Archive for Media

Paradigms: What is known that isn’t so

“Note that this isn’t a question; it is a statement of what the interviewer believes to be a well-known fact. Yet it is an absurd perspective on Obama’s first term, pretty much the opposite of the truth. “

John Hinderaker takes a look at The Marco Rubio Interview, and the Budget Negotiations. One of the more noticed items in a GQ interview with Marco Rubio was a gotcha’ question about the age of the earth. That one is a set up to portray a Republican as an ignorant rube even if his answer was much on line with Obama’s.

John notes that the interviewer also suffered from other problems. The false paradigm and absence of intellectual integrity in much of the surface media was on parade. The example here, that the Republicans have no agenda, is one example. The recent comments by a Democratic Party leader about Republicans being only old white men is another. There is dissonance between how easy it is to show that these ideas are false and the confidence by which they are held as true. The problem the Republicans have is that following the confidence is much easier than assessing the reality.

If you ever wondered how Castro, Chavez, Stalin, and the rest of their ilk gained power, a study of the dissonance John notes should provide clues.

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Media bias: a propaganda machine

“If, in celebrating his victory Obama wanted to give credit where credit is due, he might want to think about calling some of America’s top journalists, since their favorable approach almost certainly made the difference between victory and defeat.”

Rich Noyes describes Five ways the mainstream media tipped the scales in favor of Obama. Illustrations for the ‘gaffe patrol,’ the fact checking that needed its own fact checking, biased debate moderators, the Benghazi Blackout, and burying the bad economy are the topics.

“In 2004, the economy under George W. Bush was far better than it is today — higher growth, lower unemployment, smaller deficits and cheaper gasoline — yet network coverage that year was twice as hostile to Bush than it was towards Obama this year”

The previous administration provides a good base for comparison and contrast. Sandy vs Katrina could be added to the Noyes list, for example. Green energy and crony capitalism are others. One shouldn’t forget Dan Rather and the TANG, either, much less Kerry and his swiftboat buddies.

The problem is that media bias will only be overcome by intellectual integrity on the part of the voting public. That is, an appropriate skepticism about what one reads with due consideration for its implications and sources is needed. The challenge for anyone on the wrong side of the Pravda Corps is how to get past it and to engender a willingness in the voting public to do the work needed to see reality.

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The story of the election

“But now that Obama is safely in the White House for another four years, the press is sure to churn out what can charitably be called “now they tell us” stories about these matters, now that any potential election impact has passed.”

The IBD suggests 5 Big Stories The Media Will ‘Discover’ After The Election. The issue is the voter’s responsibilities to see what is in front of them. The real story of the election of 2012 is the surface media, the so-called news outlets that are most available to most people.

“On issue after issue, in fact, the media didn’t cover Obama’s first term as much as they’ve covered up for him, whether it was the dismal state of the economy, the failure of his policies or the increased troubles abroad.

“The effort worked remarkably well, helping to shield Obama from responsibility, protecting his image, providing a solid floor under his approval ratings, and ultimately a second term in the White House.”

What are the “5 Big Stories?” IBD identifies the lack of any known agenda for a 2nd term, the true state of the economy, the debt and entitlement crises that loom large, the debt ceiling, the future of medical care and costs, the silliness of (and lack of integrity in) the administration’s deficit cutting plan, and foreign policy as illustrated in the Benghazi incident.

The WSJ also gets into the voter responsibility and integrity issue in getting to the core of things. “This was all a caricature even by the standards of modern politics. But it worked with brutal efficiency—the definition of winning ugly.” The editorial is Hope over Experience. The caricature was accepted, the propaganda swallowed, and the implications ignored. That sort of behavior strikes fear into the hearts of more responsible voters.

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Fact checking: case study in why it is more politics than reality

“If you let me pick the time frame, I can show almost anything said by anybody to be imprecise.

As a professional engineer with 34 years of industry experience, I found Mitt Romney’s executive-level command of the relevant facts with respect to the oil and gas industry and energy policy to be impressive.

CNN, not so much. Their fact-checkers seem so intent on “exposing” Romney that they bypassed the part about understanding the issues before they cry foul.”

After the first debate of candidates for POTUS, there was an effort on one side to cry ‘foul’ on the other. The usual means was to assert that the other side lied through his teeth on just about every point. Steve Maley takes on one of these efforts by Fact Checking CNN’s Fact Checkers. He provides a good case study illustrating the techniques used in trying to play gotcha’ with ‘fact checking’ rather than trying to understand points made in a debate.

