Posted: September 21, 2017 Filed under: Foreign Policy, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: conflicts of interest, leaks, Robert Mueller, Special Counsel
A short list of very good, serious, totally factual reasons to be suspicious of the special counsel’s motives.
Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey report:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s got everyone convinced he’s such an upstanding public servant. In The Threat Matrix, Garrett Graff writes that “both political parties respect” Mueller as “a consummate law enforcement professional with a track record, forged in Vietnam, of grace under fire and getting organizations on track.”
Whatever. Don’t be fooled by Mueller’s Boy Scout act. As his critics point out, if America is never great again, it’ll be all Mueller’s fault. We have to admit, they’ve got some good points.
Here are 10 perfectly reasonable — not at all crazy or imaginary — reasons to hate him:
1. The guy’s a leaker.
Breitbart says so. Sure, Muller’s got a rep for rarely speaking in public or giving interviews. But behind the scenes he’s obviously spending day and night dishing dirt on Donald Trump and the president’s oh-so-honorable colleagues to any reporter who will listen. The deluge of daily stories disparaging President Trump, after all, began the day Mueller was appointed; before Mueller, Trump press coverage was constant sunshine and rainbows. Plus, it’s clearly to Mueller’s strategic advantage to have his investigative steps aired to the public in real time. Besides, who else would leak this kind of stuff? Only Mueller and his team have motive. The White House isn’t a factionalist den of vipers; the president’s legal team is a well-oiled machine that never leaks; defense lawyers are paragons of virtue. Don’t even get us started on tight-lipped congressional staff — those guys never talk. The only logical explanation here is information about the investigation is coming from Mueller.
2. Mueller is a highly political actor.
Thank God, Newt Gingrich has seen through Mueller’s act. He tweetedrecently that “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring.check fec reports. Time to rethink.” It’s quite a rethink. Mueller is so political that he’s spent his entire career going back and forth between politicians. He worked in the first Bush administration as an assistant attorney general, then he was a prosecutor on murder cases in Washington, D.C. after running the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, and then he flip-flopped back to be a U.S. attorney in the Clinton administration. Get this: he then goes on to run the FBI for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama (a bipartisan Congress even extended his term for two years at Obama’s request).
The guy is so political he can’t even decide which side he’s on.
3. Mueller is too thorough and taking too long.
This thing is seriously taking forever. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders spoke for all of us in saying that, “the president is frustrated by the continued witch hunt of the Russia investigation and he’d love for this to come to a full conclusion so that everyone can focus fully on the thing that he was elected to do.” You and me, both, friend. Could Mueller go any slower? It’s as if he’s a highly methodical actor systematically gathering strings on multiple broad areas simultaneously: Trump-Russia collusion, Trump Organization business dealings, misconduct in the Trump campaign, and obstruction of justice. He needs to hurry this thing along. Trump just wants to be cleared without the fuss of an investigation. Wouldn’t you? The president knows he is innocent and only wishes to spare us all the pain of this drawn-out ordeal. Of course, Trump recently told the New York Times that “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.” It’s completely reasonable of Trump to be frustrated that this investigation — which doesn’t exist — is taking so long and that Mueller is being so thorough about it. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 19, 2017 Filed under: Education, Global, History, Mediasphere, Think Tank | Tags: 2010 FIFA World Cup, Afghanistan, Afghanistan–India relations, Africa, Culture, Dinesh D'Souza, India, North America, Prager U, Prager University, United Nations Security Council, United States
Are some cultures better than others? Or are all cultures and their values equal? Bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza, who was born in India and moved to America, explains.
Posted: September 16, 2017 Filed under: Censorship, Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: American Civil Liberties Union, Boobs, Brooke Baldwin, Charlottesville, CNN, First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Freedom of speech
Justin Caruso reports: CNN’s Brooke Baldwin ended a segment Friday after a panelist expressed his love for the “First Amendment and boobs.”
“I’m a first amendment absolutist and believe in two things completely — the First Amendment and boobs,” Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis said.
Baldwin asked the panelist what he meant, not sure if he said “boobs” or “booze.”
“You don’t love boobs, too?”
“I’m not talking about that on television because it’s irrelevant to the topic. It shouldn’t be brought up here,” former ESPN editor Keith Reed responded. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 15, 2017 Filed under: Breaking News, Education, Entertainment, Humor, Mediasphere, U.S. News
BERKELEY, CA—UC Berkeley’s recently installed “opposing worldview” alarm system began blaring right on schedule Thursday afternoon, as conservative author and speaker Ben Shapiro arrived on campus to deliver a speech titled “Say No to Campus Thuggery.”
