Free Markets, Free People
If you’ve been following this incident at all, you know that much of what was initially reported was wrong and some of what has been reported since was false, manufactured and/or misleading.
American Thinker has a good round up of the story to this point. In the article, Jeff Lipke outlines the “myth” as it was perpetrated by the media.
The two worst offenders in my opinion have been NBC and ABC. NBC aired an edited 911 tape which was clearly meant to depict George Zimmerman as a racist. They continue to try to defend it as a “mistake”. No one with any common sense is buying that nonsense.
ABC used footage of Zimmerman’s arrival at the Sanford police station to claim that it didn’t support his claim he’d been attacked as there was no evidence of blood or contusions. Never mentioned was the fact that Zimmerman had been treated by EMTs who are not in the habit of leaving visible blood on a patient they treat. Subsequent enhancement showed that initial claim by ABC to have been incorrect. Additionally, ABC claimed that Zimmerman had used a racial slur when talking to the 911 operator. Again, enhancing the audio makes it clear he didn’t and instead seems to be remarking about how cold it was that night. In fact, for central Florida, it was a cold night. But ABC jumped to the conclusion because it supported the desired evolving story line – it was a racial killing.
The unraveling of the myth seems to have the whole story losing steam. That may be why Al Sharpton decided to be a no-show at this weekend’s rally. And there have also been incidents that have done little to gain sympathy for Trayvon Martin. HIs parents attempt to copyright his name obviously hoping to capitalize on his death. Then there was the rally for Martin by members of the school he attended which turned into a flash-mob looting of a local drug store.
But for the media, this has been anything but its finest hour. One of the reoccurring criticism of blogs by the media is they’ll publish anything and have no editors to check them. Yet it is the media, especially the two networks named above, who’ve seemed to fall into that category, editors notwithstanding.
Take the latest story circulating. Supposedly “Neo-Nazis” are patrolling Sanford, FL. The NY Daily News reports this as a fact. But Legal Insurrection’s Professor Jacobson has actually tried to confirm it (wait, isn’t that what editors and research assistants are supposed to do in the media?). And, according to his inquiry to the Sanford Police Department, there’s no evidence of any neo-Nazi group patrolling the city:
My initial e-mail (which included an embedded link to the Memeorandum thread):
“There are a number of reports in the media that Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in Sanford. Can you confirm or deny whether this is true, and provide any information you have on the subject? If someone is able to get back to me as soon as possible (and before Monday) that would be appreciated, since such rumors are spreading.”
Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups.”
My follow up:
“You say “not confirmed.” Is there any indication of such patrols that the Department is aware of?”
Further Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.”
How poorly are we being served by a media which now seems to be engaged in precisely what it criticized blogs for? And how ironic is it that a blog is doing the work the media should be doing? That’s not to say blogs are in the clear. Every left wing blog of any size has been parroting the rumor as well.
But the fact remains this case, no matter how you feel about it, has shown the media in a very unflattering light. Sensationalism, poor journalism, lousy and false editing, conclusion jumping, and rumor mongering have all been evident in their coverage.
And the industry wonders why so many Americans don’t trust them any more?
I sometimes wonder what world the editorial board of the New York Times calls home. It certainly isn’t the one the rest of us live in. But I guess it is necessary to live in an alternative world to be able to push narratives like it pushes in an editorial today. The NY Times has decided, to use a poker term, to go “all in” on Obama’s “right-wing extremism” and “dishonesty” meme.
Referencing the Obama speech yesterday, the editorial board says:
Mr. Obama provided a powerful signal on Tuesday that he intends to make this election about the Republican Party’s failure to confront, what he called, “the defining issue of our time”: restoring a sense of economic security while giving everyone a fair shot, rather than enabling only a shrinking number of people to do exceedingly well. His remarks promise a tough-minded campaign that will call extremism and dishonesty by name.
Remember Obama, who’s answer to the “defining issue of our time”, submitted each of the two years (I’m talking about his budgets) has gone a collective 0-511. That’s right, the two budgets he’s submitted to address the “defining issue of our time” hasn’t garnered a single vote in two years.
