Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

Mainstream Media Mostly Ignore Report That North Korea Has Pledged To Get Rid Of Nuclear Weapons — Get Past the “mandatory denigrating coverage of Donald Trump” — Here’s what we know….

March 28, 2018

The story is huge.

“China claims Kim Jong Un has agreed to denuclearize Korean Peninsula,” said the headline. The source: Reuters News Agency, a worldwide wire service known for its accuracy.

The piece was posted at 8 p.m. Tuesday night, according to the article.

“BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearization and to meet U.S. officials, China said on Wednesday after his meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold friendship with its isolated neighbor,” said the lead.

“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim Jong Un said, according to Xinhua. Kim is currently in China for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Wow.

President Trump has pressed North Korea since taking office in January 2017. More, he’s pushed China to do more about its belligerent neighbor, and taken some actions seen as overkill, like enacting tariffs on Chinese goods. But Trump’s efforts appear to have paid off, at least at this point.

Yet a look at some of the top news sites in the U.S. turned up little on the story.

The Washington Post had this story as its lead: “Trump proposal would penalize immigrants who use tax credits, other benefits.” Beneath that was this piece: “Meeting of North Korean, Chinese leaders presents a new challenge for Trump.”

In the story, the Post wrote that the meeting in China is intended to send a message to the United States: “Any moves on North Korea must go through Xi.” There’s no mention of the Reuters revelation.

CNN’s top story was: “Stormy Daniels’ lawyer seeks to depose Trump” (of course). A tiny headline on a side column featured a headline, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met Xi Jinping on surprise visit to China.” The story said Kim and Xi were “discussing giving up the country’s nuclear weapons,” but did not say Kim had vowed to give up his nuclear weapons.

A second story was headlined: “China throws Trump a curveball ahead of his meeting with Kim.”

The New York Times top headline was about Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. “Kushner Resists Sessions’s Push for Hard-Line Prison Policy.” On North Korea, The Times offered these stories: “North Korea Is Firing Up a Reactor. That May Upset Trump-Kim Talks”: “Kim Jong-un Met With Xi Jinping in Secret Beijing Visit”; and “Bulletproof, Slow and Full of Wine: Kim Jong-un’s Train.”

Fox News offered: “North Korea begins testing experimental reactor at nuclear site despite ‘denuclearization’ talk.” The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece headlined: “Official Accounts Diverge About Kim Jong Un’s Visit to China.”

And the Associated Press, the most widely read news agency in the U.S., wrote a boring, catch-all headline that Journalism 101 professors would frown on: “Kim, Xi portray strong ties after NKorea leader’s China trip.” No mention of the Kim pledge to denuclearize, though.

Trump praised the development, although he expressed caution.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!

Of course, North Korea cannot be trusted as it has repeatedly broken its promises.

Still, one can only imagine the headlines if the development occurred while Barack Obama was president.

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Britain’s Times condemns Egypt over journalist’s deportation

March 24, 2018

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – Egypt has deported a British journalist working for The Times, the newspaper said on Saturday, describing an “increasingly oppressive environment” for media in the country ahead of next week’s presidential election.

The Times said its correspondent, 33-year-old Bel Trew who had been based in Cairo for several years, was arrested while reporting and “forced to leave Egypt.”

“The Times deplores this attempt by the Egyptian authorities to intimidate the media and suppress our coverage,” a statement by the newspaper said, adding that Egyptian authorities had “no intention of allowing (Trew) to return.”

Egypt’s government foreign press center, the interior ministry, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s office, did not respond to phone calls and requests for comment via WhatsApp.

Trew said in a separate article published by The Times that she was detained by police in central Cairo on her way to conduct an interview, held for almost 24 hours and then “marched onto a plane” at Cairo airport bound for London.

Her deportation follows what human rights groups call a crackdown on press freedom aimed at stifling dissent in the run-up to the March 26-28 presidential election.

Egyptian authorities have urged legal action against media outlets they deem to be publishing “fake news”, and rights activists say several local journalists have also been arrested in recent months.

Sisi, a former military commander, is virtually guaranteed to win a second term after all serious opposition pulled out of the race citing intimidation after a major challenger was jailed.

The election commission says the vote will be free and fair and Sisi has said he wanted more candidates to run.

Sisi’s critics say he has presided over an intensifying crackdown on dissent. Supporters say tough measures are needed to stabilize the country after years of unrest that followed a 2011 popular uprising.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said the foreign secretary had raised Trew’s deportation with his Egyptian counterpart.

“The Egyptian authorities have not shared any evidence of wrongdoing. We will continue to press them on this case,” she added.

Editing by Helen Popper

NeverTrump New York Times Columnist: Trump’s Foreign Policy Is Winning — (He endorsed Hillary Clinton, OMG!) — Where’s the rest of the media?

