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Keeping Information from the Deplorables Constructs a False Reality

CBC Radio Canada News takes up a second-order aspect to a news story about a man who is alleged to have inappropriately touched several teenage girls at a water park in Canada:

When Edmonton police announced the charges on Wednesday, they urged any other complainants or witnesses to contact them. One more complainant and one more witness have since come forward, police spokesperson Scott Pattison said Thursday.

The man charged in the case was a Syrian refugee who arrived in Canada in January 2016, a fact that was reported Wednesday by numerous news outlets, including CBC News.

The story was quickly picked up by alt-right websites and anti-immigration groups. It was shared widely on social media.

As CBC tweeted, “When a refugee faces criminal charges, should the public be told?” How can there be any other answer than “yes”?  As reaction to the story has proven, the detail is absolutely relevant to public discourse.  Sure, the new bogeymen on the “alt-right” will attempt to amplify any such stories to advance their own point of view.  But then, failing to report the detail is to aid and abet the “ctrl-left,” by maintaining talking points about how there’s no evidence of any problems with refugees.

The area across Northern America and Europe is sufficiently large that a unified decision among our media betters to withhold information they don’t find relevant in isolated cases could brush away hundreds of stories and present a false impression of reality to news consumers.  It would be Rotherham on a Western Civilizational scale.

A news media that doesn’t trust us to be sufficiently intelligent to absorb and process this information is just feeding us ideological propaganda because they think they’re better than us.  It’s that clear.

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A New Winner for Most Pro-Government-Spin Headline in the Providence Journal?

I’ve been meaning to nominate the headline that the Providence Journal used in its print edition for this article (from the Associated Press):

‘Obamacare’ sees high enrollment

To be fair, the Projo headline writer was taking his or her cue from and amplifying the spin of AP writers, Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar and Kevin S. Vineys who try to slip in the real story in the third paragraph:

Although initial enrollment is about 4 percent lower than last year, the sizable number of sign-ups illustrates the risk Republicans face as they begin moving to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and put in its place a yet-to-be-defined conservative approach.

You can’t get from a 4% drop in enrollment to a headline proclaiming “high enrollment” without being something more like propagandists than journalists.  If I were an objective journalist working for one of these organizations, I’d be furious with my coworkers for undermining our publication’s credibility.

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For the Part of the Country That Sees the Refugee Program as a Danger

Given that every tweet and extemporaneous comment from the Trump administration is being deemed newsworthy even by local papers, this — reported by Leo Hohmann on World Net Daily — would seem worthy of mention:

Doetsch retired about two months ago as a refugee coordinator. One of her assignments was at a United Nations refugee camp in Jordan, from which many of the Syrian refugees are flowing into the U.S. She did three tours of duty, in Cairo, Egypt, dealing with Middle East refugees; in Vienna, Austria, with mostly African refugees coming in through Malta; and in Cuba.

Her letter affirms two-and-a-half years of reporting by WND, which has reported that the “vetting” of refugees from broken countries such as Somalia, Syria and Sudan often consists largely of a personal interview with the refugee. These countries have no law enforcement data to vet against the personal story relayed to the U.S. government about the refugee’s background. Sometimes even their name and identity is fabricated and they have no documentation, such as a valid passport, or they have fraudulent documentation.

We really are dividing into a nation of two realities.  In the case at hand, one part of the country sees the refugee program as a clear vulnerability that has resulted in atrocities in other countries and (at the least) warning signs in the United States; the other part of the country sees it as a way to save good people from a terrible situation at little cost and no significant risk.

This state of affairs might change if the supposedly objective news organizations weren’t so slanted or, alternatively, if their slant were more honestly acknowledged and people felt it their duty to get both sides of every issue.

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How the Media Will Help Trump Get Away with Things

Even while reporting a correction in the Washington Post to a bit of fake news from the mainstream media that had (and probably still has) broad currency around the country, Jackson Diehl can’t help but push blame onto the Trump administration:

One thing Trump has decidedly not done, however, is downgrade the participation of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the deliberations of the National Security Council. You may have heard and read otherwise, repeatedly. Therein lies an illustration of how communication between the executive and mainstream media, and with it coverage of the Trump administration, has already come unhinged.

So a hostile media blames the administration for the media’s own inability to do its job while hopped up on hatred of said administration.  Instead, we get loud blasts of outrage and scandal over every little change or misstatement that members of the administration make, walked back or corrected in quieter, easier-to-miss follow-up stories.

