Saturday, February 18, 2017

Getting ahead of the story

You have to figure anyone at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network could have written the hed in their sleep -- when Massster speaks, it's going to be "rousing," whether anyone actually saw the candidate eat the rat or not. But just as a matter of not getting caught, don't you think it might help to wait for the speech itself?

President Trump returns to friendly and familiar ground Saturday with a campaign rally in Florida, after a challenging first several weeks in the White House, largely deprived of the voter enthusiasm that helped propel him to his unexpected November win.

Trump will hold the event inside an airplane hangar in the central Florida city of Melbourne. The Republican president visited Florida nearly two dozen times during the 2016 presidential campaign and won the state after Democratic President Obama was victorious there in 2008 and 2012.


Even the alleged kings of the fake news business had updated their story before 8 p.m. Eastern:

Melbourne, Florida (CNN) President Donald Trump, after a month of arduous and, at times, turbulent governing, got what he came for Saturday during a dusk rally here: Campaign-level adulation.

... "I am here because I want to be among my friends and among the people," Trump said to open his rally. "This was a great movement, a movement like has never been seen before in our country or before anywhere else, this was a truly great movement and I want to be here with you and I will always be with you."

As of 8:25, though, Fox was still mired in the future:

... Since his November win and officially entering the White House in late-January, the president has continued to argue that much of the news media has treated him unfairly, which has slowed progress for his young administration.

Trump has continued to use Twitter to sidestep reporters and communicate directly with Americans. But his use of social media has not appeared to spark as much energy as his freewheeling campaign stops -- notorious for chants of “Drain the swap,” "Lock her up" and “Build a wall.”


Saturday’s rally will likely be a return to the old style, which appeared to energize Trump as much as it did voters, if his roughly 70-minute press conference Thursday was a prelude.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

More squirrels!

The degree seems to have gone out from Caesar Augustus, and the Fair 'n' Balanced network is on the case! (Indeed, it's the No. 3 story on the homepage at this writing.)

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Well, OK, it's an AP story, as you probably could have told by that annoying relative clause in the lede. You can see how that might have slipped by in the thrill of the chance to say "homebrew server" -- let alone BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!! -- again. But the real fun is in the fourth graf:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton's server while she was secretary of state.

Pagliano did not comply with two subpoenas ordering him to appear before the oversight panel. The GOP-led committee later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Earlier this month, Chaffetz met with Trump at the White House and agreed not to discuss oversight. He has rebuffed calls for his panel to look into Trump's businesses and possible conflicts.

Why do you suppose comments aren't enabled on this one?

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Although it easily could be!

Q: Do they really think like that?
A: Why, yes!

The U.S. military plans to take over America by 2030.

No, this is not another conspiracy theory. Although it easily could be.

Nor is it a Hollywood political thriller in the vein of John Frankenheimer’s 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May about a military coup d’etat.

Although it certainly has all the makings of a good thriller.


No, this is the real deal, coming at us straight from the horse’s mouth.

When you skip ZeroHedge, you're not just missing the had-hitting economic reporting, you're missing the ...um, something. You should go read the whole thing (and definitely watch the video), because it's hard to excerpt without, you know, just copying the whole thing, but here's the summary you need:

... Suddenly it all begins to make sense.

Squirrel!

As you can imagine, it really hasn't been a good day to talk about national security at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, so you can see why Tuesday evening's No. 2 story is -- libruls! Doing "science"!

On any given day, the Twitter account of New Real Peer Review features the latest in wacky, abstract liberal research, from feminist glaciology to the racism of Pilates and pumpkin spice lattes.

The account, which has some 23,000 followers, is shrouded in secrecy -- its moderators unknown to those reading the satirical tweets mocking what it considers outlandish theses, like a Ph.D. dissertation titled: "'Wow, that bitch is crazy!' Exploring gendered performances in leisure spaces surrounding reality television."

Anonymity is required, say moderators of the account, which has been threatened by hackers looking to shut it down.


Because it's Fox (and thus, because almost anything is more fun at this point than talking about how national security is actually compromised by hiring drooling racist buffoons to actual policy positions), we have certain expectations about the sourcing:

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The second-cycle lede

What's the top story at 6:45 a.m. there, Fair 'n' Balanced Network?
A Russian official said Tuesday that the resignation of President Trump’s national security adviser may show early signs that the administration has been “infected” by anti-Russian feelings, Reuters reported.

Michael Flynn handed in his resignation late Monday night, conceding that he gave "incomplete information" about his calls with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

"Either Trump has not gained the requisite independence and he is consequently being not unsuccessfully backed into a corner, or Russophobia has already infected the new administration also from top to bottom," MP Konstantin Kosachev said, according  to news reports out of the country.

Does it seem that's applying the old forward spin a little early? How does it look overseas?

US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned over allegations he discussed US sanctions with Russia before Donald Trump took office.

Mr Flynn is said to have misled officials about his call with Russia's ambassador before his own appointment.

How about in the elite swamps of the nation's capital?

Michael Flynn, the national security adviser to President Trump, resigned late Monday over revelations about his potentially illegal contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and his misleading statements about the matter to senior Trump administration officials. 

