Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

“Liberal” bigotry at the New York Times

April 29, 2019

Published under pressure by the New York Times.

An opinion piece by Bret Stephens – where the publishing of a critical article is supposed to balance the blatant and bigoted propaganda that went before.

As prejudices go, anti-Semitism can sometimes be hard to pin down, but on Thursday the opinion pages of The New York Times international editionprovided a textbook illustration of it.

Except that The Times wasn’t explaining anti-Semitism. It was purveying it.

It did so in the form of a cartoon, provided to the newspaper by a wire service and published directly above an unrelated column by Tom Friedman, in which a guide dog with a prideful countenance and the face of Benjamin Netanyahu leads a blind, fat Donald Trump wearing dark glasses and a black yarmulke. Lest there be any doubt as to the identity of the dog-man, it wears a collar from which hangs a Star of David.

Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. The nominal servant acting as the true master. The cartoon checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign.

The image also had an obvious political message: Namely, that in the current administration, the United States follows wherever Israel wants to go. This is false — consider Israel’s horrified reaction to Trump’s announcement last year that he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria — but it’s beside the point. There are legitimate ways to criticize Trump’s approach to Israel, in pictures as well as words. But there was nothing legitimate about this cartoon.

So what was it doing in The Times?

For some Times readers — or, as often, former readers — the answer is clear: The Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. The criticism goes double when it comes to the editorial pages, whose overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range, with some notable exceptions, from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.

For these readers, the cartoon would have come like the slip of the tongue that reveals the deeper institutional prejudice. What was long suspected is, at last, revealed.

The real story is a bit different, though not in ways that acquit The Times. The cartoon appeared in the print version of the international edition, which has a limited overseas circulation, a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon itself was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.

An initial editor’s note acknowledged that the cartoon “included anti-Semitic tropes,” “was offensive,” and that “it was an error of judgment to publish it.” On Sunday, The Times issued an additional statement saying it was “deeply sorry” for the cartoon and that “significant changes” would be made in terms of internal processes and training.

In other words, the paper’s position is that it is guilty of a serious screw-up but not a cardinal sin. Not quite.

Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it?

The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry. So long as anti-Semitic arguments or images are framed, however speciously, as commentary about Israel, there will be a tendency to view them as a form of political opinion, not ethnic prejudice. But as I noted in a Sunday Review essay in February, anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent, however much progressives try to deny this.

Add to the mix the media’s routine demonization of Netanyahu, and it is easy to see how the cartoon came to be drawn and published: Already depicted as a malevolent Jewish leader, it’s just a short step to depict him as a malevolent Jew.

I’m writing this column conscious of the fact that it is unusually critical of the newspaper in which it appears, and it is a credit to the paper that it is publishing it. I have now been with The Times for two years and I’m certain that the charge that the institution is in any way anti-Semitic is a calumny.

But the publication of the cartoon isn’t just an “error of judgment,” either. The paper owes the Israeli prime minister an apology. It owes itself some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon — and how its publication came, to many longtime readers, as a shock but not a surprise.

“Liberal” bigotry is bigotry masquerading under the cloak of self-righteous, and sanctimonious pretense. It is corruption when the New York Times uses its reputation for integrity to tout propaganda.


 

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Actually, Netanyahu has just had his best ever election result

April 10, 2019

I am no great student of Israeli domestic politics and my perceptions/knowledge of the Israeli elections are only what I have gleaned from media reports. However, I do try to also read reports from the Israeli media and not just from the western mainstream media. Over the last few weeks the “liberal” mainstream media have been supporting an anti-Netanyahu position and most of their reporting has been critical of Netanyahu and his chances in the 2019 general election.

Last night, just before I went to bed, the exit polls were showing a close race between Likud and Blue & White. The “liberal” press had started putting out headlines about a “setback for Netanyahu”. The New York Times – among others – has been hoping for a Netanyahu defeat.

NYT dislikes Netanyahu – and it shows

This morning, as exit polls are replaced by vote counts, I find that Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party narrowly won the Israeli election. With 97% of the votes counted former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Benny Gantz, led the opposition Blue & White party to a strong showing. Both parties will receive 35 seats (out of 120) in the next Knesset. Likud received 26.3% of the vote and only just exceeded Blue and White’s 25.95%. No single party has ever won an overall majority on its own. The right parties are expected to have 65 seats and the left parties 55. It is virtually certain that Netanyahu will form the next coalition government.

