Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

The Poison on Facebook and Twitter Is Still Spreading

October 20, 2018

Social platforms have a responsibility to address misinformation as a systemic problem, instead of reacting to case after case.

By The Editorial Board 

The New York Times

A network of Facebook troll accounts operated by the Myanmar military parrots hateful rhetoric against Rohingya Muslims. Viral misinformation runs rampant on WhatsApp in Brazil, even as marketing firms there buy databases of phone numbers in order to spam voters with right-wing messaging. Homegrown campaigns spread partisan lies in the United States.

The public knows about each of these incitements because of reporting by news organizations. Social media misinformation is becoming a newsroom beat in and of itself, as journalists find themselves acting as unpaid content moderators for these platforms.

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It’s not just reporters, either. Academic researchers and self-taught vigilantes alike scour through networks of misinformation on social media platforms, their findings prompting — or sometimes, failing to prompt — the takedown of  propaganda.

It’s the latest iteration of a journalistic cottage industry that started out by simply comparing and contrasting questionable moderation decisions — the censorship of a legitimate news article, perhaps, or an example of terrorist propaganda left untouched. Over time, the stakes have become greater and greater. Once upon a time, the big Facebook censorship controversy was the banning of female nipples in photos. That feels like a idyllic bygone era never to return.

The internet platforms will always make some mistakes, and it’s not fair to expect otherwise. And the task before Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and others is admittedly herculean. No one can screen everything in the fire hose of content produced by users. Even if a platform makes the right call on 99 percent of its content, the remaining 1 percent can still be millions upon millions of postings. The platforms are due some forgiveness in this respect.

It’s increasingly clear, however, that at this stage of the internet’s evolution, content moderation can no longer be reduced to individual postings viewed in isolation and out of context. The problem is systemic, currently manifested in the form of coordinated campaigns both foreign and homegrown. While Facebook and Twitter have been making strides toward proactively staving off dubious influence campaigns, a tired old pattern is re-emerging — journalists and researchers find a problem, the platform reacts and the whole cycle begins anew. The merry-go-round spins yet again.

This week, a question from The New York Times prompted Facebook to take down a network of accounts linked to the Myanmar military. Although Facebook was already aware of the problem in general, the request for comment from The Times flagged specific instances of “seemingly independent entertainment, beauty and informational pages” that were tied to a military operation that sowed the internet with anti-Rohingya sentiment.

The week before, The Times found a number of suspicious pages spreading viral misinformation about Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of assault. After The Times showed Facebook some of those pages, the company said it had already been looking into the issue. Facebook took down the pages flagged by The Times, but similar pages that hadn’t yet been shown to the company stayed up.

It’s not just The Times, and it’s not just Facebook. Again and again, the act of reporting out a story gets reduced to outsourced content moderation.

“We all know that feeling,” says Charlie Warzel, a reporter at BuzzFeed who’s written about everything from viral misinformation on Twitter to exploitative child content on YouTube. “You flag a flagrant violation of terms of service and send out a request for comment. And you’re just sitting there refreshing, and then you see it come down — and afterward you get this boilerplate reply via email.” Mr. Warzel says his inbox is full of messages from people begging him to intercede with the platforms on their behalf — sometimes because they have been censored unfairly, sometimes because they want to point to disturbing content they believe should be taken offline.

Journalists are not in the business of resolving disputes for Facebook and Twitter. But disgruntled users might feel that they have a better chance of being listened to by a reporter than by someone who is actually paid to resolve user complaints.

Of course, it would be far worse if a company refused to patch a problem that journalists have uncovered. But at the same time, muckraking isn’t meant to fix the system one isolated instance at a time. Imagine if Nellie Bly had to infiltrate the same asylum over and over again, with each investigation prompting a single incremental change, like the removal of one abusive nurse.

The work of journalists is taken for granted, both implicitly and explicitly. In August, the Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, took to his own platform to defend his company’s decision to keep Alex Jones online. “Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions,” he said. “This is what serves the public conversation best.” But journalists and outside researchers do not have access to the wealth of data available internally to companies like Twitter and Facebook.

