Lazy Saturday Reads: Children of the Corn and Some Serious Journalism

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Good Morning!!

I spent most of yesterday in a state of extreme anger. As I’ve been writing for a long time now, I’m fed up with the media attacking Hillary and ignoring real questions about Donald Trump’s dishonesty and corruption. I’m hoping when I drive back to Massachusetts next week, I’ll find some peace and quiet all alone in my car. It usually works that way.

Late last night, lots of people on Twitter were having fun photoshopping a new Trump ad that showed three of his children (Where is Tiffany?). For the first time all day I was able to laugh. I’m going to use the best ones to illustrate this post. Here’s the original tweet from Donald Trump Jr. that started it all.

The corporate media spent the last day before Labor Day reveling in the release of the FBI’s notes from their interview with Hillary Clinton. Sadly for the New York Times and the rest of the national media circus, there was once again nothing to support their ravening desire to prove Hillary is a corrupt liar. Too bad, so sad. Oh, they tried their best to make her look bad, but with very little success.

It’s been a very bad couple of weeks for the corporate media. Now that we have twitter and blogs, they can’t escape criticism when they screw up, and they’ve screwed up royally. It must be very difficult for these “journalists” who like to think of themselves as so much smarter and more savvy than the rest of us to see their flawed stories and their own pompous attitudes mocked on Twitter. But why is it so hard for them to just admit when they’re wrong?

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John Stoer at The Washington Monthly tries to understand Why Political Journalists Can’t Take Criticism. Stoer begins by discussing the AP’s claim last week that half of the people who met with Clinton as Secretary of State were Clinton Foundation Donors. It was simply ridiculous, but the AP still refuses to correct their false tweets about the horrible article. Then he offers a more recent example:

On NPR this morning, “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep asked Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake if he shares Clinton’s view on immigration. According to Trump, Inskeep said, his opponent favors “open borders” and “amnesty.”

This is an example of a statement that’s technically accurate, but entirely misleading. And dangerous. Yes, Trump has said, time and again, that Clinton wants “open borders” and “amnesty.” It’s also true that this claim exists only the realm of fantasy. Indeed, in an interview — just yesterday — NPR’s Mara Liasson told Inskeep those claims were false.

Journalists, I believe, are beholden to the truth. If they are unwilling to pay deference to the authority of the truth, even when that deference conflicts with the profession’s other guiding principles, there isn’t much point in being a journalist….

I got in touch with Inskeep on Twitter this morning to make him aware of his mistake. (I do not subscribe to the childish claim, as Glenn Greenwald does, that the American media is in the tank for one or the other candidate). It was an honest mistake. So I asked: Will you be offering a clarification?

I didn’t expect Inskeep to reply. When he did, it was not a good faith exchange between journalists about the concrete facts of the matter. He offered instead a series of bewildering deflections, obfuscations, and, to be frank, playing dumb.

Go over to The Washington Monthly to read the exchange.

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Of course there are some journalists who are doing important investigative work. One is David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post who has spent the past year trying to find evidence of Trump’s charitable giving. He wrote the story that Dakinikat referenced yesterday about Trump’s illegal gift (essentially a bribe) to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi while she was considering joining a lawsuit against Trump University.

Trump pays IRS a penalty for his foundation violating rules with gift to aid Florida attorney general.

Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, an official at Trump’s company said, after it was revealed that Trump’s charitable foundation had violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Florida’s attorney general.

The improper donation, a $25,000 gift from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, was made in 2013. At the time, Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case.

Earlier this year, The Washington Post and a liberal watchdog group raised new questions about the three-year-old gift. The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the IRS — noting that, as a registered nonprofit, the Trump Foundation was not allowed to make political donations.

The Post reported another error, which had the effect of obscuring the political gift from the IRS.

In that year’s tax filings, The Post reported, the Trump Foundation did not notify the IRS of this political donation. Instead, Trump’s foundation listed a donation — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas charity with a name similar to that of Bondi’s political group. In fact, Trump’s foundation had not given the Kansas group any money.

The prohibited gift was, in effect, replaced with an innocent-sounding but nonexistent donation.

Trump’s business said it was unaware of any of these mistakes until March, when it heard from the watchdog group and The Post.

Anyone who believes that this wasn’t a bribe that was deliberately hidden from the IRS is a hopeless fool. Twitter has been filled with comments on this story and questions about why no one else in the media is covering it, but I’ve seen no serious responses from corporate media reporters.

