It has been a particularly embarrassing week for the press, and it’s only Saturday.
There’s no room for error, especially now that there’s a subgenre of “news” that has zero basis in fact, and is created from thin air for the sole purpose of generating cash.
But learning to be more careful and even-handed is apparently difficult for much of media, and this week was especially rough for newsrooms that are already struggling to regain credibility.
In no particular order, here are some of the most embarrassing media moments from this week:
The New York Times reported this week that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry agreed to be energy secretary without knowing the department oversees and maintains the country’s nuclear arsenal.
The story is written in such a way that Perry comes across as a bumbling bumpkin who’s in way over his head.
The problem with the report – well, there are many problems – the main problem with the story is that it hinges entirely on a bland quote from a GOP energy lobbyist. That source, Michael McKenna, has disavowed the story, and he says the Times took him out of context.
Other problems with the article include that McKenna was booted from the Trump transition team in early November, while Perry was nominated in mid-December.
Nevertheless, the paper’s editors say they stand by the story, “which accurately reflected what multiple, high-level sources told our reporters.”
This is a particularly interesting defense, considering there is nothing in the article to suggest the authors had more than one source.
In my story this week on the Times’ unsubstantiated hit on Perry, I included a link to USA Today’s Dec. 14 report on the former governor accepting the position at the Department of Energy. I included the link for one purpose: To provide citation for Perry’s acceptance remarks, which were published originally in a joint statement with the president-elect.
What I didn’t notice until later was that the linked USA Today report also included a bogus reference to the North Koreans.
The Dec. 14 article read, “The Twitter feed of the nuclear-armed dictatorship said, ‘Donald Trump minister of nuclear weapons Richard Perry known as governor of Texas province, famed for its production of tacos and bumpkins.'”
Unfortunately for USA Today, the North Korean government did no such thing. Like many others in media, the widely circulated newspaper fell for a parody Twitter account created and maintained by members of the libertarian-leaning website, Popehat.com. I removed the USA Today hyperlink from my article debunking the Times, and I updated with a link to a source that doesn’t include an embarrassing mistake. Read the rest of this entry »
Avik Roy, the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity co-founder, discusses how Texas has not only become an economic powerhouse, but has maintained a sense of inclusion that doesn’t exist in many other states.
“In Texas, the Mexicans have always been there…. There’s not this sense that Mexicans are foreigners,” says Avik Roy, Forbes opinion editor and the co-founder and president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP).
Roy believes Texas, a majority-minority state, offers a good counter-example for libertarians and conservatives anxious about immigrants and non-Europeans changing American political culture. The Lone Star State is not only doing very well economically, says Roy, there’s a sense of inclusion that doesn’t exist in many other states.
“It’s not just a free state in the sense of policy, but there really is a sense that everyone feels, whether Anglo or Latino, that freedom has made their lives better,” Roy tells Reason’s Nick Gillespie. “This indigenous thing called Tex-Mex has been around for a very long time. It’s simply not treating the others as if they were others…that attitude makes a huge difference.”
According to Roy, who has advised politicians such as Rick Perry and Marco Rubio, one of the goals of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity is to challenge the conservative view that holds racial and ethnic minority groups can only be appeased through more statism and redistribution and should thus be written off when it comes to building political and economic coalitions. Read the rest of this entry »
[PHOTO] As Parting Prank, Gov Rick Perry Super-Glues Trump’s Finger and Thumb Together, Making Donald Very AngryPosted: September 11, 2015
‘This Pretty Much Sums it Up’
Trolls operate on the principle that negative attention is better than none. In fact, the troll may feed off the negative attention, claiming it makes him a victim and proves that everyone is out to get him.
Nate Silver writes:
…There’s a notion that Donald Trump’s recent rise in Republican polls is a media-driven creation. That explanation isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s incomplete. It skims over the complex interactions between the media, the public and the candidates, which can produce booms and busts of attention. And it ignores how skilled trolls like Trump can exploit the process to their benefit.
