Tag: Media

The Real Clinton Rules

For a long time, the Clinton supporters have been whining about the so-called Clinton Rules. These unspoken rules of media coverage are supposedly unfair to the Clintons. I list them below. But you’ll recognize quickly that these “rules” apply to everyone in public life and especially Republicans.

1) Everything, no matter how ludicrous-sounding, is worthy of a full investigation by federal agencies, Congress, the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and mainstream media outlets.

2) Every allegation, no matter how ludicrous, is believable until it can be proven completely and utterly false. And even then, it keeps a life of its own in the conservative media world.

Nonsense. The Vince Foster and Boys on the Tracks conspiracy theories were mocked and derided. The Lewinsky investigation was frequently denounced as an investigation of a blowjob, rather than an investigation of obstruction of justice. The current e-mail scandal keeps getting dismissed, no matter how many classified documents turn up. Benghazi has become a buzzword for liberals to dismiss any criticism of Obama or Clinton.

And for Republicans? Every intimation of misdeeds by George W. Bush was in the headlines. We’ve been enduring news cycle after news cycle probing Ben Carson’s biography, poking Marco Rubio’s finances, questioning Ted Cruz’s citizenship and breaking down Carly Fiorina’s track record.

3) The media assumes that Clinton is acting in bad faith until there’s hard evidence otherwise.

The media should assume all politicians are acting in bad faith until proven otherwise. And when it’s Republicans, they do. Every time there’s a shooting, the media tells us that Republicans are willing to see children get slaughtered in exchange for NRA campaign contributions. Opposition to Obamacare was derided as being in the employ of insurance companies (who, uh, supported the bill). Any opposition to “jobs bills” or big spending bills is attributed to the Republicans only caring about rich people. Never for a second is it allowed that conservative might disagree on how effective liberal policies are. No, it’s always because they are uncaring jackals who only want special interest money.

4) Everything is newsworthy because the Clintons are the equivalent of America’s royal family

Well … they are to start their second dynasty. And they never really left public life. They and their daughter are showered with millions in media contracts, speaking fees and donations to their fund. How is that not royalty?

5) Everything she does is fake and calculated for maximum political benefit

Again, we should assume this of all politicians. In fact, we just had a media storm over Marco Rubio repeating talking points where it was stated that everything he says is fake and calculated.

And we should especially assume that the Clintons are fake, given their long history of frequently and flagrantly lying their asses off. One day it’s a bogus story of sniper fire on an airport; the next it’s bogus allegations the the White House Travel Office was embezzling money; the next, it’s every lie imaginable on the campaign trail. And, when Clinton was President, they were well known for sliming their opponents, whether it was implying Monica Lewinski was a deranged stalker or leaking information about Alma Powell’s struggles with depression.

But the investigation into Clinton’s e-mail server has turned up something interesting. In exchange for access to her speech, the Clinton people were telling journalists what to write.

A set of emails has exposed a sordid, transactional relationship between Hillary Clinton and the press.

The emails were obtained by Gawker as part of a large Freedom of Information Act request it made back in 2012. They show a 2009 exchange between Marc Ambinder, then-politics editor of The Atlantic, and Philippe Reines, a close assistant and adviser to Clinton during her days as Secretary of State.

Ambinder asked Reines for an advance copy of a speech Clinton was scheduled to give at the Council on Foreign Relations. Rather than simply say yes or no, Reines cut a deal with Ambinder, turning over the speech provided Ambinder agreed to three conditions:

1) You in your own voice describe [the speech] as “muscular”

2) You note that a look at the CFR seating plan shows that all the envoys — from [Richard] Holbrooke to [George] Mitchell to [Dennis] Ross — will be arrayed in front of her, which in your own clever way you can say certainly not a coincidence and meant to convey something

3) You don’t say you were blackmailed!

