Category Archives: Media/Journalism

World Press Freedom Index 2017 Finds Democracies Are Clamping Down

Alistair Walsh and Wolfgang Dick report for DW:

Infographic Freedom of press - best and worst from each continentPress freedom deteriorated in two thirds of the world’s countries, according to the Press Freedom Report published on Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF.)

“The rate at which democracies are approaching the tipping point is alarming for all those who understand that, if media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms can be guaranteed,” RSF Secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

RSF, the non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Paris, has consultant status at the United Nations. It investigated freedom of media and journalists in 180 countries and found democracies, as well as dictatorships, had increasingly clamped down on press freedom.

Researchers found that high-level politicians had used their power to quash media reports – a trend which was particularly frightening, according to Michael Rediske, Chief Executive of the group.

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Are Governments Finding New Ways to Suppress the Media?

Martine Dennis speaks with Mohamad Elmasry, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Martin Schibbye, a Swedish Journalist who was jailed for more than a year in Ethiopia, to discuss the new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists about the suppression of the media around the world. (Al Jazeera)

Wikipedia Founder Launches ‘Community-Driven’ News Service

Press Gazette reports:

Image result for wikitribuneWikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is launching a crowd-funded news service where supporters can pay for a say in the topics being covered.

The internet entrepreneur has created Wikitribune, a news initiative which says it will see professional journalists and community contributors produce “fact-checked, global news stories”.

The new site will be free to use, but also accept donations from monthly “supporters” who will then be able to suggest topics to be covered – while the site also says it will publish full transcripts of interviews where possible as part of transparency plans.

“Wikitribune is news by the people and for the people,” Wales said.

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Trump’s Fake War on the Fake News

Ben Schreckinger and Hadas Gold report for Politico:

WhiteHousePress-Lede-ByMattChase.jpg[…] In societies around the world, anthropologists have observed a phenomenon called “ritualized warfare,” a sort of pantomime of battle most famously observed among the Dani people of Papua New Guinea, who would regularly line up in formation to shout insults and shoot arrows at warriors from rival villages with no decisive outcome. The practice results in a lot of noise and relatively little bloodshed, allowing both sides to advertise their courage and vent emotion while avoiding catastrophic loss of human life.

The practice might look familiar to the new president. On the campaign trail, Trump called the press “dishonest” and “scum.” He defended Russian strongman Vladimir Putin against charges of murdering journalists and vowed to somehow “open up our libel laws” to weaken the First Amendment. Since taking office, he has dismissed unfavorable coverage as “fake news” and described the mainstream media as “the enemy of the American people.” And there’s been a string of symbolic, almost gratuitous little slaps: He not only rejected the traditional invitation to the White House Correspondents Association dinner, but announced the Saturday beforehand that he’d be holding a rally the same night, meaning some reporters will have to skip their own professional event to cover his. Not since Richard Nixon has an American president been so hostile to the press—and Nixon largely limited his rants against the media to private venting with his aides.

But behind that theatrical assault, the Trump White House has turned into a kind of playground for the press. We interviewed more than three dozen members of the White House press corps, along with White House staff and outside allies, about the first whirlwind weeks of Trump’s presidency. Rather than a historically toxic relationship, they described a historic gap between the public perception and the private reality.

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It’s James Murdoch’s Fox News Now

Michael Wolff writes for Hollywood Reporter:

After The New York Times wrote about the sexual harassment claims leveled at Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and the settlements made by the company and O’Reilly himself, James Murdoch, according to 21st Century Fox sources, kept repeating with horror to his friends and executives: “This is on the front page of The New York Times!”

These sources say James Murdoch’s longtime annoyance if not disgust with Fox News became cold fury after the Times‘ April 1 story — even though several of the O’Reilly settlements had happened when James was CEO of the parent company. This was a similar reaction to what had followed the harassment suit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson against Fox News chief Roger Ailes in July. Every time Fox controversies spilled over into the wider world, James took it personally. “It was somehow against him,” says one person close to the Murdochs.

Fox News is a business he should not be in, he had told people before, despite its major contribution to 21st Century Fox’s bottom line — 20 percent of its profits came from Fox News last year, the biggest-earning division in the company. Presumably, he meant the in-your-face world of conservative cable news with its mega personalities. Indeed, James regarded many of the people at Fox News as thuggish Neanderthals and said he was embarrassed to be in the same company with them.