Checking facts seems like such a good idea. There are many cases regarding current issues where it is more a laboratory for illustrating bias and logical fallacy.

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Item 8: fact check propaganda

Who was it? Ann Richards, governor of Texas, who said something about “he can’t help it”? In this case it is the media. See the previous post for the psychologists view about why.

“The first new tactic is cited in an unprecedented and badly needed letter that MRC head Brent Bozell and over 20 other conservative leaders, commentators, and media personalities sent to ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC — the four Obama-worshipping alphabet networks — on September 25. The signers accurately accused the recipients of “rigging this election and taking sides in order to pre-determine the outcome.”

Those who dismiss the letter signers’ complaints could not be more wrong.”

Tom Blumer describes the Fraudulent ‘Fact Checks’ and Preemptive Narratives and suggests that “Today’s press would make the Soviet-era Pravda and Izvestia proud.”

The letter describes many well known propaganda tactics but number eight in the list is new. “The abuse of “fact checks” has become so rampant that it’s reasonable to believe that their creations are coordinated with Democrats in key campaigns to, well, rig the game.” Examples are provided and some of them are obstinate denials of reality.

Limbaugh this morning notes that many depend only upon the surface media for their information about events. That is why this issue is gaining pushback well beyond the nominal market forces. It scares people who do dig deeper than the surface.

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Afghan woes – and a bright spot

“This is all bad news and very disturbing, but there is a crumb of comfort to be had. Because these failures happened on President Obama’s watch, the mainstream press isn’t particularly interested in relentless, non-stop scrutiny of the unpleasant news.”

W.M. Mead says Thank God W Isn’t President Anymore because we aren’t getting an onslaught of America bashing, administration lambasting, and victim sympathizing we’d see otherwise.

“As it is, however, we just get the bare bones of what’s happening in Afghanistan, with no long, rolling wallows in the failure, no painstaking, step by step analysis of just how a credulous and inexperienced president ordered the military to execute a strategy which it didn’t recommend and couldn’t make work. There will be no analysis of how someone like Vice President Biden has been wrong at every twist and turn of the wars of the last ten years — though if he were Vice President Cheney every single error he had ever made would be hurled in our faces night after night.”

Nonetheless, Mead falls into the pit himself in judgements and rose colored glasses regarding 9/11 and Iraq as well hoping that maybe the journalists will change their stripes.

In many respects it is a matter of accountability. The surface media journalists are seeing the results of their bias in a shrinking market share. The politicians in the difficulty of getting votes to win office. As with the debate about welfare and medical care and other social issues, sometimes it takes a hard encounter with reality to shake one out of a comfort zone and into a realization about what one must do.

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Reaction, response, and reason

“These people simply don’t belong to the Western civilization with its traditions of freedom, democracy, and enlightenment. They belong to a medieval civilization controlled by ultimate cults that can never be questioned, divine entities and beliefs that have the right to create a whole hierarchy of power here on Earth. The similarity to the Islamic fundamentalists is particularly hard to overlook in these days when we see how both of these groups are terrified that someone is even allowed to talk about something.”

Luboš provides his take on the Insane reaction to the PBS interview with Anthony Watts. It seems that PBS made the mistake of allowing one of ‘those people’ to speak. It seems that many in the PBS audience considered that to be an outrage. Their position is not to ‘debate’ or investigate but rather to shut down and censor any idea that threatens their fantasies.

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Surface media or propaganda machine?

“Above all, though: What in the world is a journalist doing offering such rancid advice? In general terms, the same thing all those “fact checkers” are doing. Also the same thing journalists did when they slandered the Tea Party as racist, and when they wrote puff pieces about ObamaCare and insisted the public would learn to love it, and when they falsely blamed conservatives for the Tucson massacre.

During the Obama era, so-called mainstream journalism has increasingly been characterized by a blurring of the distinction between not only fact and opinion but opinion and propaganda. One can only hope the audience sees matters more clearly.”

James Taranto describes The Pinocchio Press: The bizarre rise of “fact checking” propagandists.

There is something going on here and it does not bode well …

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More on that “litany of falsehoods” being claimed in the surface media

“It has now become an accepted fact by the mainstream press that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are engaged in a campaign of, to put it charitably, untruths.”

“But most of the allegations of lying don’t hold up well to closer examination. Worse, some of the media complaints about the campaign’s veracity are themselves based on factual mistakes.”

