Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

BuzzFeed Blow-Out: The Media’s ‘Gotcha!’ Hysteria is Harmful to Democracy

January 20, 2019

By lowering journalistic standards, the American press has waged an unrelenting media war against Donald Trump. Often it’s been unfair. But never mind; it sells! And we get lots of “clicks” on social media…. Everybody gets a good laugh….

The Free Press is supposed to govern itself responsibly….


Imagine that a scientist wanted to conduct an experiment to see if it’s true that blind hatred of President Trump has led Democrats and their media handmaidens to go ’round the bend and off the cliff.

Such a scientist would inject a damning — and false — media report about Trump into the political bloodstream, then observe the reactions. It wouldn’t take long.

The Gotcha! glee, the declarations of Trump’s certain impeachment for suborning perjury, reckless references to Richard Nixon, the breathless anticipation of resignation and disgrace, perhaps prison — these and other overheated reactions quickly clogged the airwaves and Internet, growing ever more bold as the day wore on and no compelling rebuttal appeared.

Then, suddenly, the scientist pulled the plug on the experiment. He had seen enough to prove the thesis: Much of America, many of its leaders and some of its most prominent institutions are indeed gripped with madness.

By Michael Goodwin

Hatred for the president has corrupted their judgments and blinded them to duty and decency. Having succumbed to prejudice and rage, they have proven themselves unworthy of public trust.

Case closed.

Sometimes, life is stranger than fiction. Friday was such a day in America. It was a shameful spectacle.

The BuzzFeed News report that special counsel Robert Mueller had corroborating evidence that Trump had instructed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a Moscow commercial project set the anti-Trump mob on fire. It was the bombshell development Dems and 90 percent of the media have dreamed of — and finally it was here. Oh, Happy Days!

Except it wasn’t true. Mueller said so in an unprecedented debunking that slammed the brakes on the celebration.

Mueller’s statement, though brief, was specific and thorough enough to rip out the guts of the report. It said: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this ­office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

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The site’s editor and others called the statement inadequate, but that was wishful thinking. The party was over because prosecutors denied the sensational central claim of the story, that they had gathered evidence beyond doubt that Trump had committed a crime.

While BuzzFeed alone created the false report, which was based, naturally, on anonymous sources, it was not alone in revealing its desire to be rid of Trump. Much of the political class embraced the story without doubts because they wanted it to be true. Dems in Congress instantly pledged investigations.

Then there are the so-called journalists who swallowed the ­report without trying to confirm it themselves. Many touted it as the Holy Grail while inserting the ridiculous phrase, “if it’s true.”

Not so long ago, no respected journalist or news organization would go public with something unless they had enough evidence to reach the conclusion it was true. The bigger the story, the higher the threshold of necessary evidence.

Not Friday. Then the biggest possible story was presented with the least possible evidence. “If it’s true” is an admission of malpractice.

To use it as a shield while reporting an accusation of massive significance violates every conceivable standard. Real journalists do not report something, then caution that it may not be true.

You certainly don’t accuse the president, or anyone else, of a crime unless you are persuaded by evidence it is true.

I have my doubts the media will do the necessary soul searching. As I have argued repeatedly since 2016, too many outlets are too invested in getting the scoop that brings down the president they love to hate. They have trashed their standards, and Friday was the inevitable result.

But there is another possible silver lining emerging from the dark day, and I have more hope this one will make a difference. It is it a recognition that the endless Mueller probe has become a problem of its own making.

It is not healthy that a prosecutor has become like a divine oracle, with the nation’s mood hanging on first his silence, then his statement. The Wizard of Mueller has no place in our democracy.

Such power is too easily abused, and Mueller, whatever his personal and professional virtues, has gotten too big for America’s good.

Fortunately, he will soon have a real and worthy boss. William Barr is almost certain to be the new attorney general, ending a reign of error that began with the hapless Jeff Sessions and continued with his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

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William Barr

Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe because he was a prominent Trump campaign supporter is the bane of the Trump presidency. Rosenstein, for reasons known only to himself and perhaps Mueller, panicked when Trump fired James Comey, the corrupt FBI boss, and decided to appoint a special counsel.