December 18, 2017

NY Times columnist praises Trump for winning against ISIS, hits media for not giving credit

A conservative New York Times columnist on Sunday wrote a piece on President Trump’s successful approach at taking on the Islamic State and how his strategy has gone unnoticed by the media.

Ross Douthat, who previously endorsed Hillary Clinton, wrote that the Trump administration surprised him in foreign policy, namely in the war on ISIS that Trump has won.

“If you had told me in late 2016 that almost a year into the Trump era the caliphate would be all-but-beaten without something far worse happening in the Middle East, I would have been surprised and gratified,” Douthat wrote in an column titled “A War Trump Won.”

Douthat wrote that Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq – which he calls “the defining foreign policy calamity of Barack Obama’s second term” – were effectively routed by Trump without the need of a massive ground troop invasion and without getting into a war with Russia or Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Douthat wrote that it is a “press failure” for succumbing to “the narrative of Trumpian disaster” and ignoring the story.

“But this is also a press failure, a case where the media is not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested,” he wrote.

Earlier this month, Iraq declared its war against the Islamic State was over after more than three years of combat operations drove extremist fighters from all of the territories they once held.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Iraqi forces were in full control of the country’s border with Syria during remarks at a conference in Baghdad, and his spokesman said the development marked the end of the military fight against ISIS.

“Trump has avoided the temptation often afflicting Republican uber-hawks, in which we’re supposed to fight all bad actors on 16 fronts at once. Instead he’s slow-walked his hawkish instincts on Iran, tolerated Assad and avoided dialing up tensions with Russia,” Douthat wrote.

Lastly, Douthat gives credit for Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a move condemned by multiple countries across the globe – as recognizing that the Middle East has changed its priorities since the 1990s.

He wrote: “And the Trump strategy on Israel and the Palestinians, the butt of many Jared Kushner jokes, seems … not crazy?”

“The relatively mild reaction to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may be a case study in expert consensus falling behind the facts; the Arab world has different concerns than it did in 1995, and Trump’s move has helped clarify that change.”

Douthat ended the article: “So very provisionally, credit belongs where it’s due — to our soldiers and diplomats, yes, but to our president as well.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/18/ny-times-columnist-praises-trump-for-winning-against-isis-hits-media-for-not-giving-credit.html

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New York Times resident conservative columnist Ross Douthat, who was a “NeverTrump” pundit during the 2016 election, has acknowledged President Donald Trump’s success in defeating the so-called “Islamic State” — and says Trump deserves credit for his foreign policy overall.

In a column titled “The War Trump Won,” Douthat writes that “if you had told me in late 2016 that almost a year into the Trump era the caliphate would be all-but-beaten without something far worse happening in the Middle East, I would have been surprised and gratified.”

Last October, with Election Day looming, Douthat had written that “the risks of Trump are so distinctive as to throw the perils of a Clinton presidency into relative eclipse.” He warned of the possibility of “a rapid escalation of risk in every geopolitical theater.”

A year later, Douthat is surprised — and impressed — by Trump’s performance: “[F]or now, the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East has been moderately successful, and indeed close to what I would have hoped for from a normal Republican president following a realist-internationalist course.”

Douthat faults the press — including himself — for ignoring the victory over ISIS and “not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested.”

He explains further:

In particular, Trump has avoided the temptation often afflicting Republican uber-hawks, in which we’re supposed to fight all bad actors on 16 fronts at once. Instead he’s slow-walked his hawkish instincts on Iran, tolerated Assad and avoided dialing up tensions with Russia. The last issue is of course entangled with the great collusion debate — but it’s still a good thing that our mini-cold war has remained relatively cool and we aren’t strafing each other over Syria.

And the Trump strategy on Israel and the Palestinians, the butt of many Jared Kushner jokes, seems … not crazy? The relatively mild reaction to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may be a case study in expert consensus falling behind the facts; the Arab world has different concerns than it did in 1995, and Trump’s move has helped clarify that change.

He concludes: So very provisionally, credit belongs where it’s due — to our soldiers and diplomats, yes, but to our president as well.

Read Douthat’s full column here.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

ABC News suspends Brian Ross for 4 weeks over erroneous Flynn story

December 3, 2017

  @oliverdarcy

CNN
December 2, 2017: 9:32 PM ET

ABC News announced Saturday that it has suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks without pay after Ross was forced to correct a bombshell on-air report about Michael Flynn.

“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday. The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process,” ABC said in a statement. “As a result of our continued reporting over the next several hours ultimately we determined the information was wrong and we corrected the mistake on air and online.”

 Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, suit
ABC NEWS – 7/18/16 – Coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention from the Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio, which airs on all ABC News programs and platforms. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) BRIAN ROSS  (2016 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.)

“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience — these are our core principles,” the statement added. “We fell far short of that yesterday.”

Citing a single anonymous source, Ross told viewers during an ABC special report on Friday morning that Flynn was prepared to testify that Donald Trump, as a candidate for president, told him to contact Russians.