Fact checking is, in itself, becoming a story and an issue. John Merline asks Are the Media Telling the Truth About Romney’s “Lies”? and gets into the background.

There is a convenience in just labeling the opposition a ‘lying machine’ but that really doesn’t do much for anything except personal comfort. It is a denial based on a logical fallacy. That is not a healthy approach for anything.

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The latest fad – fact checking – like the old fad – lacking integrity

From the response, it appears that Paul Ryan hit a few nerves in his convention speech. The surface media is full of headlines about fact checking finding falsehoods. Ed explains the problem: Fact-checking the factcheckers on Ryan’s speech

“Clearly, the job of “fact checker” in the mainstream media must not involve research skills. Nor does it take much in comprehension, because these supposed fact checks started with a misrepresentation of what Ryan actually said. “

Ann Coulter provides another example in asserting that Yes, Romney’s Welfare Ad Is Accurate. “It is striking that everyone who actually knows something about the 1996 welfare reform law says that Romney’s ad is accurate.” Yet there are ‘fact checkers’ who insist otherwise.

The key item to note, to compare and contrast, in both Ed’s and Ann’s columns compared to the allegations of those such as Reich and the so called fact checkers is that they get down to sources. What was actually said and upon what is it based? When they take on the ‘fact checkers’ they show you who said what so you can see for yourself what the reality really is. That is a contrast to the use of logical fallacies, misquoting, or other distortion often found in trying to dismiss someone as untruthful.

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Corporate wife? Hayward on Williams about Ann Romney

Commentator Juan Williams appears to have stepped in it when he dismissed Ann Romney’s RNC speech as that of a corporate wife. John Hayward describes the situation as Juan Williams versus “corporate wives”

“Liberals have already said some very stupid things about Ann Romney, and they’ll say plenty more in the days to come. They’ll have a hard time getting over the nitwit bar set by Fox News commentator Juan Williams on Tuesday night.”

“There’s a whole lot of foolishness packed into Williams’ strange critique… beginning with his apparent inability to offer a single word of analysis about the speech he was paid to study and review. In one concentrated blast, he emitted some of the most persistent liberal myths:

1. Only rich corporate executives can afford to let their wives stay at home and raise the kids. (That’s what he meant by “corporate wife,” for those still trying to figure out what the hell he was thinking.)

2. Success and wealth are products of “luck” and “blessing,” not personal risk, sacrifice, and hard work. …

3. No one who is not currently suffering in some way can “speak for” people who are struggling to make ends meet….

4. Different Democrat constituencies require special sympathy and policies that are different from, and take priority over, general American prosperity….

This is line with Robert Reich using the Christian Science Monitor as a platform for his Romney lying machine thesis. As with Williams, he gets into very interesting distortions trying to rationalize his view. This latest is only supported by the ‘everybody thinks so’ logical fallacy. What he doesn’t do is to take a look at the particular administrative action that Romney cites much less listen to what anyone outside of his circle says. The fact checkers that Reich holds up as honest arbitrators are not doing their reputation very good when they take an approach as silly as Juan Williams on Ann Romney.

Another on this is Professor Williams on the ‘tax the rich’ meme. The rich don’t pay enough?. This is often proclaimed as an assertion that the rich must pair their fair share. It is the sort of idea that is behind the Reid allegations about Romney’s taxes and Williams on Romney being too rich to have any commonality with middle class wifery.

“According to IRS 2007 data, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 22 percent of national personal income but paid 40 percent of all personal income taxes. The top 5 percent earned 37 percent and paid 61 percent of personal income tax. The top 10 percent earned 48 percent and paid 71 percent of all personal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent earned 12 percent of personal income but paid just 3 percent of income tax revenues.”

The data begs the question about just what these folks consider ‘fair?’

As one commentator noted, the RNC speeches could be themed as state governors who were children of immigrants that took turned their states around from a path to bankruptcy to economic health. They did build that success. In states such as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Ohio, South Carolina and more there is a story of success and achievement that seems to be cloaked by the surface media. The RNC seems to hope it can get that story out from under that cloak. Reich, Williams, and their ilk seem to be getting desparate trying to keep the cover in place.

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Sometimes reality isn’t what you think: Swiftboat and work for welfare

The Guardian has two examples this morning to illustrate a pattern in detachment from reality. How do newspapers deal with politicians who go on repeating lies? and How the Swift boat veterans stack up against 2012′s special ops group.

