingly self-serving and hypocritical:

ISRAEL: ““As an Israeli Who Loves America, I Am Worried by Trump,” wrote Ari Shavit in the liberal publication Haaretz after a series of Trump victories in February. “After the astounding victories of the vulgar populist in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, it is clear to all that America is no longer the country we have known. It is no longer a nation with a prudent economic establishment, a contented middle class and a stable political system. It is no longer a nation confident in itself, its identity and its future. It is a frightened, angry America. An America that has lost its way,” he wrote. “To an Israeli who spends considerable time in debates about Israel between Boston and San Francisco, Trump is a relief. Suddenly Israeli politics seem a little less embarrassing.”

“…in March, Naomi Zeveloff published a piece in the Forward on how Trump’s offensive style was actually winning many Israeli admirers. “If America elects a person who advocates discrimination and condescension and even resentment toward minorities, maybe we won’t be so criticized by the West,” Yaron Ezrahi, a professor emeritus of political science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explained to Zeveloff regarding Israeli right-wing thinking on Trump.”

The TP article is very long with loads of links, and overall it’s pretty disturbing. But I recommend wading through it.

This is our daily Open Thread–okay, it’s the now-usually-Late-Afternoon Saturday edition. Go ahead and talk about stuff.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 25th, 2015: Just Say No to FRC

Yesterday I received an email from Faithful America, an organization of what I would consider to be ‘true’ Christians, who speak out against social injustices perpetrated and perpetuated in the name of Christianity. The email said that Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council – or NAMBLA, er, FRC – is supposed to be a guest on Face The Nation tomorrow. The email said, in part:

“With the Supreme Court about to issue a historic decision, CBS News is turning to an anti-gay hate group leader to speak for Christians.
This Sunday, Face the Nation is scheduled to feature Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Perkins has repeatedly accused gay men of molesting children, causing the Southern Poverty Law Center to formally name FRC to its list of hate groups.

Perkins was once a regular on CNN and MSNBC, but those networks have increasingly abandoned him as mainstream Christians have challenged his decades-long record of spreading ugly misinformation about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people…Tell CBS News: Cancel Tony Perkins. He doesn’t speak for Christians.”

If Bob Schieffer would take a few minutes to just check out the FRC’s website, I’m sure that he would understand that this is a group that should NOT have a voice in the same-sex-marriage debate.

First, an excerpt from FRC’s “Washington Update” from Thursday, under the heading “What About Bobby?”:

“If liberals want to pick a fight over religious liberty, they’ll have their hands full with my home state: Louisiana. Unlike other governors who have been quick to raise a white flag, Bobby Jindal is leading the charge for his state’s Marriage and Conscience Act, warning that he won’t back down. “In Indiana and Arkansas, large corporations recently joined left-wing activists to bully elected officials into backing away from strong protections for religious liberty. As the fight… moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath.”

“Although corporations are already turning up the heat on Jindal, the Governor says, “They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me.” Realizing that this is a watershed moment for religious liberty, Jindal writes, “Liberals have decided that if they can’t win at the ballot box, they will win in the boardroom. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s time for corporate America to make a decision. Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all.” With the Left’s attack dogs on the loose in Louisiana and elsewhere, religious liberty is almost certainly going to be a major issue in 2016 — in more ways than one.

While conservatives scratch and claw for their right to exercise the same tolerance the Left enjoys, leaders like Speaker Boehner have their eyes on the global crisis. Religious liberty is at the center of ISIS’s storm, as dozens of innocents are slaughtered for the faith our country is so reluctant to protect. In a new blog post, the Speaker’s office catalogues the latest horrors, and asks: Is the Obama administration doing “all it can” to protect Christians all over the world?”

There’s just so many things wrong with that last paragraph alone, my irony-meter went past 11, then shattered.

1) “Conservatives scratch and claw for their right to exercise the same tolerance the Left enjoys”? What they are scratching and clawing for is their right to exercise INTOLERANCE.

2) “Religious liberty is at the center of ISIS’s storm…” ISIS’s brutal acts have nothing to do with “religious liberty”, and if these conservatives had an honest bone in their collective bodies, they’d admit it.

