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Journalists join together for panel on how to cover Trump BY Joe Concha

Journalists from The Huffington Post, Slate and Univision will gather days before Donald Trump’s inauguration to publicly discuss “how the news media can and should proceed to cover” the president-elect.

Slate will host the event next Wednesday, called “Not the New Normal.” CNN’s Brian Stelter will moderate the panel at New York University.

The focus of the discussion will include “how journalists and media companies at large can play a bigger role in making sure that fact prevails over fiction in the coming months and years,” according to Slate.

Slate’s editor-in-chief, Julia Turner, and Slate Group Chairman Jacob Weisberg — who hosts “Trumpcast,” a podcast dedicated to covering the president-elect — will participate in the panel.

Joining them will be Borja Echevarría, Univision Digital’s vice president and editor-in-chief; Huffington Post editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen; and New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Most of the panelists were staunchly critical of Trump during the campaign and have remained so since Election Day.

Tickets will cost $30, with proceeds benefiting the Committee to Protect Journalists.

This is the first time Slate has hosted a panel to discuss how to cover an incoming president.

Dumpster Diving for Dossiers The team that created the Trump file went digging for divorce records in 2012. By Kimberley A. Strassel

Washington and the press corps are feuding over the Trump “dossier,” screaming about what counts as “fake news.” The pity is that this has turned into a story about media ethics. The far better subject is the origin of the dossier itself.

“Fake news” doesn’t come from nowhere. It’s created by people with an agenda. This dossier—which alleges that Donald Trump has deep backing from Russia—is a turbocharged example of the smear strategy that the left has been ramping up for a decade. Team Trump needs to put the scandal in that context so that it can get to governing and better defuse the next such attack.

The more that progressives have failed to win political arguments, the more they have turned to underhanded tactics to shut down their political opponents. (For a complete account of these abuses, see my book, “The Intimidation Game.”) Liberals co-opted the IRS to crack down on Tea Party groups. They used state prosecutors to launch phony investigations. They coordinated liberal shock troops to threaten corporations. And they—important for today’s hysteria—routinely employed outside dirt diggers to engage in character assassination.

This editorial page ran a series in 2012 about one such attack, on Frank VanderSloot. In 2011 the Idaho businessman gave $1 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. The following spring, the Obama re-election campaign publicly smeared Mr. VanderSloot (and seven other Romney donors) as “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.”

This national shaming, by the president no less, painted a giant target on Mr. VanderSloot’s back. The liberal media slandered him daily on TV and in print. The federal bureaucracy went after him: He was ultimately audited by the IRS and the Labor Department. About a week after the Obama attack, an investigator contacted a courthouse in Idaho Falls demanding documents dealing with Mr. VanderSloot’s divorces, as well as any other litigation involving him. We traced this investigator to an opposition-research chop shop called Fusion GPS.

Fusion is run by a former Wall Street Journal reporter, Glenn Simpson. When we asked how he could justify dumpster-diving into the divorce records of private citizens, he said only that Mr. VanderSloot was a “legitimate” target. He refused to tell us who’d paid him to do this slumming, and federal records didn’t show any payments to Fusion from prominent Democratic groups or campaigns. The money may well have been washed through third-party groups.

Why does this matter? Guess who is behind that dossier against Mr. Trump: Fusion GPS. A Republican donor who opposed Mr. Trump during the primaries hired Fusion to create a file on “the real estate magnate’s past scandals and weaknesses,” according to the New York Times. After Mr. Trump won the GOP race, that donor pulled the plug. Fusion then seamlessly made its product available to “new clients”—liberals supporting Hillary Clinton. Moreover, it stooped to lower tactics, hiring a former British spook to help tie Mr. Trump to the Russians. (Fusion GPS did not respond to a request for comment.)

No media organization has so far been able to confirm a single allegation in the dossier. Given Fusion’s history and tactics, trying arguably isn’t worth the effort. Truth was never its purpose.

