What journalists do: My thoughts

Rex Smith, editor of the Albany Times Union, informs us “a journalist who just passes along what is said is a fancy stenographer, failing at the task of truth telling.” That in a nutshell describes where journalism has gone off the rails and why it’s audience represents only one segment of society.

When I was a cub reporter with the Oberlin College student newspaper, my first assignment was to cover a talk by the poet Stephen Spender. I was asked to take notes so that people not able to attend would get an accurate idea of what he said. I certainly was not expected to judge or evaluate Spender’s presentation.

Later I became a sports editor. The closest I came to “truth telling” was writing a headline that told readers the extent of the victory or defeat. The story itself was a recapitulation of the events of the game or match told without editorial input. Today sports stories rarely report on the game itself; instead they purport to tell us what the victory or defeat means, taking away our pleasure as fans coming to our own conclusions.

When it comes to politics, journalism today is agenda driven. What that means is that the newspaper’s point of view on all major topics is pre-determined. All a reporter needs to do is fill in the details that support the paper’s view. If that’s truth telling, my name is Bill Clinton.

If you need evidence, consider the revelations that discredit the New York Times from being an objective source of information on the issues of the day.

With the election of Donald Trump, the Times resolved to focus on the assumption that he stole the election with help from Russia. “We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well,” said Dean Baquet, the Times’ current executive editor. I would question that conclusion. There was no collusion, but the Times reportedly gained 600,000 digital subscriptions telling its readers daily for more than two years that the evidence was mounting. Mission accomplished.
Today, Baquet has decided to shift to another story: racism. His goal is to reframe the entire history of this country to make it a function of slavery. They want us to believe that the history of the United States of America began with the arrival of the first African slaves at Jamestown in 1619. Slavery taints all and cannot be erased. Not even reparations will satisfy.

It’s easy to see how this game plan accomplishes the Times’ current political agenda. It not only appeals to the descendants of slavery, but it enables the Times to undermine black support for President Trump, which could be a factor in the outcome of the 2020 election.

What should newspapers do?

In its long history on this continent, newspapers evolved from being a voice for owners to express their views on the issues of the day ala Ben Franklin to becoming a platform for political parties, which meant tarring opponents with whatever calumny was handy. In the early 20th century reformers sought to hold papers to a set of principles that included separating news stories from opinion. That was the prevailing ethic until Watergate—the expose of President Nixon’s involvement in trying to undermine George McGovern’s campaign by planting false evidence in a Democrat campaign office.

After that, the big newspapers got swelled heads, feeling their job was not just to report on, but once more to influence the outcome of the issues of the day. If that means reporters inserting their views in news stories, so be it. If that means having an agenda which all stories on a topic such as climate change or tariffs have to adhere to a set position, so be it.

Professional journalists should not just be stenographers, but neither should they couch a news story to follow a political agenda failing to report facts that conflict with those that support the company’s view.

Jill Abramson, Baquet’s predecessor at the Times, wrote a book, Merchants of Truth, in which she argued that newspapers are kowtowing to advertisers in the face of declining revenues. What has turned things around economically for some has fast news distribution via social media, using Twitter for example, to release partial stories ahead of print publication. The danger she sees is a lack of oversight and a rush to judgment. That is exacerbated when the paper has an admitted agenda.

In a democracy, readers ought to be given adequate information to make up their own minds. Newspapers should provide a balanced coverage of the issues, such that reporters tell us what people say on both sides of an issue without editorializing. If they want to express their own opinions on the issues, save it for their personal Twitter account. The arrogance of those who think they are in possession of the truth contributes to the public’s distrust of the media. Fox has it right: their job is to report; ours is to decide.

Wake Up People: Stop Fear Being Called a Racist

A self-defined Black caller to a national talk show today made a point I’ve been trying to make for a long time––namely, that the term racist has become bastardized to the point where it is meaningless. Still many people fear being called a racist, and as long as people act stupid to avoid that label, there are those who will bring it out and slap it on.

Race to start is an artificial category. It came into use centuries ago by those who wanted to oppress others on the basis of artificial distinctions, such as religion (used by Christians to define non-Christians as heathens), use of language (non-English speakers were considered inferior) and oh, yes, skin pigmentation. Over time, the effectiveness of that practice came to be diminished as overwhelming evidence showed that not all Jews are money-grubbers, not all Irish are drunkards, and not all people of African origins are incapable of higher learning.

That there are still a tiny number of idiots who buy into the notion that there are groups of people all of whom share certain negative physical traits is unfortunate, but their number is infesimal and they are powerless as a group.

