Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2017

Opinion: The right wing’s war on journalism

July 13, 2017


Somebody went after Rachel Maddow last week.

You might not have heard about it. The story didn’t get much traction in a week that began with video of Failed President Trump “wrestling” CNN and ended with his embarrassing trip to the G20 summit in Germany.

Still, some of us would argue that it merits at least as much attention as the latest antics of the boy president. What nearly happened to Maddow carries ominous implications for us in news media — and for those Americans who still consider an informed electorate an essential component of democracy.

As reported by Maddow herself, someone sent the MSNBC anchor what appeared to be an “unbelievably red hot” tip, a classified document substantiating explosive allegations about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia. “What got sent to us,” said Maddow, “was not just a smoking gun, it was a gun still firing proverbial bullets.”

Except that it wasn’t. Maddow’s team concluded after close inspection that what they had actually received was a fraud, a counterfeit document designed to bait them into running a false story which would have necessitated an embarrassing retraction.

News media are no strangers to hoaxes. From the proverbial guy in his pajamas who gets his jollies making up internet rumors to the deceptively edited videos of James O’Keefe, hoaxes have become a common hazard in this business. The old journalistic axiom, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” has seldom seemed more apropos.

But in its very sophistication, this attempted hoax represents a quantum leap. While some people lazily cry “Fake news!” every time facts don’t go their way, someone is out there actually creating fake news in hopes of getting a journalist to bite on it and damage her reputation in the process.

Consider it superfluous proof that the institutions sustaining this democracy are under assault. The presidency, of course, is being attacked from within by the aforementioned boy president in all his preening incompetence. Many observers have found solace in believing his denigrations of that office will be kept at least somewhat in check by three other institutions: Congress, the courts and the media. But that optimism may or may not be vindicated.

Congress, after all, has only fitfully managed to muster the moral courage to hold the rogue president to account. The courts have proven somewhat braver, though their legitimacy has been repeatedly undermined.

Meantime, news media have done yeoman’s work in untangling Trump’s troubling ties to Russia. But this has come against a backdrop of abuse without modern precedent.

Bad enough reporters have been called names and even physically attacked. But if you really want to harm a journalist, you go after her credibility. That’s the one indispensable element of news gathering and reporting, the thing without which a journalist cannot meaningfully function. And last week, somebody tried to assassinate Maddow’s.

All of us in the news business should stand warned. But we ought not be surprised.

After all, Donald Trump is a liar. By necessity, the people who defend him are liars, too. And obviously, to lie is to stand in opposition to the truth. Small wonder, then, that these people are so profoundly threatened by a profession whose prime directive is to find the truth and tell it. Small wonder that they fear us.

You can gauge the depth of that fear in the sophistication of last week’s attack. That attempted hoax suggests two things. The first is that this may be the opening of a troubling new front in the right wing’s war on journalism.

The second is that we must be doing something right.

— Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald.


Bob Summers 10 months, 1 week ago

Pitts is so deeply influenced by the Liberal gene he doesn't realize he is part of the fantasy "journalism" people of fact disagree with.

Pitts righteousness is another of the many symptoms of the Liberal ones.

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

Journalists have been waging war on conservatives for decades now. Sauce goose, sauce gander.

Gary Stussie 10 months, 1 week ago

"After all, Donald Trump is a liar."... truly amazing that anyone who supported either of the Clintons could, in such a matter-of-fact manner, denounce President Trump.

Justin Hoffman 10 months, 1 week ago

Your daily dose of whining brought to you by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

"The right wing’s war on journalism" is a standard of "conservative" belief and practice, going back to Nixon's famous "enemies list." Most of his "enemies," in Nixon's perception, were journalists.

My personal criteria is truth: so by "journalist" I mean those who honestly work to report facts (no Fox "News," Breitbart, etc.) By that criteria, my personal study of events convinces me that journalists were telling more truth about Watergate than Nixon was, more truth about the Iran-Contra scandal than Reagan, more truth about the Iraq war than George W. Bush...and vastly more truth about EVERYTHING than Trump.