Ambinder agrees in the exchange, and his subsequent article shows that he followed Reines’ demands to the letter. Clinton’s speech is dubbed “muscular” in the second sentence, and the suggestive arrangement of Holbrooke, Mitchell, and Ross is noted immediately afterward. Ambinder never reveals that he was fulfilling demands made by Reines. In essence, in return for a scoop, Ambinder allowed Clinton’s team to dictate part of his coverage.

I would bet very good money that is not the first nor the second nor the 500th time this has happened. Just last year, Vox ran an article complaining that the Clintons don’t “need” the press and it drives the press crazy. Of course, the press aren’t supposed to be political flacks for a powerful political dynasty; they’re supposed to be adversaries (reminder: Vox is the baby of Ezra Klein, who created the Journolist where some lefty media coordinated their propaganda coverage of Obama).

The idea that media are massively unfair to the Clinton is something believed mostly by the Clintons themselves and their sycophants. If the media really were out to get them, Clinton would be getting a grilling on her vote for the Iraq War, her intervention in Libya and her smearing of the women who accused her husband of sexual misconduct. Her poor management of the Health Care task force and her bumbling with Russia would be front page news. Her close ties with Wall Street wouldn’t have needed Bernie Sanders to be part of the conversation. Instead of real coverage, we are getting pre-planned talking points describing her speeches as muscular and a concerted effort to proclaim that she’s wildly popular, is winning every debate and is the most qualified Presidential candidate ever.

Oh, That Liberal Media, Part 7614

You know, I can’t imagine why people think the media has a liberal bias. I mean it’s not like they stealthily edit articles to remove politically damaging quotes from the President and then come up with multiple BS explanations when caught.

Oh, wait. That’s exactly what they do.

(In other news, the media are going nuts because PPP did a poll asking voters if we should bomb Agrabah. 30% of GOP voters agreed. But Agrabah is not a real place; it’s the fictional city in the movie Aladdin.

Here’s the thing. You have to read further in to find it (and some outlets elide it entirely). But 19% of Democrats agreed. Moreover, 57% of Republicans said they didn’t know if we should bomb a fictional country. But only 45% of Democrats said they didn’t know. In other words, Democrats were more sure that they knew whether or not to bomb a country that doesn’t exist.

This is also an illustration of why polls mean little. You can get 20% of people to agree to anything in a poll, just from trolling. So when you hear something like “20% of Republicans think the moon is made of green cheese”, add a lot of salt.)

Biker Wars

So, someone enlighten me. After this weekend’s shootout in Waco between two biker gangs that left nine dead and 18 wounded, we started getting a bunch of think pieces from the usual liberal outlets about how the media coverage of this awfulness was “different”.

Those who are using what happened in Waco to start conversations about stereotypes and media biases against black people aren’t complaining about the tenor of this weekend’s media coverage. They’re saying something a little different: that by being pretty reasonable and sticking to the facts, this coverage highlights the absurdity of the language and analysis that have been deployed in other instances, when the accused criminals are black.

I have no idea what Vox is on about. The coverage of this weekend’s events was not very different from the coverage of any other violence. You can read Ed Morrissey here where he talks about the many politicians who have denounced these gangs, the efforts law enforcement has made to reign them in, the arrest of almost two hundred gang members and the efforts made to prevent this before the weekend even started. No one is downplaying this or pretending this isn’t a problem. No one is failing to denounce them as violent thugs. And no one is trying to claim that this event was somehow justified.

Another line of commentary that’s predictable in media coverage and commentary surrounding violence involving black people has to do with black cultural pathology.

Politicians and pundits are notorious for grasping for problems in African-American communities — especially fatherlessness — to explain the kind of violence that, when it happens in a white community, is treated as an isolated crime versus an indictment of an entire racial group’s way of life.

The total absence around the Waco incident of analysis of struggles and shortfalls within white families and communities is a painful reminder of this.