The WashTimes can't quite be bothered to wake its own sources up, but at least it doesn't indulge the old apology tour with the Evil Empire:


But hurt feelings are definitely the order of the day at Fox:

Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said in a post on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is "not just paranoia but something even worse."

Kosachev's counterpart at the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, Alexei Pushkov, tweeted shortly after the announcement that "it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia."

My, my, my, Can't wait for the White House press briefing!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A date which will live in ... wait, what?

Here's the paragraph as it appears at the Herald's website:

Lawyers at the Guantánamo war court had wanted military judges to obtain and preserve copies of the report for use in the Sept. 11 and USS Cole death-penalty cases of six men who spent years in the CIA prisons called Black Sites. The chief judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, refused but eventually ordered the Pentagon to safeguard one of its copies.

Shakespeare's job is safe. There are no early entrants for Clause of the Year here, and that's fine.  Reporting is less like a first rough draft of history than a first rough draft of furniture. Reporters go into the forest and return with freshly hewn lengths of news, which the factory then shapes, sands and polishes -- with an eye on demand, space on the assembly line and the like -- into finished journalism. There's a lot to learn from what happens at different stages of the assembly line: in this case, a story's transition from the wires to the individual paper (here, the Freep, though I can't find the story on its website).

I'm glad Black Sites was lowercased, though I probably would have put it in quotes as well, under the old "words as words" concept. I'd want to  unstack the noun pile* in the highlighted sentence, too. But since even the AP Stylebook says "Sept. 11" (or "9/11") can stand by itself, it's hard to see what exactly was improved by inserting the year after "Sept. 11." Particularly if -- just a suggestion here -- you insert the wrong year.

It's worth noting that none of the grisly battlefield photos from the War on Editing are unique to this particular stage of industrial upheaval. The same mistakes showed up when we were plucking and sharpening our own goose quills, and they'll be around when we edit with eye-mounted lasers. That's one of the reasons no single mistake can be blamed on any particular change to the process. But the really glaring ones do contribute to the steady erosion of the assumption that the assembly line adds value just by being there.

* Should we start a pool on when "nounpile" becomes one word?

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Break it, don't fake it

For those who still have your "News: Break it, don't fake it" buttons from the ACES plagiarism summit a few years back, here's a real-life reminder: The more you rely on fake news ...
... the less likely people are to believe it when you break news:
In the second position, we have an important story -- the new national security adviser appears to have lied like a rug about "inappropriate and potentially illegal" doings, and in turn the vice president either was misled or lied right along -- done with old-school heft:

“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence said in an interview with CBS News last month, noting that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said, “is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”

Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.


All of those officials said ­Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.

 
Nine sources is pretty good. Unlike, say, the accompanying case of Mission Not Impossible:

On its face, this is a remarkable story. The man whom Trump picked to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court is turning on the president just a week after he was nominated. Given how much Trump hates being criticized by alleged allies, it was a stunning comment — and one that lit the political world on fire Wednesday night. How would Trump react? Would he pull the nomination? Attack Gorsuch? Both? Neither? As always with Trump, all options were on the table.

But dig a little deeper and the conspiracy theories begin to seem, well, not so conspiratorial.


That's been true of conspiracy theories at least since Roosevelt orchestrated Pearl Harbor. It made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate, and that Obama had Scalia murdered in a fit of pique. And when you're told that the witch Elizabeth Warren soured the milk of Mitch McConnell's cows, the first source you should turn to is ... 

The Democratic National Committee, for one, was not fooled. “While Donald Trump’s morning tweets show [White House strategist] Steve Bannon may not have clued him in on the ruse, this is clearly a meaningless White House-orchestrated attempt to help Judge Gorsuch pretend he won’t be a rubber stamp for the Trump administration,” said a DNC spokesman.

This is actually serious, kids. The Post has done, and continues to do, noble and risky work in cataloguing the incompetence, thuggishness and buffoonery of the entire Trump enterprise. That's not the same kind of checking and balancing a real branch of government might do, but it's a reminder of why we've conceived of the press as a "fourth branch": an independent actor that puts the evidence-based question to the public when the existing three branches get out of line. That role is critically compromised when the press decides to buy into conspiracy theories, period -- whether you side with the proponents of the theory or not. We are supposed to be the adults in the room, not the ones who come home with a handful of magic beans we got in trade for our credibility.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Today in framing

Judging from Wednesday's centerpiece, bb dayorder was received and understood at the Washington Times*: Massster speaks and the Times listens!

For all of President Trump’s celebrated battles with the media, he is also allowing the press more extended access to some of his White House meetings than previous presidents did.

Did you ever wonder about how the president's celebrated openness looks elsewhere? Say, at Military Times?
White House officials held their first listening session on problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, but without inviting prominent members of the veterans community to the event.

What fun could be had at White House briefings if topics like this came up! In the good old days, you'll recall, the president would occasionally bring things like the Iron Cross to bestow on particularly offensive tools of the far-right press. Perhaps those days could return.

* How quickly things change. The reporter seems to be vastly less interested in how often the president plays golf than he was a few months ago.

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