Yet Rosenstein wrote a memo justifying the Comey firing and participated in conversations about it, facts that gave him more conflicts than Sessions ever had. Equally troubling, Rosenstein, a career mid-level prosecutor, proved incapable of properly supervising Mueller, whose reputation and gravitas far exceeded that of his putative boss.

As a result, Mueller has operated without restraint or guidance, with abuses and conflicts of interest on his team swept aside in what too often looks like a determination to knock off a duly elected president.

Barr, I believe, will be the antidote to this destructive situation. He is, as I wrote last week, “a respected adult” who can tame the waters in the Justice Department and get to the bottom of the anti-Trump cabal that has robbed the FBI of its reputation for fair play.

And he will not be a pushover for anyone. Barr, who was AG under the first President Bush, has a first-rate legal mind and a mature self-confidence born of experience, both of which he demonstrated at his confirmation hearings.

“I have a very good life, I love it,” he said in response to a question about his independence, “but I also want to help in this circumstance. I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards, the Congress or the president. I’m going to do what I think is right.”

The comments were widely interpreted as a warning to the president, and they were in some sense. But they were also a warning to anyone in Washington who would abuse power and corrupt key institutions for political purposes, whether in the media, Congress or the FBI.

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Robert Mueller

That includes the special counsel. Mueller is not exempt from the laws of common sense and fairness. When it comes to Trump, he must fish or cut bait.

After nearly two years of investigating, on top of a 10-month FBI probe he inherited, Mueller needs to show his cards. The country cannot continue to thrash about with uncertainty over events that took place three years ago. The void is being filled with partisan trash and dangerous discord.

As Friday proved, America needs clarity and finality, and it needs them now.


Democracy depends on a free press — But the Free Press is supposed to govern itself responsibly

In the summer of 1787, the nation’s most influential lawyers, generals and politicians gathered in Philadelphia with a single purpose: To create a government that was ruled by the people instead of one that ruled them.

The first words of the Constitution underscored this principle: “We, the people, of the United States of America . . .”

To protect the people’s power, our Founding Fathers carefully divided the government into three branches. With this system, no one person or governmental branch could ever rule with absolute authority.

The checks and balances provide a framework for the government. However, the cornerstone of our democracy is the unique privilege and responsibility of every citizen to be engaged through voting, public offices, representation in Congress and myriad other ways.

For a society to be responsible and powerful, it must be informed. Our free press, protected by the first constitutional amendment, plays a critical role in ensuring that every American has constant access to important and trustworthy news.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

As he emphasized, this free flow of information to the public is essential to preserving our American democracy. In addition to educating and reporting, the press serves as the public’s independent watchdog, charged with keeping governments, businesses and other organizations in check.

What other institution has the power to talk to key leaders, inspire social change and uncover corruption, while analyzing and providing context for major global events? Thanks to diligent reporting, citizens are empowered to take a stance on critical issues, enact change and demand the best from their leaders.

Recent headlines have demonstrated that we can’t take the power of the press for granted. After it was revealed this summer that the government secretly obtained AP phone records and the email content of Fox News reporter James Rosen, while also ruling that New York Times reporter James Risen must disclose his confidential sources, it became clear that confidential sources and the integrity of the newsgathering process must also be specifically protected.

Without a free press that can defend its sources, American democracy will suffer. The Newspaper Association of America applauded the vote last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the Free Flow of Information Act for vote in the Senate. This bill represents a critical step in preserving the public’s right to know while still ensuring effective law enforcement.

While we celebrate this, we know that news organizations and the government itself comprise only a piece of the equation. To have a strong democracy and educated citizenry, it is up to you to take advantage of your opportunities to be engaged. It is up to you to stay informed by reading newspapers, visiting their websites or accessing their news apps, and up to you to show up at the polls on Nov. 5.

The Constitution was ratified on Sept. 17, a day that we continue to commemorate every year as the birth of our uniquely American government. There is no better way to honor our Constitution and our founding fathers than by exercising our individual right to be informed.


Free Speech in American Democracy

Speech is not entirely free in Europe. There are certain views you are prohibited from publicly expressing there, and they seem to have well-functioning democracies.

Why must we hold to such an absolutist view on free speech? Are we not giving aid and comfort to the opponents of the republic by allowing them to utter such vile words? Is it not wiser to leaven the First Amendment with a prudent disregard for the fringes?