As the noted author and news personality breached the campus perimeter, the piercing sirens began echoing across the campus, accompanied by an automated message telling students to “This is not a test. Please stay in your dormitories. We are currently in an active conservative situation. This is not a test.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 8, 2017 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Russia, Science & Technology, Self Defense, War Room | Tags: Dragonfly 2.0, Hackers, Power Grid, Security, Symantec
Hackers had the power to cause blackouts, Symantec says. And yes, most signs point to Russia.
Andy Greenberg writes: In an era of hacker attacks on critical infrastructure, even a run-of-the-mill malware infection on an electric utility’s network is enough to raise alarm bells. But the latest collection of power grid penetrations went far deeper: Security firm Symantec is warning that a series of recent hacker attacks not only compromised energy companies in the US and Europe but also resulted in the intruders gaining hands-on access to power grid operations—enough control that they could have induced blackouts on American soil at will.
Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey—none of which Symantec will name—their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.
“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage … being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”
Never before have hackers been shown to have that level of control of American power company systems, Chien notes. The only comparable situations, he says, have been the repeated hacker attacks on the Ukrainian grid that twice caused power outages in the country in late 2015 and 2016, the first known hacker-induced blackouts.
The Usual Suspects
Security firms like FireEye and Dragos have pinned those Ukrainian attacks on a hacker group known as Sandworm, believed to be based in Russia. But Symantec stopped short of blaming the more recent attacks on any country or even trying to explain the hackers’ motives. Chien says the company has found no connections between Sandworm and the intrusions it has tracked. Nor has it directly connected the Dragonfly 2.0 campaign to the string of hacker intrusions at US power companies—including a Kansas nuclear facility—known as Palmetto Fusion, which unnamed officials revealed in July and later tied to Russia.
Chien does note, however, that the timing and public descriptions of the Palmetto Fusion hacking campaigns match up with its Dragonfly findings. “It’s highly unlikely this is just coincidental,” Chien says. But he adds that while the Palmetto Fusion intrusions included a breach of a nuclear power plant, the most serious DragonFly intrusions Symantec tracked penetrated only non-nuclear energy companies, which have less strict separations of their internet-connected IT networks and operational controls. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 6, 2017 Filed under: Asia, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Mediasphere, Self Defense, Terrorism, War Room | Tags: Donald Trump, France, James Mattis, Korea, Korean Peninsula, North Korea, Pyongyang, South Korea, United Nations Security Council, United States
Caroline B. Glick writes: The nuclear confrontation between the US and North Korea entered a critical phase Sunday with North Korea’s conduct of an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb.
If the previous round of this confrontation earlier this summer revolved around Pyongyang’s threat to attack the US territory of Guam, Sunday’s test, together with North Korea’s recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental US, was a direct threat to US cities.
In other words, the current confrontation isn’t about US superpower status in Asia, and the credibility of US deterrence or the capabilities of US military forces in the Pacific. The confrontation is now about the US’s ability to protect the lives of its citizens.
The distinction tells us a number of important things. All of them are alarming.
First, because this is about the lives of Americans, rather than allied populations like Japan and South Korea, the US cannot be diffident in its response to North Korea’s provocation. While attenuated during the Obama administration, the US’s position has always been that US military forces alone are responsible for guaranteeing the collective security of the American people.
Pyongyang is now directly threatening that security with hydrogen bombs. So if the Trump administration punts North Korea’s direct threat to attack US population centers with nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council, it will communicate profound weakness to its allies and adversaries alike.
Obviously, this limits the options that the Trump administration has. But it also clarifies the challenge it faces.
The second implication of North Korea’s test of their plutonium-based bomb is that the US’s security guarantees, which form the basis of its global power and its alliance system are on the verge of becoming completely discredited. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 5, 2017 Filed under: Guns and Gadgets, Humor, Mediasphere, Self Defense | Tags: Cajun, Cajun food, Cajuns, Navy, Texas
LAFAYETTE, LA – With the heavy rains quickly approaching the Acadiana area over the next few days, the Cajun Navy can take heart in the fact that their new naval destroyer has been delivered to them in their efforts to help the local populous.
Thanks to plenty of donations to the Cajun Navy after last year’s August floods, the group were able to purchase the $1.8b Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer, and it seems that it has been completed just in the nick of time.