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Political Omissions in Worcester Story

For some reason the Providence Journal ran a minor story on a Worcester, Massachusetts, political incident.  In doing so, however, the paper spotlights a curious… let’s say… tic of the mainstream media:

Mayor Joseph M. Petty is now apologizing for remarks he made that, unbeknownst to him, were picked up by an open microphone at the beginning of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

The remarks were unflattering observations about some of protesters attending the meeting. Earlier, there was a rally at City Hall attended by people unhappy with President Donald J. Trump’s immigration policy.

Funny — Don’t you think? — that the article doesn’t mention that Petty is a Democrat and the main voice speaking out against him, Michael T. Gaffney, although in a non-partisan seat, has been backed by Republicans.  Why do you suppose that is?  How do you suppose the reporting might have been different if it were a Republican mayor badmouthing a Tea Party group?

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At Providence Journal, Union Sympathy Overshadows Reporting

I still can’t get over the headline that the Providence Journal gave to Linda Borg’s Providence Journal article about the school choice rally at the State House:

At R.I. State House, Trump proposal overshadows rally for school choice

Add in the contrast with the relatively objective first paragraph, and the agenda of the folks who write the headlines couldn’t be clearer:

Thursday’s annual School Choice rally at the State House, which brought together dozens of private and religious schools, carried some additional weight this year due to President Donald Trump’s pitch to dedicate $20 billion in federal education dollars for vouchers.

So for the first time of this annual event, the President of the United States is bringing “additional weight” to the issue, and that “overshadows” the rally?  That’s just a bizarre way to frame the story.  It’s as if the headline writer called up the self-interested activists at a teachers union and asked them how to spin it.

For her part, Borg quickly recovers her bias in the subsequent paragraphs, highlighting that charter schools (which are the government’s attempt to edge into the private school market) didn’t attend the event and giving paid lobbyist William Fischer an opportunity to dismiss broader school choice than that provided by his paying clients in the government charter school interest group.  (Observe that Borg doesn’t label Fischer as a lobbyist, but as a “spokesman” — “lobbyist” having the unavoidable taint of organizations that want to push their selfish interests.)

The open question is whether the journalists at the Providence Journal are akin to activists deliberately pushing an agenda or are just so steeped in left-wing ideology that they really can’t get their brains around a truly multicultural movement, aligned more with conservatives than progressives, that wants to increase freedom and improve students’ education with much less direct personal interest than cash-flush labor unions.

Or maybe it’s just personal allegiances on the journalists’ part.  After all, although they don’t like to talk about it much, they are all AFL-CIO union members, themselves, and the AFL-CIO has a “partnership agreement” with the National Education Association (NEA), which is very strong in Rhode Island.

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And the Fake News Goes On and On

It looks like John Nolte has found a source of job security at The Daily Wire:

The original plan was to compile a list of the national media’s Fake News only as needed — but no more often than once a week. Unfortunately, our MSM has done so much lying in the last 5 days, I started to worry that I could lose track. Simply put, the last few days have been a fire hose of Fake News. Read everything below, and then try to make an argument that Steve Bannon isn’t 100% correct about the national media being the opposition party.

Locally, our ostensibly state-concerned major daily, The Providence Journal, has become like an anti-Trump pamphlet, not only in the wire stories it reprints, but also in the stories its own journalists pursue.  In doing so, the Projo is aiding local politicians in their strategy of putting Trump front and center as the latest reason Rhode Islanders shouldn’t look to closely at the mess our elected officials are making of the state.  Meanwhile, my impression mistaken, but it has seemed like the end of the anti-DePetro boycott of WPRO has caused a swing in the other direction, moving the station closer to being a platform for established interests.

We really need to develop a counter-balancing media environment.

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One Day They’ll Be Ashamed to Have Supported Planned Parenthood

Gee, hard to believe that this story isn’t getting more coverage, isn’t it?

While Live Action was hard pressed to find any Planned Parenthood that offered prenatal care, some of the investigators posing as pregnant women were offered abortions instead. The abortion business does almost one third of all abortions in the U.S. — 887 per day on average or about 320,000 a year.

“Planned Parenthood says it’s a champion of women’s health care, yet prenatal care, which is an essential service for expectant mothers, is virtually nonexistent,” said Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action. “Our investigators who wanted to keep their babies were turned away by 92 out of 97 Planned Parenthood centers. It’s clear that despite its claims, abortion is the priority and the only option for pregnant women that visit Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood is an evil organization: “some of the investigators posing as pregnant women were offered abortions instead.”

The other day, one of my young children asked how the heroes of our national founding could have supported slavery.  It occurred to me after the conversation that children of the future will ask their parents how decent people once thought it was OK to tear babies limb from limb as long as they were still a few inches from birth.