The companies have all the tools at their disposal and a profound responsibility to find exactly what journalists find — and yet, clearly, they don’t. The role that outsiders currently play, as consumer advocates and content screeners, can easily be filled in-house. And unlike journalists, companies have the power to change the very incentives that keep producing these troubling online phenomena.

The reliance on journalists’ time is particularly paradoxical given the damage that the tech companies are doing to the media industry. Small changes to how Facebook organizes its News Feed can radically change a news organization’s bottom line — layoffs and hiring sprees are spurred on by the whims of the algorithm. Even as the companies draw on journalistic resources to make their products better, the hegemony of Google and Facebook over digital advertising — estimated by some to be a combined 85 percent of the market — is strangling journalism.

But throwing light on the coordinated misinformation campaigns flaring up all around us is a matter that is much bigger than the death of print — it’s essential to democracy. It can change the course of elections and genocides. Social media platforms are doing society no favors by relying on journalists to leach the poison from their sites. Because none of this is sustainable — and we definitely don’t want to find out what happens when the merry-go-round stops working.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion).

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A24 of the New York edition with the headline: Hey, Facebook, Do Your Own Work
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Twitter says it won’t suspend Louis Farrakhan over tweet comparing Jews to termites

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https://thehill.com/policy/technology/411950-twitter-says-it-wont-suspend-louis-farrakhan-over-tweet-comparing-jews-to

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Suspect arrested in Germany over killing of Bulgaria journalist who wrote about EU corruption

October 10, 2018

Police in Germany have arrested a man in connection with the rape and brutal murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, Bulgarian officials said Wednesday.

But they said it does not appear that the murder was linked to her work as a journalist.

The suspect was picked up late on Tuesday at the request of Bulgarian authorities, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told a news conference.

“We have enough proof linking this person to the scene of the crime,” he said.

© TVN.BG/AFP/File | Some observers have speculated that the murder could be linked to Marinova’s work as a journalist.

The country’s chief prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, named the suspect as Severin Kasimirov, born in 1997, and said he was already sought in connection with another rape and murder.

“At this stage, we do not believe that the murder is linked” to Marinova’s work. “But we are continuing to look at all hypotheses.”

“The evidence that we have at this stage leads us to believe it was a spontaneous attack to sexually abuse the victim”.

The body of 30-year-old Marinova — who presented a current affairs talk programme called “Detector” for the small TVN television channel — was discovered on a riverside path in the northern town of Ruse on Saturday.

Authorities said she died from blows to the head and suffocation. She was also raped.

The attack has shocked the country and drawn international condemnation amid speculation the murder could be linked to Marinova’s work as a journalist.

An episode of her programme aired on September 30 featured interviews with two investigative journalists from Bulgaria and Romania who had been working on corruption allegations.

She is the third journalist to be murdered in Europe in the past 12 months after Jan Kuciak in Slovakia in February and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017.

AFP

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Journalist who reported on EU corruption found raped and murdered

October 9, 2018

A Bulgarian journalist who reported on an investigation into alleged corruption involving European Union funds has been murdered in the Danube town of Ruse, authorities said Sunday.

Prosecutors in the Balkan country said that the body of 30-year-old Viktoria Marinova was found in a park in Ruse on Saturday. They identified her only by her initials.

“It is about rape and murder,” Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told reporters. He said there was no evidence to suggest the murder was related to Marinova’s work and there was no information that she had been threatened.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told reporters: “I am convinced it is a matter of time before the murder would be revealed. The best criminologists were sent to Ruse, let’s not press them. A large amount of DNA had been obtained.”

Police are expected to disclose more details Monday.

“Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing,” Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said.

Marinova, who was a board member of the Ruse-based TV station TVN — one of the most popular TV channels in northeastern Bulgaria — is the third journalist to have been murdered in the European Union in a year. Local media reported that Marinova had recently been involved in covering an investigation by a group of Bulgarian journalists into companies involved in EU-funded infrastructure projects administered by local authorities.

Last October, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative journalist, was killed when a powerful bomb blew up her car, and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead in February.

“With great pain and insurmountable grief the TVN’s team is experiencing the loss of our beloved colleague Victoria Marinova and we pray for sympathy to the sorrow of her relatives and colleagues,” TVN said in a short statement.

