bad journalism

The Erasure (#RememberSasha)

#PresidentDonaldTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Via Raw Story:

Cable news spent the day talking non-stop about the incoming First Family. CNN’s John King, however, neglected to remember the Obama family as he was talking about the incoming Trump family.

“I think she’s winning a lot of praise,” King said about Melania Trump staying in New York to let Barron Trump finish the school year. “He’s 10, the youngest child in the White House since John Kennedy Jr. I believe. Let’s see what happens next year.”

When the Obama’s came into the White House their eldest daughter Malia was also 10-years-old and the Obama’s youngest daughter Sasha was seven years old.

Erasure begins. What will CNN have to do for Donald Trump before he appreciates them? John King erasing Sasha Obama, the youngest daughter of the former president? That’s a good start.

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Burris, Sarah K. “CNN’s John King forgets about Obama’s children: Barron is ‘youngest kid since JFK Jr.'” Raw Story. 20 January 2017.

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The Myth of Donald (Propacanada)

#trumpswindle | #mythopoesis

Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Museum, in Winterset, Iowa, 19 January 2016. (Detail of photo by Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis.)

Who: HealthCarewatcher (Daily Kos)
What: “CNN Just Reported Fake News on Justin Trudeau as Fact”
When: 15 November 2016

Via Daily Kos:

It has arrived. Nutty right wing propaganda has now been reported as fact on CNN. While watching Anderson Cooper 360, they did a story on World Leaders response to Trump. They reported as fact the following claim:

“Canadian President Justin Trudeau had called for a ban on Trump.”

First of all, Canada doesn’t have a President. It has a Prime Minister. I’ve followed Justin Trudeau because I’m really interested in Canadian politics. I really admire the Prime Minister. During the campaign to become Prime Minister, he eloquently said, “Conservatives aren’t our enemies, they’re our neighbors,” so I thought this smelled fishy. I googled this and found that CNN had plagiarized from a fake news site and reported it as fact.

A couple notes probably go here: First, this is hardly the beginning of the Trump Ministry of Propaganda; news organizations do occasionally fall for fake news. To the other, we can think what we want of CNN pulling from Hot Global News. And for whatever excuse CNN and other organizations might give, it seems especially important to pay a bit more attention to source credibility, because we are clearly in a time when falsehood can triumph simply for the fact of making Americans feel better about themselves. That is to say, sure, debunk all you want, but we will hear about this again from some passionate, (ahem!) well-informed advocate who apparently has no idea what is going on. (Never mind that last; the consequences of passionately dedicated ignorance is an inside joke that will, someday soon, and by the fortunes of the Trump administration, become rather quite relevant.)

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The Donald Trump Show (Ironic Return)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

“Kellyanne Conway continues to stress the importance of ‘disclosure’ and ‘transparency’ in the election, unaware of the irony.”

Steve Benen

Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)If we started counting up the various assertions by which customs, rules, and even laws just aren’t supposed to apply to Republicans, would it be fair to call the mountain we’ve watched pile up the whole time “shocking”?

Probably not. Then again, I do wonder if, like “locker room talk”, we will try to reckon with such behavior while pretending it isn’t or wasn’t widespread. After this is over, watch and listen as Republicans and journalists alike try to minimize just how deeply they dove down the Trump hole.

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Image note: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube) Right ― Kellyanne Conway speaks at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 4 March 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Benen, Steve. “Team Trump admits, public won’t see candidate’s tax returns”. msnbc. 31 October 2016.

Mike Pence’s Indiana (Register Objections)

Governor Mike Pence (R-IN) speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 27 February 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

This is worth paying attention to:

On Sunday when Pence appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” host John Dickerson asked him about Trump’s claims that the election is “absolutely rigged” and his calls for supporters to closely monitor polling places for voter fraud. “I don’t think any American should ever attempt to make any other American nervous” when voting, Pence responded.

Dickerson did not question Pence, however, about why Indiana State Police recently seized 45,000 voter-registration applications, most of them from black voters. So while viewers may have given Pence credit for seeming relatively reasonable compared with his running mate, alleged voter suppression in his own backyard went largely unnoticed amid the hoopla over Trump’s hysterical claims.