The same politicians and news media who’ll use an unsourced document about “torture” of terrorist enemies for their daily dose of outrage against the Trump administration studiously ignore the dishonesty and death-profiteering of an organization that kills innocent children.

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Doesn’t Money Have to Come from Somewhere?

A nagging question is never addressed in this Christine Dunn’s Providence Journal article:

One of the Trump administration’s first actions last Friday was the suspension of a previously announced 0.25 percentage point rate cut in the Federal Housing Administration’s annual mortgage insurance premium. The planned cut, scheduled to become effective Jan. 27, had been projected to save new FHA-insured homeowners an average of $500 this year….

The FHA is a part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and it offers mortgage insurance, most often to first-time buyers and low-income individuals. An estimated 16 percent of mortgages in the U.S. are FHA-insured. The mortgage insurance is designed to protect lenders against defaults.

Was there no information about why the Trump administration took this action or where the money comes from?  Maybe this move benefits corporate interests, or maybe it benefits taxpayers; it would seem incumbent upon journalists reporting the benefits of a government program for the recipients to also give some sense of whom it affects adversely.

Inadvertently or deliberately, this omission perpetuates an imbalanced understanding in the public, disallowing us from weighing costs when assessing how well government is making decisions.

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The Ideological MSM: Puff Pieces Versus Hit Jobs

Can we take a moment, during lunchtime to state the obvious for the benefit of those who might not see it?  If this article by Providence Journal reporter Kathy Gregg had been about a conservative grassroots movement, it would have been very different:

Groups locally and nationally are seeking to capitalize on the amalgam of energy, anger and fear that sent men and women by the thousands via car, bus, train and plane to Washington, D.C., and their home-state capitals to “make [their] voices heard.”

“Amalgam”?  If the politics were flipped, dark insinuations about funding would have played a major role in setting the tone.  As it is, Gregg doesn’t mention funding once.  A conservative-related article would also have included clearly dismissive statements attempting to make the whole thing seem like a partisan charade for the GOP.  In this case, Gregg doesn’t even bother to label far-left state Representative Aaron Regunberg as a Democrat.  The journalist would also have raised questions about how the talk of “love” and “tolerance” jibs with the vulgar and aggressive signs some were carrying.

But front and center would probably have been incidents at similar events across the country, like:

  • The man who hit a female conservative reporter in Canada.
  • The men who took signs from female pro-life marchers and mocked them while ripping them up.
  • The woman who lit a pro-Trump woman’s hair on fire in D.C.

The blatant double standard of discrediting people with whom journalists disagree, ideologically, while covering up for those who share their ideology is why people on the right don’t trust the news media.

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An Administration That Looks Better After the Election

The ordinary course of events is for politicians and their campaign staffs to be all things to all people before the election and then, after they’ve won, to start disappointing people, typically those who most wanted them to do what they promised to do.  The Trump administration, in contrast, has been comforting those who worried that all pretense of policies to the right of political center were just for show.  William McGurn recently took the Wall Street Journal to point out more encouraging news from the Trump camp:

Kellyanne Conway has just upended another Washington convention. She did so when she agreed to speak at the annual March for Life, one week after Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

With this one gesture, Mrs. Conway steals some thunder from the celebrity-heavy Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration. She focuses attention on big changes ahead for abortion policy. She challenges the feminist trope that to be a woman is to be pro-choice.

Above all, she guarantees coverage of a march the press would prefer to ignore, and gets the New York Times to report that, having “made history” as “the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign,” Mrs. Conway will now make history again as “the first sitting White House official to address the annual march in person.”

I’ve seen multiple articles, from the Newport Daily News, the Providence Journal, and so on, about a handful of women from Rhode Island marching against Trump.  The presentation has been such that one would think they were traveling by the thousand to the Middle East to protest how women are treated there, rather than taking a brief trip south for a predictably fashionable cause.

It’d be nice if somebody at the state level would bring Conway-like attention to the pro-life march.  If only Rhode Island’s first female governor were Catholic or something.

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Obama’s Crocodile Tears for American Institutions

Kevin Williamson is must reading on Obama’s crocodile tears for American institutions:

If President Obama does not understand why our institutions and the common ground they once represented are in a shambles, he need not look very far for an explanation: He is a man of the Left, and the Left corrupts every institution it touches: the news media, the educational and academic institutions, the cultural institutions, professional organizations, government bureaucracies, everything from National Geographic to the English department at the University of Texas. This is not a case of “both sides do it” or an instance of a conservative polemicist simply fitting his political opponents for black hats. If you want to understand why Americans have so little faith in institutions that were once granite pillars of respectability, you must understand the Left’s coopting of them.