Why? Primarily because neither of the budgets convinced a single legislator of either party, to include the President’s own, that they addressed that issue at all.
Yet he presumes to lecture the GOP on the failure to confront this issue? And the NYT somehow manages to buy into that nonsense?
The GOP budget at least passed the House. The NYT presumes that no negotiations are possible because, again, it buys into the Obama claim that the GOP won’t compromise. Nonsense. Compromise doesn’t mean wholesale capitulation. In an negotiation or compromise there are lines drawn over which the two parties won’t give in. Each side has them. The NYT and Obama, naturally, want to characterize the lack of movement as GOP intransigence. But the Democrats are equally intransigent. They want more money in taxes. The GOP continues to point out that taxes aren’t the problem. The problem is spending.
Says the NYT:
Mr. Obama has, in recent months, urged Republicans to put aside their destructive agenda. But, in this speech, he finally conceded that the party has demonstrated no interest in the values of compromise and realism. Even Ronald Reagan, who raised taxes in multiple budget deals, “could not get through a Republican primary today,” Mr. Obama said. While Democrats have repeatedly shown a willingness to cut entitlements and have agreed to trillions in domestic spending cuts, he said, Republicans won’t agree to any tax increases and, in fact, want to shower the rich with even more tax cuts.
Ronald Regan agreed to raising taxes in return for what from the Democrats?
Spending cuts. In fact as I recall, his deal was 1 1/2 to 2 times the spending cuts to the tax increases. Guess what never happened?
That’s right – spending cuts.
So call it a lesson learned. What the GOP is pointing out that until the spending cuts are implemented and take effect, there is no reason to discuss revenue increases.
That’s a common sense approach that best safeguards the citizenry’s money and is based on a history that says the Democrats don’t keep their word about spending cuts.
I don’t blame the GOP for refusing to compromise on taxes.
Finally, and I’ve flipped the paragraph order in the editorial, consider the NYT lede:
President Obama’s fruitless three-year search for compromise with the Republicans ended in a thunderclap of a speech on Tuesday, as he denounced the party and its presidential candidates for cruelty and extremism. He accused his opponents of imposing on the country a “radical vision” that “is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity.”
There has been no search for compromise with President “I won”. None. And it is amazing to see smaller and less intrusive government being characterized as a “radical vision” that is “antithetical to our entire history”. It is the basis of our entire history up until the welfare state came into being.
“The land of opportunity” was such because of a lack of government interference, not because of it. Obama and the left continue to attempt to rewrite history in a manner in which they redefine the words and key phrases that characterized our nation differently than they’d like prior to the institution of the welfare state.
The radical vision is that which Obama, the NYT and the Democrats continue to push, not the GOP. They don’t seem to understand that the majority of the American people have come to understand that we just can’t afford their radical vision and that government control of more and more of our lives is not a “good thing”.
If there is anyone out of touch with the American people it is Mr. 0-511. He hasn’t a clue.
And neither does the New York Times editorial board.
UPDATE: A further thought sparked by a comment by The Shark. If compromise is what Obama and the Democrats really want, they’ve had two opportunities to actually force that or at least make the argument they attempted it. For two years the GOP House has passed a budget. The way the Congress works is the Senate then passes its version of the budget and the two houses of Congress get together and hash out the differences (known commonly as “compromise).
Except the Democratically controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 1000 days. So who isn’t interested in compromise, Mr. President? And why aren’t you exerting a little leadership and confronting the Senate about its dereliction of duty? If “compromise” is so all fired important to you, why are you neglecting the easiest way of forcing it?
I was reading TIME’s “Battleland” blog about the Sergeant that allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians, including women and children.
The reporter/blogger wrote this before the Sergeant had been identified to the press and the reporter produced a long list of extenuating and mitigating circumstances that might work in the favor of the then unnamed Sergeant. All of them, says the reporter were from his defense attorney, or strong rumor or innuendo or, in some cases fact:
– He was suffering from marital strife.
– He was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder
– He was suffering from a traumatic brain injury he got in Iraq in 2010.
– The Army inadequately tested him and permitted his redeployment despite those conditions.
