All democracies have one thing in common – a need for legitimacy, which is ultimately derived from the free and informed consent of the people. Some argue journalism only matters when practiced in the public interest by those who care for and seek the truth. Others see the media merely as a tool for exercising influence and believe criticism amounts to treason.
In this session, we heard from from Salman Rushdie, award-winning novelist, essayist, and former President of PEN America; Bard President, conductor and scholar, Leon Botstein; Lachlan Markay, White House reporter for The Daily Beast; American journalist, political commentator and senior editor at the online magazine The Federalist, M.Z. Hemingway; and Washington Free Beacon editor in chief, Matthew Continetti, as they explore whether the ‘truth’ is overrated and ask to what extent the right to free speech should be tempered by ethical restraint? Most importantly, they’ll discuss whether some subjects should simply be “undiscussable?”
SHADES OF RED & BLUE: Uniting Our Divided Nation is presented by Australia’s Ethics Centre, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program. Reflecting the relationship between the US and Australia, this event was full of passion, difference and a whole lot of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
[VIDEO] President Trump Unloads on the Media; Special Report with Mollie Hemingway, James Rosen, Charles KrauthammerPosted: February 16, 2017
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer told Fox News’ Bret Baier Saturday night that President Donald Trump’s remarks to the CIA, including a statement where he suggested keeping the oil after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, could be considered a “war crime.”
Appearing on “Special Report,” Krauthammer — along with Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist and Fox News’ Digital Editor Chris Stirewalt — took part in a panel discussion on Trump’s remarks to CIA officials and employees Saturday afternoon as one of his first stops as president following his inauguration Friday.
Hemingway asserted that Trump was successful in sending the message that he supports the “rank and file in the intelligence agencies.” Krauthammer expressed concern that Trump’s off-handed remark about keeping oil after the 2003 invasion were troubling because the president has enormous power to affect world events with just his words.
From Foreign Policy:
At one point, Trump regurgitated parts of his stump speech about how the United States “should have kept the oil” after invading Iraq. “Maybe we’ll have another chance,” he added. Aside from being physically impossible to sequester billions of barrels of underground oil, that would constitute a breach of international law. U.S. troops are currently embedded with forces of the country that Trump suggested again invading. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Too little, Too Late? US ‘Retaliates’ Against Russia: Steve Hayes, Mollie Hemingway, Charles KrauthammerPosted: December 29, 2016
Mollie Hemingway on Trump Bashing Katy Tur: She’s Being Overly Sensitive.
“The sensitivity and defensiveness that we’re seeing among media people when they’ve done so much to destroy civil discourse and to disparage the views of so many people, I’m not that impressed.”
‘When It Comes To Donald Trump, I Hate Everyone‘
Mollie Hemingway writes:
We’re now in month eight or so of Trumpmania. He has a core of support, and the media can’t get enough of him. The effect he has on people is fascinating. But it’s also remarkably annoying. Every casual utterance by Trump leads the news cycle until the subsequent outrage. And everyone flips out. Trump flips out. His fans flip out. His enemies flip out. The media flip out.
It’s enough to make you hate everyone. In fact, it does make me hate everyone. That probably includes you. Here’s a list of everyone in the Trump saga who is awful….(read more)
Donald Trump Fans
…I know many of the people who say they’re voting for Trump are probably just normal people who don’t pay a ton of attention to politics and think he’s an entertaining fellow who is funny and candid. It’s not entirely surprising that a man who has been a household name for decades would enjoy the support he has. I’m a political junkie, and once a week I have to think really hard about who all the candidates running for president even are. And another portion of his voters are probably people who are just sick to death of Washington, D.C., even if they’re not particularly ideological.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) December 11, 2015
A Twitter user who goes by the name Political Math said of these people, and please excuse his French, “The world makes a lot of sense when you realize that the #1 priority of Trump supporters is to tell you to go [expletive deleted] yourself.” He added, “And I don’t mean this as a slur: Trump supporters are really just *more* sick of bull[deleted] out of DC than they care about Trump.”
Listen, I also hate the Republican Party and think it deserves to die in a fire (for reasons discussed here). This is a political party that has squandered majorities, favored the elite donor class over the base, and not only failed to thwart the creation and expansion of the administrative state, but in fact enabled it. It has shown disdain for conservative principles and people, even as it relied on them for victory. I’m sick of it, too.
