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Archive for the ‘press’ Category

Carl Hiaasen’s younger brother was gunned down in Annapolis, Maryland today along with four others executed for the crime of being a journalist.

Unknown is whether the killer was a MAGAt, spurred into violence by his fascist overlords in the White House and elsewhere. It would not be the first time that fascists attacked newspapers. Their campaign was largely successful in Weimar Germany — of all of Germany’s newspapers, only one single newspaper, the Munich Post, dared to oppose Hitler directly. The rest of Germany’s press, cowed by the brownshirts / MAGAts, tried to be “fair” to the Nazis. For their trouble their reporters and editors ended up in the exact same concentration camps as the reporters and editors of the Munich Post. Appeasement, it turns out, is a rather ineffective tactic for dealing with fascists. As is civility.

Let us hope that our own newspapers have learned that lesson. I’m not holding my breath though.

– Badtux the News Penguin

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Trump and his cronies are freaking out about a tabloid book about a tabloid president, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. And incidentally have turned what would likely have been yet another ignored book on Trump into a best seller.

Cheetoh Mussolini’s lawyer threatened to sue the publisher. In response, the publisher released the book four days early and the publisher’s lawyer eviscerates the President’s lawyer in a public letter. BRUTAL.
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Trump surrogate Miller had to be escorted off of CNN property by security after he started ranting at Jake Tapper.

Cheeto Mussolini whines that he can’t sue author of tabloid book for libel, claims new libel laws would make that possible. Except he’ll need a new Supreme Court too, to overturn the actual malice standard set for public figures by the 1st Amendment freedom of press right to cover news.

Steve Bannon fired from Breitbart by the Koch brothers because they’re upset that Bannon said of the Trump kids’ meeting with Russian spies in Trump Tower that it was “treasonous”.

Herr Twitler himself calls Wolff a “loser” and his book “boring”. And boasts about how he fired Steve Bannon, the man who made him President, for being “sloppy”.

All this fire and fury because the book tells us something we already knew: Trump is an unstable and incompetent president who has no business holding the office he didn’t really want all that much anyway. Duh. It’s not like the book tells us anything we didn’t already know. It just slings tabloid sleaze upon a tabloid President. And thus is perfect for this era: a tabloid book, for a tabloid president.

– Badtux the Amused Penguin

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You may have seen this image going around social media:

True, or not?

Well, there was only one way to find out: sic some reporters on the story! Have them track the photos all the way back to the first person to post them and…

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As some of you know, Roger Stone, a close advisor to Donald Trump, got kicked off of Twitter for tweets cursing out and threatening CNN reporters. So how does Roger Stone react to this? Does he laugh and say “well, I disagree with their actions, but they’re a private business and can choose to do business with whomever they please”? Is that how he reacted?

Well, no. First he raised a hissy fit, threatening Twitter via right wing media. Twitter took notice and then made his 3 day suspension into a permanent ban — deleting his entire Twitter account, tweets included. (Actually, Twitter accounts are never physically deleted, they’re kept around in case law enforcement needs to look at them, but effectively it’s gone). Because as a private business, they decided they don’t want Roger Stone as a customer anymore. So they exercised their freedom of association by choosing not to associate with him.

So what did Roger Stone do then? Did he apologize to Twitter in hopes of getting his account back?

Well, of course not. That would require some level of self-introspection. Instead: Roger Stone says that he will sue Twitter.

Will sue.

A private business.

For exercising its freedom of association.

For exercising a right guaranteed by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the right of freedom of association — or non-association, in this case.

So, Roger Stone: In the past, you supported the right of the Boy Scouts to exercise their freedom of association in order to not associate with homosexuals. So at one time, you apparently believed private organizations had freedom of association. When did you convert to Communism — the notion that private property and private organizations shouldn’t exist? Why do you believe Twitter is or should be public property with no right of freedom of association as guaranteed by the Constitution for private entities?

Curious penguins are… curious!