But the reality is that Likud have won more seats this time than they ever have under Netanyahu. Likud has won 5 more seats than in the outgoing Knesset.

Netanyahu’s record

The only time Likud have done better in an election was in 2003 with Ariel Sharon when they received 29.39% of the votes and 38 seats in the Knesset.

The “liberal” media have become peddlers of opinions and cannot be relied upon to be purveyors of facts. The Fake News phenomenon starts with their increasing presentation of opinion and wishful thinking as fact.


 

 

The Facebook strategy: From Fake News to Paid “News” and to Paid Fake News

April 5, 2019

It is nothing new.

Many newspapers carry advertising which looks like a “news article” or as editorial comment. In the last decade even the once most “reputable” outlets (NYT, The Times, WaPo, Der Spiegel, El Pais, The Guardian……..) have indulged in “Fake News”, both by omission and by commission. Some have become little more than lobbying outfits where the actual news content is always secondary to promoting a particular political line. In India, the idea of paying for “news articles” is an old tradition. It is the life-blood for the print media especially at election time.

(On a personal note, when I was heading an engineering company in India I found it remarkably easy, and quite inexpensive, to place favourable articles in local and national newspapers when we were bidding for important projects. Of course, our competitors did the same. “Journalists” were quite ready to repeat our press releases with no changes, provided of course they were given some special dinner or a free night or two at one of our guest houses.)

The more competent newspapers (I hesitate to say “better”) manage not only to get paid by both sides of opposing arguments, but more importantly, they manage to get paid for presenting themselves as “balanced” and objective.

So now The Telegraph will be publishing a series of paid articles for Facebook, identified as being advertising but still looking like editorial content.

From Fake News to Paid News and now to Fake, Paid News.

Business Insider:

  • Facebook is paying The Daily Telegraph to run a series of positive sponsored stories about it.
  • The British newspaper is running dozens of stories that defend Facebook on controversial subjects like terrorism, hate speech, and cyber-bullying.
  • It shows how Facebook is attempting to sidestep the often-critical media by buying positive coverage of itself.
  • A spokesperson said it is part of a UK marketing campaign to drive “awareness” of Facebook’s investments “that have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

 

Facebook has found a novel solution to the never-ending deluge of negative headlines and news articles criticizing the company: Simply paying a British newspaper to run laudatory stories about it.

Facebook has partnered with The Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet British newspaper, to run a series of features about the company, Business Insider has found – including stories that defend it on hot-button issues it has been criticised over like terrorist content, online safety, cyberbullying, fake accounts, and hate speech.

The series – called “Being human in the information age” – has published 26 stories over the last month, to run in print and online, and is produced by Telegraph Spark, the newspaper’s sponsored content unit.

“Fake news, cyberbullying, artificial intelligence – it seems like life in the internet age can be a scary place,” the articles say. “That’s why Telegraph Spark and Facebook have teamed up to show how Facebook and other social media platforms are harnessing the power of the internet to protect your personal data.”

Sponsored native content, in which companies pay for media organizations to produce positive articles that appear similar to traditional news stories, are an increasingly popular method of monetization for many publications, including Business Insider. Some studies have been critical of the ad format, arguing they can mislead news consumers. ….

The stories dismiss ‘technofears’ about the impact of technology on society. …….

Facebook’s go-to talking points are all here. ………

…….. Facebook has paid for sponsored content with British newspapers before – but on far less politically charged issues. In 2016 and 2017, before its current wave of scandals, it ran a number of stories in left-leaning The Guardian on subjects like growing your business with video, understanding customers, and case studies of succesful companies. The Guardian articles are now offline, but remain accessible via the Internet Archive.


 

97% of reporters fabricate some part of their stories (probably)

December 21, 2018

Claas Relotius at Der Spiegel, Jayson Blair at The New York Times, Johann Hari at The Guardian and Jim Avila at ABC News are only the tip of the iceberg. They are not exceptions but merely examples of the malaise. They are all a part of the general erosion of journalistic ethics. But what was just a decline of ethical standards has now degenerated to the point where every news story has an agenda. The use of fabrication, lying, cherry picking, and omission are standard. A journalistic report which is not skewed and which is not trying to promote a particular viewpoint has become a very rare exception. Journalists today find it perfectly acceptable to be lobbyists and activists and propagandists while purporting to be objective reporters.

The line between advertising and reporting has virtually disappeared. It is not difficult to get media desperate for copy to print pure advertising material as objective reports. It is virtually impossible for some media to report any story which does not reinforce their own biases.