During Friday’s edition of “World News Tonight,” Ross walked back his report, telling viewers that the source who had provided the initial information for his story later told him that it was as president-elect, not as a candidate, that Trump asked Flynn to contact Russians.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

Susan Walsh | AP
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

An ABC News tweet about the report was retweeted about 25,000 times before being deleted.

Ross’ incorrect report prompted a dramatic reaction in the financial markets, and the Dow fell more than 350 points. Stocks largely recovered later in the day.

CNN had initially reached out to ABC News early Friday afternoon to ask why Ross’ initial reporting was not included in the network’s online story about Flynn pleading guilty for lying to the FBI. Hours later, a spokesperson told CNN a correction was forthcoming.

But ABC News initially attempted to downplay the mistake, referring to its correction as a “clarification” on “World News Tonight” and then online. After a barrage of criticism, the network changed the language online from “clarification” to “correction.”

Saturday evening’s statement further ramped up the language; the network now calls it a “serious error.”

Ross commented later Saturday night. “My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself,” he tweeted.

My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself.

Shortly after that, President Trump weighed in, tweeting his “congratulations” to ABC News for suspending Ross.

Multiple ABC News employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t publicly authorized to discuss the matter, told CNNMoney on Saturday there was internal embarrassment over the blunder.

“It’s a major embarrassment,” one ABC News employee said.

“It makes me cringe,” echoed another. “This is not what any networks needs when people are so quick to say ‘fake news’ to you. It makes me sick to my stomach.”

This is not the first high-profile mistake by Ross. In a 2012 piece for which he apologized, he suggested that the Aurora shooter may have had a connection to the Tea Party.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/02/media/abc-news-brian-ross/index.html

Qatar Says Five Suspects in News Agency Hacking Detained in Turkey

August 26, 2017

DOHA — Qatar’s attorney general said Turkey has detained five suspects in connection with the hacking of Qatar’s state news agency in May.

The hacking helped precipitate the diplomatic rift that has since opened up between Qatar and some of its powerful Arab neighbors.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar in June over comments briefly posted on the Qatar News Agency attributed to its ruler in which he allegedly praised their arch-foe Iran.

Qatar said Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani did not make the statements and that hackers had posted a false story on QNA.

In comments published by QNA on Saturday, Qatar’s Attorney General Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri said the suspects were being interrogated, without specifying their nationalities or any other details.

“Our friends in Turkey answered us a short time ago. Five people were detained and they are being investigated. Qatari prosecutors are working with Turkish authorities to follow this case,” he was quoted as saying by Qatari media.

Marri has said Qatar has evidence that the hack was linked to countries that have severed ties with Doha for allegedly supporting Islamist militant groups and advancing the agenda of their arch-rival Iran in the region – charges Doha denies.

The dispute has defied mediation attempts by the United States and Kuwait.

(Writing by Stephen Kalin Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Wall Street Journal Editor Admonishes Reporters Over Trump Coverage

August 24, 2017

Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, has faced unease and frustration in his newsroom over his stewardship of the newspaper’s coverage of President Trump, which some journalists there say has lacked toughness and verve.

Some staff members expressed similar concerns on Wednesday after Mr. Baker, in a series of blunt late-night emails, criticized his staff over their coverage of Mr. Trump’s Tuesday rally in Phoenix, describing their reporting as overly opinionated.

“Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting,” Mr. Baker wrote at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning to a group of Journal reporters and editors, in response to a draft of the rally article that was intended for the newspaper’s final edition.

He added in a follow-up, “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?”

A copy of Mr. Baker’s emails was reviewed by The New York Times.

Several phrases about Mr. Trump that appeared in the draft of the article reviewed by Mr. Baker were not included in the final version published on The Journal’s website.

The draft, in its lead paragraph, described the Charlottesville, Va., protests as “reshaping” Mr. Trump’s presidency. That mention was removed.

The draft also described Mr. Trump’s Phoenix speech as “an off-script return to campaign form,” in which the president “pivoted away from remarks a day earlier in which he had solemnly called for unity.” That language does not appear in the article’s final version.

Contacted about the emails on Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal spokeswoman wrote in a statement: “The Wall Street Journal has a clear separation between news and opinion. As always, the key priority is to focus reporting on facts and avoid opinion seeping into news coverage.”

In February, Mr. Baker fielded tough questions at an all-hands staff meeting about whether the newspaper’s reporting on Mr. Trump was too soft. Mr. Baker denied that notion, and he suggested that other newspapers had abandoned their objectivity about the president; he also encouraged journalists unhappy with the Journal’s coverage to seek employment elsewhere.

But apprehensiveness in the newsroom has persisted. This month, Politico obtained and published a transcript of a White House interview with Mr. Trump conducted by Mr. Baker and several Journal reporters and editors. Unusually for an editor in chief, Mr. Baker took a leading role in the interview and made small talk with Mr. Trump about travel and playing golf.