– Badtux the “Hypocrisy, much?” Penguin

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Seems like everybody is using the word “fake news” recently without, apparently, having the slightest idea what it means. Heck, there’s even people who’ve (incorrectly) called blogs “fake news” where said blogs, such as Daily Kos, contained nothing of the sort. So, here we go, let’s do a bit of ferreting out of definitions:

1) News: This is reporting that follows the 5 W’s and one H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. For example, a car chase. Who: Some thug named Goon McStupid, and the combined police departments of Santa Clara, Mountain View, and the CHP. What: A car chase. When: Last night at 3am. Where: Down US101. Why: Felon in possession of a firearm and heroin tried to evade police. How: Police tossed out stop strips, shredded his tires, and captured him as he attempted to run from his car.

Thing about news is that it’s verifiable. People heard it on the scanners. You can call the police press relations office and get a thumbnail summary of what happened. There will be an arrest record that can be examined. A court record when Goon McStupid gets charged and has a bail hearing. And so forth.

2) Fake news: This follows the 5 W’s and one H, but is completely made up. If you call the police press relations office they’ll say they never heard of anybody named Goon McStupid. There will be no arrest record. There will be no court record. The entire story is completely made up. A “tell” of fake news is that information that would allow verifying it is completely left out. Another “tell” of fake news is that if you do attempt to verify it and find that it’s unverifiable, it’s always a conspiracy. So, let’s talk about the horrible Incident in Sweden Last Friday. So, you attempt to verify the existence of this incident, and find that there’s no reporting of any such incident in the Swedish press last Friday. You call the national police department of Sweden, and they tell you that there was no terrorist attack in Sweden last Friday. The perpetrator of the Fake News story then claims that there is a conspiracy to hide the Incident in Sweden. The moment you see the “conspiracy” word, the chances that it is Fake News rises to almost 100%.

3) Analysis: This combines news stories and statistics from reliable sources to examine what a news story actually means. News reporting of Donald Trump’s latest Nuremberg Rally would include details of what he stated in his speech, such as his mentioning of a horrible Incident in Sweden Last Friday. Analysis then examines news stories from Sweden to see if anything happened there last Friday, calls the Swedish police and finds that they know of nothing remarkable happening in Sweden last Friday other than the Eurovision contest, and concludes that nothing happened there last Friday. Analysis then notes that Trump’s invocation of a horrible Incident in Sweden was inaccurate or false. If they’re being really bold, they will say “Trump lied.” Analysis is not fake news, regardless of whether you agree with its conclusions or not. You can still follow the links to the underlying cited facts and do your own analysis and draw your own conclusions.

4) Commentary: This goes beyond simple analysis and arrives at overarching conclusions or opinions, usually from references to or analysis of multiple news stories. For example, a blog is usually commentary. A blog may link to multiple news stories and data sources, provide analysis of those news stories, then say that Donald Trump’s White House is in chaos. Again, this is not fake news. This is commentary or opinion about the news.

5) Editorial or opinion piece: This goes beyond commentary and attempts to make you think or feel a certain way or do something that the writer thinks you should do. Facts may or may not be used, and where used, will generally be facts that support the conclusion that the author wants you to reach, or if it is a less scrupulous opinion writer, may be made up entirely from whole cloth. The thing is, opinion doesn’t pretend to be news, because it isn’t. It’s an argument that you should think or feel a certain way or do something that the writer thinks you should do. For example, an opinion piece may argue “Illegal immigrants are criminals and should be deported.” This is not “fake news”, even though there are no facts to support this opinion (when you look at the underlying facts, unauthorized aliens are actually less likely to commit violent felonies than citizens are). This is a typical “call to action”, which tells you immediately that it is an opinion piece, not news.

6) Satire: The best satire exaggerates real life facts and creates deliberately implausible “facts” in order to comment upon reality. For example, The Onion’s famous “Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Now Over” published on January 21, 2001 pointed out that the Clinton years were peaceful and prosperous, and the Bush years likely would not be given the general Republican platform. It did this by putting words into President Bush’s mouth. However, this was not “fake news” because it was clear both from context and from multiple disclaimers that The Onion was not, in fact, positing that President Bush actually said these things. The words were put into his mouth in the service of commentary upon what was likely to happen during the Bush Administration, not as an attempt to convince people that President Bush actually said those things. That’s the difference between satire and fake news.

So I’ve seen analysis, commentary, opinion pieces, and satire repeatedly called “fake news” over the past couple of months. That’s inaccurate, incorrect, misleading, and needs to stop. Fake news is “news” that purports to be real news but is actually made up from whole cloth. It’s not analysis. It’s not commentary. It’s not opinion. It’s not satire. It’s just fake.

