Category: Journalism (Page 1 of 2)

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Trump supporters revive Nazi era smear of press

As Donald Trump has crashed in the polls following terrible debate performances and revelations about possible sexual assault, he has made his attacks on the press even more aggressively than before. Now he is calling the press part of a global conspiracy along with bankers and Hillary Clinton that is “rigging” the election.

His supporters make angry chants at reporters. It’s part of a strategy he has long honed. Trump points out the press at rallies and criticizes them. He calls them the “dishonest press” and calls individual journalists “bimbos” and “sleazes.”

Trump’s angry supporters have picked up the charges in their own way, invoking a Nazi-era slur. Trump supporters on Twitter are tweeting “#Lugenpresse.” According to the Economist, “Lügenpresse (‘liars’ press’), a loaded term once used by the Nazis, is a common chant at [Alternative for Germany] party rallies.”

The word has gained traction in Europe by right-wing critics of refugee policy. It won 2015 “non-word of the year.”

Reuters:

“Luegenpresse”, first used in Germany by critics of the free press during World War One, earned the dubious “Unwort des Jahres” (Non-Word of the Year) honor in the eyes of a panel of experts out of 730 terms submitted by 1,250 contributors.

“‘Luegenpresse’ is a word contaminated by the Nazis,” said Nina Janich, a professor at the Technical University Darmstadt and head of the six-member jury that selects such terms each year from the submissions.

Some tweets by Trump supporters on Twitter:

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The crazy levels of false equivalency Clinton opponents will go to

Clinton is just as much a liar and unfit to be president as Donald Trump. At least that’s what many conservative critics of Clinton are saying.

It’s a bunch of false equivalency.

Take James O’Keefe, a conservative activist who secretly records videos (that he often edits out of context). He claims to have recorded a video of a low level Florida Democratic field worker (or, in O’Keefe’s words, a “Clinton staffer”) speculating on how he could get away with committing sexual assault.

“I think the bar of acceptable conduct in this campaign is pretty low. To be fired I would have to grab Emma’s ass twice and she would have to complain about it, I would have to sexually harass someone,” the field worker, Wylie Mao, said, according to Politico’s summary of O’Keefe’s video.

O’Keefe issued a statement making his motive for the video clear: “Let’s get this straight. Trump’s ‘grab them by the’ [self-censored pause] generated wall-to-wall TV coverage and generated the narrative that this is his true character and how he acts with women. Therefore, because of the precedent set by the mainstream media, I expect wall-to-wall-coverage of this Hillary staffer bragging about the ease that you can commit sexual harassment inside Hillary’s campaign and not get fired.”

Seriously, how stupid do they think we are?
Does O’Keefe really think that a Field Organizer for the Florida Democratic Party, who has worker for them for 3 whole months (according to his LinkedIn page) (allegedly) making inappropriate comments about sexual assault = the Republican nominee for president bragging about sexual assault?

Ignore for a moment the fact that Mao’s comments weren’t as bad as Trump’s (he didn’t say that he committed sexual assault, as Trump did say). Who the hell is Wylie Mao? Does O’Keefe have any videos of Hillary Clinton bragging about having committed sexual assault?

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Is the media really ignoring Louisiana? No.

There’s a narrative in the media that the media is ignoring the flooding in Louisiana.

The public editor of the New York Times wrote the Times didn’t give it enough coverage. Mike Scott of the Louisiana-based Times-Picayune wrote on August 16 that the Times had only published its first story two days after the rains began.

But is it really true that the Louisiana flooding has been ignored? It’s a major news story, and yet days after the Times published its rebuke of itself, the narrative that Louisiana has been or is being ignored continues to spread down the media stream to columnists and bloggers. If the city of New York were destroyed in a hypothetical super storm, wouldn’t the media cover it?

We actually have precedents we can look at. We don’t need to wonder about hypotheticals. Just months ago in June floods in West Virginia killed 25 people. The floods in Louisiana killed 13. The number of houses that were damaged is reportedly very high–the governor puts it at 40,000. But there are natural disasters that killed more while also causing much, if not as much, damage. (By comparison, West Virginia’s governor said “thousands” of homes were damaged, but CNN reported the significantly lower total of 1,200. It may be too soon to know the property damage in dollars for either.)

Two more large-scale floods: those that killed 21 in Utah in 2015 after Hurricane Linda and the 2010 floods that killed 21 in Tennessee and 10 more in Kentucky and Mississippi while causing over $2 billion in damage.

A theory can be tested: If a dozen or more people were killed in say, Nashville, Tenn. or Hildale, Utah, would the media pay more attention to it than they are doing to the Louisiana floods?