So I get wanting to send a message. (And if you don’t get it, I commend this interview by Urbanophile’s Aaron Renn of his father, who is a Trump supporter.)
But don’t pretend that Trump has ideas, much less ideas that are good. Yes, he fights! Oh how he fights. And after years of Republican candidates sputtering and cowering in the face of stupid progressive questioning, that is an enjoyable thing to see. Although, it must be said that for someone who fights he sure does whine a hell of a lot. Just in the time I’ve written this, I’ve seen him whine about a half dozen different people. Trump’s support is based on his toughness. So why do he and his supporters cry like little babies anytime someone critiques him even slightly? I don’t get it.
In any case, there are real problems in this country and in this world, and don’t confuse message-sending support for Trump with actual support for Trump. And consider that you hate the Republican Party because of how poorly it has performed in service of the causes you care about; ask yourself whether the solution you’ve found yourself embracing is actually an improvement. Yes, it’s cathartic and you are scaring the hell out of the rest of the country, including those portions that have treated you with contempt for many years. But, again, there are serious governance issues that require a serious person who actually knows what in the hell he or she is doing. Get it together, you know?
Donald Trump Haters
OK, you people really annoy me. Ace of Spades put it well when he said you are like a divorced man who is obsessed with his ex-wife. He thinks everything she does is awful, and he can’t stop talking about her to other people to try to get them to agree. Yes, Trump is crazy and awful. Granted. But screaming about it constantly makes you seem crazy, too. Meghan Keane Graham once wrote anessay about how a crazy man on the subway picked a fight with her. After a few stops, she realized that nobody on the subway car had witnessed the original altercation and that meant that nobody on the subway knew that he was crazy and she was not. It was even odds, at that point, which one was crazy. Maybe both were. That’s what you people remind me of all the time.
[VIDEO] Kentucky Democrat Gives Bizarre Speech After GOP Victories: ‘Mary Did Not Ride An Elephant Into Bethlehem’Posted: November 4, 2015
“I don’t know. Nobody knows. The Bible doesn’t tell us that, does it? But I believe the Bible is a book of parables … I don’t know whether Jesus would have been a Democrat or Republican, and nobody else does, but I know this. He was a carpenter and a teacher, and I bet every carpenter and teacher I know are pretty good Democrats.”
David Rutz reports: Kentucky’s Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo stumbled in a speech Tuesday night following big Republican victories, giving a bizarre speech covering Jesus, religion and the Bible and remarking that Mary “did not ride an elephant into Bethlehem” before giving birth to her son.
“Let me tell you. I am going to admit I have not read the holy book from front to finish like some of you probably have, but my reading of our Bible shows that the word Republican or Democrat isn’t used, and people sometimes ask me … ‘What would Jesus have been if he were alive? Would he have been a Democrat or a Republican?’
The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway reported on the odd moment that did not appear to be received well by the assembled Democrats, who offered muted applause to his remarks.
“And the other thing I know is that if in fact the Bible is a book of parables, like I believe it is, think about this: Mary did not ride an elephant into Bethlehem that night.”
He made his comments following a devastating night for Kentucky Democrats, as Republican Matt Bevin won a surprising victory for the governorship, and Republican Jenean Hampton became Kentucky’s first African American to hold statewide office with her lieutenant governor election.
Stumbo was upset by the notion, in his view, that Democrats were considered less “godly” than Republicans. Read the rest of this entry »
Mollie Hemingway writes: The first GOP 2016 presidential debate was substantive, fast-paced, informative and fun, of all things. A big reason for the fun was that TV celebrity and businessman Donald Trump was on stage. He brought his normal Trump persona to the stage and was brash and occasionally funny. He started off strong, in his own way. But he followed up these flashes with some amazingly tone-deaf, illogical, stupid and bizarre statements. Here are 10 of the worst.
1) Didn’t rule out a third-party run
Bret Baier asked the candidates, “Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?”
Donald Trump was the only person to raise his hand. Baier noted that experts say a third-party run from a prominent candidate would kill the GOP’s chances of winning the election.
Trump made it clear that if the GOP wouldn’t nominate him, he was strongly considering a third-party run. “If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage.”
2) Refused to support eventual GOP nominee unless it was himself
He also said, with what would become a pattern of semi-illiterate syntax, “I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge.”