3) “Is the Obama administration doing “all it can” to protect Christians all over the world?” Why on earth should the Obama administration, or any other president’s administration, have to “protect Christians all over the world”? The U.S. government cannot feasibly protect U.S.citizens “all over the world”, how could it be expected – no, demanded – to protect all “Christians”? More importantly, how would using the U.S. government to favor the lives of one religious group possibly be Constitutional? Not to mention that it would certainly require “big government”!

Under “HOMOSEXUALITY”:

“Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects. While the origins of same-sex attractions may be complex, there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn. We oppose the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools.”

What the FRC believes doesn’t mean squat when it comes down to science and biology. Just because there is no evidence that will convince the FRC “that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn” doesn’t mean that there isn’t evidence in medical science. And just how does FRC separate the “homosexual identity” from the person? It would appear that, since they do not look upon homosexuals as individual human beings, they would not accept homosexual people, U.S. citizens, “as equivalent to heterosexual[people] in law, in the media, and in schools.” So what class of citizen would these braying amoral charlatans demote homosexual Americans to?

“Sympathy must be extended to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, and every effort should be made to assist such persons to overcome those attractions, as many already have.”

I haven’t noticed anyone from FRC, or any other anti-gay faux-religious group, extending “sympathy” to gays – maybe they just extend sympathy to gay people who don’t want to face the fact that they’re gay? And hasn’t FRC heard that there’s no scientific or medical evidence that “praying away Teh Gay”, or any other “treatment” purporting to turn gay people “straight”, is actually effective. They should just ask Marcus Bachmann about that.

And take a look at the titles of some of their “Policy Publications”:

“Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality – Some Thoughts on Honest Interpretation” They wouldn’t know “honest interpretation” of any part of the bible even if Jesus appeared and called a convention of alleged “Christians” to set them straight. So-to-speak.

“The Other Side of Tolerance – How Homosexual Activism Threatens Liberty” Goddammit, will someone, any one of these people who glibly (and probably incorrectly) spout words like “freedom” and “liberty” please tell the rest of us exactly how they define those words? I hear them used with regularity by people who seem to want to limit others’ freedoms, so I’m pretty sure that such people don’t consult the OED, they just make up their own definitions.

Okay, enough ranting from me. For now, anyway.

This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, have at it.

Sunday Roast: January 6, 2013 – Permanent Campaigning

Will permanent campaigning remain to be the future of Politics? I seems so.

Take the upcoming fight about the debt ceiling. President Obama has said his piece and stressed he won’t give in again.

“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed,” he said late Tuesday night. “Let me repeat: We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. If Congress refused to give the U.S. the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic – far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff. People remember, back in 2011, the last time this course of action was threatened, our entire recovery was put at risk. Consumer confidence plunged. Business investment plunged. Growth dropped. We can’t go down that path again.”

But on the other hand Republicans don’t seem eager to take this for granted:

 

On Thursday, the Speaker, John Boehner, humiliatingly sidelined in the fiscal-cliff talks after he lost control of his unruly House membership, was re-elected to his post for the 113th Congress by just six votes, after a dozen arch-conservative Tea Partiers defected. Less than 24 hours later, Mr Boehner promised House Republicans he would use the debt ceiling to force Mr Obama to cut spending.

A recipe for the next disastrous showdown? Or, maybe not? Lately we have seen some active campaigning when it comes to several issues. In the matter of the debt ceiling we may have the most colorful and ingenious one. #mintthecoin that’s a gem. Although I am highly nervous about that one, here’s why.

The fancy of a $1 trillion platinum coin is so tantalising in part because it puts a monetary option in play. The larger attraction, though, is that it does so in a way that honours democracy by sticking to the letter of democratic legislation, yet also flirts with the heady unilateral decisiveness of fascism.

There was and is a very active campaign for the protection of social programs, as soon as the rumors were flying Medicare and and the Social Security COLA were on the table. There is active campaigning going on from both sides pro and contra when it comes to gun control. And there was a rather active but unsuccessful campaign from the very right to unseat Speaker Boehner. 