Let’s look at some data. In the chart below, I’ve tracked how media coverage has been divided among the Republican candidates over roughly the past month (the data covers June 14 through July 12), according to article counts on Google News. In turn, I’ve shown the share of Google searches for each candidate over the same period. The data was provided to FiveThirtyEight by Google but should closely match what you’ll get by searching on Google Trends or Google News yourself.
“Trump has taken trolling to the next level by being willing to offend members of his own party. Ordinarily, this would be a counterproductive strategy. In a 16-candidate field, however, you can be in first place with 15 or 20 percent of the vote — even if the other 80 or 85 percent of voters hate your guts.”
Even before his imbecilic comments about Sen. John McCain this weekend, which came too recently to be included in this data, Trump was receiving far more media attention than any other Republican. Based on Google News, 46 percent of the media coverage of the GOP campaign over the past month was directed toward Trump, more than for Jeb Bush (13 percent), Chris Christie (9 percent), Scott Walker (8 percent), Bobby Jindal (6 percent), Ted Cruz (4 percent) and Marco Rubio (4 percent) combined.
“Trolls are skilled at taking advantage of this landscape and making the news cycle feed on its own tail, accelerating the feedback loop and producing particularly large bounces and busts in the polls.”
And yet, the public is perhaps even more obsessed with Trump. Among the GOP candidates, he represented 62 percent of the Google search traffic over the past month, having been searched for more than six times as often as second-place Bush.
So if the press were going purely by public demand, there might be even more Trump coverage. Instead, the amount of press coverage that each candidate has received has been modulated by the media’s perception of how likely each is to win the nomination….(read more)
“The public is perhaps even more obsessed with Trump. Among the GOP candidates, he represented 62 percent of the Google search traffic over the past month, having been searched for more than six times as often as second-place Bush.”
But a regression analysis — you can read the gory details in the footnotes3— suggests that press attention both leads and lags public attention to the candidates. This makes a lot of sense. The public can take cues from the media about which candidates to pay attention to. But the media also gets a lot of feedback from the public. Or to put it more cynically: If Trump-related stories are piling up lots of pageviews and Trump-related TV segments get good ratings, then guess what? You’re probably going to see more of them.4
This creates the possibility of a feedback loop….(read more)
…So if these spikes are media-driven, they seem to be driven by some particularly modern features of the media landscape. Social media allows candidates to make news without the filter of the press. It may also encourage groupthink among and between reporters and readers, however. And access to real-time traffic statistics can mean that everyone is writing the same “takes” and chasing the same eyeballs at once. Is the tyranny of the Twitter mob better or worse than the “Boys on the Bus” model of a group of (mostly white, male, upper-middle-class, left-of-center) reporters deigning to determine what’s news and what isn’t? I don’t know, but it’s certainly different. And it seems to be producing a higher velocity of movement in the polls and in the tenor of media coverage. Read the rest of this entry »
Governor Abbott Signs Resolution Posthumously Awarding Chris Kyle The Texas Legislative Medal Of HonorPosted: June 18, 2015
Governor Greg Abbott today signed House Concurrent Resolution 85 (Wray, R-Waxahachie; Birdwell, R-Granbury) to posthumously award the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle, a native Texan and Navy SEAL who served four tours in Iraq and is recognized as the most lethal sniper in United States military history. During the legislative session, Governor Abbott also dedicated a portion of Highway 287 in Midlothian, TX as “Chris Kyle Memorial Highway” and proclaimed February 2nd to be “Chris Kyle Day” in the State of Texas.
“Since its inception, the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor has been awarded to those in the State of Texas who have demonstrated extraordinary heroism as a member of state or federal military forces, and there is no one more deserving of this year’s award than Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle,” said Governor Abbott. “Kyle is one of the legions of valiant warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and served our great nation with unrivaled honor, bravery and heroism. For his remarkable valiancy, it is my honor to posthumously award the 2015 Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle.”
To view the resolution, click here.