– He’d been promised he wouldn’t have to go back to war after his third tour in Iraq.
– He was ordered to Afghanistan overnight for his fourth tour in December.
– He saw a buddy’s leg blow off hours before the massacre.
– He got drunk before leaving his southern Afghanistan post at 3 a.m. to kill 16 men, women and children.
The reporter then says:
Army mental-health and legal officials aren’t surprised by the expanding roster. That’s what defense attorneys do. And – to avoid the death penalty, which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said is possible in this case – proving only one of these extenuating conditions may be sufficient to keep him alive at Fort Leavenworth, albeit for life.
I don’t disagree. That’s what defense attorneys do.
However, speaking of trying to introduce extenuating and mitigating circumstances, you have to understand that the reporter is trying to excuse the press for reporting rumors and innuendo.
To do that, the reporter breaks out the BS flag and waves it from the top of Mt. Hood:
It’s also what reporters do, especially when the press lacks a name so they are unable to dig into the suspect’s childhood to see what role his parents, siblings, elementary-school teachers and fellow Boy Scouts may have played.
No it’s not. Proof? Two words: Barack Obama
Tell me about his Harvard days, Mr. Reporter. Or heck, his Columbia days. ACORN days? Community organizer days (and not just quotes from his book, thank you very much)? Tell me about his association with Derrick Bell, Bill Ayres and Jeremiah Write and what effect they had on his life. You dug into all of that, right? Tell me about others with whom he associated throughout his life and the role they played in his life. Got a clue?
Yeah … I know … never mind.
But that shouldn’t come as a particular surprise for anyone who has watched this economist turn into a political hack over the years.
To be a modern Republican in good standing, you have to believe — or pretend to believe — in two miracle cures for whatever ails the economy: more tax cuts for the rich and more drilling for oil. And with prices at the pump on the rise, so is the chant of “Drill, baby, drill.” More and more, Republicans are telling us that gasoline would be cheap and jobs plentiful if only we would stop protecting the environment and let energy companies do whatever they want.
You’ll not see such a broad field of strawmen erected in such a short paragraph for quite some time.
Anyone know any Republicans who are calling for “more tax cuts for the rich” (as I recall, Republicans are saying no tax increases for anyone)? That’s the first strawman.
Second? Not a single “Republican” I know is claiming that we should “stop protecting the environment” and “let energy companies do whatever they want”. I defy Krugman to produce them. Instead what I see are those that want more drilling point out that the technology exists to do it safely and in an environmentally friendly way and thus there’s no real reason to stop it other than ideology. Nor do I know of any who oppose the pursuit of alternative fuels. They just are realistic about the fact that none of those being pursued are anywhere yet ready for prime time, unlike our President. So they naturally look to what we have as the main staple of our economy’s energy demand now and in the near future.
It’s called “common sense” for the Krugman’s of the world who seem to have not been blessed with much of it.
As for jobs and cheaper gas, you should be able to ask an economist if increased supply of a commodity would have the effect of downward pressure on cost and expect to get an honest answer – unless it’s this guy.
Oh, and you’d also expect an economist to understand that if you expand production of any such commodity which is labor intensive, you’re going to create a lot of jobs. You may expect that, but you too can read this so-called economist’s words. When the choice is between political hackery and economic integrity, guess which he chooses?
Charles Krauthammer lays out a little ground truth about why “drill, baby, drill” hasn’t been able to have the effect it might have had if allowed. Yes, “allowed”:
President Obama incessantly claims energy open-mindedness, insisting that his policy is “all of the above.” Except, of course, for drilling:
●off the Mid-Atlantic coast (as Virginia, for example, wants);
●off the Florida Gulf Coast (instead, the Castro brothers will drill near there);
●in the broader Gulf of Mexico (where drilling in 2012 is expected to drop 30 percent below pre-moratorium forecasts);
●in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (more than half the size of England, the drilling footprint being the size of Dulles International Airport);
●on federal lands in the Rockies (where leases are down 70 percent since Obama took office).