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Pundits Who Helped Sell NATO’s Destruction of Libya Push for Trump to Lead Syria Regime Change

Ben Norton writes for AlterNet:

Pundits across the U.S. are amplifying the calls for further military intervention in Syria, as the Trump administration indicates regime change may be back on the agenda. The U.S. attacked the Syrian government on April 6, launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at a major air base, destroying 20 percent of its planes, according to the Pentagon.

Major media outlets, most politicians from both sides of the aisle and irascible war-hawk writers applauded the Trump administration’s strike with gusto. The uniformity with which the commentariat has embraced the attack hearkens back to six years ago, when many of these same people and publications cheered as NATO overthrew Libya’s government, plunging the oil-rich North African nation into chaos from which it is still reeling.

The 2011 war in Libya was justified in the name of supposed humanitarian intervention, but it was a war for regime change, plain and simple. A report released by the British House of Commons’ bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee in 2016 acknowledged that the intervention was sold on lies — but by the time it was published, the damage was already done.

Today, Libya is in complete ruins. There is no functioning central authority for swaths of the country; multiple governments compete for control. The genocidal extremist group ISIS has, in Libya, carved out its largest so-called caliphate outside of Iraq and Syria.

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As U.S. Prepares Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald Says Prosecuting WikiLeaks Threatens Press Freedom

Amy Goodman speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald who responds to reports that the Trump administration has prepared an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Democracy Now!)

The Lazy “Jeremy Corbyn Is Unelectable” Propaganda Trope

Thomas G. Clark writes for Another Angry Voice:

Image result for jeremy corbyn unelectablePolitical propaganda works by programming intellectually lazy people with very simple tropes that they can rote learn and regurgitate instead of doing the hard work of actually researching and thinking about the issues for themselves.

Two of the most ubiquitous of these glib political propaganda tropes are the “Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable” one and the “Theresa May is a strong leader one”.

I’ve already written an article ripping the ludicrously counterfactual right-wing “Theresa May is a strong leader” trope to shreds (see here) and this article exists to confront the “Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable” one.

If every Labour Party supporter uses this as a reply every single time they see the “unelectable” trope being wheeled out, maybe it might eradicate this vacuous right-wing propaganda nonsense by getting people actually talking about Labour’s actual policies, rather than just blibber-blabbering their rote-learned political propaganda tropes all over the place.

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The Alex Jones Deception

The following documentary examines far-right radio host Alex Jones, and the affect his fear-mongering and conspiracy theories have had on the American public. Also explored is the relationship between him and Donald Trump, and the numerous contradictions of Alex Jones. (Reich Wing Watch)

 

The Unprecedented Danger of Prosecuting Julian Assange

Kate Knibbs writes for The Ringer:

[…] WikiLeaks has published documents without redacting personal information of ordinary people. As an organization, it has frequently behaved irresponsibly and, some have argued, despicably. It has also exposed corruption and criminality by state powers. The quality, morality, necessity, and overall prudence of its editorial choices are beside the point. What matters is that it appears that the Trump administration has decided that it is going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information.

There were warning signs that this was coming. CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” during a speech last week, and bizarrely insisted that Assange does not have First Amendment protection as a non-U.S. citizen. (That is not how the First Amendment works; if Assange were to be prosecuted on U.S. soil, he would enjoy the same Constitutional protections as a citizen. To insist otherwise is a radical reinterpretation deeply at odds with how the Bill of Rights has been applied.) Attorney General Jeff Sessionscalled Assange’s arrest a “priority” at a press conference Thursday. However, seeking his arrest would demonstrate a remarkable about-face from President Trump, as he repeatedly and effusively praised WikiLeaks during his campaign. “WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks!” he told a crowd at an October rally.

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Red Scare 2.0: Louise Mensch Has A List Of Suspected Russian Agents

Joseph Bernstein reports for BuzzFeed News:

Since last November’s election, the former British politician Louise Mensch has transformed herself into the leader of a wide-ranging internet investigation into Russian espionage and influence in American politics, media, and business. Every day, Mensch and her network of online detectives unravel what they claim is a massive conspiracy linking the Kremlin, the Republican Party, armies of internet trolls, and moneyed puppet masters around the world.