Bulgaria ranked 111 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index this year, lower than any other EU member and also lower than other countries in the western Balkans, some of which are candidates for EU membership.

In October 2017, hundreds of Bulgarian journalists protested in downtown Sofia against threats from Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov against the country’s biggest broadcasters. He accused the mainstream media of leading a “massive smear campaign” against him.

Australian Communications Minister describes further government regulation of the internet

October 8, 2018

Australian Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has flagged further government regulation of the internet, declaring we are at a “turning point” and that the online realm can no longer be seen as separate to the physical world.

Image result for Mitch Fifield, photos

Laying out an agenda that involved cracking down on “fake news” and misuse of personal data, Mr Fifield said the government would be guided by the “world first” inquiry into digital platforms being undertaken by the consumer watchdog.

“We are at a turning point. There is global recognition that the internet cannot be that other place where community standards and the rule of law do not apply,” he told a Sydney Institute event on Monday evening.

“We will seek to regulate only when necessary. But we will make further interventions where significant problems exist.”

Mr Fifield noted a number of issues had been raised in submissions to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry, including the disruption to traditional media companies and the problem of “algorithms creating echo chambers and filter bubbles”.

The minister said his response would be guided by the need to ensure responsibility, respect and trust proliferated in the online world.

“Australians should be able to control their online footprints and their personal data. They should be able to have a degree of trust and confidence in online news sources,” Mr Fifield said.

“But when these things don’t happen, we will look at the range of options available to support them [Australians].”

There is global recognition that the internet cannot be that other place where community standards and the rule of law do not apply.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield

Mr Fifield also flagged concerns about the dominance of particular market players and publishers such as Google and Facebook, stating: “There are few examples in history where the dominance of single firms has been positive for society.”

The ACCC inquiry, commissioned by Prime Minister Scott Morrison late last year when he was still Treasurer, is examining the effects of digital search engines, social media and other digital content aggregation platforms on media and advertising markets.

It has been directed to pay special attention to the impact of digital platforms on news journalism.

Mr Fifield began the speech by recounting the first time he heard about the world wide web, courtesy of “a computer scientist friend in about 1993”, and thinking: “This thing will never take off.”

He said the internet was “no longer seen as an ungoverned space or a libertarian free-for-all”.

“It’s important to recognise what the internet is not: it’s not the wild west, where the rule of law and standards of decency shouldn’t apply, and it’s not a place where anything goes,” Mr Fifield said.

“It’s a shared space. And all Australians should be able to participate online and reap the benefits of a globalised world without experiencing offensive or harmful content.”

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/turning-point-mitch-fifield-flags-further-government-regulation-of-the-internet-20181008-p508e9.html

Cyril Almeida broke no law, says PPP chairman

September 26, 2018

Pakistan Peo­ples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has expressed surprise and dismay on the issuance of an arrest warrant against Dawn assistant editor Cyril Almeida by the Lahore High Court.

“Treating Mr Almeida like he is a criminal and trying him for treason no less is shocking! This adds on to the perception that media is under siege in Pakistan. Mr Almeida was doing his job — nothing less, nothing more,” said the PPP chairman in a statement.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that the Pakistani media was already facing the worst kind of censorship. “Dictators who have abrogated the Constitution and have actually committed treason are roaming free while journalists who are only doing their jobs are being tried for treason,” he regretted.

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Pakistan Peo­ples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

The PPP chairman said that Mr Almeida broke no law by interviewing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Why should a journalist not interview someone? What law stops a journalist from interviewing a politician?” he asked.

The PPP, he added, stood by freedom of expression and wanted a free media in Pakistan. “Democracy without a free media is a sham democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also expressed concern over the issuance of a non-bailable arrest warrant against Mr Almeida and the placement of his name on the no-fly list, terming the decision “regrettable”.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, HRCP chairman Dr Mehdi Hasan stated: “The HRCP is greatly perturbed to learn that the LHC has issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for journalist Cyril Almeida, requiring him to appear at the next hearing of a case seeking action against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on charges of treason.”

The HRCP termed the court’s decision “regrettable”, adding that “Mr Almeida, a widely read and highly respected journalist, is being hounded for nothing more than doing his job — speaking on the record to a political figure and reporting the facts”. As a law-abiding citizen, it added, Mr Almeida had no reason not to appear before the court as directed. Placing him on the Exit Control List (ECL) and issuing a non-bailable warrant is an “excessive measure”, said the HRCP.