The point of the dossier—as with the dredging into Mr. VanderSloot’s personal life, or the smearing of the Koch brothers, or Harry Reid’s false accusation that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes—was to gin up the ugliest, most scurrilous claims, and then trust the click-hungry media to disseminate them. No matter how false the allegations, the subject of the attack is required to respond, wasting precious time and losing credibility. Mr. Trump should be focused on his nominations, his policies, disentangling himself from his business. Instead his team is trying to disprove a negative and prevent the accusations, no matter how flimsy, from seeping into voters’ minds. CONTINUE AT SITE

Roger Franklin Fake News: Fauxfax and Their ABC

If you believe the Age, SMH and our national broadcaster, FBI Director James Comey is in a whole lot of trouble for nobbling Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. Actually, the cited document suggests it is the failed candidate and her cronies who are in the hottest water.
The business of journalism is actually pretty simple — or should be — especially when it comes to re-writing press releases. Your garden-variety hack reads the hand-out from a company, government agency, PR outfit or whatever, re-writes it and submits the copy to an editor who casts an eye over the offering and, allowing that there is nothing glaringly stupid about it, places the reporter’s effort in the paper or, these days, on the news organisation’s website. If there is a problem, an eye-smacking incongruity or doubts about the veracity of the source, checks are instituted and corrections made. That’s the theory, anyway.

Idiots could do it, one would think. But that expectation, alas, is beyond the wit and means of the click-baiters at the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and ABC, all of which today (January 13) published a Reuters report that asserted, as the Fairfax headline put it, “FBI, [sic] director James Comey’s actions during US election to be probed“.

The shame of this story is that it is no better than 10% correct. Its original sin is the confirmation bias of the editors who chose to run it as is.

First, the headline’s errant comma suggests grammatical incompetence, once regarded as a damnable journalistic vice, but difficulty with the language is the most petty of the account’s flaws. Of much greater concern is that the Reuters wire copy is not merely wrong but reekingly so by virtue of its misrepresentation by omission. A competent foreign-desk editor, one who keeps abreast of his or her assigned beat, would have spiked it at a glance. Actually, make that “editors”, because the national broadcaster is no better and quite possibly more culpable, as its story is longer but every bit as guilty of distortion by what is left out.

The press release from the US Department of Justice’s watchdog Office of the Inspector General can be found here. A Google search require precisely .75 of a second to locate it. Below, interspersed with explanations, are reproductions of its key points.

Fake News Media Go To War With Trump CNN and Buzzfeed go all in on unsubstantiated dossier of anti-Trump “intelligence.” Joseph Klein

The leftwing online “news” outlet Buzzfeed disgraced itself by publishing a widely discredited document making unsubstantiated charges against President–elect Donald Trump, purporting to tie Mr. Trump to compromising information that the Russian government had allegedly collected on him. The allegations regurgitated by Buzzfeed came from a “dossier” which, Buzzfeed said on its site, was “compiled by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official.” The site tried to cover itself with a warning: “The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.” Buzzfeed’s own editor, Ben Smith, admitted that he has “serious reason to doubt the allegations” in it. Nevertheless, Buzzfeed went ahead and published the unverified allegations with the flimsy rationale “that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.” Ben Smith tried to put lipstick on his pig by claiming that “publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.” If the job of reporters is to knowingly publish completely unsubstantiated, sensationalist stories whose only “value” is to further polarize the country, the media are in big trouble. Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly,” which Gallup has been polling since 1972, will continue to hit new lows.

CNN amplified the false story by giving prominent attention to it on the air, without the warning it was unsubstantiated and contained errors that even Buzzfeed published. In fact, CNN described the source for the story as “credible.” Subsequently, CNN lamely tried to defend its reporting, instead of apologizing for running with a story that even the New York Times described as “a summary of unsubstantiated reports.” And then, in an attempt to change the subject, CNN conducted what it called a “reality check” of claims that Mr. Trump made during his news conference on January 11th . In the process, they ended up doing even more damage to their own credibility. For example, CNN critiqued Mr. Trump’s claim that “I have no deals in Russia.” Note that he spoke in the present tense and said that he has no deals in Russia, meaning actual completed commercial agreements currently in effect. CNN tried to refute this claim as “misleading” by themselves misleadingly pointing to a deal he had been negotiating in 2013, with a Russian billionaire, to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Even CNN admitted this approximately 4-year-old negotiation was never finalized. CNN even reached way back to 1987 when Mr. Trump “visited the Soviet Union with his first wife, Ivana, and announced plans to develop a luxury hotel there.” Of course, whatever the president-elect, his family or his company may have tried to do in Russia years ago, or said in the past about business prospects in Russia, has no relevance to whether his claim that “I have no deals in Russia” today is true.