Now, let’s examine why some people still throw the term racist around at their political enemies. First, they do it because the media will report it without questioning it the way they would question they would if someone accused a political opponent of being a satan worshiper. Second, it elevates the accusers in their own eyes, justifying their willingness to by-pass traditional rules for discourse on the floor of the House of Representatives (Nancy Pelosi), and to their willingness to make accusations without feeling obligated to provide evidence or answer questions explaining the basis of their charges (Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar).

The mainstream media plays a sad role in this spectacle. For instance, when President Trump criticized four female Congresswomen for their anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoric, he was accused of being a racist even though he didn’t refer to the women’s race or even mention them by name.

On a side note, it’s interesting how it’s possible today to self-define yourself as a person of color. Rashida Tlaib comes from an Arab background. Arabs don’t normally define themselves as people of color, and what about Ocasio-Cortez? Her parents are from Puerto Rico, but does that make her a person of color? Is everyone with a Hispanic surname a person of color? Yet both claimed they were victims of Trump’s racism. Again, the media seems to fear being called a racist since they never challenge anything these women say––not matter how absurd.

The only way to put a stop to the irresponsible use of the term racist is to stop being afraid of being called one. That doesn’t mean you have to have been pure of thought throughout your entire life. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever have used the “N” word or had a momentary negative thought about a whole group of people on the basis of their religion, national origins or eating habits. You’re not a racist if you don’t believe that there are groups of people who share negative physical characteristics that justify their being treated as second-class citizens. Pure and simple.

Once people stop being afraid of the term, those who love to use it will find their power diminished and they’ll move on to something else. Meat-eater perhaps?!

 

Elizabeth Warren wants to know where the family lore blank is on the presidential application form?

Writing in the May 17 Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan defended Elizabeth Warren against Donald Trump’s calling her Pocahontas by arguing that Warren was “merely repeating family lore.”

That is b.s. to put it mildly. You can’t tell me that Warren didn’t know that attaching “Native American” to her applications for graduate school, professorships and grant applications didn’t give her a step up over other candidates. “Female and Native American. Wow. We want one of those,” said the law school dean who hired her at Harvard.

She can’t say she didn’t know she was benefitting from that claim without appearing out of it. Identity has become a primary qualifier for academic positions for decades. She had to know that, which is why she referred to herself as Native American.

And for Sullivan to accept Warren’s excuse as legitimate and also to say “She does have some such ancestry, but not very much” is also disingenuous. The results of the DNA test she took “cannot show that she or any other person is ‘NativeAmerican’” according to Jennifer Raff writing in Forbes Magazine.

In other words, Trump is entirely justified for his calling Warren Pocahontas because that’s what you do to people who cheat. You call them out. Thank goodness that name is sticking because it reminds people that when she had an opportunity to cheat to advance her career Warren didn’t hesitate. Is that the kind of person we want as president?

The Chorus of Media Critics Grows

Yes, Donald Trump has attacked CNN and other media for publishing ‘fake news,’ and yes, the mainstream media has responded with rightous indignation that anyone should question their integrity. But the question of the hour is whether people inside the media are listening as fellow insiders have started to join the chorus of critics?

The latest to question the media’s treatment of the president is Ted Koppel. Speaking in an interview with Marvin Kalb at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the former ABC anchor noted that the ‘liberal media’ has become part of ‘the resistance.’ “We are not the reservoir of objectivity that I think we were,” he stated.

Koppel also believes the New York Times is committed to making sure Trump is not re-elected.

Koppel’s comments echo those of former 60 Minutes correpondent Lara Logan who argued in an interview in February that the media has “abandoned our pretense, or at least the effort, to be objective.” She accused reporters of becoming political activists and even “propagandists.”

“You read one story or another and hear it and it’s all based on one anonymous administration official, former administration official,” Logan stated. “That’s not journalism. That’s horseshit. That’s absolute horseshit.”

Logan in turn echoed comments of former New York Times editor Jill Abramson whose book “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts” accused the New York Times and Washington Post of lowering editorial standards to compete for Internet traffic. She decried use of “somewhat misleading headlines to gain clickbait and scale audience” in an interview.

Abramson noted a study that “showed that the main reason all people––not just Trump supporters or conservatives or Republicans––give for lack of trust is perceived political bias.”

When asked how bias manifests itself at the Times, Abramson pointed to “tweets of reporters, which are very loaded. It manifests itself when those reporters go on MSNBC and CNN and appear on panels with partisans and the questions they are asked are very loaded.”

As a subscriber to the Washington Post, I find questionable references to Trump throughout the paper, including in book reviews and the Sports section as well as editorials posing a news stories. By questionable, I include claiming he said things he didn’t say or taking his comments out of context as well as ad hoc references that assume the readers agree with whatever criticism is being levied.