3) Said he loves the single payer healthcare system
…Later the Texas policy expert explained the competing liberal and conservative visions implicit in the King v. Burwell Supreme Court Case.
You can listen here
‘Louis CK’s SNL Opening Monologue Was Awesomely Offensive’
In a late-night post involving Louis CK, and Mollie Hemingway, we find ourselves in familiar territory. Testing the limits of good taste, defending freedom of expression, and witnessing fallout from violating powerful social taboos. In the current edition of The Federalist, it’s gratifying to see one of my favorite media writers stand up for one of my favorite comedians. As we see in the video above, Louis CK goes where few comedians would dare to tread.
“It was actually quite disgusting and completely offensive. I can not possibly characterize how tasteless it was. It was also hilarious.”
— Mollie Hemingway
If you’ve ever heard Louis C.K. talk about SNL preparation–as I did recently, listening to a recent radio an interview–you know he seeks out difficult audiences rather than easy ones. He described testing his SNL monologue material in unfavorable environments, on disinterested audiences, intentionally, in order to find weaknesses in the material, and win over tough crowds.
Unlike his usual hip New York audiences, he discovered, SNL audience are comprised mostly of non-New Yorkers. Tourists, regular folks from the heartland. Edgy material he might normally do doesn’t necessarily connect here. After one disappointing performance on SNL, he worked harder at it the next time—testing, calibrating, rehearsing more. And coming better prepared, in his subsequent appearance, he succeeded. (it’s a good interview, if I find the audio clip or transcript of it, I’ll link it) Which is why his recent appearance on SNL surprised me. Because even if the now-infamous controversial material seemed risky, or misguided, you can be sure that the choices made were not arrived at casually.
Likewise for Lorne Michaels. SNL is shot live, the material is vetted in advance. I can’t imagine anything was performed that wasn’t approved. (or at least not disapproved) Knowing Louis C.K.’s work habits (more disciplined than they appear) it’s likely that he rehearsed his monologue for weeks, in front of difficult audiences, in different settings. And then, on live TV, Louis said exactly what he wanted to say. Knowing the risks. Expecting to offend people. But reasonably confident that it was funny.
When asked, in the interview, about his willingness to make people uncomfortable, referring to his frequent run-ins with authority figures in childhood, Louis C.K. said, “I’m used to getting in trouble”. It doesn’t bother him, the experience of being in trouble. He’s often talked about the challenge, and joy, of taking audiences to uneasy places, to explore what’s there, and find what’s funny about it.
To me, this is classic Louis C.K. There’s something about his frankness, sincerity, and delivery, that allows him to get away with things other comics would get crucified for. There’s more here than meets the eye.
The social justice warriors are creating a culture where comedians can’t make most jokes about race, sex, sexual choices, or any of the things that used to be staples of the comedy circuit. One joke in a stand-up set bombs for being over the line and the social media mobs come forth with pitchforks and your career is over or your comedy is seriously proscribed. It’s a free country, though, which means, in these cases, that if a bunch of coddled children can’t handle transgressive comedy without losing their minds, they can make life for a comic a living hell. Just because you’re trying something out in an intimate setting with a particular group of people doesn’t keep them from blasting it on the internet for a global audience that couldn’t possibly understand what you were going for. Comedians such as Chris Rock say it’s just not fun any more….(more)
“It’s a free country, though, which means, in these cases, that if a bunch of coddled children can’t handle transgressive comedy without losing their minds, they can make life for a comic a living hell.”
— Mollie Hemingway
While not exactly endorsing the content of Louis C.K.’s queasy monologue, The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway defends it, describing it as “refreshing — and ballsy”, and links to an earlier article discussing the necessity of tolerance. Comedy will suffer if comics are threatened and stop taking risks. Enforcing current PC-orthodoxy with online shaming campaigns, social justice warriors provoke and exploit social media hysteria to keep violators in line. Thus, the idea of Comedy Speakeasies.