I would hope most people have a favorable regard for truth, and recognize that following lies has harmful consequences. But even those whose criteria is entirely factional, rather than truth-oriented, should probably be concerned by one fact.

The presidents (congressmen, governors, secretaries of state) who most hate "the news-media" do so for one reason. It's not because, as they endlessly claim, that the media are all "liberals" and enemies, and purveyors of "Fake News."

It's because those who hate real journalists are infuriated with any viewpoint (whatever it's factuality or political "spin") that contradicts their OWN.

Do "conservatives" ever consider that absolute autocratic control of what facts are known, and of what is acceptable "truth," is a danger to their much-vaunted "freedom" ?

Do they ever think, however dimly, that their inflexible parroting of their "conservative" champion's self-justifications against his "liberal enemies," regardless of what outrage he commits, is a function of their profound mental slavery ?

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

The excessive use of scare quotes degrades your "message".

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

LOL. Good one, Bob. I never saw that coming.

Maybe I should have also mentioned that the substance of "conservative" parroting (which they seem to consider thoughtful and witty rejoinder) is also utterly, mindlessly, predictable. Just a word to the wise, Bob...

I've pointed out to you on several occasions, in detail, exactly why I've used quotation marks in each instance, and how each was a correct use of quotation marks. You clearly don't actually think about those reasons, or if they're valid as correct uses: so I won't bother trying to help you understand. Quotation marks are a pretext for complaining: and not really anything you care about.

Since quotation marks showcase your lack of understanding and dishonesty, it might be wise to choose some other substantive matter where you can cleverly "dis" those who disagree with you (either on politics or punctuation). Commas, maybe ? Parentheses, Bob ?

P Allen Macfarlane 10 months, 1 week ago

And the usual suspects on the right respond. Blah, blah, blah!

Bob Summers 10 months, 1 week ago

"Blah, blah, blah"!

Frivolous emotional outbursts is another symptom of people under the influence of the Liberal gene.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 months, 1 week ago

"Blah, blah, blah!" Rational response to the fascists on the "Conservative" far right.

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

Remember Dan Rather's attempt to influence an election with faked documents?

Stu Clark 10 months, 1 week ago

I do, Bob. But the documents were never proven to be fake. Consensus is that the information they contained was most likely accurate.

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

Except they were fake. Do you go along with fake but accurate?

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

Even Dan Rather has disowned the documents. ".....CBS states that use of the documents was a mistake[edit] As a growing number of independent document examiners and competing news outlets reported their findings about the documents, CBS News stopped defending the documents and began to report on the problems with their story. On September 20 they reported that their source, Bill Burkett, "admits that he deliberately misled the CBS News producer working on the report, giving her a false account of the documents' origins to protect a promise of confidentiality to the actual source."[104][105] While the network did not state that the memos were forgeries, CBS News president Andrew Heyward said, "Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret."[12][13] Dan Rather stated, "if I knew then what I know now — I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question."[12]..."

Greg Cooper 10 months, 1 week ago

All of which proves, Bob, that any reporter/news source can make a mistake. However, those same sources have choices. They can be honest and admit their mistakes and stop touting them as news, or they can continue using them regardless of the fact that they can not be verified as real. The difference between the garbage you espouse and real news is just what you cited: Rather found that his source was unreliable or false and quit pushing it. Your sources continue reporting the unverified, spin it to fit their own agenda, and all because they have an audience, like you, who don't care to check.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 months, 1 week ago

The "Fuehrer of the Fourth Reich" is promoting the methods of the "Fuehrer of the Third Reich".

Hitler threw the journalists into concentration camps had had them shot. Trump really wishes he could do the same, but our democratic society prevents this (for now, anyway)

Stay tuned. (Godwin flag folks can attack me in the "Comments" column below.)