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Another investigative reporters who has been doing important work is Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine. Sherman is the author of a book on Roger Ailes, and he has spent month investigating the story of Ailes’ sexual abuse of women at Fox News. Sherman’s stories ultimately led to Ailes leaving the right wing network and going to work for Donald Trump. Here’s the latest blockbuster story from Sherman: The Revenge of Roger’s Angels. How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media.

It took 15 days to end the mighty 20-year reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News, one of the most storied runs in media and political history. Ailes built not just a conservative cable news channel but something like a fourth branch of government; a propaganda arm for the GOP; an organization that determined Republican presidential candidates, sold wars, and decided the issues of the day for 2 million viewers. That the place turned out to be rife with grotesque abuses of power has left even its liberal critics stunned. More than two dozen women have come forward to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, and what they have exposed is both a culture of misogyny and one of corruption and surveillance, smear campaigns and hush money, with implications reaching far wider than one disturbed man at the top.

It began, of course, with a lawsuit. Of all the people who might have brought down Ailes, the former Fox & Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson was among the least likely. A 50-year-old former Miss America, she was the archetypal Fox anchor: blonde, right-wing, proudly anti-intellectual. A memorable Daily Show clip showed Carlson saying she needed to Google the words czar and ignoramus. But television is a deceptive medium. Off-camera, Carlson is a Stanford- and Oxford-educated feminist who chafed at the culture of Fox News. When Ailes made harassing comments to her about her legs and suggested she wear tight-fitting outfits after she joined the network in 2005, she tried to ignore him. But eventually he pushed her too far. When Carlson complained to her supervisor in 2009 about her co-host Steve Doocy, who she said condescended to her on and off the air, Ailes responded that she was “a man hater” and a “killer” who “needed to get along with the boys.” After this conversation, Carlson says, her role on the show diminished. In September 2013, Ailes demoted her from the morning show Fox & Friends to the lower-rated 2 p.m. time slot.

Carlson knew her situation was far from unique: It was common knowledge at Fox that Ailes frequently made inappropriate comments to women in private meetings and asked them to twirl around so he could examine their figures; and there were persistent rumors that Ailes propositioned female employees for sexual favors. The culture of fear at Fox was such that no one would dare come forward. Ailes was notoriously paranoid and secretive — he built a multiroom security bunker under his home and kept a gun in his Fox office, according to Vanity Fair — and he demanded absolute loyalty from those who worked for him. He was known for monitoring employee emails and phone conversations and hiring private investigators. “Watch out for the enemy within,” he told Fox’s staff during one companywide meeting.

Taking on Ailes was dangerous, but Carlson was determined to fight back. She settled on a simple strategy: She would turn the tables on his surveillance. Beginning in 2014, according to a person familiar with the lawsuit, Carlson brought her iPhone to meetings in Ailes’s office and secretly recorded him saying the kinds of things he’d been saying to her all along. “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better. Sometimes problems are easier to solve” that way, he said in one conversation. “I’m sure you can do sweet nothings when you want to,” he said another time.

It’s a long, fascinating story. Read all the gory details at the New York Magazine link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?


29 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Children of the Corn and Some Serious Journalism”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Sorry this isn’t much of a post. I hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend.

  2. Enheduanna says:

    Hi ya’ll – Happy Labor Day weekend! BB the Washington Monthly article was so interesting! NPR has been on “my list” since 2008 when Mara Liasson (I call her Liarsson) was so in the tank for Obama. I guess this redeems her a little.

    Journalists are just the WORST. Dak – I did not see Rather on Maddow – was it bad?

    A couple of people have been giving the on-air bobbleheads some push back. Jennifer Granholm tried on MSNBC yesterday and whooo-boy the host DID NOT LIKE IT.

    Also some Republican bully tried to read the riot act to Shuck Todd. It was like two kids fighting – Todd said his guest could just apply for executive producer if he wanted to run the show. The complaint was the number of negative stories about snowflake Donald Trump I guess.

    But yeah – nothing will change these on-air guys. They are not investigative journalists. They read the stories off AP wire or something and then sit there and speculate what it could mean. There are notable exceptions – I am loving Joy Ann Reid!

  3. Beata says:

    I saw Dr. Harold Bornstein being interviewed on CNN. He was asked if the letter he wrote for Trump was some kind of joke. Bornstein smirked and said that when he wrote the letter he “was in a rush” and “had to meet some people”. Confirmation pending that one of those people was a “Mr. Jimmy”.