“We were loading up the trusty yet old wooden boat onto the back of a truck when the contractor called”, explained Cajun Navy member Robert Kraft, “He said that it was ready for usage and that he’d parked it in a Youngsville neighborhood with the keys in the ignition. It couldn’t have come at a better time, what with Harvey hitting the area as it has done.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 4, 2017 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Clinton, Comey
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the recent news about Comey drafting a statement declining to charge Hillary Clinton or her staff before key witnesses were interviewed or evidence reviewed. The question is why Comey pursued the investigation if he felt comfortable months in advance in drafting the statement. I do not share the President’s view that this draft shows a “rigged process,” though some FBI agents have objected to the drafting of the statement in this context. I take Comey at his word that he did not make up his mind until after all of the evidence was reviewed. However, the draft does show a markedly different approach to the investigation of the Clinton emails and the Special Counsel investigation of the Trump Administration.
Here is the column:
View original post 994 more words
Posted: September 3, 2017 Filed under: Art & Culture, History, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: 2015 Clinton Correctional Facility escape, Academy Award for Best Actress, Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinema, Millennials, Movies, Prison, Prison escape, Rob Reiner, Saving Private Ryan, Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining (film)
It appears that the “Golden Age of Cinema” has lost its sheen to the young over the years, as millennials are turning their back on classic movies.
A new study finds that less than a quarter of millennials have watched a film from start to finish that was made back in the 1940s or 50s and only a third have seen one from the 1960s.
Thirty percent of young people also admit to never having watched a black and white film all the way through – as opposed to 85 percent of those over 50 – with 20 percent branding the films “boring.”
Top 10 most common movies millennials have seen
- “The Lion King” 81.60 percent
- “Forrest Gump” 74.60 percent
- “Back to the Future” 66.80 percent
- “The Dark Knight” 66.50 percent
- “The Matrix” 63.20 percent
- “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” 60.90 percent
- “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” 59.20 percent
- “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” 59 percent
- “The Silence of the Lambs” 54.90 percent
- “The Godfather” 55 percent
Top 10 most common movies over-50’s have seen
- “Forrest Gump” 84.30 percent
- “Back to the Future” 80 percent
- “The Silence of the Lambs” 71 percent
- “It’s a Wonderful Life” 70.50 percent
- “The Godfather” 69.90 percent
- “Raiders of the Lost Ark” 69.30 percent
- “Saving Private Ryan” 68.30 percent
- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” 66.40 percent
- “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” 65.90 percent
- “The Green Mile 65.60 percent
A new survey polling 1,000 millennials and 1,000 Americans over the age of 50 conducted by FYE.com, reveals that looking back into the history of cinema isn’t the preference of youth today, with millennials exponentially more likely to have binged on films of the last 15 years than on classics from bygone eras.
Less than half of millennials have seen the likes of “Gone with the Wind,” “The Sound of Music,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or even “The Shawshank Redemption” — rated the greatest film of all time on IMDB.
Only 28 percent have seen “Casablanca,” 16 percent have watched “Once Upon a Time in the West” and only a measly 12 percent have seen the Hitchcock classic “Rear Window” – though the director’s “Psycho” fares moderately better at a rate of 38 percent.
On the other side of things, some over-50s appear to have the tendency to stick to their old classics and ignore new cinema altogether with one in ten admitting they aren’t sure if they have seen a film newer than 2010 – and eight percent straight up saying no, they have not. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 2, 2017 Filed under: Economics, Entertainment, Mediasphere, U.S. News | Tags: Hollywood, Movies
A sobering reality has gripped Hollywood as domestic film industry revenue fell an estimated 16% during the all-important summer season.
The number of tickets sold in the United States and Canada this summer is projected to fall to the lowest level in a quarter-century.
The results have put the squeeze on the nation’s top theater chains, whose stocks have taken a drubbing. AMC Theatres Chief Executive Adam Aron this month called his company’s most recent quarter “simply a bust.”
Such blunt language reflects some worrisome trends. Domestic box-office revenue is expected to total $3.78 billion for the first weekend of May through Labor Day — a key period that generates about 40% of domestic ticket sales — down nearly 16% from the same period last year, according to comScore. That’s an even worse decline than the 10% drop some studio executives predicted before the summer began.
And the number of actual tickets sold this summer paints a bleaker picture, with total admissions likely to clock in at about 425 million, the lowest level since 1992, according to industry estimates.
No one can fully explain why. Studio executives, movie theater operators and analysts cited the usual explanations for the summer slump. There are the obvious reasons: Too many bad movies, including sequels, reboots and aging franchises that no one wanted to see. Some point to rising ticket prices, which hit a record high in the second quarter, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners. Then there are long-term challenges, including competition from streaming services such as Netflix and the influence of the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. How about all of the above?