Mensch, who sometimes tweets hundreds of times a day, has claimed or implied that targets ranging from top government officials to journalists to teenagers to anonymous Twitter users are in thrall to Vladimir Putin.

Just since Inauguration Day, according to an extensive review of her tweets, the New York–based Mensch has accused at least 210 people and organizations of being under Russian government influence.

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First Roger Ailes, Now Bill O’Reilly: Sexual Harassment Scandal Ousts Top Men at Fox News

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Sheikh speak with civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom who represents three women who have accused Bill O’Reilly of unwanted sexual advances. (Democracy Now!)

 

Donald Trump Has Raised His Approval Ratings by Embracing His Inner Bomb

Annalisa Merelli reports for Quartz:

In this April 6, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump walks from the podium after speaking at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria. Trump’s White House, one perpetually plagued by infighting among aides jockeying for the president’s ear, has been sharply divided by a new rivalry, one pitting his powerful son-in-law with unfettered access to the president against the sharp-elbowed ideologue who fueled Trump’s populist campaign rhetoric. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Since before he became president on Jan. 20, Donald Trump’s approval ratings have been low, to say the least: Trump has consistently registered lower than any president in recent history, even when comparing his performance with predecessors dealing with especially difficult circumstances (the Great Recession, for instance).

As of April 18,—88 days into his term—Trump’s approval rating is 39% according to the Marist Poll, 41% per Gallup, and 40% per a CBS News poll. Low as these numbers may be, there are good news for the president, significantly up from the end of March, when at 35% according to Gallup, Trump had its worst rating ever.

The trend has flipped upward for Trump. And it’s not because his record on keeping electoral promises has significantly improved. No, something else looks to be the cause of his increase in popularity—war, or the threat of it.

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The Rise of Left-Wing, Anti-Trump Fake News

BBC Trending reports:

fake news imageSince the US election presidential race, fact checking websites report what seems like an increase in anti-Trump, ‘liberal fake news’.

The fact-checking site Snopes told BBC Trending radio that in the past week, for example, they have debunked many more anti-Republican party stories than pro-Republican ones.

One example of an incorrect story is the unflattering, digitally-manipulated image, which suggested that US President Donald Trump had diarrhoea during a recent golf outing.

It’s hard to gather definitive data on the political bias in fake news stories, so the evidence for a rise in ‘liberal fake news’ is essentially anecdotal. But a recent study did effectively debunk the stereotype that fake news tends to be shared more by uneducated people or those with right-leaning politics, as compared to other groups.

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CNN Treats Politics Like Sports — and It’s Making Us All Dumber

When you treat politics like a game, you’re going to end up with news coverage that cares more about drama than it does about the truth. CNN has modeled it’s political coverage after shows like ESPN’s First Take, pitting commentators against each other to argue about the day’s news stories. That makes for cheap and entertaining television, but in the Trump era, it’s turned CNN into a circus of bullshit and misinformation. (Vox)

MSNBC Host’s Conspiracy Theory: What If Putin Planned the Syrian Chemical Attack to Help Trump?

Avi Selk reports for The Washington Post:

Image result for MSNBC Host’s Conspiracy Theory: What If Putin Planned the Syrian Chemical Attack to Help Trump?A volley of U.S. cruise missiles had barely been launched into Syria before the Internet filled up with fact-free theories about the real reason for an international crisis.

A popular one on the right-most fringes: The U.S. government actually carried out the chemical weapons massacre in Syria last week — a “false flag” to trick President Trump into retaliating, thus entangling himself in a foreign war.

A slightly more convoluted strain on the left: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the chemical weapons massacre to help Trump — distracting Americans from an investigation into Trump’s campaign ties to Russia by provoking the missile strike.

That theory — evidence-free — was laid out on a small anti-Trump website shortly after the missile strike.

But it went mainstream Friday night, when Lawrence O’Donnell advanced similar speculation on his MSNBC show, “The Last Word.”