Bob Summers 10 months, 1 week ago

Accusations of "Fuehrer", "fascists" and the like are the same type of rabid assertions made by Liberal James T Hodgkinson on his facebook account.

Trump is bringing the would together for common causes. Why are you, Pitts and fellow Liberals trying to destroy relationships among the people of the world?

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

That's true, BS2. He's bringing the world's perceptive and well-intentioned people together against him, and the others behind him.

Knowing truth always involves a personal choice, doesn't it ?

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

You realize, BS2, that the adulation of a "great leader" that oozes from all your posts about Trump is, first of all, the sin of idolatry ? And that in the realm of human society, it is the mindset that has made possible all the WORST and most vicious governments in human history ?

Please make the personal choice to deeply and honestly re-think that adulation. It has bad consequences for you (here and hereafter): and for all who want America to remain a free country.

Greg Cooper 10 months, 1 week ago

"Trump is bringing the would together for common causes."

What?!? I'd be happy to learn from you just exactly what those common causes are, Bob. That would be a revelation of immense proportions.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 months, 1 week ago

Yeah, I do that a lot. But I seem to have a lot of agreement with some folks here.

Calvin Anders 10 months, 1 week ago

The war on the media is not a new thing. Politicians have been trying to undermine the credibility of news outlets for as long as news outlets have been publishing unflattering stories about politicians. What's new here is news sources are more vulnerable to criticism. As news has become more and more driven by profit motive, objective methods in reporting have eroded. Corporate owners of increasingly consolidated news sources are exercising more and more control over what is reported. And the editorial control often serves the financial goals of the ownership. We have seen a growth in networks and news organizations who pander to specific political views. All of this is going on and the "democratization" of news with the growth on smaller news sources on the net has also led to lots of questionable stories and made up news. The few organizations who strive for objective methods and try to give reporters the time, resources and editorial control to report real hard news are besieged by those who would prefer the facts be determined by the ones who shout the loudest. It is a war on media and those trying to make us think it's all fake news do have sinister motive, but the media has opened the door for some of this themselves.

Michael Kort 10 months, 1 week ago

Trump does one thing well...........He.LIES very well !

Trump is very convincing....... because he believes his own lies are the truth.......which is the general measure of a seriously mentally ill person !

PSYCH WARD ! ! !.....PSYCH WARD ! ! ! .......PSYCH WARD ! ! !

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

Your lid is trembling in preparation to be flipped entirely.

Richard Heckler 10 months, 1 week ago

This ongoing support for conservatives…. the spenders of large amounts of special interest money is mind numbing. There is no reason for any such activity.

37 years of voting conservative candidates posing as republicans into office has provided what?

--- War on public education

--- War against women

--- War on Voters Rights

--- War On Good Wages aka Right To Work Legislation

--- War On USA Jobs aka Free Trade Agreements and Leveraged Buyout Scams

--- War On Social Security Insurance

--- War On Medicaid

--- War On Medicare

--- War for Oil Control Worldwide

Gary Stussie 10 months, 1 week ago

As opposed to the on-going liberal war on the United States.

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

Such as dismantling government programs that protect our water, air and land ? Armed standoffs to enforce their right not to pay rent for using public lands ? Buddying up, for their own short-term political advantage, to countries who want to destroy America ? Blowing up federal office buildings and the people in them ?

Please tell us, Gary: are those some of the things that make you believe there's an "on-going liberal war on the United States" ?

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

Note that Newsday very publicly told readers they were investigating one of their reporters because there were questions about the factuality of his work.

Note that Newsday said they did so in the belief that they are responsible for "...accurate, factual reporting...," and are "...accountable to our readers."

I'm sure, Bob...with your recent "sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander" reference elsewhere...that you believe Fox "News," Breitbart "News," and the other "news" organizations which tell you the version of "reality" you want to hear, should be held to those same standards...right ?