What is clear: This summer was marred with multiple high-profile films that flopped stateside, including “The Mummy,” “Baywatch,” “The Dark Tower” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Sequels in the “Alien,” “Transformers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises also disappointed. (International ticket sales are helping to ease some of the pain.) Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 1, 2017 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Advocacy, anti-christian, BPV-III Cayman X Limited, Cayman Islands, Hate Group, Hate Map, Nonprofit, Offshore accounts, Radical Left, Slander, Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC, Tiger Global Private Investment Partners
Left-wing nonprofit pays lucrative six-figure salaries to top management.
Posted: August 31, 2017 Filed under: Breaking News, Entertainment, Mediasphere, The Butcher's Notebook | Tags: 24-hour news cycle, news, Pundit from another planet, travel, Vacation
Editor’s note: I’m traveling a lot this month, internet access is limited. Pundit Planet will be back with fresh news when the network is back online. In the meantime, check out our archives. And pray for Houston. Explore donation options here.
Posted: August 25, 2017 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Education, History, Mediasphere, Politics, Russia, U.S. News | Tags: 21st Century Fox, Adam McKay, Albert Einstein, Alexander Pushkin, Fox News Channel, Joseph Stalin, Nazism, The New York Times, Vladimir Putin, World War II
The Red York Times: First in Fake News.
Michelle Malkin writes: Newsflash from The New York Times: Women may have starved under socialist regimes, but their orgasms were out of this world!
That’s the creepy gist of one of the Grey Lady’s recent essays this summer hailing the “Red Century.” The paper’s ongoing series explores “the history and legacy of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution.” When its essayists aren’t busy championing the great sex that oppressed women enjoyed in miserable Eastern Bloc countries, they’re extolling Lenin’s fantabulous conservationist programs and pimping “Communism for Kids” propaganda.
Since this is back-to-school season, it’s the perfect time to teach your children about faux journalism at the Fishwrap of Record. As the publication’s pretentious own new slogan asserts, “The truth is more important than ever.”
While the Times hyperventilates about the dangers of President Trump’s “art of fabrication” and “Russian collusion,” this is the same organization whose famed correspondent in Russia, Walter Duranty, won a Pulitzer Prize for spreading fake news denying Joseph Stalin‘s Ukrainian genocide.
[read the full story here, at Frontpage Mag]
An estimated 10 million men, women and children starved in the Stalin-engineered silent massacre between 1932-1933, also known as the Holodomor. Stalin had implemented his “Five Year Plan” of agricultural collectivization — confiscating land and livestock, evicting farmers, and imposing impossible grain production quotas. At the peak of the famine, about 30,000 Ukrainian citizens a day were dying. Untold numbers resorted to cannibalism. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 20, 2017 Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: CNN, Donald Trump, Eclipse, media, news, Reason (magazine), satire, Television, video
Posted: August 11, 2017 Filed under: History, Religion, Science & Technology | Tags: Andrew Warren, Bible, Gospel of Luke, Northwestern University, University of Oxford
Laura Geggel reports: During medieval times, bookmakers fashioned the pages and cover of a rare copy of the Gospel of Luke out of five different types of animals: calves, two species of deer, sheep and goat, according to new research.
In addition, one more type of animal left its mark on the cover of this 12th-century book: Beetle larvae likely chewed holes into the leather binding, the researchers said.
Now, researchers are learning unexpected secrets about the manuscript by noninvasively testing the proteins and DNA on the book’s pages, the researchers told Live Science.
Rare books — such as this copy of the Gospel of Luke — are difficult to study because they’re fragile, prompting many librarians to bar any research that would harm such manuscripts or their pages.
This rule is all too familiar to Matthew Collins, a biochemist at both the University of York in the United Kingdom and the University of Copenhagen. He wanted to sample parchments — documents made from animal skins — as a way to determine how people have managed livestock throughout history.
When Collins and Sarah Fiddyment, a postdoctoral fellow of archaeology at the University of York, approached librarians at the University of York’s Borthwick Institute for Archives, “we were told that we would not be allowed to physically sample any of the parchment documents, as they are too valuable as cultural-heritage objects,” Fiddyment told Live Science.
But Fiddyment didn’t give up. She spent several months learning how librarians conserve rare parchments, and, surprisingly, found a new method that allows scientists to study these specimens without disturbing them — one that involves an eraser.