If insiders like Koppel are disturbed by this trend, isn’t it likely that average readers—not just conservatives like myself––notice that the media has taken on the role of an advocate rather than an impartial observer? That would help explain the continuing drop in newspaper circulation––a phenomenon that has been going on for several decades and may be exacerbated by the media’s apparent commitment to lead the “resistance.”

Instead of getting their backs up whenever the President attacks a media organization or an individual reporter, what would happen if the media in reporting that attack examined whether the President might have a point? Perhaps readers would start to trust the media a little more. And, what would happen if the media took the long view––i.e., what if they started thinking about the next six or ten presidential elections and whether they will still exist or will have gone underground as part of some sort of counter revolution that they had a role in creating? Something to think about.

Identity Politics Gone Insane: The Case of Elizabeth Warren

More evidence of Elizabeth Warren’s fraudulent claim that she is Native American has come to the fore in recent days. She self-identified as Native American thirty years ago on her Texas Bar Association application and also later on her official listings at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. Some accept her excuse that she thought she was Native American, but why didn’t she attempt to verify whether she was or wasn’t? The fact is she would continue to be getting away with a lie today had not others challenged her.

It appears that Warren sought to use this myth to enhance her status and advance her career. She wanted to be seen not just as a woman, but as a Native American woman. There is an academic construct called ‘intersectionality’ that increases a person’s status if she is a member of more than one oppressed minority. It appears that Warren’s use of her fake identity, rather than the merit of her academic accomplishments, earned her prestigious jobs and high salaries. She then built on that resume to gain the nomination of the Democrat Party for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts––a position she holds today, a position some might argue she does not deserve. She further has the gall to think she should be the Democrat Party candidate for President in 2020!

Focus on the distinction between identity and merit as the basis for hiring and promotion. While minorities and women were discriminated against in the past, that doesn’t justify giving them a free pass today. When equal opportunity is no longer the standard for advancement in a society, the door is wide open to new forms of discrimination. There is strong evidence that has been the case in academia for decades. People who hold conservative views have an inordinate hard time getting jobs in the social sciences. Some people have admitted they had to hide their beliefs until they had tenure track jobs because they knew prejudice, not merit, determines hiring in academia.

Identity Discrimination Now Found in the Business World

Favoritism based on identity has now been extended to the business world as well as in the news media where to be charged of an act of malfeasance by a minority is tantamount to guilt, especially if the person is a white male.

To be very clear, I also would challenge the notion that a non-minority—i.e., a male Caucasian––cannot be objective, impartial and fair in the fulfillment of his duties whether as a policeman, school and college instructor, or as president of the United States.

Democrats who wish to preserve the notion of equal rights for all citizens—something embodied in our Constitution––ought to make it clear that they do not support Warren’s candidacy for president or that of any other candidate who feels qualified because they are a member of a minority group or because they believe minorities deserve special treatment apart from merit.

Why I’m Closing My Twitter Account and Why You Should Also

An inevitable phenomenon has happened in the aftermath of the explosion of Internet-related technologies: the monopolization of service and social media providers, echoing the monopolization of heavy industry that occurred at the end of the 19th century which led to major anti-trust legislation in the early 20th century.

Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter dominate their unique industries to the extent that they can get away with monopolistic practices such as undercutting or buying out potential competitors.

The leaders of today’s Internet and social media monopolies are conscious of the danger of anti-trust oversight and thus are using their financial and other resources to keep potential enforcers off their backs.

One example of how they do this is to lend their services to those in power. A prime example is Facebook’s aiding the Obama Administration target potential supporters in the 2012 election. It’s reported they even had an office at the White House. (See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/17/obama-digital-data-machine-facebook-election)

Use of Facebook’s database to target potential Obama supporters was not challenged either by anti-trust enforcers or by the mainstream media until they learned that Cambridge Analytica had been able to access the same technology on behalf of conservative causes. As a result, Mark Zuckerberg had to be brought back in line by Congressional hearings and a public wrist-slapping.

The lesson of Facebook has been clear to the other giants. Support for left-liberal politicians and causes is acceptable; support for conservatives is not.

Today it’s not uncommon to hear conservative Facebook users report that they had been censored––that their accounts had been shut down and they had been unable to post or repost. Facebook claims it is unbiased in these efforts, but the evidence is overwhelming that any hint of “alt-right” leanings puts one on the watch list. (see https://www.foxnews.com/tech/dozens-of-facebook-employees-challenge-intolerant-liberal-culture)

Twitter is one of the less important, less celebrated services, but it has aggressively engaged in censoring of conservative viewpoints. The most eggregious example is the recent censoring of Laura Loomer, a conservative activist who called out Ilhan Omar, the Muslim woman recently-elected to Congress from Minnesota.

