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Hurricanes and Vultures

Here’s another one for your “what if the ideology were reversed” file.

Two seemingly separate items on today’s Providence Journal opinion page have a telling connection if your morning news stream looks like mine.  The first is the top-of-page political cartoon by Dave Granlund.  It shows some vultures saying, “We’re the other responders,” and holding a newspaper with headlines of people taking advantage of the victims and the destruction.

The second is a letter from Michael Hayes of East Greenwich who wants to know why, if events in Charlottesville merited four days of spontaneous front page coverage on the Providence Journal, a wave of even-more-deadly police shootings didn’t deserve the same treatment:

I wonder if anyone remembers the Black Lives Matter marches and the chants of “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now.” I guess those words were not “disgraceful” and “shameful.”

Where were the headlines “WAR ON POLICE CONTINUES” or those telling us that our Rhode Island leaders were “sickened” over the killing of police officers?

The story that connects these two items comes courtesy of left-wing activist Linda Sarsour, who has had a high profile with “The Resistance,” offering the news media an opportunity for photos of a hijab-wearing radical.  Sarsour’s response to Hurricane Harvey’s devastation was to promote a left-wing community organizing PAC under the title of “Hurricane Relief Fund.”  Called on the scheme, Sarsour could only draw the fine distinction that it wasn’t her PAC and accuse people of being white supremacists.

So, what do you think?  If some prominent right winger were out there telling people that a donation to a conservative PAC in Texas was “hurricane relief,” would that be transformed into a national story?

Even if you wouldn’t go that far, the letter to the editor and the Sarsour story provide a reminder that we can’t rely on mainstream news outlets to keep us informed about what’s going on in the world would have a distorted view.

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Reality Reasserting Itself… for Some

Frank Somerville, an anchor for KTVU news in California, has declined the mainstream veil of silence on the nature of Antifa.  After visiting the “anti-hate protest” in Berkeley, he wrote:

I walked away stunned. I grew up in Berkeley. I marched in anti-war protests during the sixties. It’s one thing to read about hate. It’s another thing to be right next to it. In my opinion, these people dressed in black are just as hateful and intolerant as the people they are protesting against.

Afterward I was talking to several other protesters (not dressed in black). One of them actually stood up for me as the people dressed in black were threatening me. I was touched. They were just as disappointed as I was. They said that the people dressed in black represent a small minority and that they “hijack” the protests.

I can’t help but contrast, however, the insistence that this represents “a small minority” “hijacking” protests with the treatment of the Tea Party.  The conservatives didn’t even have “a small minority” hurting people and breaking things, and they received no credit for it.  Rather, the news media slandered the entire movement and yawned away a “non-scandal” as the Obama Administration’s IRS targeted such groups to disrupt their political advocacy and harass them.

(Curious, isn’t it, that the “small minority” of vicious masked thugs is on the same ideological side as the administration that corrupted government into dictatorial behavior.  It seems almost like a coordinated effort to undermine our system of government.)

As the new saying goes, that’s a big part of why you got Trump.

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Obscuring Reality One Headline at a Time

The dishonesty of reporting about Antifa has been something to behold, even down to the local level of the Newport Daily News.  On Monday, the paper carried an AP story about violence in Berkeley on page A2 with the headline, “Berkeley protest against hate turns violent as left, right clash.”  Here’s the first paragraph:

Black-clad anarchists on Sunday stormed into what had been a largely peaceful Berkeley protest against hate and attacked at least four people, including the leader of a politically conservative group who canceled an event a day earlier in San Francisco because of fears violence could break out.

Two notes:  The headline makes it sound as if there were two groups of substantial size fighting.  That’s a “clash.”  When one group arrives and assaults the other, that’s an “attack.”  Catch, also, the qualifier that the “protest against hate” had only been “largely peaceful.”  In other words, what Berkeley saw was a very violent subgroup enter into a larger — ideologically sympathetic — group that was already engaging in some violence and the now-larger mob attacking the actually peaceful protesters with which the mob disagrees.

Here’s video of Arthur Christopher Schaper, who occasionally submits essays to the Ocean State Current, being chased by a mob and then spat upon.  Now, Arthur’s more of a provocateur than I am, but journalists across the country should begin considering whether they really want to further a narrative that compounds the injustice to those attacked by left-wing mobs by denying the reality of the attack.