 

“Journalists” caught lying include Mel Judson, Juan Thompson and Brian Williams among others. Journalists who fabricated include Louis Sebold, Stephen Glass, Jant Cooke, Patricia Smith and  Carl Cameron among many others. Cheating is the norm not the exception.

The Media Still Hasn’t Figured Out Why They’re Losing Credibility

The outlook is bad for media credibility. Poll after poll finds public confidence in the press is at historic lows. The AP cites a Pew Research Center report that two-thirds of Americans believe “fabricated news” is causing a “great deal of confusion” about basic facts, and a poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago found the percentage of Americans expressing a “great deal of confidence” in the press has fallen from 28 percent in 1976 to just 8 percent in 2016.

The American Press Institute put the percentage at an even lower 6 percent in an April 2016 survey, which also found 85 percent of Americans rate getting the facts right as extremely or very important, and prioritize that metric most highly when deciding which news outlets to trust. “Accuracy is the paramount principle of trust,” the survey noted.

The simple truth is that it is more likely that 97% of all journalists now fabricate some part of their stories, rather than that 97% of journalists are honest reporters.


 

Amazon and Washington Post – It isn’t rocket science

April 3, 2018


 

Will recognition of “fake news” be followed by “fake science”

November 3, 2017

Collins Dictionary has chosen “fake news” as its word for 2017.

When a partisan publication exaggerates – even wildly – in favour of its own cause, it causes no great surprise.  It is not even too astonishing when it fabricates news or omits news to further its own agenda. The insidious nature of “fake news” is worst when it is a supposedly objective publication which indulges in fake news to further a hidden agenda. So when Breitbart or the Daily Mail or Huffington Post produce much of their nonsense it causes no great surprise and hardly merits the sobriquet of “fake news”, even if much of the “news” is slanted or exaggerated or skewed or just plain lies. It is when a publication, having a reputation for objectivity, misuses that reputation to push its own agenda, that “fake news” takes on a life of its own.

It is not that this is anything new but certainly the US Presidential Election has brought “fake news” to a head. “Fake News” applies though to much more than just US politics. Of course CNN heads the list of purveyors of “fake news”. CNN has never been objective but they once generally checked their facts and used to separate straight reporting from opinion. I used to find them, at least, fairly reliable for factual reporting. But they have abandoned that approach and I find that they not just unreliable but also intentionally misleading. Their “journalists” have all become lobbyists and “CNN” has become synonymous with “Fake News”.

I once was a regular reader of the Washington Post. They were biased but were not unreliable as to the facts. It was quite easy to just discount for bias and get what I thought was a “true” picture. But they, too, have degenerated swiftly in the last 2 years. Stories are not just distorted, they are even fabricated. But the real disappointments for me in the last 24 months has been the New York Times. Not just in the space of US politics. The NYT has its own definitions of what is politically correct in politics, in science and even in the arts. Somewhere along the way they have made a conscious decision that they are “lobbyists” rather than reporters. They have decided that, for what they have defined as being “politically correct”, pushing that view justifies omission, exaggeration, “spinning” and even fabrication. Straight reporting has become extinct.

Lobby groups such as Huff Post and Daily Kos and Red State are full of blatant falsifications but have no news reputation of any significance at stake. They are not, therefore, included in my take on the top purveyors of fake new.

If 2017 has seen the recognition of the widespread use of fake news, I am looking to 2018 to recognise the proliferation of fake science. There is fake science being disseminated every day in big physics (CERN funding), pharmaceuticals, “climate science”, behavioural studies, sociology, psychology and economics. Much of fake science follows funding. Perhaps there will be greater recognition that “good science” is neither decided by nor subject to a poll.


 

 

No place to hide for the social media publishers

March 27, 2017

It is time that Facebook and Google and WhatsApp and Snapchat and Twitter accepted that they are just publishers and cannot hide behind the label of being “tech companies”. They cannot function as a hiding place for publications by criminals and terrorists and make ad revenue  on such publications and then claim they are merely couriers like a postal service. They cannot censor some content and then claim they are not responsible for the rest.

It is time to treat them as the publishers they are.

Facebook and Twitter and Google (YouTube) and and WhatsApp and LinkedIn cannot abdicate their responsibility as publishers because they choose not to exercise the quality control they could. They cannot remove (censor) some material and then claim they are nor responsible for the rest.