What unsubstantiated ‘news stories’ about Democrats would you like to see? By Ed Straker

The media has created a new standard for reporting “news”: it is appropriate to report anything, anything at all, as long as you preface it by saying it is “unsubstantiated.” That is the new standard for reporting about Donald Trump. But what if the media applied the same reporting standard to Democrats?

1) Would Politico post unreliable reports about Congressman Charlie Crist and his alleged relationship with a certain Green Iguana?

2) Would the Washington Post hypothesize about whether George Stephanopoulos is still mentally ill?

3) Would The New York Times suddenly change its tune and start speculating about where Obama was really born and what his real religion is?

4) Would ABC News run with speculation about who Vera Baker is, and what her alleged relationship with President Obama is or might have been?

5) Do you think we could expect to see unsubstantiated reports about Senator Cory Booker’s dating preferences?

6) Might the media published unsourced documents detailing Hillary Clinton’s alleged involvement in Vince Foster’s death?

7) Would the media publish claims from an anonymous source about the precise nature of the relationship between Hillary and her “body woman,” Huma Abedin?

8) And whom has Bill Clinton been violating lately? Wave some cash around hookers in Harlem and report whatever they say!

Can you imagine the media doing any of this? No, of course not. Because these are all Democrats, and the media holds them to a different standard; they never publish damaging personal information even if they are sure of the veracity.

The Woman Who Scooped Everyone on World War II Clare Hollingworth was a journalist of the old school—daring, dogged and open-minded. By Melanie Kirkpatrick

The celebrated British war correspondent Clare Hollingworth died Tuesday in Hong Kong at 105. The news reached me via her obituary in the Daily Telegraph, which a friend emailed. It was fitting that the Telegraph published one of the first reports of her death, as the newspaper also published Hollingworth’s most famous article and arguably the biggest scoop of the 20th century: the outbreak of World War II.

In late August 1939, Hollingworth was a 27-years-old cub reporter for the Telegraph in Poland. After talking a British diplomat into allowing her to borrow his car, she drove across the border into Germany, where she observed large numbers of troops, tanks and field artillery lined up along a road.

As she wrote in her autobiography, when the wind blew open burlap screens “constructed to hide the military vehicles . . . I saw the battle deployment.” Her story appeared in the London newspaper on Aug. 29 under the headline “1,000 Tanks Massed on Polish Frontier.” Germany invaded Poland three days later.

The young reporter’s scoop heralded the rest of her journalism career, which took her to the four corners of the Earth. She was a journalist of the old school—daring, dogged and open-minded. She was interested, above all, in “getting the story.” In pursuit of that goal, she would talk to anyone, travel anywhere, endure any discomfort.

Hollingworth spent six years covering World War II in dangerous assignments that took her to Central Europe, the Balkans and northern Africa. Next she covered the war in Algeria, two wars between India and Pakistan, conflicts in Aden, Burma, Borneo and Ceylon, the Vietnam War, two Arab-Israeli wars, the bloody birth of Bangladesh, and the Cultural Revolution in China.

In 1946 she was staying at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem when a bomb went off, killing 91 people. “I was not being brave,” she once wrote about her adventures. “My over-riding feeling was enthusiasm for a good story.”

Her sources included high government officials and military officers as well as soldiers and ordinary people. When I knew her in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong in the 1980s and ’90s, she was as welcome at the governor’s sedate dinner parties as she was at the raucous bar of the Foreign Correspondents Club or with the local patrons of sidewalk noodle stands.

In what was perhaps her sole concession to being a female reporter in what was then mostly a man’s world, she often made a point of befriending sources’ families, secretaries and household help. Such sources came in handy, such as when she broke the news, in 1963, that British double agent Kim Philby had defected to the Soviet Union. The wife he left behind in Beirut was one of her sources.