When Ivanka Trump, the president’s older daughter, walked into the Oval Office, Mr. Baker told her, according to the transcript, “It was nice to see you out in Southampton a couple weeks ago,” apparently referring to a party that the two had attended.

The Wall Street Journal is owned by the media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who speaks regularly with Mr. Trump and recently dined with the presidentat the White House.

BBC journalist on trial for Thailand crime reporting

August 23, 2017

AFP

© AFP | BBC Southeast Asia correspondent Jonathan Head arrives at court to fight defamation charges brought against him by a Thai lawyer, in Phuket, on August 23, 2017
PHUKET (THAILAND) (AFP) – A British BBC journalist appeared in a Thai court on Wednesday for the start of a criminal defamation trial brought by a lawyer who featured in an investigation about foreigners being scammed of their retirement homes.Jonathan Head, the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent, faces up to five years in jail at the private prosecution on the popular tourist island of Phuket.

Rights groups have said the case exposes how Thailand’s broad defamation and computer crime laws scupper investigative journalism and make it difficult to uncover wrongdoing in an endemically corrupt country.

The prosecution was sparked by a 2015 report by Head detailing how two foreign retirees had Phuket properties stolen from them by a network of criminals and corrupt officials.

One of the victims, British national Ian Rance, is a joint defendant in the prosecution. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The man bringing the prosecution is Pratuan Thanarak, a local lawyer who featured in the BBC’s report looking at how Rance lost $1.2 million worth of properties.

According to the report, Pratuan admitted on tape to certifying Rance’s signature without him being present, a move which helped the British retiree’s then wife transfer his properties out of his name.

She was later convicted and jailed for the scam.

A copy of Pratuan’s complaint seen by AFP alleges that the BBC’s report caused him to be “defamed, insulted or hated”. It does not detail whether he notarised the signature without Rance being present.

Pratuan declined to speak about the case on the way into court. He warned gathered photographers that he would file a lawsuit against anyone who published images of him.

Neither Head nor Rance spoke to reporters on their way into the Phuket court on Wednesday.

In a previous statement the BBC has said it “stands by its journalism” and that they “intend to clear the name of our correspondent”.

Rance and Head face one charge of criminal defamation, which carries up to two years in jail.

Head faces an additional charge under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act, a broadly-worded law which forbids uploading “false data” online and carries a five-year maximum jail penalty.

Unlike most countries where defamation is a civil crime, in Thailand it is a criminal offence.

Private citizens can also launch their own prosecutions and they are not forced to pay costs if they lose.

Similar cases have been brought in recent years.

Local news site Phuketwan closed down in 2015 after running out of money in its successful bid to defeat a suit brought by Thailand’s navy.

Andrew Drummond, a British crime reporter, left the country the same year because of multiple cases brought by those he exposed as did British labour rights activist Andy Hall in 2016.

A Journalist’s Murder Underscores Growing Danger in Mexico — “Mexico is going to hell,” he said, “and that’s why I became a reporter.”

August 4, 2017

MEXICO CITY — The absence of editor Javier Valdez Cardenas is deeply felt at the weekly newspaper he co-founded, but his presence is everywhere.

A large photo of Valdez displaying his middle finger, with the word “Justice,” hangs on the facade of the Riodoce newspaper building in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan. Two reporters in their 30s, Aaron Ibarra and Miriam Ramirez, wear T-shirts that display his smiling, bespectacled face or his trademark Panama hat. The masthead of the paper still bears his name, and each issue has a blank space where his op-ed column should be.

Image result for Javier Valdez Cardenas, photos

Javier Valdez Cardenas

Valdez was one of seven journalists in seven states killed this year for reporting on the mayhem wrought in Mexico by organized crime, corrupt officials and ceaseless drug wars. As bodies pile up across the country, more and more of them are journalists: at least 25 since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and 589 under federal protection after attacks and threats.

Mexico is now the world’s most lethal country for journalists, more even than war-torn Syria. And the killers of journalists in Mexico are rarely brought to justice. Although a special federal prosecutor’s office was established in 2010 to handle such cases, it has only prosecuted two, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“The greatest error is to live in Mexico and to be a journalist,” wrote Valdez, a legend in Mexico and abroad, whose killing is seen as a milestone in Mexican violence against journalists.

On the morning of May 15, Valdez left the Riodoce office. He drove just a couple blocks before his red Toyota Corolla was stopped by two men; he was forced out of his car and shot 12 times, presumably for the name of the paper — which translates as Twelfth River.

Image result for Javier Valdez Cardenas, photos

His body lay for 40 minutes in the middle of a sunbaked street, with a kindergarten on one side and a restaurant on the other, his hat next to his head as if shielding his eyes from distraught family and friends gathering around him.