But the event that drove home the extent of Obama’s antipathy to nearby, abundant, available oil was his veto of the Keystone pipeline, after the most extensive environmental vetting of any pipeline in U.S. history. It gave the game away because the case for Keystone is so obvious and overwhelming. Vetoing it gratuitously prolongs our dependence on outside powers, kills thousands of shovel-ready jobs, forfeits a major strategic resource to China, damages relations with our closest ally, and sends billions of oil dollars to Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and already obscenely wealthy sheiks.
The opportunity to see gas at a lower price, plentiful jobs created and supply increased have been squandered by this administration and Krugman, as if channeling our President, is trying to pass this failure off on the GOP. He’s essentially trying too claim the laws of supply and demand have been suspended.
The irony here is that these claims come just as events are confirming what everyone who did the math already knew, namely, that U.S. energy policy has very little effect either on oil prices or on overall U.S. employment. For the truth is that we’re already having a hydrocarbon boom, with U.S. oil and gas production rising and U.S. fuel imports dropping. If there were any truth to drill-here-drill-now, this boom should have yielded substantially lower gasoline prices and lots of new jobs. Predictably, however, it has done neither.
Again, a half-truth. The boom is a boomlet compared to what it might have been had Obama and his merry permit slow-walkers gotten out of the way. The only thing that has saved Obama is the boom on state and private land. What Krugman won’t say is it is most likely true that had that boom not materialized on non-Federal land, gas prices would be even higher. And so would unemployment. Don’t forget the tens of thousands of jobs lost due to the Obama administration’s Gulf “permatorium”.
Krauthammer points out what should have been obvious to an economist but are inconvenient truths to a political hack:
“The American people aren’t stupid,” Obama said (Feb. 23), mocking “Drill, baby, drill.” The “only solution,” he averred in yet another major energy speech last week, is that “we start using less — that lowers the demand, prices come down.” Yet five paragraphs later he claimed that regardless of “how much oil we produce at home . . .that’s not going to set the price of gas worldwide.”
So: Decreasing U.S. demand will lower oil prices, but increasing U.S. supply will not? This is ridiculous. Either both do or neither does. Does Obama read his own speeches?
Obama says of drilling: “That’s not a plan.” Of course it’s a plan. We import nearly half of our oil, thereby exporting enormous amounts of U.S. wealth. Almost 60 percent of our trade deficit — $332 billion out of $560 billion — is shipped overseas to buy crude.
Drill here and you stanch the hemorrhage. You keep those dollars within the U.S. economy, repatriating not just wealth but jobs and denying them to foreign unfriendlies. Drilling is the single most important thing we can do to spur growth at home while strengthening our hand abroad.
It is truly wondrous to me how poorly Krugman comes off in these sorts of debates. He concludes his hack job with:
And intellectual bankruptcy, I’m sorry to say, is a problem that no amount of drilling and fracking can solve.
The irony is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Over at United Liberty, Louis DeBroux articulates something that has been driving me crazy:
It truly is almost unbelievable. Our national debt is at $16 trillion and rising, with annual deficits of more than $1.5 trillion. Our national debt is now greater than our GDP, and at a level greater than what Greece was at when its economy collapsed. Our lauded entitlement programs are bankrupt, yet our politicians seek to expand them. Unemployment is still well above 8%, the longest such period of sustained unemployment at that level since the Great Depression. We’re barely past Valentine’s Day and gas is more than $3.50 per gallon, and expected to rise above $4, and possibly as high as $5/gallon, by summer. Iran appears the be rapidly closing in on getting a functional nuclear weapon, and has been threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil supply flows. We have a president hell bent on destroying the fossil fuel industry, much like his signature achievement, ObamaCare, is crippling the health care industry.
Our own government has been selling assault weapons to Mexican drug cartels, and is now directly responsible for the deaths of dozens of Mexicans and Americans, yet they act as if it were of no more import than having incorrectly filled out some government form (actually, they’d probably find that a much more grievous sin). The dollar is weak and the economy anemic, despite the trillions spent on the stimulus, auto union and Wall Street bailouts, and slush funds for the politically connected.
Yet with all of this, what stories are dominating the headlines? That would be the religious beliefs of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum regarding birth control, and now the furor over Rush Limbaugh’s comments about a college “coed” called to testify before Congress on the topic of birth control.