Since the early 1980s, Hollingworth made her home in Hong Kong. She would hold court at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, where she often could be found in a corner of the bar sipping a G&T and attired in her regular working uniform of a custom-made safari suit and rubber-soled Chinese slippers. She was a marvelous raconteur, and I heard some of her best tales over dinner in the club’s upstairs dining room. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Trump Russia Files The president-elect’s interregnum turns into a media circus damaging everyone.By Daniel Henninger

A standard journalistic defense for publishing, or reporting on, the sort of thing BuzzFeed put on the web Tuesday night about Donald Trump’s alleged compromise by the Russians is that “the people” ultimately will sort it all out. You could say the same thing about tornadoes.

Conventional wisdom after the election held that the media had been chastened by its coverage of the campaign, that it had learned to be more careful about separating facts from the media bubble.

The past week’s news, if one still can call it that, was bookended by two Trump files. The first was the intelligence community report that Russia’s hack of the presidential election favored Mr. Trump. The second was a salacious opposition-research file on Mr. Trump published by BuzzFeed, which says it is about “trending buzz.” Below the site’s Trump-in-Russia stories Wednesday sat, “Lauren Conrad Just Posted The Most Adorable Photo Of Her Baby Bump.”
No one has learned anything.

When people played on real pinball machines, everyone knew that if you banged on the machine too hard, it would lock up. It would “tilt.” Because so many once-respected institutions are behaving so badly, the American system is getting close to tilt.

The interregnum between the election result and next week’s inauguration has become a wild, destructive circus, damaging the reputation and public standing of everyone performing in it, including Donald Trump.

Trumpians will resist that thought, but they should be concerned at their diminishing numbers. Quinnipiac’s poll this week puts Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 37%. Building in even an expansive margin for error, this is an astonishing low for a president-elect.

Mr. Trump routinely mocks the “dishonest media.” He has a point, but dishonesty isn’t the problem. The internet, media’s addictive drug, is the problem. Whatever publication standards existed before the web are eroding.

Any person getting a significant federal job undergoes an FBI background check. These “raw” FBI files—a mix of falsity, half-truths and facts—are never published.

The BuzzFeed story about Donald Trump in Russia is a raw FBI file, or worse. Once it went online, every major U.S. news outlet prominently published long accounts of the story, filled with grave analysis and pro forma caveats about “unverifiable,” as if this is an exemption for recycling sludge.

This isn’t news as normally understood. It’s something else. CONTINUE AT SITE

Trump, ‘Lies’ and Honest Journalism Why editors should be careful about making selective moral judgments about false statements.By Gerard Baker

“When a politician tells you something in confidence, always ask yourself: ‘Why is this lying bastard lying to me?’ ” As a statement of fierce journalistic independence, this advice from Louis Heren, a veteran correspondent of the Times of London, reflects an admirable if slightly jaundiced view of the reporter’s job. As an operating principle of objective, civil and fair-minded journalism it leaves a little to be desired.

But after a remarkable presidential election campaign, and as we stand on the cusp of the Donald Trump presidency, it captures the posture of many journalists toward the president-elect. Mr. Trump certainly has a penchant for saying things whose truthfulness is, shall we say for now, challengeable. Much of the traditional media have spent the past year grappling with how to treat Mr. Trump’s utterances. It’s an important question and one that has received a fresh burst of energy in recent days, partly, well, because of me.

In a New Year’s Day broadcast on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” moderator Chuck Todd asked whether I, as the editor in chief of the Journal, would be comfortable characterizing in our journalism something Mr. Trump says as a “lie.”

Here’s what I said: “I’d be careful about using the word ‘lie.’ ‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”

Immediately, my remarks were followed by another fit of Trump-induced pearl-clutching among the journalistic elite. Dan Rather, a former television newsman of some renown, weighed in to call the remarks “deeply disturbing.” I will confess to feeling a little burst of pride at being instructed in reporting ethics by Mr. Rather. It feels a little like being lectured on the virtues of abstinence by Keith Richards.