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When Tyranny Comes to the United States

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby has some worthwhile things to say about the anti-free-speech mob in Boston last weekend.  Many people praised the Boston police for preventing street battles, but it wasn’t the police work that did that, but rather the fact that the nature of the planned free-speech rally had been promoted falsely as white supremacist by local politicians and news media across the country:

Result: The free-speech rally took place in a virtual cone of silence. Its participants “spoke essentially to themselves for about 50 minutes,” the Globe reported. “If any of them said anything provocative, the massive crowd did not hear it.”  [Journalists were also kept away.]

Even some of the rally’s own would-be attendees were kept from the bandstand. But when Police Commissioner Bill Evans was asked at a press conference Saturday afternoon whether it was right to treat them that way, he was unapologetic.

“You know what,” he said, “if they didn’t get in, that’s a good thing, because their message isn’t what we want to hear.”

Think about this, folks.  Here’s a government agent deciding that a particular message isn’t worth hearing, and rather than ensure that the angry mob could not interfere with the message of the group, the police created a “cone of silence” that even journalists weren’t permitted to enter.  This is censorship, cut and dried.

All it takes is for some reckless talk from political elites’ affixing an implied swastika on a group, and that group apparently loses its constitutional rights.  The reaction of the local authorities is “unapologetic,” not intent on reevaluating the actions to determine whether more could have been done to preserve those rights.

Perhaps that’s not surprising in a city whose people tolerated door-to-door raids while “sheltering in place” after the marathon bombing.

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Mainstream Media Figures Should Give More Details on Decisions

Last week, Providence Journal Executive Editor Alan Rosenberg penned a column on “how [the paper] decided on big front-page treatments of stories related to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, four days in a row, starting last Sunday.”  Unfortunately, he never quite gets to the interesting part, which is why a particular story is bigger news than another.

Why, for example, was it “of course” the right move to put promoting an “anti-white-supremacy vigil at the Rhode Island State House” on the front page Monday?  I’m not suggesting it wasn’t, but what made it so?  Is that what Providence Journal readers want to know about, especially?  Was the hope to tap into interest in a national story with a local angle?

By Wednesday, such questions have a little sharper edge.  Why was President Trump’s “both sides” comment so newsworthy as to bring the front-page coverage count to four days?  These aren’t idle questions, because as we saw, coverage like that provided by the Projo contributed to a massive mob descending on Boston to intimidate a small group of local free-speech advocates.  Where do the objective news decisions end and the contribution to a partisan left-wing narrative begin?

Ed Driscoll recently raised a telling reminder on Instapundit:

Note that this syndicated column by Ruben Navarrette, Jr. is running in the San Francisco Chronicle,which buried its editors’ videotaped interview with Obama in January of 2008 in which he vowed to bankrupt the coal industry, instead of putting his words in giant 72 point type on its front page the next day. A serious presidential candidate vowing to wipe a major industry should be major news no matter what your political leanings or your views on environmentalism. Its omission by the Chronicle served as a stark reminder that long ago, old media morphed into Democratic operatives with bylines, who merely produce content as a side function of their main goal of keeping their team in power and accumulating more of it.

It sure feels that way, and if Driscoll’s impression is incorrect, the Rosenbergs of the news industry are going to have to be a little more detailed in their explanations of why.

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Out of Touch Elite Don’t See the Nerve Trump Touches

Rod Dreher got to this point before I was able to do so:

The news media have been seriously distorting public reaction to Trump’s handling of Charlottesville. Whether this is a matter of only seeing what they want to see, or a matter of the talking heads being concentrated among coastal elites of both parties, is a matter of conjecture. True, a slight majority of Americans think Trump didn’t go far enough, but judging from the coverage and commentary, you would have thought at Charlottesville, Trump met his Waterloo. It didn’t happen. Charlottesville is not nearly as big a deal to Americans as it is to the media and coastal elites.

From coverage in the national media (and across the board, here in the Northeast), one would expect the “not far enough” opinion to rate in the 90s.  The only quibble I’d make is that Dreher skipped one possibility:  Maybe it’s not only that journalists are seeing what they want to see within their coastal elite bubble, but that they actively want to shape the narrative.

Whatever the case, one might fairly suggest that, when it comes to anything having to do with President Trump, journalists aren’t doing their job.  That’s true even if they see their “job” in some respects to be advancing their ideology.  Consider this, from Dreher:

This is likely to cause them to seriously overreach. If Democrats and liberals only pay attention to the media and to each other on the statue debate, they are going to alienate a lot of people. The hostile media environment has made it very difficult for anybody to speak up for keeping the statues, even though that is a majority opinion in America. So people will keep that opinion to themselves.