The powerful had done their lobbying for ages and activism played a very important part in American politics for a long while, so why is this different from what we had before?Politicians and activists understand, that in a media environment where nothing remains unseen or unheard of and twitter and facebook can get a message viral within seconds, political life is a constant campaign and you’re not campaigning only for office anymore, but rather for every bill and measure you are supporting. So, the campaigning goes on, after elections is before elections, no time to go back to some serious policy making.

Who uses the media best will get proclaimed the winner, even if in the process the people they are supposed to work for, loses. Politics has become about winning and losing in a constant campaign. Policies will be determined by Gallup Daily, Rasmussen, tv ratings or Nate Silver. (The latter would be a blessing though, because then we would at least have the unbiased majority decision on policy.)

All that’s missing is a full onslaught of tv ads, or do I only think so because I can’t get US television? If the media don’t pick up their responsibility in this this won’t change any time soon. But will they? Do I have to mention that this is a billion $$$ market, well worth to extend beyond it’s two and four year cycle for the National Elections? So no, I don’t think they will.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD, HAVE A GOOD SUNDAY AND JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

THE Watering Hole, Wednesday, 7/11/12: The New Republican Conspiracy

Tweeter scoops the Mainstream Media yet again.

REPUBLICANS PLAN TO PRIVATIZE THE COURTS

According to Tweeter, The Zoo’s investigative journalist par excellance, a vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is planning an unprecedented assault on the federal judiciary:privatization.

Under their plan all Federal Courts, except for the Supreme Court, will be held privately. There is, however, a raging debate as to whether they will be owned by one or more individuals or a Corporation. A few billionaires are insisting that private ownership is the only way to truly have an independent judiciary, while others extoll the advantages to a publically traded judicial corporation.

“Imagine the thrill of holding stock in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals” one anonymous insider told Tweeter. “Decisions that once were, well, not very interesting for the common folk, suddenly take on a whole new light when the value of your investment is at stake. With publically traded courts, everyone can invest in the judiciary. This takes jurisprudence out of the Court Room and puts it into the Board Room, where it belongs.”

Tweeter contacted a Constitutional Law Scholar for further background on this controversial plan to give ownership of the judicial branch to the public. The scholar, who chose to remain annonymous, said:

Article III of the Constitution states:

“The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.”

This means every court below the Supreme Court is a creation of Congress, by statute. So, if Congress wants to privatize the federal judiciary, that will likely pass a constitutional challenge. Let’s face it, if Congress wanted to do away with the federal court system in its entirety, it could do so, as long as it kept the Supreme Court. Come to think of it, if Congress wanted to get rid of the Supreme Court, it probably could – after all, if it got rid of the Supreme Court, there would be no court to say what it did was unconstitutional.

The fact that no one has heard of this conspiracy is proof of its existence, as well as proof of the effectiveness of the security measures it has taken, until now, to keep this plan secret. In fact, this is supposed to be so secret, it won’t even be mentioned at the Republican Party Convention. But according to Tweeter’s sources, this conspiracy gained immense traction these past few weeks, in reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare.

We here at The Zoo will keep you, are dear readers, informed of any new developments.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD
ANYTHING YOU POST CAN, AND WILL, BE HELD AGAINST YOU

The Watering Hole, Thursday, July 5th, 2012: Odds and Ends

Since I couldn’t come up with any one topic to write about today, I’m presenting a few articles that I’ve collected over the past couple of weeks:

From back in January, when I was researching one of my Pawling Press columns, here’s a piece from the New York Times about Sheldon Adelson (in the context of Adelson’s contributions to Newt Gingrich.)

Next, a more recent column from the New York Times; this article was published after Sheldon Adelson started throwing millions of dollars at Mitt Romney.

Now here’s a trio of articles about Mitt Romney that I thought were interesting. (I think that someone here recently linked to that last one, but it bears re-reading.)

Finally, to help wash away the bitter taste of RMoney, here’s something about President Jimmy Carter, who still serves as a shining example of an American public servant. Enjoy!

This is our daily open thread — talk amongst yourselves!