‘The ease with which Mr Almeida’s interview with the former Prime Minister was perceived as an attempt to allegedly defame state institutions, and the pace at which this has spiralled into charges of treason, only serve to further choke press freedom in Pakistan,” the statement read.

While remarking that “journalism — sensible, rational, independent journalism — is not a crime or treason”, the HRCP urged the court to give Mr Almeida the opportunity to appear at the scheduled hearing of his own volition and to have his name removed from the ECL immediately.

In Islamabad, addressing the inaugural meeting of a recently-established National Interfaith Working Group by the HRCP on Tuesday, Awami National Party (ANP) leader Bushra Gohar said that freedom of religion and speech was a fundamental right of every citizen of Pakistan, but unfortunately it was not being granted.

“As we see Cyril Almeda, a journalist working with Dawn, facing the court for reporting a story, which is his job but at the same time a dictator is being facilitated by the courts,” she said, adding that these were the ground realities about the state of freedom of expression in practice.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1435056/cyril-almeida-broke-no-law-says-ppp-chairman

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Philippines, Facebook and The War On Truth — Deeply worrying scenario for the future of politics and society

September 15, 2018

Over the last months or so, several studies have emerged showing how the social networking site Facebook was “weaponized” during the 2016 elections.

For sure, all of the candidates for different posts utilized the internet, including FB, to reach potential voters

But none was as organized, focused and better funded, as well as cynical about the “facts” they sought to spread, than the organization behind the on-again, off-again candidacy of Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the city of Davao.

Throughout his political career, Mr. Duterte had marketed himself, in the words of media analyst Jack Swearingen, as “the tough-on-crime, anti-elite Everyman ready to bring back jobs and order.”

In speeches and freewheeling interviews, the supposedly reluctant candidate bombarded the once-benign social network site, as well as the traditional mass media, with vicious attacks on opponents, along with alarmist scenarios, offensive remarks aimed at women, and promises of a bloody war on drugs.

Opinion
Philippine Inq

Sure enough, the number of his adherents grew by leaps and bounds since “any inflammatory content… (does) extremely well on Facebook,” said Swearingen, writing in New York magazine.

Mr. Duterte’s run for the highest post in the land — once deemed a long shot given his localized base of support and his relative anonymity in a field jammed with political heavyweights with a national constituency — was given a huge boost by a tactical business decision that FB made in 2013, three years before the elections.

That year, FB decided to “subsidize internet access to Facebook on mobile devices where cellular data was pricey, physical internet infrastructure was poor, and the smartphone revolution meant many leapfrogged from having no internet access at all to using their smartphone as their only source to the web.”

The Philippines, so FB officials found, “was the perfect country to test this out on,” calling the experiment “Free Facebook.”

When Mr. Duterte finally decided to become a serious presidential candidate, he had a ready platform to reach the millions of Filipino voters.

As Jonathan Corpus Ong of the University of Massachusetts Amherst wrote in Asia Global Online, “Duterte’s campaign machinery strategically focused on assembling bloggers, digital influencers, and fake account operators to tap into the public’s deep-seated anger — and convert these emotions into votes on election day… This tactic owed much of its success to the fact that the Philippines is the world’s ‘social media capital,’ with the average Filipino spending more time on social media than any other nationality.”

Other candidates still used the “traditional” avenues to reach out to voters: advertising, print and broadcast media, as well as the even more traditional rallies, motorcades, posters and personal huckstering, as well as the internet.

But only Mr. Duterte had (and apparently still has) the organized army of cyberwarriors ready to jettison the rules of engagement, including laying waste to the truth and to history, to create an army of fanatical devotees.

It’s doubtful if this was the intent of FB founder Mark Zuckerberg, who started (with a few collaborators) the site as a way for Ivy League male students to “rate” women on campus, and then went on to expand it to a digital web of personal connections. Now he finds himself in the service of trolls, online bullies and fabulists.