What a bunch of crap. The difference between violence in the black community and violence in the white community is scale. Black people are six times as likely to be murdered as white people and eight times likelier to be involved in a murder. The community in Waco is not nearly as dysfunctional and crime-ridden as Baltimore is. Saying that violence is more endemic to black communities than white ones isn’t racism; it’s a fact.

Now what we make of that fact, how we respond to it; that’s a different ballgame. Then it’s reasonable to discuss institutional racism, the collapse of families, the cycle of violence, the destruction of inner cities, the War on Drugs, etc. I also think it’s perfectly reasonable to question why people get involved in biker gangs or why the media tend to romanticize biker gangs and have previously failed to report on biker violence. But let’s not pretend that a shootout in Waco reflects violence in our nation the same way the constant drumbeat of death and destruction in our inner cities does (Baltimore, to make one example, has had 34 murders just since Freddie Gray died).

And frankly, outlets like Vox are in a glass house on this. They seem to think it’s wrong for conservatives to talk about absent fathers as a contributor to violence. But it’s OK to discuss racism, decaying infrastructure and failing schools?

But the key thing to understand is that the criticism here is not really of the coverage of what happened in Waco. It’s of the juxtaposition of what happened here with what happens when the people involved are of a different color. The message is not that the conversation about Waco should be overblown, hypercritical of an entire culture, or full of racial subtext. It’s despair over the sense that if the gang members were black, it almost certainly would be.

Bullshit. There are about thirty mass shootings a year in this country, many of them involving gang violence. Almost of all of them are ignored by the media. In fact, I expect think pieces next week about why the media doesn’t cover shootings between black gangs with the same intensity they covered this one.

Salon, of course, takes the cake, wondering why the events in Waco weren’t called a riot (mainly because … there wasn’t a riot). CNN wonders why we react to Muslim violence more sharply than biker violence (because no biker gang ever murdered 3000 people). NPR wonders why the National Guard wasn’t called out (because all the perpetrators were arrested and the violence finished on the first day).

You can read a response from National Review, that points out that the media has had no problem labeling riots as such when it involves white sports fans or college students.

And who, precisely, is denying that organized crime syndicates are thuggish? Isn’t that generally what is meant by “biker gang”? No one is arguing that these were the Wild Hogs.

I understand that people get frustrated when conservations about the excessive use of force by police or the militarization of police gets sidelined into discussion of black-on-black violence. It is possible to denounce both at the same time (as indeed most people do). But trying to sandwich media coverage of the Waco shooting into that discussion is a stretch at best.

Sorry, guys. This isn’t about the media. This is about a bunch of thugs who started a brawl that resulted in nine people being killed (including, most likely, several killed by the police trying to deal with the situation). No one is defending them. No one is romanticizing them. No one is pretending this was something other than a vile incident. And if the result is crackdowns on other violent gangs, almost everyone is fine with that.

What to Expect When You’re Shooting

Just a quick post today on guns. Or, rather, a link to a great post at the Federalist that details 14 things people should know before they write about guns. Excerpt:

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” may be widely mocked by ignorant gun controllers, but it’s true (also true is the fact that guns don’t kill people, bullets do, if we want to be really pedantic). A gun cannot load a magazine by itself. A gun cannot secure a loaded magazine by itself. An empty gun cannot chamber a round or rack the slide by itself. A gun cannot pull a trigger by itself. Each of these actions requires agency by a human being.

These are all reasons why I personally dislike the term “accidental” shooting, because it suggests a lack of accountability and responsibility. A more appropriate term is “negligent” shooting, since human action is required to load a magazine, secure the loaded magazine, chamber a round, and pull the trigger. It’s why the basic gun safety rules are so important: if followed religiously, they reduce the probability of negligent shootings to 0%.

Radley Balko has talked about this in the context of police shootings. The press coverage will frequently say something like “the officer’s gun discharged” as though the gun unholstered itself, undid its own safety, floated through the air and shot someone.