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How the Alt-Right Brought #SyriaHoax to America

Ben Nimmo reports for the Digital Forensic Research Lab:

US President Donald Trump’s decision to launch strikes against Syria in the wake of a major chemical weapons attack provoked outrage from the far-right groups who were his most aggressive supporters. As rumors of the impending strikes broke, they launched an online campaign claiming that the chemical attack had been a hoax.

The hashtag followed two days of reporting by the so-called “alt-right” — anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, socially conservative and, until the strikes, vociferously pro-Trump — that the chemical attack had been staged.

The DFRLab has traced the origins of the story, and found that the alt-right coverage was based on report in a propaganda outlet linked to the Assad regime.

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Chris Hedges: U.S. Media ‘Kneejerk Cheerleading’ After Syria Strike Nothing New

Anya Parampil speaks with award winning journalist Chris Hedges about the U.S. media’s selective use of facts to further their agenda. (RT America)

Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes – Zero Are Critical

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

NYT: On Syria Attack, Trump's Heart Came FirstFive major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News—offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes. By contrast, the five papers ran a total of 18 op-eds, columns or “news analysis” articles (dressed-up opinion pieces) that either praised the strikes or criticized them for not being harsh enough.

[…] Some, such as “The Riddle of Trump’s Syria Attack” (New York Times, 4/7/17) and “Was That Syria Attack Legal? Only Congress Can Say” (USA Today, 4/7/17) were value neutral—neither expressly in support of the attacks nor opposing them.

Cable news coverage was equally fawning. In the hours immediately following the attack, MSNBC had on a seemingly never-ending string of military brass and reporters who uncritically repeated the assertion the strikes were “proportional” and “limited.”  MSNBC didn’t give a platform to a single dissenting voice until four hours after the attacks began, when host Chris Hayes, according to his own account, had on two guests opposed to the airstrikes in the midnight slot.  MSNBC host Brian Williams got into a bit of hot water when he lovingly admired a slick video sent over by the Pentagon showing tomahawk missiles being fired from US navy vessels (FAIR.org, 4/7/17).

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The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.

Trump, on Thursday night, ordered an attack that the Pentagon said included the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles which “targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.” The governor of Homs, the Syrian province where the attack occurred, said early this morning that the bombs killed seven civilians and wounded nine.

The Pentagon’s statement said the attack was “in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.” Both Syria and Russia vehemently deny that the Syrian military used chemical weapons.

When asked about this yesterday by the Globe and Mail’s Joanna Slater, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged an investigation to determine what actually happened before any action was contemplated, citing what he called “continuing questions about who is responsible”.

But U.S. war fever waits for nothing. Once the tidal wave of American war frenzy is unleashed, questioning the casus belli is impermissible. Wanting conclusive evidence before bombing commences is vilified as sympathy with and support for the foreign villain (the same way that asking for evidence of claims against Russia instantly converts one into a “Kremlin agent” or “stooge”).

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Trump Conspiracy Tweetstorms Are The Infowars Of The Left

Paul Blest writes for The Concourse:

The fastest-growing career in America is not, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics would have you believe, in installing and repairing wind turbines. The fastest-growing career is doing 63 tweets in a row about why Donald Trump is a Manchurian president.

An increasing number of D-list Twitter celebrities are spewing unhinged takes and loosely-connected conspiracy theories about the still-developing story of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the election. And they’re building sizable online fanbases among frustrated liberals by telling them exactly what they want to hear.

Most recently, Seth Abramson—a Huffington Post blogger, former attorney, and assistant English professor at the University of New Hampshire who once “remixed” mass shooter Elliot Rodgers last words into a poem—has emerged as the reigning king of diarrhea tweeting. Instead of simply threading his tweets like the rest of us plebes, Abramson has billed them as “mega-threads,” and their repackaging and promotion often take the form of a snake eating its own asshole.

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The Hottest Story About Trump and Russia You Never Heard

David Talbot, author of The Devil’s Chessboard, writes for the San Francisco Chronicle:

In this March 31, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with the National Association of Manufacturers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Slim majorities of Americans favor independent investigations into Trump’s relationship with the Russian government and possible attempts by Russia to influence last year’s election according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Photo: Evan Vucci, Associated Press[…] The media has a short attention span. In November, Newsweek called for Comey to be not just fired, but run out of Washington on a rail as “unfit for public service.” But last week, the magazine ran an article praising his honesty and “transparency” and claiming that he had tried to blow the whistle on Russia’s interference in the U.S. election back in July — only to be blocked by the timid Obama administration. Comey’s PR offensive is clearly producing impressive results — from Washington scoundrel to hero in just months!

