Saturday, July 22, 2017

Today's in-depth journalism

You almost have to feel sorry for whoever was in charge of turning Massster's morning tantrum into a news story at Fox:

President Trump went on a wide-ranging Twitter rant Saturday morning, bashing Hillary Clinton, “fake news,” The New York Times and other favorite targets.

Trump tweeted at least eight times within a one-hour period, focusing first on a Washington Post story, based on unnamed sources, that alleged Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked to a Russian ambassador during the 2016 White House campaign about policy issues and other matters.


"A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post, this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions. These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!" Trump tweeted.

Points for getting "rant" into the lede, I suppose. But if you're waiting to hear what the "nuke commission" has to do with this, keep waiting. (One of the tweets about mid-rant or so does mention the commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford,* but the story mentions neither the ceremony itself nor the propulsion system.) The inside hed avoids that problem, but it still requires some cognitive problem-solving:
Only one of the Clintons is mentioned by name in the text, though if you're a regular Fox reader, "big dollar speeches" is your cue.

If you're wondering why it takes so long to get to the Times, check out the delicate bit of avoidance here:

... Trump also tweeted Saturday that The New York Times has a “sick agenda” regarding national security and that paper “foiled”  a U.S. strike on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, believed dead for months.

“The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi. Their sick agenda over National Security,” Trump tweeted. However, to which attack the president was referring and why he singled out The Times was immediately unclear.


The daintily undangled preposition in "to which attack" is charming. It's been a while since "immediately unclear" came up; it still looks like a bizarre reading of the Strunkenwhite mandate to put things in positive form, but syntax is only half the fun. Other parts of the Fox empire have little trouble identifying the Times's sins:

In a wide-ranging interview moderated by Fox News' Catherine Herridge, Thomas, who leads the Special Operations Command, said his team was “particularly close” to Baghdadi after the 2015 raid that killed ISIS oil minister Abu Sayyaf. That raid also netted his wife, who provided a wealth of actionable information.

“That was a very good lead. Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead,” Thomas said. “The challenge we have [is] in terms of where and how our tactics and procedures are discussed openly. There's a great need to inform the American public about what we're up to. There's also great need to recognize things that will absolutely undercut our ability to do our job.”

Thomas appeared to be referring to a New York Times report in June 2015 that detailed how American intelligence agencies had “extracted valuable information.” 


”New insights yielded by the seized trove – four to seven terabytes of data, according to one official – include how the organization’s shadowy leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, operates and tries to avoid being tracked by coalition forces," the Times reported.

Would this be the same raid that Fox reported on in May 2015?

U.S. personnel overnight killed a key Islamic State leader in charge of the group's oil and gas operations in a raid in eastern Syria, the White House said Saturday.

A team of Delta Force commandos slipped across the border from Iraq under cover of darkness Saturday aboard Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Osprey aircraft, according to a U.S. defense official knowledgeable about details of the raid.

... Ancient Assyrian texts and other priceless artifacts were recovered as well as what the defense official called a "treasure trove" of intelligence materials, such as cell phones, laptops and documents.


You'd think Gen. Thomas's assertions might have rung a bell with the interview's moderator, in that she's credited on Fox's follow-up two days later:

A special team of CIA, FBI and Pentagon interrogators has been dispatched to Iraq to grill the wife of the key ISIS leader killed in a daring commando raid last Saturday -- but sources told Fox News that the questioning, which will include queries about murdered American aid worker Kayla Mueller, will stop short of using rough techniques.

... Umm Sayyaf, the wife of Abu Sayyaf, was captured in the raid by the U.S. Army's elite Delta Force in eastern Syria and whisked away to an undisclosed Iraqi facility where the U.S. High Value Interrogation Group is questioning her.

... In addition to taking out a key ISIS leader and the man responsible for the terrorist army's black market oil trade and capturing his wife, the raid netted a "treasure trove" of sensitive information, according to Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas. Officials believe the terrorist leader's wife may know even more about ISIS' operations.

... Cellphones and laptops were seized in the operation and are now being analyzed for intelligence. U.S. officials said it was likely, given Abu Sayyaf's position, that he knew about more than just the financial side of the group's operations and also was targeted for his known association with the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.