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In a Bad Place with the Impolite Trump

Let’s be very, very clear:  As superficially satisfying as many of us on the right may find it, President-elect Trump’s treatment of the CNN reporter at his press conference today wasn’t appropriate.  CNN didn’t exactly sneak into the press conference, and many Americans still use it as a source for information.  Trump’s style may differ, but there are ways for a president to express disapproval without excluding journalists and, in turn, their audiences.

That said, Trump is less likely to receive push-back from his political allies than he should be for two reasons.  First, the double standard of the mainstream media leaves its practitioners deserving of ire.  Here’s a fresh example:  After weeks of hearing how unconscionable it was of Russia to use hacking and other methods to manipulate the American public, Politico reports:

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

If these efforts had worked out and Clinton had been elected, would she be the subject of as much aspersion as Trump has been with respect to Russia?  Not a chance.  That fact leaves conservatives who aren’t comfortable with Trump’s style, views, or policies less likely to echo a media that we find so incredibly un-credible.

But that’s only the first-level problem.  The deeper hindrance is that the mainstream media aided, rather than checked, President Obama when his administration suppressed the Tea Party.  Consequently, we’ve less leverage on our side.  As Glenn Reynolds often writes, the government and media crushed the polite Tea Party; welcome to the impolite consequence.

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Horwitz Cranks the Left-Wing Noise Machine on WPRO

Steve Klamkin’s WPRO interview with Roger Williams University Law Professor Andrew Horwitz is unbelievable.  Horwitz is a Rhode Island signatory to a “character assassination” letter promoted by a bunch of his peers about President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R, Alabama) as attorney general.

The guy — that is, Professor Horwitz — gave over $5,000 to Rhode Island Democrats between the 2012 and 2016 elections, and to listen to Klamkin’s interview, you’d think he’s either a neutral expert called in to talk about some apolitical topic or a charitable philanthropist who’s organizing for an objectively good cause that Klamkin wants to help him promote.

In reality, the “news” is probably that Horwitz is the typical signer of this letter: not somebody offering a professional assessment, but a political hack.  Glenn Reynolds has it right: “At this point, the Left is mostly just a noise machine.”  The longer it runs, the more people will tune it out, which will be a benefit on the political front, but a detriment when it comes to the news media and even academia.

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Obama Scandals and the Standards of Outrage

Debra Heine gives some thought to the repeat-it-until-it’s-true nonsense that the Obama Administration “hasn’t had a scandal”:

This lie was already an insult to the American voter in 2011 with the Dealergate, DOJ Black Panther whitewash, Obamafication of NEA art, Sestak affair, politically expedient IG Gerald Walpin firing, misspent stimulus funds, DOJ’s secret astroturf propaganda unit, Shorebank, oilgate, Blagojevich/Rezko /Obama corruption, Obama’s  unaccountable czars, Fast and Furious, the Gibson Guitar Raid, Pigford, Solyndra and LightSquared scandals already on the books. …

Obama’s second term began with an explosion of them: DOJ spying on the media, IRS, NSA, State Department war on whistleblowers, four EPA scandals, Obamaphones, and the “gag order” at the Department of Energy.

As time went on we saw the VA scandal, Benghazi, massive ObamaCare lies, skewing of ISIS intel, Iran deception and ransom payment, Bowe Bergdahl, the EPA’s polluting of the Colorado River, the GSA scandal, the Secret Service sex scandal, “government shutdown theater,” and of course EmailGate.

What the Obama boosters really mean is that there was no scandal that the news media and political elites were willing to treat as such.  Put simply, there hasn’t been an Obama scandal because, by definition, there could not be.

Now contrast that attitude with the obviously coordinated — up and down the political ladder — hyperventilation over a House GOP rules change making an independent ethics commission less useful as a political weapon (which has been a bipartisan, multiracial complaint).  Like the law, if application of the rules of scandal are applied in a biased way, people will stop respecting the standards.  That’s not good for any of us.  (One might even suggest we’re about to install one consequence in the White House.)

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Propaganda Reversing the Impression of Economic Conclusions

On the topic of school choice, Scott Alexander appears to have spotted an example of the way in which the mainstream media phrases research in such a way as to create a false, left-wing impression of the news.  The relevant New York Times headline is “Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It,” but looking at the data, Alexander suggests:

A more accurate way to summarize this graph is “About twice as many economists believe a voucher system would improve education as believe that it wouldn’t.”