If we understand free speech in purely liberal terms — i.e. as a self-evident right — then these questions seem to have merit. After all, we restrict other rights for the sake of the public welfare. Most of them can be taken away, so long as it is done so with “due process.” And the process that is due, in many respects, is conditioned by the political, social, and economic climate of the day. Why not speech?

But the First Amendment is not merely an expression of liberal freedom, but of republican freedom as well. The liberal conception of liberty defines it as absence of government interference from your life — or, in its 20th-century evolution, liberty means that the government provides for a certain standard of living. But the republican notion of liberty is different. A free republic is one in which people are governed by laws that they themselves have a hand in making. From this perspective, freedom of speech needs to remain nearly absolute.

To appreciate this, consider the efforts of the man most responsible for the Bill of Rights, James Madison.

Madison was not so much the author of the Bill of Rights, but its editor. He was initially opposed to the project; the structure of the Constitution offered sufficient protection for civil liberty, he thought, and he feared that an enumeration of rights would imply a limitation to them. But the ratifying conventions in many states had approved the Constitution, with suggested revisions. Madison, who viewed these conventions as tribunes of the popular will, took their recommendations seriously. As George Washington’s de facto prime minister during the first session of the First Congress, he refined the wide array of proposals into what ultimately became the Bill of Rights.

In The Federalist Papers, Madison can come across as deeply suspicious of popular government. In Federalist No. 10 he bemoaned the “violence of faction” and sought to design a government that can corral the inherently selfish passions of humanity. In Federalist No. 51, he added checks and balances as “auxiliary precautions” to further thwart misrule.

Yet this is only one side of the Madisonian coin. Admittedly, he wanted to slow the tempo of government down to a crawl, to prevent fractious majorities from railroading minority rights and undermining the public welfare. But he also hoped to promote a robust intercourse of sentiments, so that — in due course — public opinion would cohere around principles of justice and the general welfare. Government had to move slowly and cautiously, but public discourse should be vigorous and unfettered.

“Public opinion,” he wrote in the National Gazette, in December 1791, “sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.” But in a large republic such as the United States, it is “less easy to be ascertained, and . . . less difficult to be counterfeited.” It was thus key, he argued, to facilitate “a general intercourse of sentiments,” which included roads and commerce, as well as “a free press, and particularly a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people.”

In Madison’s view, a free republic depends ultimately upon public opinion. A Constitution could divide power this way and that, but in the end it is the people, and only the people, who rule. And for the people to rule wisely, they have to be able to communicate with one another — freely, without fear of reprisal. Thus, freedom of speech and press were not, for Madison, merely God-given rights. They were preconditions for self-government.

Conversely, Madison believed that those who sought to restrict speech revealed themselves to be opponents of republicanism. They wished to prevent public opinion from cohering, thus making it easier to counterfeit. This is why Madison and Thomas Jefferson — Jefferson himself was a staunch republican — reacted so strongly to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which restricted immigration and made it a crime to print “libelous” comments about government officers. Madison and Jefferson’s Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions called for state intervention to correct the abuses of the government (for Madison this implied “interposition,” but for Jefferson it could include “nullification”). Decades later, their resolves would be repurposed for the cause of secession, but they were actually an effort to prevent the Federalist party under John Adams from undermining the very basis of the national republic itself.

Our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.

Madison’s tenure as president — 1809 to 1817 — has come in for a good bit of criticism over the years. It was, in many respects, an unspectacular administration, in no small part because of the disappointments of the War of 1812. But it is easy to overlook that although Madison was managing a relatively unpopular and difficult conflict, he did not sanction the abridgement of civil liberties. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt — all of whom tend to score higher in historical rankings — did not show such restraint. This speaks well of Madison’s commitment to the importance of free speech.

None of this means that we should excuse the boorish and ignorant among us, those who seek to incite popular unrest for the sake of their small-minded prejudices. Instead, Madison’s commitment to free speech should serve as a reminder that, while people say things that we might find personally offensive, we should never wish the state to squash their right to do so. Our First Amendment freedoms combined — freedom of religion, of assembly and petition, of press and speech — give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.