Facebook and Twitter are “publishers”, not merely “couriers”

Social media like to claim that they merely provide a “platform” or  are just “communication enablers” or only provide “communication media” and therefore that they are not responsible – and should not be held responsible – for the content they disseminate.

But they protest too much.

It is quite wrong to compare Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn to a telecommunications enterprise or a postal service or a courier service or an e-mail service provider. In all of these a specific identifiable “sender” directs a communique to a specific, identified “receiver”. The carrying of the communique to the specific receiver is the service provided by the communications enterprise and is not in any sense “publishing”. The service provided by the social media is more than just the provision of a soap box in Hyde Park (a platform) or the provision of a Board or a Wall in a town square onto which a newspaper could be appended. Any website could be a platform for comments but the website owner must take ultimate responsibility for the content published on the web-site. ……

Their advertising revenues depend upon the dissemination being as wide and as “indiscriminate” as possible. They are not so different to a radio or a TV broadcast where the broadcaster tries to reach as large an audience as possible. The broadcaster is clearly responsible and accountable for the content of the broadcast. A free newspaper being distributed at all Metro stations but where revenues are dependent upon advertising also has a responsible publisher. Any advertising revenue accrues to the publisher.

The clincher for me is that the placement of advertisements based on circulation is decisive proof of the existence of a publisher. All published material does not contain advertising. Not all advertising is proof of the existence of a publisher. A billboard or sandwich-board owner for example, is not a publisher. But the mere existence of advertising based on circulation numbers or “reach” or any similar parameter is conclusive proof – I think – of the existence of a publisher. And it is the person or organisation responsible for the circulation who takes the advertising revenues and in consequence must be the responsible and accountable publisher.

Freedom of speech does not really enter the argument. The publisher may choose to publish whatever he pleases. He may refrain from “censoring” his users if he so wishes. Or he may – at some cost – ensure that the content he publishes meets criteria that he sets himself. But he remains responsible and accountable for what he publishes. Facebook and Twitter cannot abdicate their responsibility because they choose not to exercise the quality control they could.


 

Suppression of news is also fake news

March 23, 2017

Fake news is created by commission as much as by omission.

Suppressing news which does not support your agenda is common practice by virtually all purveyors of news  – whether newspapers or TV channels or radio broadcasts. In Sweden and Germany (and in most of Europe), it is no secret that the main stream media do not report on stories which are not in line with their perception of  what the public “ought to know”. Extremist media  – whether from the left or the right – suppress or downplay news which is not favourable to their cause. It is therefore that in Germany and Sweden and in most of Europe, barbarous and criminal behaviour by asylum seekers is grossly under-reported. There is a suspicion that such crimes are also under-prosecuted but news reports are sparse.

There are virtually no sources any more of objective, factual reports which are not contaminated by heavy doses of opinion, speculation and even fabrication. There are few subjects left which are not politicised. To get any where close to the facts about any story it becomes necessary to read reports from all the sides of the political divide. You can no longer rely on just one source. If you read Der Spiegel you also need to read Die Welt. If you read Aftonbladet you also need to read Expressen. If you read The Guardian you also need to read the Daily Mail. If you read The Sun you also need to read the Daily Express. (If you read The Independent there is very little hope for you). But to make matters worse, even reading the left/right versions of a story are not enough. They all suppress news if they think the great unwashed public do not need to know.

The latest case of news suppression is in the US. Virtually all of the left-liberal mainstream media , from the Daily Kos and HuffPo on the far left through the WaPo and all the way to the New York Times have ignored or played down this story of illegal immigrants raping a 14 year old in school for obvious political reasons. Only local newspapers in Maryland and Fox News have reported – and Fox News reports have their own political priorities. This story is now getting some coverage, but how many more have been kept hidden?

I think – I cannot be sure – I have the gist of the story. But it has needed that I go from the BBC to local reports to blog posts (even if obviously biased) to reach a point where I think I have the gist of the story.

Suppression of news immediately leads to speculation that much more is being hidden.

BBC:

An alleged rape at a US high school has sparked a row over immigration that has reached all the way to the White House. Two Central American-born students are in custody after a 14-year-old girl was attacked last week at Rockville High School in Maryland, police say. The White House said “tragedies like this” had motivated President Trump’s illegal immigration “crackdown”.

On Tuesday night, protesters gathered outside the school, some expressing concern about undocumented immigrants. Henry Sanchez, 18, and Jose Montano, 17, were charged in the alleged assault, which the victim said took place in a boy’s toilet at the beginning of the school day last Thursday.