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Moral ambiguity and coffee in London, with Laura Canning

I didn’t plan or expect to meet Laura this time when I was in London, infact I didn’t plan my second trip to London within a week 17250363anyway. Considering what is happening in the political circles in UK (and broadly, Europe) planning seemed to me an exercise in futility.  So when I met her in the holga-ish Cafe Nero in Buckingham Palace road after two whole days of covering the coronation of the new UK PM, I was distinctly under-dressed as a classic political correspondent with shabby army green t-shirt, jacket, scarf and jeans, increasingly aware of the uncomfortable dark moist growing patch near my armpit. Thankfully I had deospray in my laptop bag, as the person who greeted me with a copy of her first published novel was in a proper burgundy dress, smelling fresh and soinding Oirish; capable of giving a seven hour Sun-dried man enough complex for the rest of the day. We proceeded, appropriately in my opinion, to talk about her novel and lead character Lisa (a working class, domestically abused, societally neglected early teen, on her way to drugs, larceny, prostitution and “freedom”), on a day Britain had her second Conservative female Prime Minister.

Her debut novel “Taste the Bright Lights” (which I read in the next twenty four hours on my way back to Nottingham) is contemporary urban drama, tracing fourteen year old Lisa “growing up” in Northern Ireland. Imagine Chetan Bhagat’s early writing, meeting “This is England”, just more gritty, grimy, and grainy…a jarring experience, like watching a slow quaint mutiny unfolding, being shot in sepia lens. It shares occasional debut novel characteristics, like overuse of certain typical urban colloquial words, and it’s not an easy read, and not only because of the sheer powerful narrative force, but because of the moral ambiguity that reigns within.

It is in spirit of that moral ambiguity, I asked Laura these questions for Bombs and Dollars, published below unaltered and unabridged.


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A demagouge’s disdain for a free press paves the way for tyranny

The media is holding Donald Trump accountable, but his angry response to scrutiny, highlights troubling aspects of the man who wants to be president. His attacks on the institution of the press shows a man who doesn’t like being held accountable, and he has rallied many of his followers to support him without regard to the facts.

The latest controversy, which bring forth the implications, concerns donations to veterans charities Trump bragged about having made. Four months after Trump claimed to have donated $1 million himself, Trump finally did so on May 23, after facing scrutiny from the press. On May 21, the Washington Post published an investigation that quoted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as saying Trump had raised $4.5 million, about $1.5 million less than the more than $6 million Trump claimed to have raised. On the day of the fundraiser, however, Trump said that they had “cracked” $6 million and (in third-person), “Donald Trump gave $1 million.”

Press Scrutiny Caused Trump to Donate

Thus Donald Trump didn’t actually give $1 million until after the press held him to account (and found him to be lacking). It was an important story for the public to know about, as Trump had made a big deal about his fundraising. After having decided to skip the January 28, Fox News debate, Trump decided to hold a fundraiser during the debate, so as to claim he had a reason for skipping the debate besides his previously-stated dislike for moderator Megyn Kelly.

As the record shows, Trump had already announced he was considering boycotting the debate on January 24, and he had cited Megyn Kelly as the reason:

Later, Trump used the fundraiser as a pretense for skipping the debate. (One could ask why Trump hadn’t held fundraisers before and during other time slots.) Since the Post has gotten Trump to (belatedly) live up to one of his promises, it should be commended for doing a public service. As the “Fourth Estate,” the press is supposed to function as a watchdog on power. Without a healthy press scrutinizing politicians, politicians could get away with anything.

A War on Watchdogs

However, Trump doesn’t want scrutiny, and his supporters don’t want to see their hero challenged. At a press conference, Trump personally attacked reporters, calling one “a sleaze” and another “a real beauty.” He said the reporters were all “unbelievably dishonest.”

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Black Lives Matter activist sex trafficking story makes Facebook trending stories

Two days after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with conservative media leaders concerned about allegations that Facebook skews its news against conservatives, a negative story about Black Lives Matter is in the top three trending spots on Facebook.
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Charles Wade, a black activist involved in Black Lives Matter, was arrested and charged with trafficking a 17-year-old girl for sex, as The Washington Times reported. Among the allegations against Facebook was that the website often promoted favorable stories about Black Lives Matter through editorial decisions. Zuckerberg himself has been personally outspoken in defense of the #BlackLivesMatter message.

Could this be a response by Facebook to show they are taking conservative concerns to heart? Or is it evidence that Facebook wasn’t biased against conservatives in the first place?
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The choice of news outlets Facebook linked to as their top two sources included one journalistic outlet that featured original reporting, The Washington Times, at #2, but the top ranked result was for DeneenBorelli.com, a conservative opinion blogger who merely copied and pasted from a Fox News report and then added a tweet by Wade defending himself.

