Archive for Media

Finding the right villian in the scandal

The NSA telecommunications spy scandal has created a lot of breathlessness in certain circles  lately. Stewart Baker says “but enough about you …” to question whether the scanal is really about the privacy of individuals or something else, something much more insidious.

“Today, more than two weeks after publishing a FISA court order calling for the collection of noncontent calling data for all US phone calls, the Guardian and Glenn Greenwald got around to proving me right. They finally published NSA’s minimization procedures for handling records relating to US persons.”

… “To be clear, they’re generally reassuring about NSA’s respect for the rights of Americans. They’re not at all reassuring about the motivations of Glenn Greenwald or the Guardian.

Because it seems almost certain that Greenwald and the Guardian had these documents two weeks ago, and that they could have released the guidelines at the same time they released the order that started this flap.  The original order, out of context, was disturbing.  The minimization documents provide context and make the naked order less troubling.

So why did the Greenwald/Guardian team withhold documents that would provide important context for two full weeks as the controversy built?

This makes no sense if you’re practicing journalism.”

In other words, the real scandal is likely to be the violation of a security clearance to leak classified information to a media outlet that then used that information as a part of an ideological propaganda campaign.

“If I’m right about their motives, Greenwald and the Guardian are treating NSA — or the United States government — as the enemy they hope to harm, and they’ve abandoned ordinary journalistic standards in an effort to do their adversary as much harm as possible.”

It used to be simple government vs government. Now, it appears, it is something a bit different. No long is Radio Moscow the means to disseminate propaganda. The cranks and crackpots and others can get into the act as well. They want to ‘bring the big guy down’ but don’t seem to have the foggiest idea about the implications of their fantasies.

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Undermining the foundations

Hanson: When dishonesty undermines democracy summarizes the current plague of deceit and evasion in government. The behavior described is indeed one underpinning of the foundations for self governance. He also hits on another:

“Deception is now institutionalized in the Obama administration. It infects almost every corner of the U.S. government, eroding the trust necessary for the IRS, the Department of Justice, our security agencies, and the president’s official press communiques — sabotaging the public trust required for democracy itself.

What went wrong with the Obama administration?

There is no longer an adversarial media establishment in Washington. Spouses and siblings of executives at the major television networks are embedded within the administration. Unlike with Watergate, the media now hold back, thinking that any hard-hitting reporting of scandals would only weaken Mr. Obama, whose vision of America the vast majority of reporters share. But that understood exemption only encourages more lack of candor.”

The other foundational principle is that of honesty and integrity in holding government to account. As Dr. Hanson notes, the media’s role in this has become a farce. The media is not the only player. The other is the public. As long as ‘the people’ are generally willing to accept dishonesty in their government – or to presume dishonesty that wasn’t – government will continue to function on the basis of fantasy and not reality.

As for “presume dishonesty that wasn’t,” consider one Democrat party leader whose response to a list like Hanson’s with a famous “Bush did it” by pushing the Iraq WMD as a similar state of affairs. Equating a consensus of foreign and domestic intelligence to such things as the current scandals is an indication of just how deep and widespread the lack of intellectual integrity, the rot in self governance, really is.

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Getting the story straight: how did the MSM get it so wrong?

There is an innordinate and irrational fear about privacy that drives FUD mongering stories. One way to tell is that the stories are often hyperbolic, exagerated, and even blatantly wrong. Ed Bott illustrates the phenomena in regards to the recent NSA PRISM stories.

“That absence of an independent tech check means both publications got the story wrong, as subsequent reporting by other journalists with experience in these topics has confirmed. These are not trivial details, nor is this a matter of semantics. We’re not quibbling over words. If you don’t understand the technical workings of these surveillance programs, you can’t understand whether they’re working as intended, you can’t identify where the government has overstepped its bounds, and you can’t intelligently debate the proper response. The fact that the government has maintained rigid secrecy compounds the problem.”

Who cares is a source is giving away classified and secret information? Who cares if large tech companies get slandered?

“The system described in the PRISM presentation appears to be an automated way to process those FBI and NSA requests. It’s clearly not an open doorway into any of those companies’ servers, as The Guardian and the Post originally alleged. 

The nine companies listed in the PRISM slide deck are there because they offer widely used communication services, most of them free.

The botched reporting by the Guardian and the Post means that millions of readers directed their anger at a handful of big companies that were unfairly accused of selling out their customers to the national security apparatus. The reality is that if NSA surveillance is indeed overstepping its bounds, those companies are victims, not willing participants.”