Can FB executives, who’ve been forced to meet with authorities in other countries to explain their role in this disturbing development fomented by shadowy groups, still be able to put the foul toothpaste back in the tube? (The pro-Marcos campaign, for instance, has also had considerable success on social media with largely uncontested, obviously well-funded revisionist takes on history—something it couldn’t do in the past with the more rigorous-minded traditional media.)

Will laws and regulations change the way people receive and perceive what they read in the web? And will Filipinos still be able to discern truth from trickery?

“In the Philippines,” said Swearingen, “its Free Facebook program has become so successful that it’s hard to imagine how Facebook and the Philippines could ever untwine themselves from each other… And even after Duterte leaves office, whenever that may be, the Philippines will still be a country where one website’s algorithm determines what 97 percent of internet users look at.”

That’s a scary, deeply worrying scenario for the future of politics and society in this country.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/116087/war-on-truth#ixzz5R9AcFMHV
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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Trump in Indiana: FBI must start doing its job right or ‘I’ll get involved’ — Lashes media (Again)

August 31, 2018

US President tells followers ‘people are angry’ at law enforcement’s conduct as he campaigns for ally in Indiana

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US President Donald Trump speaks to a group of supporters at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

US President Donald Trump speaks to a group of supporters at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind., Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

US President Donald Trump on Thursday night threatened to intervene in the Justice Department, saying the leaders of the DOJ and FBI “have to start doing their job and doing it right” because “people are angry.”

If they don’t do their job, he said at an Indiana campaign rally, he “will get involved and I’ll get in there if I have to.”

His comments came after he told Bloomberg News in an interview that the Russia collusion investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was “illegal.”

The president cited unnamed “great scholars” who say that “there never should have been a special counsel,” according to the news agency.

Some legal experts have questioned the Justice Department’s naming of Mueller, a former FBI director, to handle the probe in the absence of a specific law governing special prosecutors. But Trump’s own Justice Department says it is legal.

Trump has a long-standing feud with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and has called on him to investigate former rival Hillary Clinton and others. Some of the issues he’s raised with the DOJ have either already been examined or are in the process of being investigated.

In this Dec. 15, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump sits with Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va.(AP/Evan Vucci)

Trump repeated an attack on social media companies, saying, “We as a country cannot tolerate political censorship, blacklisting and rigged search results. We will not let large organizations silence conservative voices.” This week, Trump accused Google and other US tech companies of rigging search results about him. Google pushed back sharply, saying Trump’s claim simply wasn’t so.

Casting the mid-terms as a referendum on his agenda, Trump urged Indiana Republicans to unseat Sen. Joe Donnelly, saying the vulnerable Democrat is “not going to vote for us on anything.”

Trump, who is kicking up his campaign travel as the midterm elections near, appeared in Evansville to boost support for wealthy Republican businessman Mike Braun, who is facing off against Donnelly in what is viewed as one of the nation’s most competitive Senate races.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Ford Center, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Evansville, Ind. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Before a wildly enthusiastic crowd, Trump called  Braun a “special guy” and said he will “be a truly great senator.” Braun took the stage and pledged to be a “true ally” to Trump, “not somebody that says something when you’re in Indiana and does something differently when you’re in DC.”

In a state the president carried by roughly 19 percentage points in 2016, both candidates have sought to stress their connections to Trump. Braun has welcomed Trump’s backing, greeting him at the airport as he arrived in Indiana on Thursday. Before the rally, Trump attended a private roundtable and fundraising reception.

Trump ticked through a number of Donnelly votes, saying he opposed his tax bill and voted against repealing former president Barack Obama’s health care law.

Donnelly’s campaign pushed back on Trump’s critique, citing a study from Congressional Quarterly that shows he voted with Trump 62 percent of the time in 2017 and noting that the candidate had 22 proposals signed into law by Trump.

“He’s always willing to work with any president who has a good idea to help Hoosiers, but he’s never been, and never will be a rubber stamp for ideas from any administration that are wrong for Indiana,” said campaign manager Peter Hanscom.

Donnelly said in a statement after the rally: “We’re always happy to have President Trump in Indiana, but Hoosiers still want a senator who always puts them first before any politician or political party.”

The president returned to the campaign trail after a bruising stretch, including widespread condemnation for his muted response to the death of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the revelation that key outside associates had been granted immunity as part of one of the investigations circling the White House and a plea deal from his former personal attorney and the conviction of his onetime campaign chairman.