But not all the media has jumped on the Comey bandwagon. If you want to read the most fascinating new angle about the Trump-Russia-FBI drama, you should check out WhoWhatWhy.org. Last week, the spunky investigative publication broke a major story about the Russia shadow play, reporting that Comey chose not to tell all about the Trump-Moscow connection during the U.S. presidential race “because doing so would jeopardize a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to Trump.”

But if the FBI can’t reveal the sordid details, WhoWhatWhy does, with a reporting team that included publication founder Russ Baker, a respected investigative journalist, and former Village Voice Executive Editor Jonathan Z. Larsen. The article reveals a fascinating world where mobsters and financial hustlers conducted business out of Trump Tower suites, brokering deals that often led back to Semion Mogilevich, a Russian crime kingpin closely connected to Putin whom one FBI official described as “the boss of bosses.” Some of these deals, reports the WhoWhatWhy team, clearly benefited Trump, whose shaky empire was rescued by a pipeline of Russian credit and investment in the early 2000s.

The shady activity at Trump Tower was closely monitored by the FBI’s New York office, according to Baker and Larsen. But the bureau doesn’t emerge as exactly heroic in the reporters’ article. Two of the FBI agents who investigated the corrupt business operations centered in Trump Tower later went to work as private security contractors for the Trump presidential campaign.

And then there’s the million-dollar question of why Comey chose to sit on this explosive investigation into Trump’s financial dependence on Russian mobsters and oligarchs. Once again, the FBI director — an official who is supposed to be scrupulously above partisan politics — chose to play his shadowy Washington game rather than informing the American people.

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Tabloids ‘Worse For Vocabulary Than Not Reading a Paper’

Judith Burns reported for BBC News in November 2014:

Image result for TabloidsReaders of tabloid papers have smaller vocabularies than people who do not read newspapers, suggests a study.

The University of London’s Institute of Education compared vocabulary test scores and reading habits of 9,400 British people born in 1970.

The researchers analysed data collected at the ages of 10, 16 and 42.

As well as the tabloids finding, they said childhood reading for fun boosted vocabulary throughout life, while highbrow fiction helped adults further.

The research team drew on the 1970 British Cohort Study, which collects information on a group of people from England, Scotland and Wales who were born in the same week.

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Who Bankrolls Breitbart News?

Amy Goodman recently spoke to Jane Mayer about Robert Mercer and his family’s bankrolling of Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, as well as some of Bannon’s film projects. (Democracy Now!)

Julian Assange Waits for Ecuador’s Election to Decide His Future

Esther Addley, Jonathan Watts and David Crouch report for The Guardian:

Image result for assange ecuadorFor Ecuador’s 15 million inhabitants, Sunday’s presidential election runoff will pose a fundamental question: whether to continue with a leftwing government that has reduced poverty but also brought environmental destruction and authoritarian censorship, or to take a chance on a pro-business banker who promises economic growth but is accused of siphoning money to offshore accounts.

But they are not the only ones for whom the result will be critically important. Thousands of miles away, in the country’s tiny embassy in central London, Julian Assange will be watching closely to see if his four and a half years of cramped asylum could be coming to an abrupt, enforced end.

Guillermo Lasso, the businessman and leading opposition candidate, has vowed that if he wins, the WikiLeaks founder’s time in the embassy will be up. Lasso has said he would “cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate”, because his presence in the Knightsbridge embassy was a burden on Ecuadorian taxpayers.

 

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Media Hype About Westminster Attack Will Only Encourage Others

Simon Jenkins writes for The Guardian:

Image result for Westminster AttackOn Wednesday afternoon a car went on to the pavement on Westminster bridge and killed three passersby. A man leapt out and stabbed a policeman. He was shot. No one knew who he was, only that he was dark-skinned and bearded. The police later released the names of those who tragically died in this dreadful incident. The possibly intended victims – members of parliament – were not harmed.