– Badtux the Terminology Penguin

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votechart
Click on it to embiggen it.

Basically:

  1. Over 10 million Democrats stayed home compared to 2008.
  2. Donald Trump won despite having fewer votes than John McCain and Mitt Romney lost with.

Now, let’s look at that 10 million people. What this is a sign of is massive voter suppression. This voter suppression consisted of multiple things:

  1. New voter ID laws that excluded many poor or elderly from the polls
  2. Restrictions on voting hours or voting methods that precluded many people being able to get to the polls
  3. Massive voter “caging” to remove traditionally Democratic populations from the voter rolls

But those techniques are only part of the problem. They explain why Wisconsin and North Carolina went red — too many traditionally-Democratic voters were kicked off the rolls. But there’s a number of states where they can’t possibly explain why voter participation was so low.

Which brings up our next point: negative campaigns depress voter enthusiasm and voter participation. With the participation of a mainstream media more concerned with profit than principle, the Trump campaign and its surrogates in the FBI and KGB threw out fake scandal after fake scandal at Hillary Clinton. None of them “stuck”, they were all debunked with a couple of weeks which in turn depressed Trump’s numbers as the person propagating the misinformation, but Trump had a trump card: His explicit call-out to racists, xenophobes, misogynists, and all-around deplorables. McCain and Romney had run principled campaigns that rejected blatant appeals to racism. Witness McCain’s awkward interaction with the elderly lady who called Obama a nigger and said he was an evil wicked human being, McCain awkwardly said to her “no, no, he’s an honorable man and a good human being”, clearly uncomfortable with the whole notion of appeals to blatant bigotry. Trump? Trump had no such compunctions. He headed for the gutters from day one, enlisting his army of deplorables much like this:

Q: “Qualifications?”
A: “Rape, murder, arson and rape!”
Q: “You said rape twice.”
A: “I like rape.”

Trump’s bet was that he could recruit enough of these deplorables with enough bigoted language in enough swing states to overcome the fact that he was driving his own numbers down at the same time that he was driving Hillary’s numbers down. And he won that bet.

Now, where does Bernie Sanders come into this? Could Bernie have overcome this strategy?

In a word: No. Bernie had plenty of things in his own past that Trump would have hammered him on, so Bernie would not have been immune to the negative campaigning. Bernie would have gotten some die-hard Berners to show up at the polls who instead stayed home. But as a Jew from Brooklyn, a.k.a. “Hymietown” as the Rev. Jesse Jackson so politically incorrectly termed it in 1984, he would have lost the black vote. I don’t know why black people hate Jews — it makes no sense, given the massive help that young Jewish intellectuals were to the civil rights movement — but they do. I taught at several black schools in two different states, and that was true in all of them.

In other words, Bernie would have ended up in the same position as Hillary — his numbers hammered down, able to make up some of those numbers with fervent Berners but losing numbers as blacks stayed home. The reality is that Donald Trump hit upon a brilliant strategy, whether by accident or on purpose, and the Democrats didn’t have any clue as to how to counter it. Hillary tried to run a positive campaign. She tried to focus on issues of importance to America. But the constant rain of flying monkey poop from the Trump campaign and its surrogates obstructed anything positive she tried to do so badly that you would have needed a shovel to see it.

Could Bernie have won if he’d started four years ago, like Hillary, and built a machine and a message? Maybe. But that’s one of those contrafactuals whose answer we’ll never know. In the end, he didn’t. And that’s the end of the story.

– Badtux the Numbers Penguin

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The Arizona Republic and its staff have received death threats and threats of violence after their rejection of Donald Trump as worthy of being President.

Go read it. It’s pretty sickening. This is how un-American the Trumpistas really are. They have no — zero — respect for the 1st Amendment right of freedom of the press. They issue threats of violence whenever anybody uses the right of freedom of the press to contradict their cherished beliefs. They threaten to blow up Arizona Republic reporters and assassinate its editor and publisher.

These Trumpistas are fundamentally deplorable.

deplorables

That is all.

– Badtux the Deplorables-spottin’ Penguin

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