As we confront those who use their right to free speech to abuse the norms of decency and civility, we should calmly recall Jefferson’s admonition from his first inaugural address. “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”


Facebook to invest $300 million in local journalism

January 15, 2019

Facebook announced Tuesday that it will invest $300 million over three years in various projects related to journalism, especially to promote local news, which has been hit hard in the digital age.

The move comes with online platforms under pressure for dominating the internet advertising ecosystem, making it harder for news organizations to make a transition to digital.

“People want more local news, and local newsrooms are looking for more support,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president in charge of global news partnerships, said in a blog post.

Facebook follows the lead of Google with a plan to invest $300 million to support local journalism, amid concerns that online platforms have hurt news organizations by dominating online advertising

Facebook follows the lead of Google with a plan to invest $300 million to support local journalism, amid concerns that online platforms have hurt news organizations by dominating online advertising AFP

“That’s why today we’re announcing an expanded effort around local news in the years ahead.”

The initiative includes a $5 million endowment to the Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” which will foster coverage on topics that affect local communities — funding at least 12 local in-depth, multimedia reporting projects each year.

Facebook also said it giving $6 million to the British-based Community News Project, which partners with regional news organizations including Reach, Newsquest, JPI, Archant, Midland News Association and the National Council for the Training of Journalists to recruit trainee community journalists.

The huge social network said it was expanding its Accelerator pilot, which launched in the United States in 2018 to help local newsrooms with subscription and membership models.

Facebook said it would invest over $20 million to continue the initiative in the US and to expand globally, including in Europe.

The move by Facebook follows the Google News Initiative unveiled last year by the US internet search giant.


Needed in the Russia investigation: More skepticism of Manafort and the media (Lynch Mob Doesn’t Need a Rope, At Least Not Yet)

January 11, 2019

Don’t fall for the media “bombshells,” and never count Manafort as a friend.

The Russia-collusion story manages to be at once frenetic and humdrum. Apparent bombshell revelations arise but without advancing the public’s knowledge beyond a couple of truths we all knew back in 2016: First, when it comes to President Trump, the media can’t control itself. Second, Paul Manafort is no friend.

In perhaps the 1,000th “ bombshell” report on the Russia investigation, the New York Times reported earlier this week that Manafort, as Trump’s campaign chairman, had sent internal polling data to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is “close to the Kremlin.”

Washington Examiner

This revelation perturbed us. Seeing how close Manafort and Michael Flynn were to both Russia and Trump, we have kept an open mind about the investigation into collusion. We don’t know all the facts, and so we try to process all new information on its merits.

Oleg Deripaska — Credit Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Yet while many media outlets — see Esquire, Talking Points Memo, and others — took the Times report as conclusive proof of collusion, we held our fire. Why? Because while we have tried to keep cool about this investigation, the largest media outlets have not. We recall ABC reporting that Flynn met with the Kremlin during the campaign. That was a “bombshell” of the first order. Except that it turned out to be false.

And so it was with the latest Times report. Manafort was sending the polling data to Ukranians, it turns out, not to Russians as the Times claimed.

Former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn leaves after the delay in his sentencing hearing at US District Court in Washington, DC, December 18, 2018. - President Donald Trump's former national security chief Michael Flynn received a postponement of his sentencing after an angry judge threatened to give him a stiff sentence. Russia collusion investigation head Robert Mueller had proposed Flynn receive no jail time for lying to investigators about his Moscow ties. But Judge Emmet Sullivan said Flynn had behaved in a "traitorous" manner and gave the former three-star general the option of receiving a potentially tough prison sentence now -- or wait until Mueller's investigation was closer to being completed to better demonstrate his cooperation with investigators. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP or licensors

Mike Flynn outside the courthouse

This incident confirmed both of our general operating assumptions on the Russia investigation: Don’t fall for the media “bombshells,” and never count Manafort as a friend.

Manafort went to work for the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016. Trump wasn’t paying Manafort, which should have been a clear warning sign. Manafort was free to Trump for the same reason Facebook is free to you: You are not the customer; you’re the product. Manafort was working for Ukrainian oligarchs and other shady foreign clients, and part of the value he was delivering was proximity to the Republican presidential nominee and the information, such as internal polling, that proximity allowed him.