Typically, librarians “dry clean” parchments by gently rubbing a polyvinyl chloride eraser against them. This technique pulls fibers off the page, and the resulting debris is usually thrown away.
But Fiddyment realized this debris held valuable clues about the book. By isolating proteins and other biological fragments within the debris, and examining them with a mass spectrometer — an instrument that identifies different compounds by their masses — researchers could learn all kinds of information about the manuscripts, she found.
“This was Sarah’s brilliant idea,” Collins told Live Science in an email. “Oddly enough, I think we relished the challenge.”
It wasn’t long before Fiddyment put this technique into action. A historian bought the aforementioned Gospel of Luke at a 2009 Southeby’s auction. An analysis of its “prickly” style of script indicated that scribes at St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury, in the United Kingdom, created it around A.D. 1120, Bruce Barker-Benfield, the curator of manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, told the journal Science.
To learn more about the gospel, the historian contacted Collins. Using Fiddyment’s method, Collins and his colleagues learned that the book’s white leather cover came from the skin of a roe deer— a common species in the United Kingdom. The book’s strap came from a larger deer species — either a native red deer or a fallow deer, an invasive species likely brought from continental Europe after the Normans invaded in 1066. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 9, 2017 Filed under: Breaking News, Entertainment, Foreign Policy, Mediasphere, U.S. News, War Room | Tags: CNN, Donald Trump, Global Panic, ICBMs, media, MSNBC, news, North Korea
Posted: August 9, 2017 Filed under: Comics, Entertainment | Tags: Back to the Future, Ernest Cline, Koch Brothers, Movies, Parzival, Ready Player One, San Diego Comic-Con International, San Diego Convention Center, Steven Spielberg, The Iron Giant, Virtual reality, Warner Bros, Wonder Woman
Steven Mnuchin brought in the right-wing power brokers, as well as Bill Gates, to help fund such Hollywood projects as ‘Dunkirk’ and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming ‘Ready Player One.’
Tatiana Siegel reports: Though they might be the most reviled figures among Hollywood’s liberal crowd, the Koch brothers have been a silent investor in Warner Bros.‘ slate of movies for four years.
Sources say Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch — who are worth a combined $96.2 billion and wield enormous power in political circles as major backers of right-wing politicians — took a significant stake valued at tens of millions of dollars in RatPac-Dune Entertainment. Now-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought the brothers in as investors as part of a $450 million deal struck in 2013 — a move that was never disclosed because RatPac-Dune is a private company.
Though Mnuchin is no longer involved with the slate financing facility, having recently put his stake into a blind trust in order to avoid a conflict of interest, the Koch brothers continue to be stakeholders in such films as Wonder Woman, Dunkirk and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One.
A RatPac spokesperson didn’t respond to a request. A spokesperson for Koch Industries says, “Charles Koch, David Koch and Koch Industries do not have any involvement with this investment.”
The brothers aren’t the only unlikely billionaires who have sunk money into the Warner Bros. deal. Sources say Mnuchin also brought in Bill Gates for an amount similar to the Koch brothers’. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 8, 2017 Filed under: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Reading Room, Religion, Think Tank, War Room | Tags: Amaney Jamal, Asra Nomani, Assata Shakur, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Carmen Perez, Democratic Party (United States), Islam, Islamism, Jihadism, The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Contain It, Uncommon Knowledge
Ayaan Hirsi Ali joins me to discuss her new book, The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Contain It and her views on the challenges facing Western civilization in regards to political Islam. She argues that Islam needs to be separated into two different parts, one part of religion and the other part, political philosophy. She concedes that many aspects of the religious part of Islam are peaceful but argues that the political side is much more concerning due to its focus on Dawa, which means “to plead or to call non-Muslims to Islam.” This call to convert people to Islam is what she argues was a driving force behind the spread of Islam throughout history.
Earlier this year Ayaan Hirsi Ali was called before Congress to testify on her book. She discusses her testimony and that although she was invited by a Democrat senator to speak “about the ideology of radical Islam,” the Democrats present didn’t ask her a single question because they were likely uncomfortable with what she had to say about Islam. She argues … (read more)
Source: National Review
More about Ayaan here.
Posted: August 8, 2017 Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: ABC, broadcast news, CBS, CNN, Global Panic, Google, Google Memo, Groupthink, Liberal Media, media, MSNBC, news, Progressive, video
Posted: August 6, 2017 Filed under: Censorship, Education, Mediasphere, Think Tank | Tags: Ajit Varadaraj Pai, Facebook, Federal Communications Commission, Google, Internet, Internet access, Internet of Things, Internet service provider, journalism, media, YouTube
The state of the Fourth Estate—and who can save it.