  4. William says:

    I am not feeing that there is something very sinister going on. This is not just a case of a flamboyant buffoon running for president. He has lined up on his side some o fthe most evil and unscrupulous characters alive, including Bannon, Bossie, Lewandowski, Manafort. Assange is trying to get him elected. So is Putin. There are Russian connections all over this, as well as neo-Nazis, anti-semites, racists of various types. Somehow they are intimidating the media into not covering the obvious bribery case, the rape trial, all of it. Or maybe these people have bought or blackmailed several of the media..

    We keep looking at it as simply bias against Hillary on the media’s part, or laziness, or wanting ratings. But what if it is far more sinister than that? What if there is a massive conspiracy of evil to put Trump into the Presidency, to destroy Hillary, and to lock up the Supreme Court for corporate oligarchs, as well as take away significant voting rights forever? Trump has called for hacking, he has called for assassination. He has told his followers to go to the polls and intimidate minorities. What if we are literally witnessing a consortium of various criminal elements, here and abroad, and that they have essentially taken over the media through literal intimidation? What if we are indeed seeing a modern day version of Hitler’s or Stalin’s ascendancy? I honestly hate to bring things like this up on a holiday weekend, or ever, but maybe they should be said whle there might still be time to avoid all of this. This is like nothing I have ever seen, and I remember the worst of Nixon.

    • William says:

      The first sentence should read, “I am now feeling…”

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Well there are some people on MSNBC who are FINALLY reporting on Trump in a more honest way, but it’s all coming from the talkers in their evening lineup. Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and even Lawrence O’Donnell.

      Joy Reid is doing the best job of shutting down the Trumpsters and should have a better slot than filling in for those on vacation and AM Joy. She is a TAKE NO PRISONERS journalist, much better than most of their lineup she should have UpChuck Todd’s job, she’s much more informed. As for CNN, I don’t even turn them on anymore.

      And I think a lot of people are afraid of Trump because he might squeal on them like he did Mika and Joe. During the Convention he threatened to spill the beans on Corey Booker when he tweeted “I know more about Corey Booker than he knows about himself”.

      I have a feeling that Trump may have used bribery on occasions to get his way. Nothing that comes from his campaign surprises me. He probably has the goods on everyone at MSNBC and CNN. And his involvement with the lowest life form in this country in Bannon and Bossie and his involvement with Manafort and the Kremlin via Julian Assange is beyond the pale.

      • Beata says:

        Trump is a New York real estate mogul whose business is in casinos and hotel construction. His mentor was Roy Cohn. Bribery? Mafia ties? Something sinister going on? Gee, how could that be possible?

        • Beata says:

          “Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you’re able.

          In the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table.”

  5. janicen says:

    It’s an excellent post, bb. I’m sorry I haven’t been around very much and whatever comments I make are brief but I’m still miserable from the cold I have had SINCE MONDAY and in pain whenever I try to walk on my bad ankle (surgery scheduled for Sept. 30). It’s getting harder and harder to stay positive or to even stay focused. 2016 has been a crappy year for me and I’ll be popping expensive champagne on New Years Eve to say goodbye to it and welcome 2017.

    I watched Rachel last night as well. She’s pretty pissed at Kellyanne, isn’t she?

    • joanelle says:

      Great article, he says everything I’ve been thinking. Journalists haven’t ‘informed’ the public for a loooong time, but rather try to convince the public of their own perceptions.

      He points out how journalists no longer listen but rather take the first few words and run with a story they make up about those words and continueto repeat over and over again whether right or tong. Hillary has been a victim of the repetition of falsehoods and exagerration for the last 25 years.

      Those Skydancers who haven’t read the article from journalism prof (link from Dakinikat above) don’t miss it!

  6. Fannie says:

    Have a super long weekend Skydancers!

  7. Sweet Sue says:

    That was a great post, BB, and I thank you.
    I share your anger/depression.
    Watching CNN, I have to wonder how many people besides Cory Lewandowski, are on Trump’s payroll-I’m looking at you, Poppy Harlow and Don Lemon.
    When HRC gets elected-and, she will get elected-this shit will go on and on.
    We’ll always have to tell ourselves, ” if Hillary d’ Arc can take this and soldier forward, so can we.”

  8. janicen says:

    I just cancelled my digital subscription to the Richmond Times Dispatch. I’m not going to link to it but I will share this, the RTD has just endorsed Gary Johnson for President. Tim Kaine’s home town, after everything Tim Kaine has done for the city of Richmond and those #$%&@#$%*# have endorsed Gary Johnson. When I called to cancel, the woman on the phone asked me why I wanted to cancel and I told her. She was shocked speechless. I am so angry I am shaking.