Inexperienced President with Abysmal Foreign Policy Record and Negative Polls Reflecting Low Public Trust Tries to Give Foreign Policy Advice to Popular GOP Candidate
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would be taking a foolish approach if he follows through with vows to revoke a nuclear deal with Iran if elected president. Obama was asked in an NPR News interview about Walker’s recent comments that he would reject any deal Obama reaches on his first day as president.
Obama says if the president’s ability to strike agreements starts being questioned, it will be a problem for allies and embolden U.S. enemies. He says he’s confident anyone knowledgeable enough to be elected president won’t take that approach. Read the rest of this entry »
Criminalizing Politics hits New Low with Perry Indictment
From this weekend’s WSJ: Prosecutorial abuse for partisan purposes is common these days, and the latest display is taking place in the all-too-familiar venue of Austin, Texas. On Friday a Travis County prosecutor indicted Governor Rick Perry for the high crime of exercising his constitutional right to free speech and his legal power to veto legislation.
“Even if Mr. Perry was motivated by political animus toward the public-integrity unit, which has a history of politicized prosecutions, so what?”
Lest you think we oversimplify, read the two-count indictment. It’s all of two pages. It charges Mr. Perry with abusing his office by “threatening to veto legislation that had been approved and authorized by the Legislature of the State of Texas to provide funding for the continued operation of the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned from her official position as elected District Attorney.”
“Too many prosecutors figure they have nothing to lose in bringing even frivolous corruption charges against politicians because the public won’t remember if they fail.”
Yes, that’s all they’ve got. Read the rest of this entry »
First Commercial Orbital Launch Site in U.S.
For Gizmag, David Szondy, reporting on news from The Brownsville Herald: The office of Texas Governor Rick Perry has revealed that SpaceX has selected Brownsville, Texas as the site of a new launch facility for sending commercial satellites into orbit. The plans were revealed as part of an announcement by the Governor’s office that the Texas state government is providing US$2.3 million to provide infrastructure for the project, which is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $85 million in capital investments.
Until now, most launches in the continental United States have been confined to NASA and US Air Force facilities in Florida, California, and Virginia. Under discussion between the State of Texas and SpaceX for three years, this new facility still requires FAA and local approval, but if this is granted, it will open the way for the launching of commercial satellites using SpaceX’s Falcon launchers from a spaceport located far enough south to take advantage of the Earth’s spin to reduce fuel costs, and an over-water downrange over the Gulf of Mexico. Read the rest of this entry »
— Daniel John Sobieski (@gerfingerpoken) July 12, 2014
If ever there was a picture that sums up the adults vs. the kids in the room.. pic.twitter.com/M4OAoalIow
— S.M (@redsteeze) July 10, 2014
‘Not One for Photo-Ops’ Says President Who’s Political Career Consists of Speeches, Blaming Opponents, Fundraisers, Campaign Photo-OpsPosted: July 9, 2014
“This isn’t theater. This is a problem. I’m not interested in photo-ops. I’m interested in solving a problem.”
President Obama pushed back against repeated calls, including from members of his own party, for him to visit the southwestern border during his fundraising trip to Texas.
In his remarks, the president also warned parents in Central America to stop illegally sending their children to the United States.
“While we intend to do right by these children, their parents need to know this is an incredibly dangerous situation…(read more)
Kevin D. Williamson and George Will hit the nail on the head with columns questioning the outsized importance of the presidency. I’ve linked them together here because they share this theme, a subject that’s been on my mind. It’s particularly relevant today because of the Supreme Court’s decisive smackdown of presidential overreach.
It’s been observed, by Glenn Reynolds, P.J. O’Rourke, and others, that that life in America was better and freer when the Presidency wasn’t so important. It almost didn’t matter which gang of crooks ran the White House, because most politics was local, not national, and the limitations on Presidential power insured that not much damage could be done. The Federal government was distant, and wonderfully irrelevant to the daily lives of most Americans. Local government mattered. Presidents could occupy themselves with foreign policy, negotiating trade agreements, responding to national emergencies, and making occasional speeches. Most of the time, the country can run itself pretty much on its own.
In the last few generations, presidential importance and power has quietly increased. Then, exploded. Presidential elections are all-consuming, winner-take-all contests that consume enormous resources, and draw undue attention. There’s an unseemly preoccupation with presidential spectacle, the wonder and majesty of it all.