BethesdaMagazineThe usually civil political discourse in Montgomery County turned aggressive over the weekend as residents who oppose the county’s liberal policy toward undocumented immigrants angrily emerged in reaction to the brutal alleged rape of a Rockville High School freshman girl by 17- and 18-year-old recent Central American immigrants. 

The county and City of Rockville for many years have had a policy in place that directs their police officers not to ask about an individual’s immigration status during interactions. However, the county and city both share information about individuals who are arrested with federal agencies such as the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in case those agencies have pending issues with the individuals.

The two high school students arrested and charged Thursday with rape in the Rockville High case are Henry Sanchez, 18, and Jose Montano, 17. Sanchez, who resided in Aspen Hill and arrived from Guatemala about seven months ago, while Montano, of an unconfirmed address, arrived from El Salvador about eight months ago, according to ABC7.

Matthew Bourke, an ICE spokesman, wrote in an email Monday to Bethesda Beat that ICE issued a detainer for Sanchez on Thursday after he was arrested by county police on the rape charge. Bourke wrote that ICE can’t comment on Montano’s case because he is a minor.

Bourke also noted that a border patrol agent interacted with Sanchez in August 2016 in Rio Valley Grande, Texas, and the agent determined Sanchez unlawfully entered the U.S. from Mexico. Sanchez was issued a notice to appear before an immigration judge for a hearing that has not yet been scheduled, according to Bourke. Bourke said an immigration judge never issued Sanchez a deportation order.

Both students speak limited English and were enrolled in Rockville High School as freshmen, according to The Washington Post. They’re accused of raping the 14-year-old girl inside a boys bathroom on Thursday morning during school hours and were ordered held in jail without bond Friday.

But to get an idea of the anger in the local community against the “powers that be ” who presume to know what is best for them , you need to go to the blogosphere. No doubt the reports here have their own political leanings.

http://www.helpsavemaryland.org/

To Senate President, Mike Miller and Statehouse Members,

If you have not gone out and read the outrage over the rape, you must be blind. Even your favorite news outlet reported on the rape, CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/21/us/maryland-undocumented-student-rape/ You know things are bad when they report on it.  You can’t get any further left bias reporting than the liberal CNN news to report.

There were many people who went down to Rockville High School last night in protest of the Sanctuary Policies of Montgomery County, and the lack of law enforcement, lack of protection for students. … Listening to Council President, Berliner, liberal deflector or on Sanctuary Policy, he stated, and I quote “This is not on us, he was caught in Texas by ICE and released”, oh, but let us remind everyone of Catch and Release under Obama’s policy.  While the Illegal Alien was given his letter to appear before the court, when his hearing was to come up, he did what they all do, just go somewhere else and blend in with the other Illegal’s.  Governor Hogan put the hammer down, and now it’s up to you, to do the right thing, KILL THE BILL.  Where was Berliner’s support for the 14 year old victim?  Did he call her parents and offer assistance and console them? ……

But the reality today is that if you wish to get the facts and to make up your own mind, you need to consult multiple sources. You need to know the political leanings of the journalist, the news medium and of its publisher. And above all, you need to be the ultimate skeptic.


 

The agenda for the daily news show

January 25, 2017

It is early morning in Europe and the US is still asleep.

Another news cycle has started. (The world news cycle is de facto on US time). But the agenda for this cycle – apart from unforeseen events – is being set by Donald Trump’s late night tweets before going to bed (sent at around 10pm EST). In fact, in my morning sweep of news from around the world, usually starting with New Zealand and Japan and working westwards, I have now started to look first at the Trump tweets.

The tweets this morning:

trump-tweets-20170124

From the New Zealand Herald to The Australian, through the Indian papers and in the European media Trump’s tweet on the immigration wall is picked up universally to make prominent headlines. The gratuitous remark about CNN (though it is well deserved) is not picked up to the same extent. The comments about Chicago (and the wall, of course) are prominently covered by the US media. CNN also covers the wall and Chicago but refrains from adding fuel to the raging feud they currently have with Trump.

The US (and some European media) also cover the current ban on public statements by US State agencies.

But the Trump tweets are driving the news cycle.


 

CNN “hoping” that Trump/Pence get killed before inauguration

January 20, 2017

They can call it a scenario for analysis but what it really is, is wishful thinking at worst, or just the normal CNN perverted view of the world at best.



 


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