Brittany Karford Rogers writes: If hashtags had been a thing, these would have been some #FakeNews whoppers.
The 32 BC Mark Antony takedown: it began with a fake-news campaign masterminded by Octavian, complete with Tweet-like proclamations on ancient coins.
The Simon of Trent humdinger: in 1475 a prince-bishop in Italy set off a story that local Jews murdered missing 2-year-old Simon—and used his blood for rituals. Fifteen Jews burned at the stake.
The Benjamin Franklin special edition: he concocted an entire 1782 newspaper, peddling a fake story about Native Americans scalping 700 men, women, children, and infants.
In short, fake news is old news.
For all the handwringing over fake news today, BYU journalism professor Joel J. Campbell’s (BA ’87) response is more “meh.” It’s another punch for a profession that’s been in the ring for the better part of a decade. Trust in news media is at an all-time low. Revenue models are upended. Reporters are exhausted. Readers are fragmented. And that’s just a short list of jabs.
Looming larger in Campbell’s eyes are analytics-driven newsrooms and disenfranchised readers, who, flooded with content, are living in information silos or, worse, opting out altogether.
So how does one make sense of the crowded, increasingly polarized news landscape? And what’s left of journalism as we knew it?
[Read the full text here, at BYU Magazine]
BYU faculty and alumni practitioners—their collective résumés spanning Fox News, C-SPAN, CNN, the Atlantic, and more—have some ideas.
Before you throw your hands up, consider the forces at play, take heart in journalists’ earnest self-searching, and look in the mirror—because the finger pointing goes all the way around.
It’s worth asking, “Is journalism still doing its job?” But as our panel of experts chimes, there’s an equally important question: “Do the citizens of this country have the will to save it?”
A Happy Accident
Journalism has a lofty goal—one epitomized by the career of R. John Hughes.
The emeritus BYU professor won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for his coverage of an attempted communist coup and its bloody aftermath in Indonesia. Over his career as a writer for and then editor of the Christian Science Monitor, he covered revolutions and interviewed world leaders.
“Journalism was almost like a religion to me, to get the story, and get it right, to help evince change,” Hughes says. “It’s a kind of love affair for most journalists, shining light in dark corners.”
Journalists call themselves the watchdogs, the truth seekers. The press is dubbed the Fourth Estate after all, the final check on all three branches of government. Democracy requires informed citizens; the press make up the informants. “Democracy Dies in Darkness” goes the new Washington Post tagline.
That’s the why of modern journalism.
The how—being objective, non-partisan—“is rather a new phenomenon in the history of news,” says Campbell.
It has always depended on who’s paying.
Wealthy traders and merchants underwrote the first news in the Americas, and it was all route intel. In the colonial period political parties footed the bill for most papers—party organs that were far more partisan and acrimonious than what we cry foul at today. It wasn’t until the penny-press era—the 1830s on—that a new funding model developed: scale up the circulation, then sell readers’ attention to advertisers. That advertising revenue could bring the cost of the paper down to something many could afford.
Writing to a mass audience, publishers began to recognize there was a market for real, honest news that could cross political divides and speak with a relatively neutral voice. This paved the way for professional journalism standards. And for most of the 20th century, it made newsrooms the information power brokers.
Then the internet smashed the model.
“For the last decade, we have seen a steady erosion of the advertising economy for newspapers,” says Campbell. That’s the nice way of saying it. Revenue streams have been gutted.
Department stores and auto malls, the go-to advertisers, cut back on ads, facing their own disruptions: e-commerce competition and recession. Craigslist happened to the classifieds. And reader eyeballs, once concentrated among a few media outlets, are now diverted to Facebook, YouTube, and that thing you just Googled—and the bulk of advertising has followed them.
[Read the full story here, at BYU Magazine]
As they say in the industry, the digital transition traded print dollars for digital dimes and, in turn, digital dimes for mobile pennies.
One thing is certain: it’s a fascinating time to study the news. Alum Seth C. Lewis (BA ’02) holds the Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media at the University of Oregon and is a leading scholar on the digital transformation of journalism.
“We’ve gone from media monopoly to media disruption and ubiquity,” says Lewis. And in ubiquity, no one gets a sizable piece of the economic pie.
Lewis suggests that maybe the last century of advertising-based news subsidy—which fostered these objective, non-partisan notions—“was just a happy accident. Maybe instead we’re returning to other forms of funding and thinking about the news.”