Anything for a good story, it seems, especially if it trashes the U.S. and large corporate entities. After all, 9/11 and the Boston Bombing were just minor criminal activities and there is no ‘war on terror’ or global ideological conflict laced with significant violence against the innocent.

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double down on dishonesty

It appears that the Sacramento Bee editor defends Rick Perry “BOOM!” cartoon and, in doing so, illustrates the tactic of doubling down on a dishonest assertion and rationalizing that dishonesty by diversion. The rationalization is to assert that the objection to the cartoon is ” being disrespectful for the victims of this tragedy” and a personal assault on the governor’s “disregard for worker safety.” Those assertions personalize the issue, create a straw man, and completely ignores the actual message of the actual cartoon.

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WaPo starts a rumor and no amount of debunking squashes the lie

“Among the most troubling questions from this episode is why the Internet’s ability to spread information at gigabit speed didn’t result in the story being killed.”

It’s FREE! It has the taint of mysterious (i.e. magic) technology! The media says it’s true! The government is going to do it – for everybody, for FREE! Feels good. Must be.

but it isn’t.

Wi-Fi “as free as air”—the totally false story that refuses to die – Journalism goes wrong and just keeps getting worse. Jon Brodkin tells the tale.

“The story is still out there. Three days after anyone who knew what they were talking about debunked the free Wi-Fi myth, three days after the Post was notified of their mistake, the false story is still published on the Post website and many other sites as if it were true all along.”

This is one of those things that doesn’t pass the smell test but there aren’t many in the surface media who have any sense of smell any more, it seems and their audience is also quite gullible for pipe dreams. That is called a positive feedback loop and the result is not pretty. What Jon notes is the problem of stimulating just a little bit of critical reading. It seems to be an impossible task.

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Ends justifying the means?

“The assault on the privacy of these law-abiding citizens, in the name of the liberal media’s anti-gun agenda, is nothing short of tragic. But nearly as tragic is the damage this does to the cause of open government.”

Woman Being Stalked Thanks To Newspaper Disclosing Gun Owner Addresses at SayAnythingBlog

Open government means a lot of records are available online. You can use Zillow to look up any address and see public property records. Concealed carry permits are another that often fall prey to information requests. Newspaper abuse of such requests was highlighted when a New Jersey paper published a map mashup with CCW permit holder information.

Responsibilities, especially civil, ethical, and moral ones, accompany rights. When political players abuse their responsibilities, they attack the rights of all. Rights become an ideological football to play a game neither side can win.

See also: Outing the Gun Owners and the Left’s New Savagery at American Thinker

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An injustice that the perspective of history is just beginning to correct

“What is different is not the degree to which the two Harvard alumni at times seemed confused in the limelight, but that the partisan media were determined to suggest that the similarly accruing lapses were incidental to Obama’s genius, but a window into Bush’s imbecility.”

Professor Hanson takes a look at BDS and its effects in the light of reality, a reality that is still denied by many who still haven’t quite cleared the froth from their mouths that resulted from their Bush Derangement issues.

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What you are up against if seeking rational and honest debate

John Hinderaker says The Times Embarrasses Itself on Guns–Again! and takes apart an editorial that makes many suspicious claims about gun control.

“So if the Times really cared about crime, as opposed to making a political point about guns, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out where to focus. But at the Times, the paper’s political agenda always takes priority over the facts.”

What is on the table is a collection of claims that are not quite the ‘whole truth’ but rather nice, quick, comfortable sound bites. Putting them down usually requires getting below the surface and takes a bit of work. Why is the U.S. homicide rate rather high? A proper answer has to look at the ethnic distribution of homicide. That raises ugly questions of race as well as the question of why homicide is more prevalent where gun controls are more strict.

The goal in such debates does not appear to be that of trying to learn and find solutions. Rather, it is a matter of supporting preconceived desires in any way, honest or no, possible.

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Costas vs OJ

“Costas’ remarks constitute exploitation of a tragedy in order to push a political point that Whitlock, Costas, and NBC no doubt already believed, and only used the moment to forward. They all should be ashamed of themselves. But our current media culture is one in which shame does not exist. Neither does the truth.

“What Costas and Whitlock and NBC offered is not “perspective.” It is a lie. It is also a broadside attack on the rights of responsible citizens to equip ourselves to defend ourselves and our loved ones. Will Bob Costas, NBC, and Jason Whitlock assume personal responsibility for every American who would be alive today if they had possessed the means to defend themselves from violent criminals? Of course not. To them, such victims do not even exist.”

Bryan Preston lays it out about Bob Costas, NBC Exploit Kansas City Chiefs Tragedy to Attack Americans’ Constitutional Right of Self-Defense.

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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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