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak to a campaign rally at Ford Center, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Evansville, Ind. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump did not mention McCain amid a five day stretch of national mourning for the longtime Arizona lawmaker and decorated war veteran with whom the president had long feuded. Trump drew harsh criticism for staying quiet for two days before issuing a terse statement honoring McCain’s death.

Trump’s speech largely focused on his favored talking points. He pushed his agenda, arguing that Democrats in power would halt his efforts to cut taxes and roll back regulation and would block his long-promised border wall. To deafening applause he argued that “Republicans want strong borders” and said “Democrats want to abolish ICE,” the government agency tasked with enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.

Trump also promoted his record, again calling the economy the best in the “history of our country” and boasting about “putting tariffs on foreign producers who cheat our workers and cheat our companies.” The economy and jobs are nowhere close to historic bests based on several measures. And Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports would help many domestic steel and aluminum mills while likely increasing prices for the factories that rely on those metals.

Early in the rally, a volunteer member of Trump’s advance team blocked a photojournalist’s lens as he tried to take a photo of a protester inside the arena. Trump paced on stage during the moments it took for the protester to be led out.

Heading into the final months of campaigning, the Republican Party is defending its majorities in the House and Senate, facing retirements and an energized Democratic opposition. Democrats are increasingly bullish about their chances to capture the 23 seats they need to retake the House. But flipping the Senate remains a much tougher prospect, given that 10 incumbents are running in states Trump won.

Trump is aiming to spend more than 40 days on the campaign trail between the beginning of August and the Nov. 6 midterms. The officials said Trump wants to be on the road for Republicans more than Obama was for Democrats in 2010 — when his party suffered what Obama called a “shellacking” — and beyond what President George W. Bush did in 2002.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/trump-fbi-must-start-doing-its-job-right-or-ill-get-involved/

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Trump rails against media at Indiana rally

August 31, 2018

President Trump on Thursday evening railed against the news media as he spoke at a rally in support of Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun, who is seeking to unseat Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in November.

Trump attacked CNN and NBC during the rally in Evansville, Ind., calling NBC “worse than CNN.” He also went after a New York Times reporter over coverage of his past crowd size, saying the reporter “doesn’t have a clue.”

“These are just dishonest, terrible people,” he said.

Image may contain: 1 person

Credit Getty Images

Trump said the Times reporter “pretends she knows what she’s talking about.” He didn’t specify which reporter he was referring to, but he referenced a story in the Times last week co-bylined by Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers.

The pair reported in the story that Trump was disappointed during a rally in West Virginia last week and that he told someone close to him that the “crowd seemed flat and that some chairs were empty.”

“She made the statement that President Trump was disappointed to see some empty chairs,” he said. “Yeah, they were going to the bathroom maybe.”

“And he was so disappointed at the tone in the room,” he continued. “We left there saying that was amazing.”

Trump referred to the newspaper, as he often does, as the “failing New York Times” and claimed it would be out of business if he weren’t in office.

Trump also claimed during the rally that NBC News Chairman Andy Lack is about to be fired, something he predicted Thursday morning on Twitter.

“But the word is they’re firing the head of NBC, what a great thing to do,” he said during the rally. “How smart. Who knows? With these people you never know.”

Trump’s barbs on Thursday night came as he launched a series of sustained attacks on news outlets this week, focusing on top executives at CNN and NBC while singling out multiple reporters over the past week.

The president has attacked the Times and other outlets numerous times before, regularly calling them “fake news” while pushing back on critical coverage of his administration.

Trump used his rally Thursday night to also attack Donnelly, going after the incumbent Democrat for voting against the GOP tax bill and against the skinny repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The president mocked Donnelly, calling him “sleepy Joe.”

“A vote for Mike’s opponent, sleepy Joe, is a vote for Chuck SchumerNancy Pelosi and who else? Maxine Waters,” Trump said, ticking off the names of Democrats in the House and Senate who are vocal critics of the president.

Trump also referred to an Indianapolis Star story about a study that found Donnelly was the least effective Democratic senator during the 2015-16 session.