It is enough to make you tear your hair out. There is so much that should be at the forefront of the news and we’re talking about what? Go look at Memeorandum for the past few weeks. It’s appalling.
And who benefits by these diversionary and divisive discussions?
Well certainly not the nation. In the case of the current diversion of the day, we see the usual hypocrisy from both sides as Rush Limbaugh is crucified for calling a woman a “slut” while one of Obama’s major donors is given a free pass by the same people for calling Sarah Palin a far worse name (and worse, won’t condemn the use of the word). After all, he’s one of theirs.
It is a cycle of wash, rise, repeat. On just about any given week you can find someone on one side or the other saying something outrageous and the other side whipping themselves into a frenzy of outrage and condemning it while demanding the other side condemn it too. Tit for tat politics. Juvenile nonsense.
Why any of this is seen as major news can only be understood in a “reality show” culture. We’ve become a nation of voyeurs who like scandal and enjoy watching the lives of “celebrities” whose only claim to fame is their screwed up life. And that apparently now translates to our politics.
Instead of paying attention to the important things about our political world, most are more interested in the “he said, she said” stupidity of situations like that of the Limbaugh debacle. Apparently politics has become just another reality show where we prefer to be entertained by the unimportant but controversial instead of doing the hard but boring work of understanding our real problems and looking for solutions.
Unemployment, economics, energy, government … boring!
Limbaugh calls someone a slut. That’s the ticket.
And, naturally, aiding and abetting all of this is the “if it bleeds it leads” media who have decided that sensationalism trumps substance.
We’re 16 trillion dollars in debt folks and that number is going to go higher if we don’t do something.
B..b…but Limbaugh called someone a “slut”!
Turn up the volume and get the popcorn.
And, as usual, stupid words and not on the underlying issue – government cronyism/dependency – are now the focus.
Rush Limbaugh shot off his mouth and made what is apparently a much worse faux pas than the argument made by a woman who posed as a 23 year old co-ed when in fact she’s a 30 year old reproductive rights activist.
Sandra Fluke testified before a committee chaired by Nancy Pelosi in a bit of political theater to try to justify government mandating birth control be provided “free” to all women by insurance plans.
Plenty to discuss there. Lots. And that should have been the sum and total focus of any discussion, the entitlement mentality she reflected in what can only be characterized as an astonishing lack of awareness of what she was asking for and why.
Calling a woman a “slut” however, is a sure fire way to totally distract from the topic at hand and make yourself the topic of discussion. Limbaugh of all people should know that (of course he might have been lulled into a false sense of security given the fact that many on the left felt secure in calling Sarah Palin everything but a child of God – Bill Maher and the “C” word as an example — and they seemingly got away with it).
So yes, the double standard was in its usual place and functioning well.
But so what? Everyone with a room-temperature IQ knows the game and how it works – especially Limbaugh. So it’s hard to feel particularly sorry for a guy who claims to be so freaking media savvy doing the foreskin foxtrot and suffering the predictable result.
More importantly though, the result is the woman who should be the subject of a sound rhetorical thrashing for her disingenuousness and her collectivist arguments is now a “victim”. She even got a sympathetic call from Obama to console her (and enable him to grab a few headlines).
We have the hypocritical left all up in arms at … Limbaugh. The story and discussion is now about … Limbaugh. Advertisers are now deserting … Limbaugh. The DSCC is now fundraising off of … Limbaugh. The media is having a field day at the expense of … Limbaugh. Even GOP candidates are remarking about … Limbaugh.
Meanwhile the topic that should be the focus – an entitlement mentality voiced by a young woman who seems to believe it is the job of others to pay for her contraception needs – is pretty much shunted to the side.
As no doubt you’ve heard by now, Andrew Breitbart, right-wing firebrand and blogger, has died at age 43.
I saw Breitbart at both CPAC and Right On Line, and have to say that he was a ball of energy and he made poking the left fun.
He would go right into the lion’s den (he invaded Netroots Nation during Right On Line) and engage them. He was a very entertaining guy. I may not have agreed with everything he said and did, but I admired his spirit, his energy, and his dedication to a cause he felt very strongly about.