Indiana State Police last week raided the largest voter registration agency in the state because of just 10 confirmed cases amid 45,000 submitted voter-registration forms containing so-called fraudulent information.

Indiana’s Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a key sponsor of her state’s 2005 voter ID law (upheld by the Supreme Court), in September announced an investigation of the Indiana Voter Registration Project. On Oct. 4, state police detectives served a search warrant on the project’s Indianapolis office. The results of the search have not been released, and the affidavit and search warrant will remain sealed for 30 days, according to the Indy Star.

(Tesfaye)

The Star article from Justin L. Mack and Holly V. Mays reports of a “voter fraud case that spans nine counties”, and that the “growing number of involved counties leads investigators to believe that the number of fraudulent records might be in the hundreds”.

The real number is apparently ten, at this point. We’ll have to see what comes. Tesfaye notes:

In a Saturday statement, Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd called the voter-suppression allegations “beyond absurd.” Lloyd said, “The Indiana State Police has uncovered strong evidence of voter fraud by Patriot Majority USA.” He added, “Among Governor Pence’s top priorities is ensuring the integrity of the election and that every single Hoosier vote counts. He has full confidence in the Indiana State Police investigation to achieve this goal.”

This is important: If the idea of suppression is “beyond absurd”, then there had better be something significant going on with this group. After all, as the Star reports―

The search warrant was served Tuesday morning, police said. The results of the search are not being released, and the affidavit and search warrant will remain sealed for 30 days.

“An investigation of this nature is complex, time consuming and is expected to continue for several more weeks or months,” said a State Police statement. “Victims of the activities by some agents of the Indiana Voter Registration Project may not discover they have been disenfranchised from voting until they go to vote and realize their voting information has been altered. Such action may result in the citizen having to cast a provisional ballot.”

―mass disenfranchisement is unquestionably in play; Indiana law enforcement has acknoweldged that it is.

This is an important story.

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Image note: Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, 27 February 2015. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Mack, Justin L. and Holly V. Hays. “State Police raid Indy office in growing voter fraud case”. Indy Star. 6 October 2016.

Tesfaye, Sophia. “While Donald Trump talks of a ‘rigged election,’ Mike Pence may suppress the votes of nearly 50,000 African-Americans “. Salon. 17 October 2016.

Something Going On (Asymetrically Intriguing)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton laughs before speaking to supporters at the Human Rights Campaign Breakfast in Washington, October 3, 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

This is the thing: While it is easy enough to get lost in the spectacular noise and bluster, the breathtaking incoherence and disbelief, something does seem to have happened. Jonathan Chait dove in last month, noting, “The most important substantive problem facing political journalists of this era is asymmetrical polarization”. And to a certain degree, Chait is vital, here, because of something else he wrote, all of several days before:

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. I not only consume a lot of news, since it’s my job, I also tend to focus on elite print-news sources. Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.

Nor need one be any manner of confessed media elitist; outside the circles where people perpetually complain about the media, news consumers are more than a little puzzled―indeed, some or maybe even many are alarmed―about what they are witnessing.

Part of the problem, of course, is asymmetrical polarization; Chait considered the question―

Political journalism evolved during an era of loose parties, both of which hugged the center, and now faces an era in which one of those parties has veered sharply away from the center. Today’s Republican Party now resides within its own empirical alternative universe, almost entirely sealed off from any source of data, expertise, or information that might throw its ideological prior values into question. Donald Trump’s candidacy is the ne plus ultra of this trend, an outlier horrifying even to a great many conservatives who have been largely comfortable with their party’s direction until now. How can the news media appropriately cover Trump and his clearly flawed opponent without creating an indecipherable din of equivalent-sounding criticism, where one candidate’s evasive use of a private email server looms larger than the other’s promise to commit war crimes?

Liz Spayd, the New York Times’ new public editor, dismisses the problem out of hand in a column that is a logical train wreck. Spayd specifically addresses a column by Paul Krugman that lambastes two news investigations into the Clinton Foundation, one of which appeared in the Times. Both reports dug deep and found nothing improper, but instead of either walking away from the dry holes or writing an exculpatory story, dressed them up with innuendo. These stories supply a prime example of the larger critique often grouped under the heading of “false equivalence”―journalists treating dissimilar situations as similar, in an attempt to balance out their conclusions. Spayd dismisses false equivalence as liberal whining, without in any way engaging with its analysis.