My personal rant: Since when are presidents are expected to set a national agenda, drive the country in important new directions, hatch important new plans? Since when are presidents measured by the success or failure of their grand vision for the country? (answer: the progressive era) Two phrases that illustrate this increasingly poisonous trend: “signature legislation”, and “historic legacy”. When we see or hear the phrase “signature legislation”, journalists and talking heads are stroking the president’s self-image, and indulging the malignant nationalist “great figure” hero fantasy. “Signature legislation” should be a banned phrase, it’s emblematic of this growing bubble of unrealistic expectations. As if the ego of the President is something we should all participate in helping to protect and preserve, for history. I’m sorry, but I’m not interested. Count me out.
That the presidency is increasingly imperial, and disturbingly monarchial, is not even a question. Economically, it’s self-evident. Kings and Queens live and travel more modestly than the president. Mark Steyn pointed out that the cost of presidential maintenance — Air Force One, the White House Staff, all the perks — now exceeds that of all the world’s monarchies combined.
Government service shouldn’t be so attractive, even at the executive level. President Clinton, when showing the Oval office to guests who had never seen it, jokingly referred to it as the “crown jewel of the American penal system”. Though Clinton enjoyed the benefits and survived the hazards of the outsized presidency, that was a rare moment of self-deprecating awareness about the burden of the presidency, and an appreciation for its limits.
I agree with Will, and Williamson. I’ve had my fill of presidential drama, give me a boring president. Please.
As I was lunching with a few conservative political types earlier this week, the subject turned, as it does, to the 2016 field. When the name of a highly regarded former governor came up, the judgment was unequivocal: “He’s just so . . . boring.” That was not intended as an endorsement.
It should be.
“What greeted Barack Obama during his ascent was excitement that bled into reverence — it is easy to forget, with the demigod in his now diminished state, that his admirers were literally singing hymns to him. Exciting, in the same way that a head-on collision in a speeding Cadillac is exciting…”
Barack Obama has been anything but boring. “May you live in exciting times” may be a fake Chinese curse, but the wisdom communicated therein is real. Thought experiment: Consider the presidency of Barack Obama from the point of view of the sort of person who is likely to support such men. Having vanquished George W. Bush, he has now given us: a military mess in Iraq complete with the deployment of U.S. troops and a mission that is probably unachievable; the continuing disintegration of Afghanistan and its reversion to a jihadist safe haven; an economy that is shrinking significantly and probably is dipping back into recession; a defense and intelligence apparatus that is abusing its powers and the trust of the American people in ways that are not obviously related to defeating terrorist plots; millions without health insurance; millions out of work; corruption in our public institutions, ranging from the IRS to our universities; a self-aggrandizing political elite that is busy enriching itself through the vulgar exploitation of political connections while incomes for ordinary Americans stagnate or decline; etc. There has been a great deal of excitement, but if you voted for Obama because you were angry about the wars, the surveillance state, and the economy, things aren’t looking any better at all.