We have repeatedly warned Trump about this. “Manafort is not your friend,” we wrote in an editorial addressed to the president. “Manafort is a shady foreign agent who tried to exploit you. And if he had never been involved in the Trump campaign, there may not be a Russia investigation at all.”

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There’s some worry that Trump has considered pardoning Manafort. At the very least, we’ve seen Trump praise Manafort. This praise is unwarranted.

Trump should turn his back on this double-dealer who has caused him so much trouble. And we all should show more skepticism of the media “bombshells” that have caused commentators and other reporters so much trouble.

Hatred stirred by leaders blamed for rise in journalist murders — China, Turkey called worst jailers

December 18, 2018

Hatred whipped up by “unscrupulous politicians” has contributed to the shocking rise in the number of journalists murdered in 2018, a media watchdog said Tuesday.

Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year — most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi — with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to figures from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” said the organisation’s head, Christophe Deloire.

“The hatred of journalists sometimes very openly proclaimed by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen… has been reflected in this disturbing increase,” he said.

RSF did not directly point the finger at US President Donald Trump, who regularly rails against journalists and has branded some “enemies of the people”


Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year -- most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi (C) -- with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to RSF

Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year — most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi (C) — with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to RSF Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year — most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi (C) — with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to RSF AFP/File

But Deloire said “expressions of hatred legitimise violence, thereby undermining journalism and democracy itself.”

– US joins blacklist –

The US also became the fifth deadliest country in the world for reporters in 2018 after the shooting of five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland in June.

Afghanistan was the most dangerous country for journalists, with 15 killed including AFP’s Shah Marai, followed by Syria with 11 deaths and Mexico with nine.

Deloire said the hate stirred up against journalists is “amplified by social networks, which bear heavy responsibility in this regard.”

“Murders, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances have all increased,” he said, with the death toll of professional journalists up 15 percent after three years of a falling casualty rate.

“Journalists have never before been subjected to as much violence and abusive treatment as in 2018,” Deloire said.

The murders of Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul and the young Slovak data journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend “highlighted the lengths to which press freedom’s enemies are prepared to go,” he said.

Khashoggi’s murder in October caused an international outcry and showed the extremes to which “some people will go to silence ‘troublesome’ journalists”, RSF said.

More than half of the journalists killed were deliberately targeted, the other 31 were caught in violence.

The RSF report said the number of non-professionals killed almost doubled from seven in 2017 to 13 this year.

It said citizen journalists now played a key role in helping get news from countries at war or with oppressive regimes, “where it is hard for professional journalists to operate.”

The overall toll does not include 10 deaths of media workers that the RSF said it was still investigating.

– China, Turkey worst jailers –

China continues to be the world’s top jailer of journalists, the report said, with 60 behind bars, 46 of them non-professional bloggers, some of whom are held in “inhuman conditions for nothing more than a post on social networks.”

The report also condemned “Turkey’s despotic regime” for the “Kafkaesque trials in which journalists are accused of terrorism on the basis of a single word or phone contact.”

With 33 journalists behind bars, it has more professional reporters incarcerated than any other country despite a fall in the number in prison.

The sentencing of three journalists aged 65, 68 and 74 to “aggravated life sentences… under the severest form of isolation, with no possibility of a temporary release or a pardon” was inhuman, it added.

Egypt and Iran also made the blacklist of the worst offenders with 38 and 28 reporters and bloggers in prison respectively.

The RSF condemned Egypt for the opaqueness of its military justice system, saying 30 reporters in detention had not been tried and others are still held even after the courts ordered their release.


From wars to Duterte: Philippine journalist ‘holds the line’

December 12, 2018

Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, who was named this week as a Time magazine “Person of the Year”, has extensive experience in conflict zones, but is now fighting a war to fend off government moves to put her behind bars.

Hours after meeting bail Tuesday on fresh tax fraud charges that the 55-year-old insists are “manufactured”, Ressa was named to the prestigious award.

The accolade, also given to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, imprisoned Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, including five members killed in a June shooting, highlighted those taking “great risks in pursuit of greater truth,” Time’s chief editor said.

Maria Ressa's news site, Rappler, has taken a critical stand on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly anti-drug crackdown and now says it is the target of attacks from authorities

Maria Ressa’s news site, Rappler, has taken a critical stand on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly anti-drug crackdown and now says it is the target of attacks from authorities AFP/File

Ressa’s news site, Rappler, has taken a critical stand on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly anti-drug crackdown and now says it is the target of attacks from authorities.