―in the wake of a New York Times dispute between public editor Liz Spayd and columnist Paul Krugman.

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A Note on Narrative (Gregariously Pensive)

Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo)

Setting aside the extraordinarily stupid headline … okay, look, Trip Gabriel explains::

The meeting of Mr. Pence, a Republican, and Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, two pensive and little-known nominees, might be the least anticipated vice-presidential debate in 40 years.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015.  (Photo: Gate Skidmore)Pensive? I’m sorry, but, really?

When Sen. Kaine was named the Democratic running mate, “gregarious” is a word that went around quite a bit. And while the two words are not specifically listed as antonymous, the one includes synonyms like affable, convivial, and outgoing, while the other matches up with absorbed, wistful, and withdrawn.

How about a show of hands among the press: How many of you just say or write whatever because the word sounds sexy or artistic or, you know, like, whatever?

This is a fun challenge for the day: Craft a narrative sentence properly describing someone as “gregariously pensive”.

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Image notes Top ― Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, speaks at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Florida International University in Miami, Saturday, 23 July 2016. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo) Right ― Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland on February 27, 2015. (Photo: Gate Skidmore)

Gabriel, Trip. “After Trump-Clinton, Vice-Presidential Debate Isn’t Exactly ‘the Return of Elvis'”. The New York Times. 1 October 2016.

The Press vs. HRC (Habitually Peeved)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 14, 2015. (Detail of photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Failed Republican congressional candidate Charles S. Faddis is apparently a former CIA officer with no real talent for observation.

It wasn’t until much later in the day that the pneumonia diagnosis was released by the campaign. But, even that information doesn’t completely answer all questions. Clinton and her supporters have dismissed such questions about her health and her stamina as the stuff of conspiracy theorists for years. That cover story may have just gone up in smoke.

One of the under-… er … ah … underappreciated? undernoticed? underdiscussesd? … ―you know, skip underwhatnot; how about seemingly necessarily utterly ignored?―aspects of the 2016 cycle is the overturning of political norms in general. While we all marvel at Donald Trump’s political incontinence, it is easy enough to miss.

Steve Benen considered a question of transparency:

The criticisms of the campaign’s handling of this matter have merit. Clinton and her team learned of the pneumonia diagnosis on Friday, and rather than sharing that information, they kept it under wraps. Had the Democratic candidate not been seen struggling in New York yesterday, it’s hard to say when, if ever, the campaign would have disclosed the infection.

Indeed, keep in mind that Clinton travels with pool reporters who cover her every move in public. Journalists were understandably peeved yesterday when Clinton and her team left yesterday morning’s event yesterday, leaving these reporters behind without explanation.

Trump, however, is so secretive, he’s the first presidential nominee in recent memory not to travel with any pool reporters at all.

We must bear in mind that part of the reason it is understandable that the Clinton press corps―which, being the press, already loathes her generally out of habit after a quarter-century of hounding her for the sake of right-wing conspiracy theories―is peeved at being left behind without explanation is that, being the press, they are accustomed to being handed the story in easily regurgitated bites. But for actually being noticed, the campaign would not have disclosed the infection, and there is exactly nothing extraordinary about this, regardless of the press corps’ hissy fits.

Nigh on a quarter century after the national media’s hate affair with the Clinton family began, it’s weird to think that the Fourth Estate needs to report around what the rest of us can see quite clearly: Much of what we are to consider the strange way the Clintons deal with the press has to do with the press itself; the appearance of statements calculated to a strange, unreal for representing an average, line of best fit is just about the only way to navigate the not entirely arbitraryα obstacle course established by when and how the press decides what is or not its jobβ. In the end, it seems odd that the press should pretend to be peeved that Hillary Clinton’s political operation isn’t going out of their way to fawn over reporters.

We might, then, turn to an actual doctor, such as Jen Gunter, who summarized:

Mrs. Clinton felt faint. It was dealt with appropriately. It looked dramatic, but it’s ok.

And so is she.

The crude joke to express Mr. Faddis’ argument is that a blind man will, if he throws enough darts, eventually hit the bull’s eye. After a quarter century, it’s likely that someone might suggest something about someone else’s health, and that other happen to be ill. All told, Mr. Faddis’ credulity suggests he was as bad a CIA agent as he was a Republican congressional candidate.