[Kevin Williamson’s book “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure” is available at Amazon]
The most boring president of the modern era probably was Dwight Eisenhower, whose administration was marked by relative peace, prosperity, and confidence in the effectiveness and integrity of our institutions. The most boring president ever surely was Calvin Coolidge, who pinched pennies and kept at his plow, more or less leaving the country free to go about its own business, which turned out to be an excellent economic program. Our most exciting recent presidents? John Kennedy, who was privately corrupt and publicly inept; Richard Nixon, who was privately corrupt and publicly corrupt; Bill Clinton, who combined the worst features of Kennedy and Nixon, adding a distasteful dose of sanctimony to the mix…(read more)
“In a radio address to the nation, President Franklin Roosevelt urged Americans to tell him their troubles. Please do not tell me yours. Tell them to your spouse, friends, clergy — not to a politician…”
All modern presidents of both parties have been too much with us. Talking incessantly, they have put politics unhealthily at the center of America’s consciousness. Promising promiscuously, they have exaggerated government’s proper scope and actual competence, making the public perpetually disappointed and surly. Inflating executive power, they have severed it from constitutional constraints. So, sensible voters might embrace someone who announced his 2016 candidacy this way:
“I am ambling — running suggests unseemly ardor — for president. It is axiomatic that anyone who nowadays will do what is necessary in order to become president thereby reveals character traits, including delusions of adequacy and obsessive compulsive disorder, that should disqualify him or her from proximity to powers concentrated in the executive branch. Therefore, my campaign will initially consist of driving around the Obnoxiously Entitled Four — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — trying to interest their 3.8 percent of America’s population in a minimalist president. Read the rest of this entry »
Boom Time in Texas: Population Has Grown More than Twice the Rate of the Nation’s Over the Past DecadePosted: May 2, 2014
Now, the state’s largest cities are seeing crowded highways, strained water supplies and other pressures that have come with the growth. And Texas politicians—protective of the small-government, low-tax policies many of them believe are at the root of the state’s success—are grappling with how to pay the price of prosperity.
“No state can tax and spend its way to prosperity, but with the right policies you can grow your way there…we can make principled investments in our future without raising taxes.”
Aided by the promise of plentiful employment and a low cost of living, Texas added 1.3 million people from 2010 to 2013, more than any other state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Lone Star State’s population has pushed past 26 million and is projected to reach 40 million by 2050.
“We all want to go around and beat our chest that Texas is the best place to do business, but we need to pay for the infrastructure needs that go with growth.”
— Republican state Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler
Half of the 10 American cities with the largest population increases in the 12 months ended July 1, 2012, were in Texas, according to the Census Bureau. Houston, the nation’s fourth-biggest city with about 2.2 million people, added 34,625 residents, second only to New York. Austin added 25,395 and now has some 843,000 residents, more than San Francisco.
The state’s outsize growth is a matter of pride for Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has touted the “Texas Miracle” as proof that its lower taxes and lighter regulations are effective job creators. Texans paid 7.5% of their income in state and local taxes in 2011, compared with 11.4% in California and 9.2% in Florida, according to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation, a research organization. Read the rest of this entry »
AWR HAWKINS writes: Battles for and against gun control continue to intensify in various states around the country. Although Colorado took center stage with the recall of state senator John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) days ago, gun control is or has been the recent focus in Mississippi, Texas, Missouri, New York, and Connecticut.
The good news for gun owners is that the clear majority of the battles are against gun control. Read the rest of this entry »
BY ED MORRISSEY
I assume this means that Governor Rick Perry’s poaching has been successful:
Gov. Rick Perry’s high-profile efforts to lure jobs to Texas from other states may be good business and smart politics back home, but they’re infuriating to prominent Democrats around the country.
And now at least one Republican business leader says Perry’s taking the Lone Star swagger a little too far.
Perry’s forceful recruitment campaigns, featuring radio and magazine ads as well as personal appearances, promise low-tax, pro-growth policies in Texas —and they also trash the business climate in places like California (“…I hear building a business in California is next to impossible”) and Illinois (“…an environment that, intentionally or not, is designed for you to fail.”)
Those attacks hit where it hurts and have touched off an angry political backlash against Perry outside the Texas borders, with Democrats mocking his attempts to steal jobs as clownish – and warning the Republican governor to keep his handsoff. In a memorable put-down, Gov. Jerry Brown said Perry’s incursions into California were about as effective as breaking wind.
But other observers say Perry knows exactly what he’s doing.
“At the end of the day, no matter how any of the [states] respond, people are left with two distinct messages: That guy down in Texas has got big brass balls and he’s creating a lot of jobs,” Mark McKinnon, a political strategist with deep Texas ties, told POLITICO. “It’s brilliant marketing and very smart politics.”
Well, that’s usually the case when competition produces dominant players — a lot of less-competitive players get annoyed, resentful, and dismissive. A few of them will start trying to compete better. The rest simply go out of business altogether. Perry’s critics seem to be in the dinosaur group.
via The Greenroom