Keeping their opinions to themselves doesn’t mean forgetting the issue altogether.  Even people who don’t particularly care about Confederate statues will observe the way things work, these days, and may conclude that the country very much needs forces pushing back against the elite zeitgeist.  President Trump is currently the most visible manifestation of that conclusion, and I fear there are worse.

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We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Left-Wing Violence

So… Boston.  A small group organized what turned out to be an actual rally for free speech, and left-wing “counter protesters” — likely ranging from Antifa to well-meaning college kids and others — turned out ready to brawl with Nazis.  In fairness, the news media promoted it as if it was the same sort of white supremacist rally as in Charlottesville, because that sold stories and helped them advance the narrative that racists are resurgent in America.

When it turned out there were no white supremacists to attack, the “counter-protesters” dragged an elderly woman by her American flag, screamed threats at a young man with a MAGA hat and an Israeli flag, and threw bottles of urine at police officers.

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds offers a related reminder:

Note that although the Tea Party movement was treated much worse by mainstream media than Antifa has been, Tea Partiers never physically attacked journalists, or anyone. Note also that this didn’t get the Tea Party any credit, or even spare it from being compared to Nazis and the Klan.

Shame on the journalists and politicians creating the false sense of boogeymen.  On the other hand, thank you for doubling down on your ideological winnings from last week and losing it all, bringing us back to status quo ante: left-wing violence and opposition to free speech.

From what I’m reading, more “counter protesters” were arrested than actual free-speech advocates attended.  Guess that means there really aren’t two sides to the political violence.  The whole thing was a good lesson, though, of what the Left, mainstream media, and national Democrats hope to accomplish by tarring the entire Right as racist and minimizing the violence of the Left.

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Once Upon a Time, Media Bias Was Actually Debatable

Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice details the latest findings in his organization’s investigation of the government’s cover-up of the meeting between former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a time when Lynch was investigating Clinton’s wife, who (you may recall) was running for president and was heavily favored by the Left, including the news media.

Sekulow points out that it wasn’t just a government cover-up:

… there is clear evidence that the main stream media was colluding with the DOJ to bury the story. A Washington Post reporter, speaking of the Clinton Lynch meeting story, said, “I’m hoping I can put it to rest .” The same Washington Post reporter, interacting with the DOJ spin team, implemented specific DOJ requests to change his story to make the Attorney General appear in a more favorable light. A New York Times reporter apologetically told the Obama DOJ that he was being “pressed into service” to have to cover the story. As the story was breaking, DOJ press officials stated, “I also talked to the ABC producer, who noted that they aren’t interested, even if Fox runs with it.”

Americans cannot trust the national media to cover the federal government or national politics.  They’re on a side.  Period.

I can’t help but recall wistfully a time when President George W. Bush generated mild controversy by visibly carrying a copy of Bernard Goldberg’s book, Bias.  The rapid contrast of the Obama Era sandwiched between the Bush and Trump administrations answered that debate definitively.

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Some Real Scandals We Hear Less About than We Should

The headline given to Tyler O’Neil’s recent PJMedia essay probably captures the sense of many of us on the political right: “Imran Awan Scandal Shows Just How Much Dirt Dems Wanted to Hide By Focusing on Trump-Russia.”  Over on National Review Online, Andrew McCarthy offers a worthy summary, with due incredulity:

… the proceeds of the fraudulent $165,000 loan they’d gotten from the Congressional Federal Credit Union had been sent ahead. It was part of a $283,000 transfer that Awan managed to wire from Capitol Hill. He pulled it off — hilariously, if infuriatingly — by pretending to be his wife in a phone call with the credit union. Told that his proffered reason for the transfer (“funeral arrangements”) wouldn’t fly, “Mrs.” Awan promptly repurposed: Now “she” was “buying property.” Asking no more questions, the credit union wired the money . . . to Pakistan.

As you let all that sink in, consider this: Awan and his family cabal of fraudsters had access for years to the e-mails and other electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. It turns out they were accessing members’ computers without their knowledge, transferring files to remote servers, and stealing computer equipment — including hard drives that Awan & Co. smashed to bits of bytes before making tracks.