Illustration by Dan Page
Casualties of the Internet
The internet is not the first technology to shake up the news industry. It happened after radio. It happened after TV.
This shakeup, however, may have taken more casualties.
News staffs have been decimated. The journalists who still have jobs are stretched thin—while the internet demands more of them than ever. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 4, 2017 Filed under: Entertainment, Mediasphere, Think Tank | Tags: Blackjack, Blackjack Team, Breaking Vegas, Casinos, Gambling, LAS VEGAS, MIT, video
Posted: August 2, 2017 Filed under: Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Democrats, Emma Lazarus, Grover Cleveland, Immigration, Jim Acosta, Left Wing, media, Media bias, New York City, news, Open Borders, Rich Lowry, Statue of Liberty, Stephen Miller, Tom Cotton, United States, White House press corps
Stephen Miller TKOs Jim Acosta
Rich Lowry writes: When Donald Trump’s policy adviser Stephen Miller stepped to the podium of the White House briefing room on Wednesday to defend a plan for reducing levels of legal immigration, Jim Acosta of CNN was aghast and let everyone know it.
Put aside that Acosta believed it was his role as a reporter to argue one side of a hot-button political issue (this is how journalism works in 2017). The exchange illustrated how advocates of high levels of immigration are often the ones who—despite their self-image as the rational bulwark against runaway populism—rely on an ignorant emotionalism to make their case.
At issue is the bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia to cut legal immigration by half. The legislation would scale back so-called chain migration—immigrants bringing relatives, who bring more relatives in turn—and institute a merit-based system for green cards based on the ability to speak English, educational attainment and job skills.
Offended by the idea of putting a priority on higher-skilled immigrants, Acosta wanted to know how such a policy would be consistent with the Statue of Liberty. When Miller pointed out that Lady Liberty was conceived as a symbol of … liberty and the famous Emma Lazarus poem added later, Acosta accused him of “national park revisionism”—even though Miller was correct.
At the dedication of the statue in 1886, President Grover Cleveland declared that the statue’s “stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression until Liberty enlightens the world.” His soaring oration did not include the admonition that so-called comprehensive immigration reform would henceforth be considered the only acceptable immigration policy for the United States.
[Read the full story here, at POLITICO]
Lazarus’ poem was added in a plaque in 1903. The words are not, as Acosta and so many others believe, emblazoned on the statue itself—the plaque is now displayed in an exhibition within the pedestal.
All of this might seem pedantic, but the underlying debate is over the legitimacy of reducing levels of immigration and whether it is appropriate to craft a policy mindful, above anything else, of the national interest. Miller clearly has the best of this argument.
One, making 21st policy in accord with late-19th century poetry makes no sense. We don’t ask, say, whether the naval appropriations bill is in keeping with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Building of the Ship” (“Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great!”)
Two, the cap on refugees in the Cotton-Perdue bill of 50,000 a year is in the ballpark of recent annual refugee numbers. We actually admitted fewer than this in the late-1970s and early-2000s, and the Statue of Liberty still stood … (more)
Source: POLITICO Magazine
During the briefing, Acosta insinuated that the White House wants to allow only immigrants from Great Britain and Australia into the U.S. because they can speak English.
CNN’s Jim Acosta claims victory in briefing beef with Stephen Miller: ‘He couldn’t take that kind of heat’
“I think what you saw unfold in the briefing room is that he [Miller] really just couldn’t take that kind of heat and exploded before our eyes,” Acosta said in an appearance on CNN Wednesday night, hours after the face-off.
Miller spoke to members of the White House press corps about a revised bill from Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas that would implement a merit-based point system for immigrants applying for legal permanent status. President Trump endorsed the immigration plan during a ceremony at the White House earlier Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 1, 2017 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Corruption, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Law & Justice, Politics, Russia, White House | Tags: Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Federal government of the United States, National Security Agency, President of the United States, Susan Rice, United States, United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Sara A. Carter reports: Former Obama White House National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes is now an emerging as a person of interest in the House Intelligence Committee’s unmasking investigation, according to a letter sent Tuesday by the committee to the National Security Agency (NSA). This adds Rhodes to the growing list of top Obama government officials who may have improperly unmasked Americans in communications intercepted overseas by the NSA, Circa has confirmed.