Rest in Peace, Andrew, you’ll be missed.
By the way, if you’re interested in how petty and classless the left can be, monitor Twitter today as they remark on his passing. You won’t be surprised, but if you’re not appalled, you’re just not human.
You may find this interesting … I did. The New York Times editorialized about the minimum wage on the 12th of February. Unsurprisingly, they’re for raising it:
New York is an expensive place to live, and unaffordable for workers struggling on $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage. Nineteen other states, recognizing that the federal minimum is too low for survival, even with food stamps or other government assistance, have increased their minimum above that level. Lawmakers in Massachusetts raised it to $8 an hour. Connecticut’s is $8.25, and it is $9.04 an hour in Washington State.
It is time for New York to raise its minimum wage enough to help more than 600,000 struggling workers. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is vigorously pushing a bill to raise the minimum to $8.50 an hour immediately and to adjust it each year for inflation. This should not be a controversial measure.
Want to know what would be a controversial measure, at least as far as the NYT would be concerned? George Mason University economics professor Donald J. Boudreaux (Café Hayek) answers the Times:
In the same spirit of demanding that government improve people’s economic well-being simply by ordering that people be paid more, allow me to make a similar plea on your behalf.
The newspaper business today is in difficult straits. So I hereby call upon the legislature in Albany to force you and other newspapers in New York to raise your subscription and advertising rates by 17.2 percent (the same percentage raise that you want to force low-skilled workers to demand from their employers). Voila! If your economic theory is correct, your profits will rise. And the magnitude of these higher profits, we can assume (just as you assume in the case of low-skilled workers), will be greater than any negative consequences that might be unleashed by such legislative interference in your ability to determine the terms on which you sell your services.
I. Loved. That. Answer.
It is the perfect comeback to those who would use the force of government to arbitrarily raise wages and commit your money to their priorities. As with most things, they’d never stand for you doing the same to them. Boudreaux’s answer highlights that in spades. It’s perfect. And he challenges them with “if your economic theory is correct …”. I laughed out loud reading that.
Oh, and we demand that the NYT adjust their subscription and advertising rates each year for inflation.
That shouldn’t be a controversial measure, should it?
You can hear the huffing and puffing in the NYT boardroom from here.
[HT: Villainous Company]
When most people think of an investigative reporter, they think of someone who pursues a story in depth, gathers all the facts and then, using those facts, connects the dots to a then fairly obvious conclusion. Of course that means that ethically, the same reporter would be required to write an objective investigative article or series based on those facts even if the conclusion is contrary to what was expected. That is, the target of the story could possibly be exonerated rather than condemned based on the reporters work.
What most people don’t consider investigative reporting is the use of selective facts that support an ideology and agenda in an attack on someone to reach a preordained conclusion. An example of that sort of reporting was recently found in a Rolling Stone hit piece on LTG William Caldwell. The author had enjoyed success in being instrumental in the removal of another general (Gen. Stanley McChrystal) based on an article he’d written. His later piece on LTG William Caldwell, however, was a classic example of the genre of “investigative reporting” that is becoming more and more common – selective facts, poor research, an agenda all working toward a particular conclusion.
The article was roundly panned as atrocious work as the blogosphere took it apart piece by piece and trashed it.
Another example of that genre has popped up on the radar screen in a Salon hit piece on Rep. Buck McKeon. Why a hit piece and not, as Salon tries to characterize it, an investigative report? Several reasons. First, the “investigative reporter” is hardly someone who fits the definition of an objective reporter as outlined above.
When you read the Salon article here, you’ll see the author of the article’s bio at the bottom.
Lee Fang is an investigative journalist in the Bay Area.
Is he? Again, the implication of the short bio is he’s an objective reporter who has pursued a story lead and what you read in the article above is an objective assessment of the gathered facts leading in connect the dot fashion to a logical conclusion.
But as it turns out that’s not at all who Lee Fang is.
However, unfortunately, you have to leave Salon and go elsewhere to make that determination. Salon certainly isn’t forthcoming with the details.