Loomer tweeted “Isn’t it ironic how the twitter moment used to celebrate ‘women, LGBTQ, and minorities’ is a picture of Ilhan Omar? Ilhan is pro-Sharia, Ilhan is pro-FGM (female genital mutilation). Under Sharia, homosexuals are oppressed & killed. Women are abused & forced to wear the hijab. Ilan is anti-Jewish.”

For that tweet, Loomer was permanently banned from Twitter. She had to chain herself to the entrance of Twitter headquarters in New York City to obtain any press coverage of her situation. While legal action is underway to rectify the double-standard censorship by Facebook, Twitter and Google, there is another way to deal with the situation. Remove one’s presence from those organizations.

Listen to Michelle Malkin’s CRTV analysis of the way that Twitter censored Loomer while applauding a leftist hater at (https://www.facebook.com/MichelleMalkinCRTV/videos/346201796156790/UzpfSTE1MzgzMTIxMzc6MTAyMTc2NzEwNzkzMTg5NDI/) and then if you agree Twitter is a place you no longer can support, follow my example. Close your Twitter account.

Where’s the Hatchet? The Washington Post’s final attempt to derail Kavanaugh

Friday, October 5: As Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination fight nears its final hour, the Washington Post made one last attempt to derail his confirmation by digging into Kavanaugh’s past. I expected the front-page story entitled “The rise and reckoning: Inside nominee’s circles of influence,” to bring out last minute hatchets finely honed in order to decapitate the candidate. What a let down!

The Post must have assigned their top investigative reporters. I can imagine them spending overtime hours on the phone with every last person to ever cross paths with Kavanaugh from high school to the present. They state their conclusion upfront: Kavanaugh had a circle of “friends, loyal and true . . . [who] made it their business to buff and defend Kavanaugh’s reputation.”

Okay, I thought. Let’s hear examples of how his reputation needed buffing and needed to be defended. The juicy details must follow. But they don’t. There are no juicy details. Oh, one high school student who was teased says, “Brett was a jerk.” Wow! That disqualifies him right there. Is there more? Well, there’s a female Yale student who says he was a sloppy drunk. But did he try to ‘get into her pants?’ Apparently not, because the story moves on with zero reference to such behavior on Brett’s part.

There are references to things boys do as they become men: “a bar fight, groping attempts to get somewhere with women, perhaps worse.” But is anyone quoted saying that Brett did those things? Apparently not with the kind of conviction that the Post needed. The best the reporters can do is attack Brett’s “community”––people who attend prep schools and colleges like Yale. In other words, children of those who achieved some measure of success in American society, as if that should be sufficient evidence that he’s not qualified to serve on the court.

That in the final analysis is why the media and the Democrat Party hate Brett Kavanaugh. He is on the wrong side of the divide they have created and militates against their narrative that America is the land of the unjust. If America has been constructed on a foundation of racism, sexism, and the rest of the Left’s complaints, then anyone who is near the top economically and socially needs to be knocked off their pedestal.

Kavanaugh, not surprisingly, believes in the foundational values embodied in the U.S. Constitution. The Post and the Democrats do not. It’s as simple as that. The Post could find no hatchets to throw at Kavanaugh other than he came from a family that made it, and that expected a great deal of their son. He excelled––graduating first in his class in high school, as a Yale undergraduate and at Yale Law School. For shame. He has to be stopped.

On behalf of those who are not currently in the upper echelons of our society who would like to attain those heights, let’s hope Kavanaugh is confirmed because the kind of society he’d like to preserve is one where you’ll have a chance on your own merits to become the best you can be. You do not have to reside at the bottom accepting charity in return for your loyalty to the Democrat Party.

Brett Kavanaugh is not a perfect human being. There is no such thing. Did he go through normal growing up experiences? Yes. Did he ever go too far? Probably. Who can say they never did! Do you want to appear before a judge who has never made mistakes, who has no experience with pushing the limits? I’d hate to be the defendant before a judge who pretends to be perfect and denies he (or she) ever did something they wished they hadn’t done.

So the attempted hatchet job reveals more about the Post than it did about Brett Kavanaugh. It shows us their bias against people who send their kids to prep schools, who hold conservative views, and who have friends who they support and who support them.

Time to move on to the rest of the paper. Or maybe I’ll just skip the stories and go right to the crossword puzzle. That can’t be imbued with political ideology, or can it?