Clearly Fox News should have had been the featured link, as it was the actual source of both the news and the two paragraphs of the text that Borelli copied and pasted in blockquote. But it could be that Facebook was convinced that “conservative news” means opinion. I argued in my original post on the matter than some conservative websites featured in the allegations–including Breitbart and Red State–are focused on adding comment or opinion to news articles and not on reporting.
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Zuck vs Con Media

The conservative witch hunt against Facebook and the truth about liberal bias

Earlier this month U.S. Senator John Thune sent a letter to Facebook demanding the company answer questions about the procedures behind its news aggregation. What is a U.S. Senator doing demanding information, which he considers “just a matter of transparency and honesty,” from a private-sector company?

This all goes back to an anonymous source in an article from Gizmodo on May 9 who claimed conservative news was suppressed on Facebook’s trending news items list. Facebook sends huge numbers of readers to news outlets and blogs. Last year, it was reported that Facebook had surpassed Google as the #1 source of referral traffic for websites tracked by analytics firm Parse.ly and accounted for close to 40 percent of referral traffic. With much smaller traffic numbers than any of the big outlets CEO Mark Zuckerberg invited to meet with him recently, Bombs and Dollars still knows the import of Facebook, as we get a large share of our traffic from users sharing our articles on Facebook. Conservatives have long believed the mainstream media is biased in favor of liberalism, so it isn’t surprising that many would be outraged about the report.

But before even getting to the veracity of the allegations, consider for a moment if it was true that Facebook slanted its news aggregation in favor of liberal outlets, what would the proper response be? What should the government do about it? What could the government do about it? Facebook is a corporation operating in the free-market system. Why should the government or anyone else have control over how it decides to publish content? If the media in general is biased—and certain outlets transparently are, like MSNBC and Fox News, and indeed all the conservative outlets invited to meet with Zuckerberg—then should they be investigated for slanting their news?

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Weekly Reading List: All about foreign policy Realism.

Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.

JIR2016_1First, the big one.

My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)

You can download the full paper here.

Aurangzeb_in_old_age_2Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)

I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.

I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.

With regards to my weekly columns, here are they. 

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The Cost of Cambodian Citizenship

In July 2015, a North Korean man traveled to Hawaii, bought, and attempted to ship military goods to China. China is a common route for weapons transfer to North Korea, and Kim Song-Il knew what he was doing. Homeland Security agents arrested Song-Il, and sentenced him to more than three years in prison in late February for violating the Arms Export Control Act, a law that regulates overseas shipment of U.S. military items. Song-Il’s lawyer declined to disclose the fate of the Cambodian passport he used to travel to the U.S.

Kim Song-Il's law enforcement booking photo provided by the Weber County, Utah, Sheriff's Offiice

Kim Song-Il’s law enforcement booking photo provided by the Weber County, Utah, Sheriff’s Offiice

Although the Kingdom of Cambodia holds diplomatic ties with the rogue state, the fact that the government handed Song-Il a passport is still irresponsible. The man had ties to a company known for fronting arms to North Korea. Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni never should have stamped Song-Il’s immigration forms. Yet in September 2008, that’s exactly what he did. And, over the years, a number of suspicious individuals have been granted Cambodian citizenship. 

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Does Cruz use anti-Semitic dog whistles?

Washington Post op-ed writer Dana Milbank accused Ted Cruz of using “anti-Semitic dog whistle[s],” such as his attack on “New York values.” Does he have a point?

A lot of the phrases about “New York,” “Wall Street,” and “bankers” could be anti-Semitic in certain contexts, but they are also absolutely part of ordinary political discourse. That is what makes them potential dog whistles, after all, but it is also hard to say Cruz had any anti-Semitic intent or meaning with such thin evidence.

Milbank has to have a little bit of “chutzpah,” shall I say, to make this argument:

At an event in New Hampshire, Cruz, the Republican Iowa caucuses winner, was asked about campaign money he and his wife borrowed from Goldman Sachs. Cruz, asserting that Trump had “upward of $480 million of loans from giant Wall Street banks,” said: “For him to make this attack, to use a New York term, it’s the height of chutzpah.” Cruz, pausing for laughter after the phrase “New York term,” exaggerated the guttural “ch” to more laughter and applause.

But “chutzpah,” of course, is not a “New York” term. It’s a Yiddish — a Jewish — one. And using “New York” as a euphemism for “Jewish” has long been an anti-Semitic dog whistle.

It wouldn’t be the first time Cruz has been accused of using anti-Semitic dog whistles. What about his claim to support an “America first” foreign policy–the same slogan of Charles Lindbergh and those who opposed involvement in World War II?

But in this particular case, most of what Cruz said can equally be attributed to responding to Donald Trump’s equally nasty attacks. Let’s break down the points one-by-one:

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