“So I’ll have to tell you that if that’s what you want representing Indiana, you can have it,” Trump said.

Donnelly, one of 10 Senate Democrats running for reelection this year in states Trump won in 2016, brushed off the attacks.

“I was unable to watch President Trump’s rally tonight, as I was headed back to Washington for Senator McCain’s memorial services,” Donnelly said in a statement from his campaign after Trump’s rally ended.

“We’re always happy to have President Trump in Indiana, but Hoosiers still want a senator who always puts them first before any politician or political party. They know that’s what I’ve been for them, and it’s what I’ll continue to be as their Senator next year.”

Updated: 11:45 p.m.

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http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/404490-trump-swipes-at-media-while-rallying-for-indiana-republican-could-be

The media’s hatred of Trump is only hurting itself — Contempt for the elected man becomes contempt for the voters and democracy itself

August 19, 2018

Media leaders refuse to see their destructive role in the war with the president

Remember when reporters wouldn’t be allowed to cover any candidate they were obviously biased against?

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This month marks the two-year anniversary of one of the most important articles ever written on journalism. On Aug. 7, 2016, after Donald Trump formally secured the Republican nomination and the general election was underway, New York Times media columnist James Rutenberg began with a question:

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?”

By Michael Goodwin
Opinion

Under the Times’ traditional standards, the right answer is that you wouldn’t be allowed to cover any candidate you were so biased against. But that’s not the answer Rutenberg gave.

Instead, quoting an editor who called Hillary Clinton “normal” and Trump “abnormal,” Rutenberg suggested “normal standards” didn’t apply. He admitted that “balance has been on vacation” since Trump began to campaign and ended by declaring that it is “journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment.”

I wrote then that the article was a failed attempt to justify the lopsided anti-Trump coverage in the Times and other news organizations. It was indeed that — and more, for it also served as a dog whistle for anti-Trump journalists, telling them it was acceptable to reveal their biases. After all, history would judge them.

Weeks later, Dean Baquet, the Times’ executive editor, told an interviewer the Rutenberg article “nailed” his thinking and convinced him that the struggle for fairness was over.

“I think that Trump has ended that struggle,” Baquet boasted. “I think we now say stuff. We fact-check him. We write it more powerfully that it’s false.”

Because the Times is the liberal media’s bell cow, the floodgates were flung open to routinely call Trump a liar, a racist and a traitor. Standards of fairness were trashed as nearly every prominent news organization demonized Trump and effectively endorsed Clinton. This open partisanship was a disgraceful chapter in the history of American journalism.

Yet the shocking failure of that effort produced no change in behavior. After the briefest of mea culpas for failing to see even the possibility of a Trump victory, the warped coverage continued and became the media wing of the resistance movement.

Which is how we arrived at the latest low moment in journalism. This one involved the more than 300 newspapers (including The Post) that followed The Boston Globe and, especially his accusation that they are “the ­enemy of the people.”

The high-minded among the media mob insisted they were joining together to protect the First Amendment and freedom of the press. In fact, the effort looked, smelled and felt like self-interest and rank partisanship masquerading as principle.

True to their habit, most of the papers expressed contempt for the president and some extended that contempt to his supporters.

Nancy Ancrum, the editorial-page editor of The Miami Herald, told Fox News her paper joined the effort without any hope of changing the minds of Trump supporters because “they are just too far gone.”

Imagine that — 63 million Americans are written off because they disagree with the media elite’s politics. Echoes of Clinton’s “deplorables” comment ring loud and clear.

I agree that Trump is wrong to call the media the “enemy of the people” and wish he would stick to less inflammatory words. His ­favorite charge of “fake news” makes his point well enough without any hint that he favors retribution on individual journalists.

But I am also concerned that media leaders refuse to see their destructive role in the war with the president. Few show any remorse over how the relentlessly hostile coverage of Trump is damaging the nation and changing journalism for the worse.

One obvious consequence is increased political polarization, with many media outlets making it their mission to denounce Trump from first page to last, day in and day out. Studies show 90 percent of TV news coverage is negative and the Times, Washington Post and CNN, among others, appear addicted to Trump ­hatred as if it is a narcotic.