We find the truth in an interview with a Santa Clarita CA radio station, KHTS, where the host introduces Fang thusly:
Lee Fang (pronounced Fong, pictured at left) is a freelance journalist and the senior investigator for United Republic, a nonpartisan group dedicated to ending the corrupting influence of special interest money in American politics.
While you may sympathize and even agree with the premise of the group, calling something founded by MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Huffingto Post’s Paul Blumenthal and former Free Press founder Josh Silver a nonparitsan group is like calling James Carville an independent. There is a definite ideological agenda at work there and in essence, Lee Fang is the opposition research guy. And this isn’t his first stop on the "advocacy journalism" side of things.
That’s not quite a “freelance journalism” is it?
Another tidbit from the radio interview:
Lee Fang: Right now we’re just looking at Chairmen of important committees in Congress so we’ve looked at Armed Services, we’ve looked at Energy and Commerce and on the Senate side we’ve looked at Banking and Finance.
Really? Just the “Chairmen”? The ranking members on the House committees, who are essentially the opposition co-chairs and still wield enormous power on the committees, don’t merit a look? Of course, in the House, those ranking members are all Democrats. Only on the Senate side have has he claimed to have looked at a Democrat.
As to the facts, here’s the basic claim of the article:
Recent disclosures reveal that a federal lobbyist with ties to Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the senior member of the committee overseeing the Pentagon, provided financial support to McKeon’s wife, who is seeking a seat in the California Assembly this year. As defense industry lobbyists scramble to head off looming cuts in the Pentagon budget, they are looking for new ways to ingratiate themselves with McKeon.
The contribution, reported here for the first time, appears to be an effort to circumvent federal campaign limits. Federal campaign disclosures show that Valente has already maxed out in donations to Rep. McKeon this cycle, having given $2,500 to his campaign for Congress. And the contribution came within a day of Valente’s donation to Patricia’s campaign for the California Assembly.
Valente’s lobbying firm, Valente and Associates, reported over $1.4 million in fees last year. The firm represented at least one company, 3Leaf Group, a government contractor specializing in human resources, that sought help from Valente on issues relating to the Defense Authorization bill. McKeon, as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was the principal author of that legislation.
Valente did not respond to a request for comment. But his so-called 527 campaign entity, the Fund for American Opportunity, gave only one contribution to a state politician in all of 2011: Patricia McKeon.
Craig Holman, a lobbying expert with Public Citizen, says that the donation to McKeon is part of a larger pattern of influence peddling in Washington: “The objective is to throw as much money as possible at the feet of the lawmaker; that includes at the feet of his family as well.”
McKeon’s staff, specifically Alissa McCurley, responded to a request for comment from KHTS:
First, contrary to Mr. Fang’s inaccurate assertion, Patricia was not the only state candidate to receive a donation from the Fund for American Opportunity. If you click on the link in the article, you will see several state candidates listed on the group’s 6-month contribution report. Secondly, again contrary to Fang’s false assertion, Mr. Valente has not maxed out to Congressman McKeon. In fact, Mr. Valente has not contributed to Congressman McKeon’s “McKeon for Congress” campaign committee at all."
“Investigative reporter?” Two of the most basic and supposedly damning “facts” are incorrect? Those two “facts” are the main support for Fang’s implication that McKeon is rotten. McCurley correctly labels the piece as more one of “opinion” than fact. And given the above, it certainly seems to be assertion masquerading as factual reporting. If the author can’t get those two basic facts correct, then why should anyone believe anything else written?
The attempt to smear is clear. In fact, again in the radio interview, Fang has to admit that there’s nothing illegal in any of McKeon’s activity:
KHTS: I’m reading the article and I’m saying to myself is there anything illegal or just inappropriate?
LF: I talked to some McCain-Feingold experts, that’s the campaign finance law on the books, and they said in this case there’s no evidence of illegal conduct.
So why all the innuendo, inaccuracies and implications? Because there’s an agenda at play here and this is how ideological advocacy works. Spin something to appear in the best light which advances your cause, whether the facts supporting it are there or not. But this is certainly not “investigative reporting”.