The problem with comedy is that people can share what happens in the club with anyone in the world. In the future, when comedy speakeasies are the only way for people to hear transgressive jokes about race and sex, people will have to have the password. But they’ll also have to be patted down for recording equipment. No phones. No audio recorders. No pens and pads. Any recitation of the bits will be fully denied…
In her current column, Mollie continues…
…Louis CK knew he’d be met with social justice warrior outrage — and he was — and he went ahead with the monologue anyway. Not in a speakeasy but on network television. No trigger warnings. No concerns about punching all the way down…
The claims in the Daily Beast story are completely 100% unsubstantiated
Mollie Hemingway writes: This week, a group of Republican senators led by Tom Cotton of Arkansas (pictured above, with a kitten, in Iraq) issued a very brief open letter to the leaders of Iran explaining the differences between mere executive agreements and international treaties ratified by the Senate. It’s a fairly basic letter that includes reminders about the Constitutional system under which we operate. I couldn’t begin to speculate why, but the media lost their collective minds over this letter. Along with other Democrats and progressive activists. You can read the breathless, outraged, totally-over-the-top headlines if you’d like to see this melt-down in action.
Now, that’s fine. That’s their business. To be completely honest, and not that you care, I’m not the biggest fan of such letters myself. I mean, they’re not as bad as Nancy Pelosi going to Syria to undermine Bush’s foreign policy, Jimmy Carter helping North Korea get nuclear weapons, Ted Kennedy secretly asking the Soviets to interfere in the 1984 election or any of the many other interjections we’ve seen, but I think it’s generally a good idea to yield to the president on foreign negotiations, even if it’s a really bad president who couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag if the stakes involved, oh I don’t know, going ahead with Iran as a nuclear power.
“What he sure as MOTHERFREAKING FREAK doesn’t say is that he’s a senator, that he thought it was a dumb idea to sign the letter, that he signed it and then realized it was a bad call or that he represents the ‘some’ in the headline.”
But let’s look a little deeper at just one part of this media campaign against Republican senators. It comes from Tim Mak of the Daily Beast and it looks like he’s got an explosive story:
Whoa. Check that out. Republicans now “admit” that the letter was “a dumb idea”! That’s huge. And “some Republicans who signed on” are now “realizing” it was a bad call? I can’t wait to read this story — taglined “HINDSIGHT” for extra flair — can you?
“Other than this low-level staff aide who didn’t even say he thought the letter was a bad idea, much less a dumb one, we have two Republican Senators who always opposed the letter and then also a Democratic Senator who didn’t like the letter…”
What are their names? Which of the senators are changing their minds and “admitting” and “realizing” that the media were right after all? Who are they?
Oh dear. That’s … weird. Very weird.
“So, in other words, we have a story that in no way supports the headline. Not even close…”
Hunh. Tim Mak’s story doesn’t even claim a single senator changed his mind. Not even close. Yikes.
Um. So it turns out that the only people quoted in the story against the letter are people who always opposed the letter. There’s also a quote from an unnamed, completely anonymous “Senate Republican aide” who doesn’t in any way say anything even remotely close to the claims made in the headline or anywhere else in the piece. Read the rest of this entry »
Mollie Hemingway writes: NBC News’ Brian Williams is taking a few days off from his anchor chair at the Nightly News. The Most Trusted Name In News (TM) is in a spot of trouble. He admits he lied when he claimed he was in a Chinook helicopter forced down by rocket-propelled grenade fire in Iraq in 2003.
There are also concerns about dramatic stories he told about gangs attacking his hotel in New Orleans during Katrina. Whether he saw a dead body floating by him in the French Quarter. Whether he got dysentery on that trip.
Or witnessed someone commit suicide in the Superdome. Also about whether he actually saved a puppywhile on duty as a voluntary firefighter. Whether he was really “looking up at a thug’s snub-nosed .38 while selling Christmas trees out of the back of a truck” in the 1970s. And whether a helicopter he was in during Israel’s war with the militant group Hezbollah in 2006 was nearly hit by Katyusha rockets.
I could go on. The point is that he’s beginning to resemble Jen from the IT Crowd:
[Check out Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” at Amazon]
If Brian Williams were just a dude at the bar, he’d probably be your favorite dude at the bar. He has great stories and tells them well. The loquacious Williams is just an obscenely well-paid news reader. As Neil Postman put it in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves To Death, “A news show, to put it plainly, is a format for entertainment, not for education, reflection or catharsis.” And that’s how we like it — here’s a promo for a new CNN game show featuring anchors competing against each other. (Show ‘em who’s boss, Tapper!)
A Far Worse Kind Of Exaggeration
Some journalists have responded to the Williams spectacle by running defenses they’d never imagine using on others — such as that Williams had ordinary false memory syndrome. Others are just waiting for him to be pushed out or quietly get back to work.