“I understood that as a message,” said Francisco Cuamea, deputy director of the Noroeste newspaper: Anyone could be next.

Valdez, 50, left a wife and two adult children. There have been no arrests — which is no surprise to the national press corps.

“Nobody wants to get involved with the death,” said Juan Carlos Ayala, a professor at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa who has spent 40 years studying violence in the state. Authorities have been silent about any progress in the case. “Either they’re complicit, or they’re idiots.”

Sinaloa is home to the cartel of the same name that was long run by notorious kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Since Guzman’s arrest last year and extradition to the United States in January, Sinaloa has been one of the country’s bloodiest battlegrounds, as rival factions fight to fill the vacuum. Someone or several people are shot dead in the street every day in Sinaloa, and the cemetery is filled with ornate, two-story mausoleums for drug kings, larger than many homes for the living.

In Sinaloa, “it was impossible to do journalism without touching the narco issue,” said Ismail Bojorquez, a co-founder and director of Riodoce, who is wracked with guilt for failing to protect his friend.

When Valdez won an award from the Committee to Protect Journalists for his courage in 2011, he freely acknowledged that he was frightened. “I want to carry on living,” he said at the time. “To die would be to stop writing.”

His death has forced other journalists to question their own assumptions about how best to do their jobs and stay alive.

It used to be that there were certain unwritten rules. It was OK to report on corruption as long as you were careful not to publish key details or appear to take sides. You must think carefully about story placement and timing. Don’t accept money from anyone. Know the red lines for crime gangs.

The old rules, journalists say, no longer apply. In times of fracturing cartels, shifting political alliances and near-total impunity for attacks on journalists, it’s no longer clear who can and can’t be trusted, what is or isn’t safe to report.

Less than two months after Valdez’ death, the Riodoce staff met to talk about security.

It’s important to change their routines, they were told. Be more careful with social media. Don’t leave colleagues alone in the office at night. Two senior journalists discussed what felt safer: to take their children with them to the office, which was the target of a grenade attack in 2009, or to leave them at home.

Security experts wrote three words on a blackboard: adversaries, neutrals, allies. They asked the reporters to suggest names for each column.

Allies are crucial. In an emergency, they would need a friend, a lawyer, an activist to call.

The longest list, by far, is enemies. There are drug-traffickers, politicians, businesspeople, journalists suspected of being on the payroll of the government or the cartels, a catalog of villains who make the job of covering Mexico’s chaos a daily dance of high-risk decisions.

Ramirez was unsettled by a recent Facebook comment on a story of hers about shell companies contracted by a previous governor. “These reporters are looking to end up like Javier Valdez,” said the anonymous poster, though the comment was later deleted.

Still, she says she has no intention of giving up on Riodoce or its mission.

“We have a commitment to Javier, to ourselves,” said Ramirez.

Ibarra admits that covering the drug trade scares him. But he, too, intends to remain.

“Mexico is going to hell,” he said, “and that’s why I became a reporter.”

Journalists, NGO slam Saudi ‘threats’ to close Al-Jazeera

July 25, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | A general view shows the newsroom at the headquarters of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel in Doha 14 November 2006

DOHA (AFP) – Journalists and human rights activists on Tuesday denounced “threats” by Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatari media organisations, including satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of fostering extremism and later issuing 13 demands, including Al-Jazeera’s closure.

At the end Tuesday of a two-day conference on “freedom of expression”, organised by Qatar and attended by representatives of international organisations, rights groups and academics, a statement condemned “threats” by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

“The conference condemns unequivocally the threats by the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Arab Republic of Egypt and the kingdom of Bahrain demanding the closing down of Al-Jazeera and other media outlets,” it said.

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth had opened the conference Monday saying: “Political freedom and especially free expressions are very much at the heart of the crisis facing Qatar today.”

He called the conference “an important sign of commitment on Qatar’s part to engage in some of the reforms that will enable them to maintain their moral high ground.

“This country is no more a democracy than the other Gulf countries,” Roth said, calling on Doha “to become a genuine regional leader in human rights”.

Seamus Dooley, the acting secretary general of the National Union of Journalists for the UK and Ireland, said journalists “are not pawns in a political game”.

He said he and others had had to “think twice” before accepting Qatar’s invitation to the conference over Doha’s “fundamental issues” with the rights of women, minorities and freedom of expression.

The head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, Ali Bin Samikh al-Amarri, thanked delegates for “defending” Al-Jazeera, saying it was tantamount to “defending freedom of expression and the right to information”.

Closing Al-Jazeera is one of 13 wide-ranging demands by Riyadh and its allies before a boycott of Doha and a “blockade” on the energy-rich Gulf emirate can end.

On Tuesday, they upped the pressure on Qatar, unveiling a “terrorist” blacklist of 18 organisations and individuals suspected of links with Islamist extremists that they say had ties with Doha.