This lack of balance permits little or no coverage of any of his achievements. How many people, for example, know about the employment records shattered by the jobs boom unleashed by Trump’s policies?

Black unemployment stands at 5.9 percent, the lowest rate on record. For Latinos, it is 4.5 percent, also the lowest on record. For women, it’s the lowest rate in 65 years and for young people, it’s the lowest since 1966.

Those statistics mean millions of people are getting their shot at the American dream. How can that not be newsworthy?

Rest assured that if Barack Obama had achieved those milestones, they and he would have been celebrated to the high heavens.

Yet when it comes to Trump, nothing is ever good. Having decided he is unfit to be president, most news groups act as propagandists, ignoring or distorting facts that contradict their view of him.

While media manipulation hurts Trump’s popularity, there is a second, ironic impact: The skewed coverage is doing even more damage to public trust in the media itself.

A Gallup/Knight Foundation survey of 1,440 panelists earlier this year found adults estimating that “62 percent of the news they read in newspapers, see on television or hear on the radio is biased” and that 44 percent of “news” is inaccurate.

Separately, Axios and SurveyMonkey polled nearly 4,000 adults in June and found that 70 percent believe mainline news organizations report as news things “they know to be fake, false or purposely misleading.”

Among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, an astonishing 92 percent harbor that distrust, as do 53 percent of Democrats.

And get this: Two-thirds of those who believe there is rampant false news say it usually happens because journalists “have an agenda.” Clearly, the distrust is not limited to Trump supporters.
These numbers reflect an urgent crisis of confidence in the press. And it’s getting worse.

A Gallup survey three years ago found that 40 percent trusted the media; two years ago, the trust meter declined by 8 points, to 32 percent. Now even that low bar looks like the good old days.

Yet instead of soberly examining their conduct, most in the media ratchet up the vitriol, apparently believing that screaming louder and longer will lead the public to hate Trump as much as they do.

But as the surveys show, their bias is a boomerang. With media behavior undermining public trust more than anything Trump says or does, a return to traditional standards of fairness and a separation of news from opinion are essential.

And urgent — for the good of a free press and America.

The Los Angeles Times is not participating in today’s nationwide editorial page protest against Trump’s attacks on the press. Here’s why

August 16, 2018
More than 300 newspapers around the country will participate today in a group protest of President Trump’s frequent attacks on the news media. Each of the papers will publish editorials — their own separate editorials, in their own words — defending freedom of the press.The Los Angeles Times, however, has decided not to participate. There will be no free press editorial on our page today.

This is not because we don’t believe that President Trump has been engaged in a cynical, demagogic and unfair assault on our industry. He has, and we have written about it on numerous occasions. As early as April 2017, we wrote this as part of a full-page editorial on “Trump’s War on Journalism”:

“Trump’s strategy is pretty clear: By branding reporters as liars, he apparently hopes to discredit, disrupt or bully into silence anyone who challenges his version of reality. By undermining trust in news organizations and delegitimizing journalism and muddling the facts so that Americans no longer know who to believe, he can deny and distract and help push his administration’s far-fetched storyline.”

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President Trump speaks at a July news conference at the White House. (Shawn Thew / EPA/Shutterstock)

We still believe that. Nevertheless, the editorial board decided not to write about the subject on this particular Thursday because we cherish our independence.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board does not speak for the New York Times or for the Boston Globe or the Chicago Tribune or the Denver Post. We share certain opinions with those newspapers; we disagree on other things. Even when we do agree with another editorial page — on the death penalty or climate change or war in Afghanistan, say — we reach our own decisions and positions after careful consultation and deliberation among ourselves, and then we write our own editorials. We would not want to leave the impression that we take our lead from others, or that we engage in groupthink.

The president himself already treats the media as a cabal — “enemies of the people,” he has called us, suggesting over and over that we’re in cahoots to do damage to the country. The idea of joining together to protest him seems almost to encourage that kind of conspiracy thinking by the president and his loyalists. Why give them ammunition to scream about “collusion”?

We mean no disrespect to those who have decided to write on this important subject today. But we will continue to write about the issue on our own schedule.

Nicholas Goldberg is editor of The Times’ editorial pages.

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http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-ol-enter-the-fray-the-los-angeles-times-is-not-1534376775-htmlstory.html