That is how we normally report the people who die by knifing in London each year, usually by those who are enraged or mentally deranged. Yet more are run down by cars. This is sad but not unusual. Some of those involved are Muslims. Of course it seems different when the attack is on an iconic site in central London, but that is merely how it seems.

What made Wednesday different was its instant subjection to an avalanche of supposition and speculation. This was a choice made by the media and political community, a choice to direct the view of a terrible incident entirely in one direction, even when nothing was known of its cause. Because it looked like a terrorist incident – albeit ham-fisted – and it was not initially known if it was a decoy, it was assumed to be such. Without a shred of evidence, and no “claimed responsibility”, the airwaves and press were flooded with assumptions that it was “Isis-inspired”. It was squeezed for every conceivable ounce of sensation and emotion.

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Westminster attacker acted alone and motive may never be known, say police

The Westminster attack was not new, London has faced far worse

Crude nature of Westminster attack suggests limited Isis network in Britain

 

Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Backs Off ‘Pizzagate’ Claims

Paul Farhi reports for The Washington Post:

Image result for Alex Jones Backs Off ‘Pizzagate’ ClaimsAlex Jones, the conspiracy-loving media personality, apologized Friday for his role in promoting “Pizzagate,” the baseless viral story that a Washington pizza restaurant was the locale of a child sex-abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta.

In a surprising and rare bit of backtracking, Jones posted a six-minute video on his website, “InfoWars,” in which he read a prepared statement formally distancing himself and his site from what became a textbook story of fake news run amok. He addressed his apology to James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, the restaurant that was the supposed locale of the alleged conspiracy last year.

“I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him,” Jones said. “We relied on third-party accounts of alleged activities and conduct at the restaurant. We also relied on accounts of [two] reporters who are no longer with us.”

He added, “To my knowledge today, neither Mr. Alefantis nor his restaurant Comet Ping Pong, were involved in any human trafficking as was part of the theories about Pizzagate.” The story, he said, “was based upon what we now believe was an incorrect narrative.”

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Louise Mensch Op-Ed Sparks Feud At The New York Times

Steven Perlberg reports for BuzzFeed:

A civil war between news and opinion has broken out at the New York Times.

In a Times op-ed posted online Friday, Louise Mensch, a writer and former member of the UK Parliament, gives her suggestion for what questions the House Intelligence Committee should ask as it holds hearings on Russia’s influence in the US election. Mensch offers Times readers reason to trust her expertise: “In November, I broke the story that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court had issued a warrant that enabled the F.B.I. to examine communications between ‘U.S. persons’ in the Trump campaign relating to Russia-linked banks,” she writes.

On Twitter, Times reporters lashed out.

“Please note that the NYT newsroom disagrees,” national security reporter Charlie Savage tweeted. Savage highlighted from his report this month knocking down the FISA claim: “To date, reporters for The New York Times with demonstrated sources in that world have been unable to corroborate that the court issued any such order.”

The core of the dispute is whether the FISA court granted a warrant, which the Times and Washington Post have not reported, though the BBC and McClatchy have. The Guardian reported about a June FISA request but stopped short at confirming the supposed October one was granted.

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Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

From MSNBC politics shows to town hall meetings across the country, the overarching issue for the Democratic Party’s base since Trump’s victory has been Russia, often suffocating attention for other issues. This fixation has persisted even though it has no chance to sink the Trump presidency unless it is proven that high levels of the Trump campaign actively colluded with the Kremlin to manipulate the outcome of the U.S. election — a claim for which absolutely no evidence has thus far been presented.

The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies — just as right-wing media polemicists did after both Bill Clinton and Obama were elected — that there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they regard as inevitable and imminent, when this theory will be proven and Trump will be removed.

Key Democratic officials are clearly worried about the expectations that have been purposely stoked and are now trying to tamp them down. Many of them have tried to signal that the beliefs the base has been led to adopt have no basis in reason or evidence.

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Trump’s Tax Returns Were Released By… Trump?

Stephen Colbert pokes fun at Rachel Maddow for making a complete hash of her apparent scoop regarding President Trump’s tax returns. (The Late Show)