Why the media has broken down in the age of Trump

July 5, 2017

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

July 1, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person

Getty Images

Since President Trump was elected, the media landscape has divided and hardened more than ever. Even the once-unimpeachable New York Times has been guilty of “fake news,” while on Tuesday CNN had to retract an article that slimed a Trump aide based on flimsy reporting. In April, The Post’s Michael Goodwin delivered this speech at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Atlanta, analyzing how we got here — and how journalism can survive.

I’ve been a journalist for a long time. Long enough to know that it wasn’t always like this. There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale — that most of what you read, watch and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close.

It’s not exactly breaking news that most journalists lean left. I used to do that myself. I grew up at the New York Times, so I’m familiar with the species. For most of the media, bias grew out of the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Fueled by the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the media jumped on the anti-authority bandwagon writ large. The deal was sealed with Watergate, when journalism was viewed as more trusted than government — and far more exciting and glamorous. Think Robert Redford in “All the President’s Men.” Ever since, young people became journalists because they wanted to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, find a Deep Throat, and bring down a president. Of course, most of them only wanted to bring down a Republican president. That’s because liberalism is baked into the journalism cake.

During the years I spent teaching at the Columbia University School of Journalism, I often found myself telling my students that the job of the reporter was “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I’m not even sure where I first heard that line, but it still captures the way most journalists think about what they do. Translate the first part of that compassionate-sounding idea into the daily decisions about what makes news, and it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that every person afflicted by something is entitled to help. Or, as liberals like to say, “Government is what we do together.” From there, it’s a short drive to the conclusion that every problem has a government solution.

The rest of that journalistic ethos — “afflict the comfortable” — leads to the knee-jerk support of endless taxation. Somebody has to pay for that government intervention the media loves to demand. In the same vein, and for the same reason, the average reporter will support every conceivable regulation as a way to equalize conditions for the poor. He will also give sympathetic coverage to groups like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

A new dimension

I knew all of this about the media mindset going into the 2016 presidential campaign. But I was still shocked at what happened. This was not naïve liberalism run amok. This was a whole new approach to politics. No one in modern times had seen anything like it. As with grief, there were several stages. In the beginning, Donald Trump’s candidacy was treated as an outlandish publicity stunt, as though he wasn’t a serious candidate and should be treated as a circus act. But television executives quickly made a surprising discovery: The more they put Trump on the air, the higher their ratings climbed. Ratings are money. So news shows started devoting hours and hours simply to pointing the cameras at Trump and letting them run.

As his rallies grew, the coverage grew, which made for an odd dynamic. The candidate nobody in the media took seriously was attracting the most people to his events and getting the most news coverage. Newspapers got in on the game too. Trump, unlike most of his opponents, was always available to the press, and could be counted on to say something outrageous or controversial that made a headline. He made news by being a spectacle.

Despite the mockery of journalists and late-night comics, something extraordinary was happening. Trump was dominating a campaign none of the smart money thought he could win. And then, suddenly, he was winning. Only when the crowded Republican field began to thin and Trump kept racking up primary and caucus victories did the media’s tone grow more serious.

The two leading liberal newspapers were trying to top each other in their demonization of Trump and his supporters.

One study estimated that Trump had received so much free airtime that if he had had to buy it, the price would have been $2 billion. The realization that they had helped Trump’s rise seemed to make many executives, producers and journalists furious. By the time he secured the nomination and the general election rolled around, they were gunning for him. Only two people now had a chance to be president, and the overwhelming media consensus was that it could not be Donald Trump. They would make sure of that. The coverage of him grew so vicious and one-sided that last August, I wrote a column on the unprecedented bias. Under the headline “American journalism is collapsing before our eyes,” I wrote that the so-called cream of the media crop was “engaged in a naked display of partisanship” designed to bury Trump and elect Hillary Clinton.

The evidence was on the front page, the back page, the culture pages, even the sports pages. It was at the top of the broadcast and at the bottom of the broadcast. Day in, day out, in every media market in America, Trump was savaged like no other candidate in memory. We were watching the total collapse of standards, with fairness and balance tossed overboard. Every story was an opinion masquerading as news, and every opinion ran in the same direction — toward Clinton and away from Trump.

For the most part, I blame the New York Times and the Washington Post for causing this breakdown. The two leading liberal newspapers were trying to top each other in their demonization of Trump and his supporters. They set the tone, and most of the rest of the media followed like lemmings.

On one level, tougher scrutiny of Trump was clearly defensible. He had a controversial career and lifestyle, and he was seeking the presidency as his first job in government. He also provided (and continues to provide) lots of fuel with some of his outrageous words and deeds. But from the beginning there was also a second element to the lopsided coverage. The New York Times has not endorsed a Republican for president since Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, meaning it would back a dead raccoon if it had a “D” after its name. Think of it — George McGovern over Richard Nixon? Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan? Walter Mondale over Reagan? Any Democrat would do. And the Washington Post, which only started making editorial endorsements in the 1970s, has never once endorsed a Republican for president.