“It is easier to navigate a conflict zone, a war zone than it is to navigate the legal weaponisation of laws in our country. But we will hold the line,” the Princeton graduate said last week.

Ressa and the site have been hit with multiple counts of misleading the government on taxes, and if convicted on one count alone she faces up to a decade behind bars.

– ‘We did not hide’ –

It caps a tumultuous year for Ressa, which began with the government moving to revoke Rappler’s licence in January.

At the same time she has received a series of global awards from press freedom advocates, including from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ressa has been battling what she calls disinformation under Duterte, who won elections in mid-2016 on a promise to rid society of drugs by killing tens of thousands of people.

Rappler has been among a small number of Philippine media outfits producing investigative reports on the killings in Duterte’s anti-crime crackdown and is critical of his leadership.

A journalist for more than 30 years, Ressa is no stranger to threats.

As CNN’s former bureau chief in Manila and Jakarta, Ressa specialised in terrorism where she tracked the links between global networks like Al-Qaeda and militants in Southeast Asia.

“I’ve been shot at. I almost got thrown out of a country. I’ve been imprisoned for a night,” she told AFP last week.

However Ressa, who holds both American and Filipino citizenship, returned to the Philippines as news chief of the largest television network ABS-CBN for six years.

In 2012, she launched her own startup, Rappler, in the social media-obsessed Philippines.

However that website is now fighting for survival as Duterte’s government has accused it of violating a constitutional ban on foreign ownership in securing funding, as well as libel and tax evasion.

Reacting to the Time award, Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday that charges against government critics were legitimate and free expression remained “robust”.

Ressa, who denies all the charges, has vowed to fight back.

“We at Rappler decided that when we look back at this moment a decade from now, we will have done everything we could: we did not duck, we did not hide,” she said while accepting an award last month.

“You don’t really know who you are until you’re forced to fight to defend it.”



 (Includes FT Op-Ed)


All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?


 (No man is above the law…)


The grandmother of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, Violeta, cries beside his casket yesterday in Caloocan City. Relatives and concerned neighbors of the teenager slain by police are calling for justice. MICHAEL VARCAS
One of the fatalities, who has yet to be identified, was killed in an alleged shootout with police officers in Guiguinto, Bulacan on June 16. AP/Aaron Favila, file


According to the Philippine National Police, there have been 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017. Despite this, the authorities claim that there has only been one extrajudicial victim under the current administration. AFP/Noel Celis
Three of five Filipinos believe that only the poor are killed in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, the Social Weather Stations said in its latest survey. AFP/Noel Celis
Photos obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism show the body of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. lying flat on his back with his eyes half-open, and both of his hands empty. He was killed while in police custody during a “jail house shoot out” with police. All the police involved were exonerated and returned to duty. Image obtained by PCIJ/Nancy Carvajal



 (The Philippines seems to be siding with China, Russia and Iran)




Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kine also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

Image result for Boy Cruz, philippine policeman, photos

Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

 (December 23, 2016)


 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)


Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

 (November 16, 2016)

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa

Kuwait’s emir calls for end to media campaigns in Gulf region — They threaten the unity of the Gulf

December 9, 2018

Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah, called for an end to media campaigns in the region which threatened the unity of the Gulf, during his speech on Sunday at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia.

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Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Writing by Tuqa Khalid in Dubai; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg


CNN Legend Calls Jim Acosta Childish, Slams Network — “You’re not bigger than him. It isn’t about you.”

November 18, 2018

CNN legend Larry King said that the network has stopped covering the news, slamming the network’s White House reporter Jim Acosta, joining the group who says that Acosta’s actions resemble those of an activist more than a reporter.

Larry King hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN for 25 years. He started working in radio and television in 1957.


Speaking in an online program for Law & Crime Network on Nov. 15, he said that CNN, Fox, and MSNBC are all slanted and have devolved considerably.

“They’re not news networks,” he said. “They do pundits” on CNN, he said. “A typical CNN show is eight guests—he has an opinion, he has an opinion, he has an opinion…. They stopped doing news.”