Williams lied. I’m not defending him. But in a world of serial exaggerators and distortion artists, he’s the least of mainstream media’s problems.
Exaggeration and distortion is de rigueur for many political journalists.
Exaggeration is kind of what our media do. Now, part of this is defensible. At one of my first newspaper jobs, I would write unbelievably spare copy that accurately described the event or situation I was reporting on. My editor used to take his big red pen and scrawl, “So what?” across my copy, double underlined. It was a great edit. I had to learn how to make a story interesting and how to pull out the parts a reader would actually care about.
Mollie Hemingway writes:
…It’s absolutely not true that the New York Times cares one whit about the religious (or otherwise) sentiments of peaceful families in Brooklyn. If they did, they wouldn’t run so many depictions of anti-semitic caricatures in stories about anti-semitic caricatures. Or of blasphemous anti-Christian art in stories about blasphemous anti-Christian art. Or of gross ethnic and racial stereotypes in stories about gross ethnic and racial stereotypes. When the New York Times wrote about Catholic outrage over an art exhibit that featured a “black Madonna with a clump of elephant dung on breast & cutouts of genitalia,” that story featured a color photo of the art in question. Heck, it still does. Right there on the web site.
Mollie Hemingway writes: Last week, President Barack Obama pardoned a turkey prior to Thanksgiving Day, as is tradition. And as in previous years, his teenage daughters Malia and Sasha stood by his side. The daughters are cute as can be — and Malia is growing into an absolutely beautiful young woman.
They are, however, teenagers. And they were, I guess, engaged in some mild teenage behavior — eye-rolling and smirking and what not. I watched a video of the event and didn’t really notice anything worth commenting on (apart from the interesting annual practice of Obama signing the cross over the turkey). But one minor Capitol Hill staffer thought the girls were dressed inappropriately and acted a bit churlish. And then, for some reason, she wrote about it on Facebook.
At which point some people lost their everliving minds. Her comments were posted on Twitter where the social media mob fed their hankering for constant outrage. There were petitions calling for her to be punished. And worst of all the media wrote and broadcast story after story after story about the matter. Elizabeth Lauten lost her job for saying mean things about President Obama’s children.
“In what world — in what mother-freaking world — does he justify taking a foreign affairs reporter and having him dig up dirt on a low-level former staffer who said nothing worse about presidential children than the Post’s own columnists did in the Bush era?”
Now, Lauten is in communications and her job presumably included an assumption that she wouldn’t embarrass her boss. Besides, in a city where you can keep your job even if you’re involved in serious scandals at the IRS, State Department, Veterans Affairs or the Department of Justice, an actual job loss is refreshing, in its own way. She even gave a full-throated apology — within hours of the initial post — for being mean, not one of these “I’m sorry if” constructions that politicians frequently use.
Still, what in the world was the media doing reporting on this non-story and firing up the mob? The Washington Free Beacon reported that “major media outlets are pouring resources into tracking her moves and digging into her past.” This included two network news vans camping outside of her parents’ home in North Carolina and a search of Lauten’s leaked juvenile records and college writings.
This is insanity and each and every person involved should be ashamed of himself or herself. If you were involved, you are a big part of what’s wrong with journalism and you need to check yourself.
Explain yourself, Washington Post
A few years ago, I had this exchange with a Washington Post reporter:
@MZHemingway Hi Molly – I cover policy for the Washington Post, not local crime, hence why I wrote about all the policy issues you mention.
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) April 11, 2013
Yes, I was told that the reason why the Washington Post was studiously avoiding any discussion of serial murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell was because it was a local crime story. The Washington Post previously avoided or subsequently went on to avoid covering the trial of George Zimmerman, the Grand Jury’s look at Darren Wilson and various other local crime stories. Just kidding. They gave those stories wall-to-wall coverage, as you might expect.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 9, 2014
East Coast Media Struggling to Understand Western Frustration with Federal Land Grabs Should Study this MapPosted: September 7, 2014
East Coast media struggling to understand Western frustration w/ federal land grabs should study this map. pic.twitter.com/kblXs40sTQ
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 8, 2014
1. Calm down. That’s why they call it bone china.
2. Secretary of State John Kerry visits his yacht during Egypt crisis. So?
3. Perhaps this jewelry’s price tag could feed a family of four for a year. What’s important is that it looks good.