But again, I want to emphasize that 2016 had those predictable elements plus a whole new dimension. This time, the papers dropped the pretense of fairness and jumped headlong into the tank for one candidate over the other. The Times media reporter began a story this way:

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalist 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?”

I read that paragraph and I thought to myself, well, that’s actually an easy question. If you feel that way about Trump, normal journalistic ethics would dictate that you shouldn’t cover him. You cannot be fair. And you shouldn’t be covering Hillary Clinton either, because you’ve already decided who should be president. Go cover sports or entertainment. Yet the Times media reporter rationalized the obvious bias he had just acknowledged, citing the view that Clinton was “normal” and Trump was not.

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet
New York Times

I found the whole concept appalling. What happened to fairness? What happened to standards? I’ll tell you what happened to them. The Times’ top editor, Dean Baquet, eliminated them. In an interview last October with the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, Baquet admitted that the piece by his media reporter had nailed his own thinking. Trump “challenged our language,” he said, and Trump “will have changed journalism.” Of the daily struggle for fairness, Baquet had this to say: “I think that Trump has ended that struggle. . . . We now say stuff. We fact check him. We write it more powerfully that [what he says is] false.”

Baquet was being too modest. Trump was challenging, sure, but it was Baquet who changed journalism. He’s the one who decided that the standards of fairness and nonpartisanship could be abandoned without consequence.

With that decision, Baquet also changed the basic news story formula. To the age-old elements of who, what, when, where and why, he added the reporter’s opinion. Now the floodgates were open, and virtually every so-called news article reflected a clear bias against Trump. Stories, photos, headlines, placement in the paper — all the tools that writers and editors have — were summoned to the battle. The goal was to pick the next president.

Thus began the spate of stories, which continues today, in which the Times routinely calls Trump a liar in its news pages and headlines. Again, the contrast with the past is striking. The Times never called Barack Obama a liar, despite such obvious opportunities as “you can keep your doctor” and “the Benghazi attack was caused by an internet video.” Indeed, the Times and the Washington Post, along with most of the White House press corps, spent eight years cheerleading the Obama administration, seeing not a smidgen of corruption or dishonesty. They have been tougher on Hillary Clinton during her long career. But they still never called her a liar, despite such doozies as “I set up my own computer server so I would only need one device,” “I turned over all the government emails,” and “I never sent or received classified emails.” All those were lies, but not to the national media. Only statements by Trump were fair game.

As we know now, most of the media totally missed Trump’s appeal to millions upon millions of Americans. The prejudice against him blinded those news organizations to what was happening in the country. Even more incredibly, I believe the bias and hostility directed at Trump backfired. The feeling that the election was, in part, a referendum on the media gave some voters an extra incentive to vote for Trump. A vote for him was a vote against the media and against Washington. Not incidentally, Trump used that sentiment to his advantage, often revving up his crowds with attacks on reporters. He still does.

If I haven’t made it clear, let me do so now. The behavior of much of the media, but especially the New York Times, was a disgrace. I don’t believe it ever will recover the public trust it squandered.

The Times’ previous reputation for having the highest standards was legitimate. Those standards were developed over decades to force reporters and editors to be fair and to gain public trust. The commitment to fairness made the New York Times the flagship of American journalism. But standards are like laws in the sense that they are designed to guide your behavior in good times and in bad. Consistent adherence to them was the source of the Times’ credibility. And eliminating them has made the paper less than ordinary. Its only standards now are double standards.

Abe Rosenthal AP

I say this with great sadness. I was blessed to grow up at the Times, getting a clerical job right out of college and working my way onto the reporting staff, where I worked for a decade. It was the formative experience of my career where I learned most of what I know about reporting and writing. Alas, it was a different newspaper then. Abe Rosenthal was the editor in those days, and long before we’d ever heard the phrase “zero tolerance,” that’s what Abe practiced toward conflicts of interest and reporters’ opinions. He set the rules and everybody knew it.

Here is a true story about how Abe Rosenthal resolved a conflict of interest. A young woman was hired by the Times from one of the Philadelphia newspapers. But soon after she arrived in New York, a story broke in Philly that she had had a romantic affair with a political figure she had covered, and that she had accepted a fur coat and other expensive gifts from him. When he saw the story, Abe called the woman into his office and asked her if it was true. When she said yes, he told her to clean out her desk — that she was finished at the Times and would never work there again. As word spread through the newsroom, some reporters took the woman’s side and rushed in to tell Abe that firing her was too harsh. He listened for about 30 seconds and said, in so many words, “I don’t care if you f–k an elephant on your personal time, but then you can’t cover the circus for the paper.” Case closed. The conflict-of-interest policy was clear, absolute, and unforgettable.