Of course, for this news outlet, the lies are from Romney. In this case is is about the administration’s relaxing of work for welfare rules. The Washington Post fact check is cited as support for the idea that Romney’s assertions are lies. The problem is, though, that one of the architects of the welfare reform act, Dick Morris, supports Romney’s view.

“Worse. Despite the fact-checking process that is supposed to inform its journalism, America’s press is not confronting Romney about his falsehood. He is being allowed to get away with it.”

The end up with another famous reality distortion:

“But lies still beat us. After all, we made war on Iraq because too many newspapers happily accepted the political lie that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was able to launch them within 45 minutes.”

The explanation is the lies repeated often enough seem to take on a mantle of truth. The problem is that they are dealing in projection on this. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth still rankles as the left side of the political edge still decries ‘swiftboating’ as a dishonest smear tactic. The latest edition of this idea that military veterans standing witness to their own observations is a ‘dishonest smear’ is a 22 minute video put out by former special forces and security personnel on the administration’s use of leaks for personal gain.

“The emergence of a group of former special operations soldiers dedicated to running adverts critical of President Barack Obama’s national security policy has raised the prospect of a 2012 version of the infamous Swift boat campaign.”

“At first glance both Opsec and the Swift boaters appear to have many similarities drawn from the shadowy underworld of political dirty tricks. But there are important differences too.”

Of course, one of those “political dirty tricks” are about the straw man of partisanship. A great deal of effort is made in the article to tie these despicable groups to the evil Republican conspiracy.

What is encouraging is that these sorts of delusions in the media are becoming a topic of discussion in themselves. For instance, the lack of coverage of an attack on the Family Research Center by a gunman who professes that his motive was that he didn’t like the anti-gay politics of the group is noted as a comparison to just how quick and extensive the coverage has been on attacks that were mistakenly credited to right wing political assaults.

What is also important now is that one can fact check the fact checkers simply by comparing what was actually said and done to what is claimed. Whether it is the “didn’t build that”, or the “ya’ll in chains”, or the work requirements EO, or the swiftboating, or the Mediscare efforts the original is laid on the table for all to see. Only those in a severe stage of psychological denial can set aside that evidence.

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“Disconcerting” vs “You didn’t build that” – a matter of polishing the narrative

“There are many other examples of excoriating the Romney’s comments, but also failing to provide a contextual video or an actual quote. Fundamental to the ‘polishing’ process is the misrepresentation. Contrast that style with the discussions about the Obama comments regarding who built that business. Those journalistic discussions are nearly always accompanied by video evidence and context.”

Bruce Johnson calls it The Liberal Media’s Shiny Object Factory. It does provide a rich source of comparison and contrast for the ‘both sides do it’ meme.

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What Romney’s up against

The headlines are indicative: The Guardian says “Romney campaign tries to pick up the pieces from gaffe-strewn London visit” and US News asks “Are Romney’s Olympic Gaffes Distracting From His Foreign Policy Tour?”

What’s up? Piers Morgan explains the reality on YouTube. What you have is the media proclaiming “gaffe-strewn” a mild comment by a politician summarizing complaints that were in public discussion for weeks.

You can see the same thing regarding the gun control issue trying to parlay the latest massacre into political gain. It is what candidates on the right are up against, especially when their opponents are weak.

Then are the reports that Romney donors and those people appearing in his ads are being subject to harassment. That and the Chick-Fil-A brouhaha provide examples about the suppression of free speech that doesn’t fit with left oriented ideologies.

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Consequences: media edition

“Just what does a reporter have to do to get fired from ABC News? So far, it doesn’t look like spreading false and malicious rumors on air in order to tie an innocent and legitimate political movement to a massacre meets the criteria.”

Another tragedy, another media revelation. Ed describes the situation at Hot Air.

After many such episodes, which collectors are starting to list and organize, you’d think the idea that reporters should report rather than speculate and extrapolate might sink in.

The comparison and contrast is to Fox News and the assault on that organization for bias and lying and such things. In one case, there are many explicit and important examples such as this latest example. In the other, there are vague allegations that boil down to, more than anything, just a difference of opinion. (cf Fox News Banned From Canada – Law Forbids Lying On Broadcast News)

Freedom of the press just means that it is up to the people to determine what is reporting and what is propaganda. Some seem to think that that effort might be too much for the common man. That underscores the difference in ideologies at play in modern culture.