How about if the White House bunch be held to Newsday's standards ? You wouldn't want the executive branch of the U.S. government, more important and more powerful than any news organization, to be unaccountable for the lies they tell us, would you ?

Would you, Bob ?

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

Newsday "blotted" their copybook first, then they decided to do something about "it".

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

I make mistakes, and I tend to believe everybody else can say the same. If I want to be forgiven for my mistakes, I know I have to admit what I've done...not try to cover it up, or make excuses for doing it...and try to set it right.

Seems to me that's what Newsday did. I'm inclined to credit them as honest people for that reason.

Would I be correct that that's not your conclusion, because you want to believe their making a mistake "proves" there's a great conspiracy by the "liberal" media to twist the "truth" (as "conservatives" want to see it) ?

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

(I threw in some quotation marks for you. Since quotation marks are the punctuation used to indicate something is "so-called," "pretend," or "fake," it's a natural thing to do when talking about "conservatives," what they "think," what they believe is "truth," and so forth.)

Scott Burkhart 10 months, 1 week ago


Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

Remember Journolist? "...The Journolist discussion took place nearly a decade ago, but in retrospect, I’m struck by how these three basic approaches—kill it, ignore it, call them haters—seem like media archetypes now. You can probably think of your own examples but the ones that come immediately to mind are CBS News decision to sit on video showing President Obama had not called the Benghazi attack terrorism until hours before the election. You may recall that Obama was widely considered the loser of the 1st presidential debate with Mitt Romney. He needed a comeback win. And the winning moment of the 2nd debate was his exchange with Romney on Benghazi. Obama claimed he had called the attack terrorism the next day. But an excerpt from 60 Minutes which remained on the cutting room floor showed that wasn’t true. CBS News knew it had the clip which would cut the legs out from Obama after the 2nd debate and it sat on until a couple days before the election when it quietly posted it online..."

Scott Burkhart 10 months, 1 week ago

Here is a link to an article where Sheryl Atkisson, former CBS investigative reporter, talks about the all out effort, leave your journalistic morals behind, to take down a sitting president.

Jim Phillips 10 months, 1 week ago

You need look no further than the good ol' liberal "newspaper", the Lawrence Journal World to see why there is a "Consevative war on the media". What follows is a reprint of one of my posts and a second reprint of another. The press can spin stories all it likes, the majority of main stream media is still in bed with liberals and their agenda.

"I find this LJW editorial very amusing. I actually posted something about the political bias of the LJW editors on October 23 of last year. From the end of the Democratic Convention until October 23, I lost track of the number of negative Trump articles. I checked for negative Hillary reporting, you might not recall, but she did make news on a couple of minor issues. Care to guess how many of those stories were in the LJW? But here, reread my original post:

"Opinion: Trump has full-blown victim mentality I just did a search for Hillary Clinton on the LJW site. The last story I can find on her was when she accepted the nomination in August. I guess we can deduce which candidate the LJW is backing in this election." [October 23, 2016 at 3:42 p.m ]

Fair and balanced reporting from the mainstream media? HA!"

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

Bob and Scott, did you not pick up on the very obvious ideological skew of the "sources" you cite as authority ? If not, is it because you're coming from the the same partisan place; so it seems like home "reality" to you ?

Do you understand that NO ideological skew of reality is ever the truth ?

If you're not arguing from truth, and for truth...what's the point ? And why aren't you ?

You understand that the playground logic of partisans' self-justification ("THEY did it to us first," "THEY did worse things than we did") is total crap ?

Bob Smith 10 months, 1 week ago

So you dismiss evidence that doesn't agree with your own ideological bias? How very precious.

Steve Hicks 10 months, 1 week ago

That's the point, Bob.

Why should anyone consider something "evidence " (I'm quoting you) if it it is not true ?

How can something be true if it's a skewed version of reality ?

Truth IS precious.

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