Again, you may agree with the United Republic goal, but when a major publication hides the fact that someone it bills as an “investigative reporter” works for an ideologically driven activist group and that the article is an extension of that group’s activist focus, then you are doing your readers a disservice. This isn’t “investigative reporting”. This is advocacy “journalism” in its purist form. You’d think the editors of Salon would have known that and put a disclaimer in Fang’s bio.
Instead, they either chose to deceive by omission even while questioning the ethics of others or they didn’t do their job.
There’s a tempest in a tea pot brewing right now that I’m not sure I understand.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.
A "privacy compliance review" issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability" which involves regular monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards."
The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture."
The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Let’s see … a department that has the job of “homeland security” monitoring open source internet venues to collect information in order to maintain situational awareness.
Wow. For some reason I’m underwhelmed. My goodness, haven’t we seen shots of various command centers over the years with split video screens showing Fox, CNN and MSNBC? They’re good sources of immediate information that help those engaged in all sorts of rather benign activity (disaster relief?) keep abreast of breaking news.
Why all the hyperventilating over something that is and has been fairly routine for all sorts of agencies over the years?
Look, everyone here knows I’m not a fan of big intrusive government, but what would you do here, ban the department from gathering information and intelligence from sites that are open to everyone else? Should we also ban them from “monitoring” the NY Times and Washington Post.
Oh, and by the way, this isn’t news. As the Reuters story claims, this has been going on since June of 2010. And guess who broke the story then? The Volokh Conspiracy. As Stewart Baker points out:
The story is that people at DHS are, gasp, browsing the Internet. As I said then, there’s no scandal, other than the electrons wasted by DHS agonizing over the privacy implications of browsing public Internet sources to find out what’s happening in the world.
And if it was a nonstory in February of 2010, what does that make it in January of 2012?
Actually, it’s a lesson — that both the mainstream media and the blogosphere are doggedly overreporting anything that could be deemed a privacy violation by government, especially DHS. If you only followed these things casually, you’d be sure that DHS was constantly violating Americans’ rights, and reports like this would be a key bit of evidence. But when you give the “story” a little scrutiny, all you find is an agency that needs to know what’s happening in an emergency and that is looking at public social media sites for information, just like the rest of us. There’s no privacy issue there at all, despite the heavy breathing and the headlines.
Or perhaps before crying wolf, one ought to take a breath and get into the details of the story. There are plenty of things to concern one’s self with other than this non-story.
U.S. officials told the New York Times that they’re “looking closely” at Shabab’s use of Twitter and their options for legal and other responses. Separately, Sen. Joe Lieberman (@JoeLieberman), Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, called on Twitter to shut down the Taliban’s accounts.
Other Western governments have also turned against Twitter. British Prime Minister David Cameron (@Number10gov), for example, raised the prospect of banning Twitter during social disturbances, following its use by rioters in the U.K., and Mexican prosecutors have accused Twitter users of terrorism for spreading false rumors that have led to real-life violence.
An Israeli legal advocacy group, Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, has separately threatened Twitter with legal action for hosting the Shabab and Hezbollah accounts. Who will win in court is unclear: It’s a First Amendment versus providing services for terrorists toss-up.
US Representatives Darrel Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill into the House of Representatives in mid-December that would roll back the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, which mandates that any published research that was funded by the federal science agency be submitted to the publically accessible digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication in journals. The bill, H.R. 3699, would also make it illegal for other federal agencies to adopt similar open-access policies.
The legislation, referred to as the Research Works Act, is being applauded by the Association of American Publishers, a book publishing industry trade organization that claims the NIH policy and others like it undercut the scientific publishing business, which seldom receives federal funds. “At a time when job retention, US exports, scholarly excellence, scientific integrity, and digital copyright protection are all priorities, the Research Works Act ensures the sustainability of this industry,” said Tom Allen, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers in a statement.
Want to get your britches in a bunch, there are two stories that should help wad them up. Censoring Twitter (and that’s precisely where all of that is headed) and making opaque research which you, the taxpayer has funded to help a crony profit? Now both of those are worthy of condemnation and outrage.