He also gets into supposed “safe gun” technology which is not terribly reliable and not nearly as useful as the gun rules that I and every other gun owners learned the second one was shown to us:

1. Treat all guns as though they are loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you’re prepared to fire.
4. Always confirm your target, as well as what’s in front, behind, and around it.

Each rule is effectively a backup in case you ignore a previous rule. If you always assume a gun is loaded, then you’ll never have to say, “Your Honor, I didn’t know it was loaded.” If you screw up the first rule, the rule #2 will prevent you from shooting someone unintentionally, because your muzzle will always be pointed in a safe direction. If you screw up the first and second rules, rule #3 will ensure that the weapon is never actually discharged. And in the event that you believe your life is in mortal danger, rule #4 will prevent you from firing on an individual who’s a non-threat, or prevent you from firing through a threat into an innocent person.

It’s good stuff for those of us who have been continually frustrated by incompetent media coverage and politicking on the subject of guns. If a Republican says anything remotely wrong about anything, he gets no end of shit about it. But Democrats and the media constantly make statements about guns that are equivalent to saying the Earth is flat.

Charles Ramsey and Ruslan Tsarni Should Get A TV Show

One of the almost refreshing things to emerge from the Boston bombing was Ruslan Tsarni. Uncle Ruslan didn’t waste a moment in front of the cameras, blasting his nephews as losers, expressing his love for America and conveying his embarrassment for what had happened. It was rare to see someone not going with the default “more in sorrow than anger” mood that tends to characterize these events. He said what I think a lot of people were thinking.

By now, you’ve heard about the three girls who were imprisoned in a basement in Ohio. A video interview with the neighbor who discovered and rescued one of the girls is rapidly going viral. It is worth a watch as he expresses amazement and what happened and uncorks a number of great spontaneous lines (“I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”)

I was thinking about this in the car this morning and realized just why those two videos are so much fun. It’s because genuine emotion and spontaneous expression are so rarely shown in the media. Our culture has become relentlessly programmed and focus-group tested. From “reality TV” that isn’t real to movies that are statistically tweaked for mass appeal, there’s a whole industry out there designed to crush spontaneity.

Our politicians have become so sanitized and so on-message that they have made the Information Age boring as hell. Everyone has the same talking points, everyone is on a script. Barack Obama is the apotheosis of this: everything he says sounds it has been passed through the political equivalent of Autotune.

Yeah, America. Boo, cynicism. Government can’t solve everything but it can solve many things. Bipartisanship. It’s all Bush’s fault.

Of course, Obama also illustrates why the media has become so dominated by focus-group blahness. On the rare occasions when Obama does speak off the cuff, he often sticks his foot in it (red lines, bitter clingers, etc.)

Chris Christie is the opposite of this in many ways. He’s always saying what he thinks and, often, what everyone knows deep down. But his honesty is often a double-edged sword. The same statements that make conservatives cheer make liberals cringe. And when he earnestly praised Obama’s Sandy response, the outcry was fierce. Rand Paul is the same way, often saying exactly what he means and contradicting his own party. But this has also made him enemies on the Left, particularly with some of his bumbling comments on racial issues.

But, as human beings, we are far closer to the Christie/Paul model than we are to the Obama one. No one sees an event — whether it’s something trivial or something momentous — and carefully maps out their feelings. They react. Sometimes they overreact. Sometimes they say things they don’t really mean. Sometimes they say and do things that contradict what they really believe. But we’re not media creatures and never have been.

Tsarni and Ramsey are a great contrast against a media that’s constantly wringing its hands over what drives men to do evil things and always telling us that horrible things could happen at any moment. Basically, neither man seems to give a shit about being “on message”. Uncle Ruslan was angry and appalled by the bombing. He didn’t somberly pontificate on what drove his nephews to kill and maim a bunch of innocent folk. He was outraged and said so. Charles Ramsey didn’t worry about whether someone would think his comments were racially insensitive. He was dumfounded by what had happened and said so.

More of this, please. Life isn’t scripted. Why should everything in the media be?