Sure. It's entirely possible that -- three weeks after the raid, and a week after the Times reported  on 'information harvested from the laptops, cellphones and other materials," al-Baghdadi suddenly realized that the laptops with the terabytes of data were the missing ones!!! Otherwise, it's hard to see why you'd give the competition top credit for following up on your own reporting. Maybe the smart reporter is the one who decided things were immediately unclear.

* Presumably, President Trump has gotten over his preference for steam catapults over "the digital." Fox doesn't mention that, either.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

When spark plugs attack

See if you can guess where the Editor In Chief Emeritus of the Washington Times is going with this one:

The Donald finally caught a break in Paris, basking in rare Franco-American bonhomie as he joined the new president of France on Bastille Day, this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American arrival on the battlefields of World War I.

A contingent of American troops even led the parade down the Champs-Elysees. Not even a president can resist a parade, especially a military parade with marching bands and serried ranks of fighting men. On Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron of France did not even try.


I think you've got the wrong "not even" -- is there some reason heads of state should be especially immune to the old blare of bugles and ruffle of drums? But we're about to get to the point:

Neither did Donald Trump, once a schoolboy at a military academy. Regimental flags floating on a peaceful breeze, despised as nationalist symbols to some, are but reminders to all that “greater love hath no man than this,” in the words of Christ as recorded by the Apostle John, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

So whatever his offspring have been up to with the Russians, the Bright Sun of the 21st Century is still reminding Europe who's the real defender of Western Civ. Which makes the Times's venture into period history all the more interesting:

... The 100th anniversary celebrations are particularly poignant reminders of Franco-American friendship when it was backs-to-the-wall time.  ... When the Germans, advancing through a grain field, got within a hundred yards, the Marines opened ferocious rifle fire, mowing down the ranks of the Bosch until the survivors fled into the woods.

Read more »

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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Sword and shield of the Party

Oh, my. Something seems to have gotten the party press into a tizzy on Saturday night.
There's precious little hitting in the evening's top story at the Formerly Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

President Donald Trump’s eldest son, son-in-law, and then-campaign chairman met with a Russian lawyer shortly after Trump won the Republican nomination, in what appears to be the earliest known private meeting between key aides to the president and a Russian.

Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner’s attorney confirmed the June 2016 meeting of the men and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower. Then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended, according to the statement from Donald Trump Jr.
What on earth do you suppose made them confirm that?
Read more »

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Friday, July 07, 2017

"That's trouble. That's tough"

Hey, does anybody remember how AWFUL it was when the Kenyan usurper dared to describe a terrorist attack with ... could it be the same noun that Churchill used for the set of decisions by which Auchinleck handed Benghazi (the port in Libya, not the campaign talking point) to Rommel on a silver plate? Yeah, "setback."

Anyway, if you did, you might be amused at how the incumbent talks to Poland about the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact:

Then 19 years later, in 1938, you were invaded yet again; this time by Nazi Germany from the west and the Soviet Union from the east. That's trouble.
That's tough.

Please, if you have the time, take the opportunity to ridicule the Formerly Fair 'n' Balanced Network for everything it does.

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Saturday, July 01, 2017

Four legs good! Two legs are the best legs!

Nothing much should surprise you about the evening's top story at the Formerly Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

President Donald Trump delivered an Independence Day address honoring American veterans — hundreds of whom came from the Washington, D.C. area to attend the “Celebrate Freedom Rally” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

.. but this one part did get my attention:

... Choirs performed “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and other hymns and debuted a song with the lyrics “make America great again” — Trump’s campaign slogan.

I have to wonder what the "Make America Great Again" song sounded like. Did anyone in attendance think to ask for a copy of the lyrics? Because that's usually the sort of thing that Fox is good at:

Officials at a New Jersey school district have turned over to FoxNews.com requested copies of a notice and program for an assembly at which second-graders performed a controversial song praising President Obama, but the district has yet to produce song lyrics that, officials say, also were sent to parents. 


FoxNews.com filed an open records request Oct. 19 seeking copies of materials provided to parents of students at B. Bernice Young Elementary School prior to the song's performance at the assembly in February. The song sparked a national controversy when someone posted to YouTube a video of the students performing it again

Any further questions?

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