As for reporters’ opinions, Abe had a similar approach. He didn’t want them in the news pages. And if you put them in, he took them out. They belonged in the opinion pages only, which were managed separately. Abe said he knew reporters tended to lean left and would find ways to sneak their views into the stories. So he saw his job as steering the paper slightly to the right. “That way,” he said, “the paper would end up in the middle.” He was well known for this attitude, which he summed up as “keeping the paper straight.” He even said he wanted his epitaph to read, “He kept the paper straight.” Like most people, I thought this was a joke. But after I related all this in a column last year, his widow contacted me and said it wasn’t a joke — that, in fact, Abe’s tombstone reads, “He kept the paper straight.” She sent me a picture to prove it. I published that picture of his tombstone alongside a column where I excoriated the Times for its election coverage. Sadly, the Times’ high standards were buried with Abe Rosenthal.

Looking to the future

Which brings us to the crucial questions. Can the American media be fixed? And is there anything that we as individuals can do to make a difference? The short answer to the first question is, “No, it can’t be fixed.” The 2016 election was the media’s Humpty Dumpty moment. It fell off the wall, shattered into a million pieces, and can’t be put back together again. In case there is any doubt, 2017 is confirming that the standards are still dead. The orgy of visceral Trump-bashing continues unabated.

But the future of journalism isn’t all gloom and doom. In fact, if we accept the new reality of widespread bias and seize the potential it offers, there is room for optimism. Consider this: The election showed the country is roughly divided 50-50 between people who will vote for a Democrat and people who will vote for a Republican. But our national media is more like 80-20 in favor of Democrats. While the media should, in theory, broadly reflect the public, it doesn’t. Too much of the media acts like a special interest group. Detached from the greater good, it exists to promote its own interest and the political party with which it is aligned.

Ronald Reagan’s optimism is often expressed in a story that is surely apocryphal, but irresistible. He is said to have come across a barn full of horse manure and remarked cheerfully that there must be a pony in it somewhere. I suggest we look at the media landscape in a similar fashion. The mismatch between the mainstream media and the public’s sensibilities means there is a vast untapped market for news and views that are not now represented. To realize that potential, we only need three ingredients, and we already have them: first, free speech; second, capitalism and free markets; and the third ingredient is you, the consumers of news.

Free speech is under assault, most obviously on many college campuses, but also in the news media, which presents a conformist view to its audience and gets a politically segregated audience in return. Look at the letters section in the New York Times — virtually every reader who writes in agrees with the opinions of the paper. This isn’t a miracle; it’s a bubble. Liberals used to love to say, “I don’t agree with your opinion, but I would fight to the death for your right to express it.” You don’t hear that anymore from the Left. Now they want to shut you up if you don’t agree. And they are having some success.

An expanded media landscape that better reflects the diversity of public preferences would, in time, help create a more level political and cultural arena.

But there is a countervailing force. Look at what happened this winter when the Left organized boycotts of department stores that carried Ivanka Trump’s clothing and jewelry. Nordstrom folded like a cheap suit, but Trump’s supporters rallied on social media and Ivanka’s company had its best month ever. This is the model I have in mind for the media. It is similar to how FOX News got started. Rupert Murdoch (who owns the New York Post) thought there was an untapped market for a more fair and balanced news channel, and he recruited the late Roger Ailes to start it more than 20 years ago. Ailes found a niche market, all right — half the country!

Incredible advances in technology are also on the side of free speech. The explosion of choices makes it almost impossible to silence all dissent and gain a monopoly, though certainly Facebook and Google are trying.

As for the necessity of preserving capitalism, look around the world. Nations without economic liberty usually have little or no dissent. That’s not a coincidence. In this, I’m reminded of an enduring image from the Occupy Wall Street movement. That movement was a pestilence, egged on by President Obama and others who view other people’s wealth as a crime against the common good. This attitude was on vivid display as the protesters held up their iPhones to demand the end of capitalism. As I wrote at the time, did they believe Steve Jobs made each and every Apple product one at a time in his garage? Did they not have a clue about how capital markets make life better for more people than any other system known to man? They had no clue. And neither do many government officials, who think they can kill the golden goose and still get golden eggs.

Which brings me to the third necessary ingredient in determining where we go from here. It’s you. I urge you to support the media you like. As the great writer and thinker Midge Decter once put it, “You have to join the side you’re on.” It’s no secret that newspapers and magazines are losing readers and money and shedding staff. Some of them are good newspapers. Some of them are good magazines. There are also many wonderful, thoughtful, small publications and websites that exist on a shoestring. Don’t let them die. Subscribe or contribute to those you enjoy. Give subscriptions to friends. Put your money where your heart and mind are. An expanded media landscape that better reflects the diversity of public preferences would, in time, help create a more level political and cultural arena. That would be a great thing. So again I urge you: Join the side you’re on.

http://nypost.com/2017/07/01/why-the-media-has-broken-down-in-the-age-of-trump/

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