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Convicted by the lynch mob instigated by a rogue cop

“Rather than investigate the New Black Panthers or the other criminals making death threats, teams of FBI agents and local investigators have been ordered by Eric Holder’s Justice Department to go around Florida asking about whether anyone has heard George Zimmerman make racist comments. You can’t make this stuff up.”

There are those who have decided he’s guilty even to the point of haggling about whether Zimmerman’s wounds were sufficiently severe as to support his being beaten. New Zimmerman Evidence Removes Any Doubt describes why Arnold Trebach things “George Zimmerman: victim of a liberal racist lynch mob.”

There is a comparison and contrast here but you seldom hear much about the other incidents. Those are the gangs that attack often white victims. In the Zimmerman case, it was made to fit a racist profile – the racism being, as usual, on the part of the left and blacks – even though it turns out that Zimmerman isn’t really ‘white’ despite the name.

A tragedy occured. It is being compounded by a much greater tragedy. The lynch mobs and witch trials still exist and still wreak havoc on civil government.

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Observing the major media: Troubling

As the skepticism, or perhaps cynicism, grows concerning the major media, attention becomes focused on just what behaviors are behind it. Olshaker provides an example claiming that the Washington Post Tougher on Romney than Hezb’allah Killer of 241 Marines
.

“It’s no accident the Post unveiled the “bully” narrative when they did. The earlier storyline — that Romney is a weak candidate, fails to connect with voters, and is universally disliked — became difficult to sustain any longer when the man nobody liked won the most votes. Another strategy taking shape, not long ago considered unthinkable, is revealed in a recent Post column asking whether Romney’s religion is “fair game.” The question itself hints that there is something objectionable in Mormonism that reasonable people might find to be a reason not to vote for Romney. Prepare for further, increasingly desperate attacks, as Romney continues to receive more negative coverage than mass-murdering terrorists.”

People are taking note of how things like Bush’s DUI or the claim that Walker had an illegitimate child just happen to show up in papers a day or two before elections; the pattern of adjectives often seen in headlines with comparison and contrast between political affiliation; and the focus of news stories. Olshaker’s story illustrates this with careful observation.

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Torturing the numbers: accurate falsehood

Hoven describes several ‘fact checking’ efforts that are Fun & Games with Mainstream Media Numbers

“Frankly, I’m glad someone is looking into this. I don’t want to be one of that 0.01%. But I’m also relieved to see that the wrongful conviction rate is so low. (But I would be concerned that trying to blindly reduce that rate would increase the rate of wrongful acquittals. As an engineer, I know errors will be made. Our choice is mostly what type of error: letting bad guys go free, or putting good guys in prison.)”

“Like the previous story, what is actually good news is treated as bad news. The real news is that workplace fatalities are trending down (just as they were prior to OSHA’s existence — see chart below), to the point where the things that kill people at work are the same things that kill them when not at work: vehicles and violence.”

Wrongful convictions, occupational hazards, budgets, … all are subject to distortions that feed an ideology. One has to be careful, especially when reading MSM fact checking stories.

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Statistics and the fear of firearms

Volokh: “More People Die from Guns Than Car Accidents in Michigan” – So states a Detroit Free Press op-ed headline. Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed itself:

The Reno Gazette Journal had a similar headline about Nevada.

“But wait: The number of accidental gun deaths in Michigan in 2009 (the most recent year reported in WISQARS) was … 12, compared to 962 accidental motor-vehicle-related deaths. 99% of the gun deaths in Michigan that year consisted of suicides (575) and homicides (495).”

“This also helps explain, I think, why gun rights supporters are so worried about “health and safety” proposals. Precisely because such proposals are so unlikely to have much of an effect, the gun rights supporters naturally assume that the backers of the proposals aren’t really after modest car-like “regulat[ions] … for health and safety,” but are actually trying to bring about much more aggressive sorts of gun restrictions.”

The underlying issue is one of intellectual integrity. In this case, the dishonesty comes in the form of the abuse of statistical measures.

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How it’s done: silencing the opposition

“There is no equivalent of Media Matters on the conservative side, a well-funded organization devoted to silencing political opponents through secondary advertiser boycotts. George Soros donated $1 million in 2010 for the anti-Fox News campaign, the same year Media Matters hired Carusone for the various “Stop” campaigns.”

William Jacobson details how Media Matters astroturfed the Limbaugh secondary boycott. It is a case study in the tactics of total war in the ideological realm.

As noted, it is yet another example of just how off base the ‘both sides do it’ excuse really is.

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