The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, sent the letter to the National Security Agency requesting the number of unmaskings made by Rhodes from Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 20, 2017, according to congressional sources who spoke with Circa. Rhodes, who worked closely with former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and was a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications for President Obama, became a focus of the committee during its review of classified information to assess whether laws were broken regarding NSA intercepted communications of President Trump, members of his administration and other Americans before and after the election, according to congressional officials. The committee is requesting that the NSA deliver the information on Rhodes by August, 21.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP – In this Feb. 16, 2016 file photo Deputy National Security Adviser For Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Rice and former CIA Director John Brennan have all been named in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the unmasking of Americans. A letter sent last week from Nunes to Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, suggested that top Obama aides made hundreds of unmasking requests during the 2016 presidential elections. The story, which was first reported by The Hill last week, stated that the requests were made without specific justifications as to why the unmasking was necessary. Rice and Brennan have confirmed they sought the unredacted names of Americans in NSA-sourced intelligence reports but insisted their requests were routine parts of their work and had no nefarious intentions. Power also has legal authority to unmask officials, though the practice has not reportedly been common for someone in her position. Rhodes also had legal authority to unmask Americans in NSA-source intelligence reports. But intelligence and congressional sources question the extent of the unmasking.
[Read the full story here, at circa.com]
Nunes told Coats in a letter last week that the committee has “found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.”
Multiple federal law enforcement and intelligence officials told Circa, that requesting an unmasking for intelligence and analytical purposes is something that is done only when the information is absolutely necessary to analyze a specific threat or for other national security purposes. An intelligence source, with direct knowledge of the type of requests made by the Obama aides, said “it’s like hell and high water to fill out and gain approval for these types of unmaskings. It’s something analysts take seriously and could entail filling out 80 pages of paperwork to prove there is a need to unmask. If top officials were unmasking without oversight it’s something everyone should be concerned about and it puts our intelligence community in a very bad place.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 31, 2017 Filed under: Art & Culture, Entertainment, History, Mediasphere | Tags: 1940s, 1950s, Radio, technology, vintage
Great website focusing on the design and history of pocket transistor radios manufactured between 1954 and 1965.
Source: ROCKET RADIO MG-306
Posted: July 30, 2017 Filed under: Global, Mediasphere, Politics, Reading Room | Tags: Australia, Glenn Reynolds, Hillbilly Elegy, In Defence of the Bad, Meanjin Quarterly, Michael Barone, Shannon Burns, White Working Class
Michael Barone writes: “The habits of progressive social and political discourse almost seem calculated to alienate and aggravate lower class whites.” That sounds like something an American might say, but actually it was written by an Australian.
Shannon Burns, who is now an academic but grew up in what he describes as a lumpen neighborhood, grew up with working class whites and Asian immigrants in Adelaide, the largest city in South Australia and, incidentally, the home town of media baron Rupert Murdoch. His work appeared in the literary magazine Meanjin Quarterly, headlined “In Defence of the Bad, White Working Class,” and came to my attention thanks to Glenn Reynolds‘s invaluable Instapundit.
“I confess,” Burns goes on, “that if a well-dressed, university-educated middle-class person of any gender or ethnicity so much as hinted at my ‘white privilege’ while I was a lumpen child, or my ‘male privilege’ while I was an unskilled labourer who couldn’t afford basic necessities, or my ‘hetero-privilege’ while I was a homeless solitary, I’d have taken special pleasure in voting for their nightmare. And I would have been right to do so.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 28, 2017 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Mediasphere, Politics, Russia, White House | Tags: 2016, Chuck Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump presidential campaign, Glenn Simpson, Jared Kushner, Kimberley A. Strassel, Paul Manafort, Trump dossier, United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Democrats don’t want you to find out—and that ought to be a scandal of its own.
Kimberley A. Strassel reports: It has been 10 days since Democrats received the glorious news that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley would require Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to explain their meeting with Russian operators at Trump Tower last year. The left was salivating at the prospect of watching two Trump insiders being grilled about Russian “collusion” under the klieg lights.
Yet Democrats now have meekly and noiselessly retreated, agreeing to let both men speak to the committee in private. Why would they so suddenly be willing to let go of this moment of political opportunity?
Fusion GPS. That’s the oppo-research outfit behind the infamous and discredited “Trump dossier,” ginned up by a former British spook. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 27, 2017 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Krauthammer, media, Scaramucci, video
Being a New Yorker is no excuse. This is the degradation of the presidency. This is what we have come to. None of us have ever seen this. The reason is, it’s not to be done. That type of language is not to be used, particularly when it’s infighting in the White House. The fact that the president is allowing all this to go on, I think it means it rests with him. He’s the only one who can actually restrain this. He appears not to. Perhaps he believes Scaramucci is the guy who will clear the swamp in the White House, but this is really disgraceful.
Source: National Review