“A news organization leads the news, it doesn’t follow,” King added later, reported Mediaite.

A White House staff member steps in to try to take the microphone away from CNN’s Jim Acosta as he questions U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference at the White House in Washington on Nov. 7, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Acosta Was ‘Childish’

The legendary television host was asked about Acosta, who told Trump that he was wrong to call the thousands of migrants heading to the United States, the bulk of which are fighting age males, “an invasion.”

Acosta later claimed that the migrants would not be climbing over the border barriers separating the United States and Mexico, slamming Trump for including footage of the migrants doing just that at the border separating Guatemala and Mexico, forcing their way into the country in clashes that left police officers injured.

Larry King participates in a discussion during the Starmus Festival on June 21, 2017 in Trondheim, Norway. (Michael Campanella/Getty Images)

After Trump responded three times to Acosta’s rambling statements, Acosta refused to give up the microphone and touched a female White House intern who tried to take the mic. Both he and CNN lied in saying that Acosta didn’t touch her.

King said during the Thursday broadcast: “Jim was a little out of line. I wouldn’t have gone that far. [Trump] answered one or two questions then he didn’t want to answer anymore.”Referring to the fact that Trump had called on another reporter and Acosta’s stubborn display delayed that reporter’s question, King added: “You got a room full of people all of whom have the right to ask questions.”

“It was childish. My question is, what is the role of the journalist? Should they become the star of the story?” he said about Acosta’s actions. “At a Trump press conference, Trump is the star. You try to learn as much as you can from him. But you’re not bigger than him. It isn’t about you. It’s about him.”

The comments come after CNN was criticized by founder Ted Turner and longtime journalist Ted Koppel.

Source:  NTD News


The media’s #MeToo problem

November 18, 2018

Journalism classrooms may be dominated by women, but global media are still ruled by men who occupy the majority of management positions, report more news stories and are more frequently presented as expert voices. This imbalance is reflected in the content newsrooms produce, with fewer written words and broadcast seconds dedicated to telling women’s stories. It is also reflected in the industry’s culture, which leaves women more vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse.

By Hannah Storm

Given the importance of relationship-building in media, not to mention the desire for connection among journalists who cover extreme or harrowing events in difficult environments, intimate ties can easily form among colleagues and associates. The problem arises when these relationships turn sour or, worse, when they are non-consensual or based on coercion, such as when a more senior colleague pursues a sexual relationship with a subordinate.

Image result for police car, photos

Of course, across countries, there can be significant differences in what is considered predatory or inappropriate behavior. But globally, almost half of female journalists report having experienced work-related sexual harassment, according to a 2014 study by the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). Two-thirds reported that they had faced “intimidation, threats, or abuse,” mostly by bosses, supervisors or co-workers.

For perpetrators, impunity remains the norm. Almost three-fifths of respondents in the INSI/IWMF study who had experienced harassment said they had reported incidents to their employers. In most cases, however, it was the women who experienced the abuse who suffered adverse consequences: damaged reputations and career prospects, not to mention the impact on their psychological and emotional well-being.

So while men with histories of predatory behavior continue to occupy senior positions in the global news industry, female journalists are pushed to the point that they consider leaving it.

In a recent survey by the IWMF and TrollBusters, one-third of respondents said they had considered abandoning journalism; those at earlier stages in their careers were twice as likely to say that they were considering work in other fields because of the threats and attacks they received, in person or online.

Despite the obstacles they face, more women appear to be rising in the ranks of the global media industry, even though progress is relatively slow. In digital newsrooms, which often have fewer of the inherent inequities of legacy media, the number of women in leadership positions appears to be growing faster.

However, the “bro” culture in certain newer newsrooms carries its own sexual-harassment risks for women. Meanwhile, in the United States, several high-profile male journalists have lost their jobs in the past year over allegations of inappropriate behavior toward their female colleagues – part of the broader #MeToo movement.

But overall, newsrooms continue to fail to take seriously the threats female journalists face on the job, both in their own workplaces and in the field. While newsrooms conduct risk assessment and deployment discussions regarding journalists in the field – where women can be particularly vulnerable to unwelcome advances from male colleagues, contacts, or strangers – they rarely account for the specific threats women face, at least not in a sufficiently nuanced way.