By leaving it at “only a third of economists support vouchers”, the article implies that there is an economic consensus against the policy. Heck, it more than implies it – its title is “Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It”. But its own source suggests that, of economists who have an opinion, a large majority are pro-voucher.

In a separate post, Alexander elaborates on why he believes the Times report is skewed, but the most persuasive evidence can be found by going to the Times’s source and reading the comments of the surveyed economists.  Here’s David Autor of MIT, who was marked down as “disagreeing” that school choice would produce “a higher quality [of] education” (rating his confidence at 6 of 10) (emphasis added):

Some students would benefit and the average effect might indeed be positive. But some students would surely be harmed.

By this standard, improvement only counts if universal; indeed, that appears to be the complaint of many “disagreers,” as well as some “uncertains.”  Here’s Ray Fair of Yale, who is level-10 confident in his uncertainty:

I think the majority of public school students would be better off, but certainly not all.

Wondering how much of all expert opinion is really predicated on a priori conclusions, I can’t resist juxtaposing this with progressives’ approach to the minimum wage, regarding which they acknowledge some percentage of people will be worse off but assume the net effect will be positive.

Experts’ differing opinions are, of course, legitimate, but spinning them to create a false impression of consensus isn’t news; it’s propaganda.

DePetro Announces WPRO Departure

John DePetro’s sudden absence from his WPRO show has been so secretive that even people who tend to have behind-the-scenes information about such things on the Rhode Island right know scarcely more than the public.  Today’s announcement of his permanent departure from the radio station is no less surprising:

To all my WPRO radio listeners : At this time, I have decided to conclude my entertaining weekday 9:a.m. -12pm (noon) radio show on WPRO. Thank you to all my listeners for making 2016 my best year ever in radio, with my coverage of the Trump campaign, my many exclusives, plus my national work on The Savage nation and CNN. I am very grateful for the many loyal listeners who have been entertained by my program on WPRO over the past 10 years.

The reason for his decision remains to be revealed, and what it will mean for the state’s leading talk radio station is no more clear.  With Buddy Cianci’s recent death, the station has already shuffled around its bench, leaving John Loughlin as the only general-content host without a weekday show.

At least the Democrats who run the state have one less excuse not to make themselves available to WPRO’s hosts and audience.

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Science and News and a Sexism Double Standard

I think we can safely say that if the findings of this study were reversed, it wouldn’t be making news, much less getting the very-top-of-the-front-page treatment from the Providence Journal:

A big study of older patients hospitalized for common illnesses raises that provocative possibility — and also lots of questions. Patients who got most of their care from women doctors were more likely to leave the hospital alive than those treated by men.

If reversed results were reported, the story would be the flaws in the methodology.  As it is, the results are printed to make them seem more significant.  Saying that 11.5% of elderly patients die when treated by men, versus 11.0% treated by women, seems like a bigger deal than saying that 88.5% survive with men and 89.0% with women.  In the first case, 4.5% more patients die with male doctors; in the second, merely 0.6% more survive with women.

That small difference could be sheer coincidence or methodological flaws, and no news reporter is going to dig through the research to double-check whether every relevant factor (e.g., the average ages or specialties of the doctors) is adequately adjusted.  Similarly, what does it mean to get “most” of your care from women?

One might even file this story as “fake news,” and going forward, we shouldn’t expect that if the results from a future iteration of this report are different the public record will be corrected with the same visibly.  Actually, one might predict that the stories printed at that time will insinuate sexist recidivism, as if it’s a “setback for women.”

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Convenient, Predictable Story of the Year

You know, when the story you pick as the top one for the whole year just happens to coincide with one national party’s talking-point needs of the moment in December, you don’t do the credibility of your review any favors: 

The pounding taken by fact and truth in public life from the rise of fake news and propaganda is the 2016 National Story of the Year, according to the Pell Center at Salve Regina University.”The Story of the Year identifies the most important narrative to emerge in public life in the previous 12 months,” said G. Wayne Miller, a Providence Journal reporter, visiting fellow at the Pell Center, and director of the Story in the Public Square initiative.

Sorry, but that’s a joke, made LOL funny by this amazing coincidence with the standalone running gag that is PolitiFarce:

“Because of its powerful symbolism in an election year filled with rampant and outrageous lying – PolitiFact is naming Fake News the 2016 ‘winner,'” they added.

Others would be defensible, but in my opinion, the national story of the year was Hillary Clinton’s email fiasco, both on its own merits and for generating additional stories and even dovetailing with the whole “fake news” thing. Unfortunately, partisan organizations like most mainstream news productions and universities couldn’t pick a story that reminds people of the corrupt core that gives all of the other stories weight and plausibility.

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