But these are serious allegations. I—and The Wall Street Journal—stand accused of imperiling the republic by adopting a craven deference to presidential mendacity. So let me elucidate. A couple of points ought to be obvious but might be worth pointing out at the start.

Note that I said I’d be “careful” in using the word “lie.” I didn’t ban the word from the Journal’s lexicon. Evidently, this carefulness is widely shared in the newsrooms of America. While some of the fresher news organizations have routinely called out Mr. Trump as a liar in their reporting, as far as I can tell, traditional newsrooms—print, digital, television—have used the term sparingly. Given the number of times Mr. Trump seems to have uttered falsehoods, that looks like prima facie evidence of a widespread reluctance to label him a liar.

Why the reluctance? For my part, it’s not because I don’t believe that Mr. Trump has said things that are untrue. Nor is it because I believe that when he says things that are untrue we should refrain from pointing it out. This is exactly what the Journal has done.

Mr. Trump has a record of saying things that are, as far as the available evidence tells us, untruthful: thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 on the rooftops of New Jersey, millions of votes cast illegally in the presidential election, President Obama’s supposed foreign birth. We can also point out that the circumstances are such that it’s reasonable to infer that Mr. Trump should know that these statements are untrue. CONTINUE AT SITE


An article posted on the National Public Radio website on December 29 by International Editor Greg Myre and Middle East Editor Larry Kaplow titled “7 Things To Know About Israeli Settlements,” began as follows: “When Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, no Israeli citizens lived in the territory.”

The misleading nature of this one sentence is striking. The reason that no Jews – Israeli or otherwise – lived in the West Bank when Israel captured it in its defensive war against Jordan is that in 1947-48, Jordan killed or expelled all the Jews living there at the time.

The kibbutzim of the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem, for instance, came under attack in late 1947, and the women and children were evacuated. Later, in 1948, the men who stayed behind to defend their communities were either slaughtered or taken prisoner by Jordanian forces. As CAMERA has detailed before, Jordan also expelled all the Jewish residents when it illegally seized eastern Jerusalem. Yet, the authors of this piece – editors at NPR – saw fit to omit this essential information and thereby deceive readers.

The next few sentences of the piece are similarly deceptive, stating:

The following year, a small group of religious Jews rented rooms at the Park Hotel in Hebron for Passover, saying they wanted to be near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, one of the holiest sites in Judaism (as well as Islam and Christianity).

The Israeli government reluctantly allowed them to stay “temporarily.” From that beginning, hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews now reside in the West Bank, citing religion, history and Israel’s security among their reasons for being there.

The Times and the Stars By Marilyn Penn

There are two American women whose obituaries were reported in today’s NYTimes: one for the actress who played a princess in Star Wars and one for a ground-breaking physicist and astronomer. The former, Carrie Fisher, achieved fame through the character of Princess Leia and later through her books about her own bi-polar disorder and drug addiction. The latter, Vera Rubin, “transformed modern physics and astronomy with her observations showing that galaxies and stars are immersed in the gravitational grip of vast clouds of dark matter.” (NYT 12/28) As significant details of her life, the Times reports that Carrie Fisher had one marriage lasting less than a year and one daughter born out of wedlock; Vera Rubin was married to another prominent physicist for 60 years, bearing four children who all earned their own Ph.D.’s

A capsule description of Vera Rubin offers that she was “cheerful and plain-spoken, had a lifelong love of the stars, championed women in science and was blunt about the limits of humankind’s vaunted knowledge of nature” (NYT 12/28) A capsule description of Ms Fisher delineates that “she acknowledged taking drugs like LSD and Percodan throughout the 1970’s and ’80’s and later said that she was using cocaine while making “The Empire Strikes Back” In l985, after filming a role in Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters,” she had a nearly fatal overdose. She had her stomach pumped and checked herself into a 30-day rehab program.” (NYT 1228)

I’m sure that everyone who heard of Ms Fisher’s death at age 60 was saddened that this woman suffered from mental illness and drug addiction which undoubtedly hastened her early demise from a heart attack. My question is which woman had her picture and obit on the front page of the Times and what does that say about a society more interested in casual fame and derelict behavior than in genius, hard work and a purposeful life – one that should serve as the ultimate role model for women young and old.