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α That is to say, petulant, self-centered, and vicious.

β As the estimable Jim Lehrer once answered the question of fact-checking during an interview, “I would never do that. That’s not my function to do that.” Or, as Rob Corddry explained over a decade ago: “Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.”

Image note: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, United States, June 14, 2015. (Detail of photo by Jim Young/Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “Clinton camp ‘could have done better’ disclosing pneumonia”. msnbc. 12 September 2016.

Corddry Rob and Jon Stewart. “Kerry Controversy”. The Daily Show. 23 August 2004.

Cox Barrett, Liz. “Jim Lehrer on Billy Bob, Reports of Rain and Stenography As Journalism”. Columbia Journalism Review. 2 June 2006.

Faddis, Charles S. “Hillary: The pneumonia diagnosis doesn’t answer everything”. The Hill. 12 September 2016.

Gunter, Jen. “Yes, Hillary almost fainted: I’m a doctor and it’s really OK”. The Hill. 12 September 2016.

Something About the Way She Swoons

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses delegates during the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 28 July 2016. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Dante Chinni’s unfortunate obsession with a swooning Hillary Clinton frames an interesting context that does not inherently detract from any assetion of wisdom about the NBC News analysis―

The key word for 2016 poll-watchers this week has been “tightening” as a series of national and state polls have shown Donald Trump drawing nearer to Hillary Clinton.

But look at the numbers closer and any tightening looks more like a mini Clinton swoon, than a mini Trump boom.

―but does, in fact, frame an interesting context by cheapening the whole thing to better suit Meet the Press in the Chuck Todd era.

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The Importance of Being Stylish

Cuban President Raul Castro (left) poses for a photograph with U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama before a state dinner at the Palace of the Revolution, 21 March 2016, in Havana Cuba.  (Detail of photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

HuffPo associate style editor Jamie Feldman zeroes in on what’s really important:

"OK, We Get It, Michelle Obama: You Love Florals".  (Detail of Huffington Post front page, 22 March 2016.)If you’re supposed to dress for the job you want and not the job you have, perhaps Michelle Obama dreams of being … a garden?

The first lady wowed in yet another floral look — it’s her third this month and second in two days! — for a state dinner in Havana, Cuba Monday night.

And, you know, we really wish she wouldn’t.

To the one, sure, you know, everybody needs to make a living. To the other, this should be neither demand nor excuse for going out of one’s way to be part of the problem.

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Image note: Cuban President Raul Castro (left) poses for a photograph with U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. President Barack Obama before a state dinner at the Palace of the Revolution, 21 March 2016, in Havana Cuba. (Detail of photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)

Feldman, Jamie. “Michelle Obama Blends In With The Scenery At The State Dinner In Cuba”. The Huffington Post. 22 March 2016.

The Chris Christie Show (Epilogue)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016.  Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign in February, has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

“Christie perhaps fancied himself as Trump’s VP or attorney general. If he did, he was not thinking clearly. To begin with, it is less and less likely with each passing day that Trump will ever become president. Moreover, Christie himself has so soiled his reputation that it is doubtful he would ever be confirmed for a Cabinet post.”

Jennifer Rubin

It is true, of course, Jennifer Rubin is one I pick on. It is also true the right-wing blogger, perhaps for the sake of having a Washington Post credential, sometimes turns up on the editorial page of a local newspaper here or there, and this aspect of reality can actually be problematic. On other days, something about easy entertainment goes here. Or something like that. To wit, Tacoma readers got this bit of analysis on Tuesday:

Since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump, he has been:

• Humiliated by video showing Trump ordering him onto the plane and telling him to “go home.”

• Condemned by his former finance co-chair Meg Whitman. (“The governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”)

• Excoriated for his disastrous TV interview on Sunday. Phrases like “train wreck,” “off the rails” and “disaster” were used to describe his appearance.

Rubin is at her best when addressing conservatives about Republican politics, which in turn sounds reasonable enough; her purpose in posing as some manner of journalist is to help Republicans get elected, and her invocation of a fairly obvious title, “Chris Christie is now ruined”, is the sort of thing we might quibble with only to wonder at the word “now”.

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