On NewsBusters, Tim Graham notes how little coverage the issue is getting in the mainstream media, including avoidance of party designations and some the more-disturbing aspects of the story, such as national security implications.  Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds offers a significant observation with his habitual insight and brevity:

Weird how, since the connection to Democratic dirty-tricks firm Fusion GPS came up, the press stopped talking about the Russia “collusion” story overnight.

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Raimondo Transparency: Ain’t Your Business

Rhode Island House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan (R, Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) asked the administration of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo for some information about a public relations firm’s activities placing stories about Rhode Island in out-of-town publications at taxpayer expense.  Here’s the response:

Our office completed a review of the requested materials. There is one document responsive to your request but is being withheld, as it is not deemed public. This document is an internal e-mail thread reflecting work product of the Governor’s staff.

The next paragraph laughably invites the person requesting the information to appeal the decision to Raimondo Chief of Staff Brett Smiley, a left-wing activist.

Given the notable, noteworthy, and much-noted appearances of our governor in out-of-state publications that were explicitly promoting her, not Rhode Island, one would think her administration would be eager to prove that it isn’t buying that coverage with taxpayer dollars.  The lack of transparency will inevitably make Rhode Islanders suspicious that this may be exactly what the governor is doing.

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Campaigning on Your Dime; Dud of a Press Conference

In case anybody missed it, I’d like to highlight the following item from this week’s Political Scene in the Providence Journal:

Gov. Gina Raimondo has a new $61,751 staffer: RISD grad Jon Gourlay. His newly created job title: “Creative Manager — Governor’s Communications Office.” His actual role: producing web videos for Governor Raimondo, who is expected to run for reelection next year.

To some extent, her spokesman, Mike Raia, has a point when he says, “The way people get their information has changed, and elected leaders need to generate creative content to break through on social media and other digital and curated platforms.”  The content of the videos will be the decisive tell, though.

If Rhode Islanders get short instructional videos about interacting with government or more-catchy-than-usual public service announcements, the governor’s office will have an argument.  However, if we get more self-promotional trash like this, then the “21st century constituency” stuff will have proven to be just spin.

I know which way I’d bet, especially given what appears to have been a dud of a press conference from the governor, yesterday.  Is Raimondo so thoroughly without political chips that she’s got nothing but words to salvage a budget containing her single biggest emphasis of the past year?  She just doesn’t seem to get how to govern or use leverage and communications to bring about real action, so why would her new employee’s videos be dedicated to that purpose?*

* Before she actually became governor, Raimondo’s success with pension reform would have seemed to suggest otherwise, based on the “Truth in Numbers” campaign.  As time goes on, though, that issue is looking more like a one-hit-wonder achievement, perhaps founded more on the promise that her mild reform would make the mammoth problem of pension funding go away.  The clock is ticking toward the date at which the fallacy will be proven.

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“Collusion” Among Newspapers, Researchers, and “the Resistance”

This is perhaps a minor thing, and it’s certainly a little outside of my usual scope, here, but being a language guy, I found it to encapsulate the bias that many of us see in the news media.  This is from text by the Washington Post’s Ashley Parker that appears as a brief sidebar in today’s Providence Journal.  The Projo gave it the online headline, “White House blames Obama for failing to stop Russia collusion“:

The White House blamed the Obama administration Sunday for failing to tackle possible Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election, sticking with a new strategy to fault President Donald Trump’s predecessor for an issue currently facing the president himself as part of a widening FBI probe.

Either Parker and the Projo’s online headline writer are attempting to deceive readers or they don’t know what “collusion” means.  They use the word to mean, broadly, Russian interference or meddling in the election, but it actually requires some sort of agreement, in this case between somebody in the Trump campaign and the Russian government.  Even with all of the illegal leaks newspapers have published in the last however-many months, we’ve seen no evidence of collusion, and yet journalists are using that mere allegation as the characterization of the whole “widening FBI probe.”

This sort of peep-hole into the thinking and decisions of people who claim to be objective investigators gives an example of why so many of us are suspicious of all such claims.  Consider the legislation that looks likely to become law this year to shield researchers in state institutions of higher education from public records requests.

Maybe there’s an argument to be made for the transparency exception on more procedural grounds — if serious scientists are avoiding employment in state institutions because having to divulge “preliminary drafts, notes and working papers” hobbles them in professional competition with other researchers, but that’s not how it’s being presented.  It’s being presented as a mechanism for hiding the work on the hotly contested issue of climate change on behalf of a governing elite that has given the people no justification for trust.

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