This may be partly because, for major news organizations, these assessments are often handled in consultation with safety advisers – usually former military men, who may not fully appreciate the particular risks women face. Sometimes, the safety advisers turn out to be perpetrators of sexual harassment. Anecdotally, I know of several journalists who have been sexually harassed by safety advisers. Depending on where this takes place, such behavior can have significant security implications.

As if that were not enough pressure, female foreign correspondents who are assaulted in the field often find themselves at the center of debates about whether women should be deployed on certain stories at all. Male correspondents are never the subjects of such debates.

This macho myopia reinforces the damaging imbalance in perspectives shaping the media. It also carries significant economic costs. As the Harvard Business Review put it, “we all pay the price” when sexual harassment continues or is covered up. By impeding women from advancing within the industry or compelling them to change jobs, harassment diminishes their earning potential and deprives society of the best use of its talents.

The fact is that journalists of various genders, ethnicities and backgrounds experience different environments differently, in terms of both the risks they face and the rewards they can reap. Any assessment of a story needs to account for that nuance, with managers choosing the best journalist for the job – and providing the support needed to keep all journalists safe.

To change the organizational culture that has enabled harassment and other forms of abuse against women – a moral obligation, as well as a legal and economic imperative – newsroom managers must lead from the top. Change will not happen overnight, nor will it be driven by a single actor. Leaders should listen to the women in their ranks, and invite diverse perspectives to help effect change.

The goal is not to pit young against old or women against men. It is to rectify the media industry’s failure to protect its most vulnerable workers. We all pay when that failure prevents women journalists from achieving their full potential.

Court Rules for CNN and Jim Acosta But Trump Has Already Won

November 16, 2018

Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta’s press pass

Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly sided with CNN on Friday morning, ordering the White House to reinstate chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass immediately.

The ruling was an initial victory for CNN in its lawsuit against President Trump and several top aides. The suit alleges that CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated by the suspension of his press pass.
Kelly did not rule on the underlying case on Friday. But he granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order. And he said he believes that CNN and Acosta are likely to prevail in the case overall.
Speaking outside the court, Ted Boutrous, an outside attorney representing CNN, said “this is a great day for the First Amendment and journalism.”
Read the rest:

Courts Will Rule for CNN But Trump Has Already Won

Revoking Acosta’s pass undercut the press, which is a message the president is happy to send.

Message received.  Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

CNN is going to win the First Amendment lawsuit it filed Tuesday against President Donald Trump’s White House for taking away reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass. And the sad truth is that Trump won’t mind at all.

As the president has shown repeatedly, he doesn’t especially care if, after he violates the Constitution, the courts reverse his action. Instead of understanding judicial repudiation as a defeat, Trump sees the whole episode as a victory.

Worse still, taken in this political context, he’s right. The Constitution is working. But Trump has found a way to subvert it anyhow.

Last week, the White House revoked the pass that allowed Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, to work in and around the building unescorted. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the administration had done so because Acosta had placed his hands on an aide when she tried to take a microphone from him during a news conference. Acosta and the president had been clashing over a question about immigration and the midterm campaign.

The law governing the Acosta case, filed in Federal District Court on behalf of the reporter and the network, is relatively straightforward. The president doesn’t have any constitutional obligation to open the White House to the press. He can choose which reporters he would like to meet with privately, and he can prefer certain networks, like Fox News, for his own appearances or for exclusive interviews.

Once the White House has opened itself up to all accredited reporters with press passes, however, the government has created what is in effect a forum for free speech in interaction with the president. It’s black letter law that, in such a “limited-purpose public forum,” the government isn’t allowed to discriminate based on a speaker’s viewpoint.

That’s exactly what’s happened to Acosta. Trump made clear during the news conference that he doesn’t like the reporter, calling him a “rude, terrible person” and “the enemy of the people.” Trump doesn’t like Acosta’s viewpoint, so Acosta was banned from using White House press facilities.

There’s a judicial precedent on this point. In a 1977 case, Sherrill v. Knight, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, whose jurisdiction includes the White House, held that the First Amendment applies to reporters seeking press passes. And it specifically concluded that the White House couldn’t deny a press pass to a reporter without explaining what the criterion was and telling him how he violated that criterion.

At the time, the doctrine of the limited public forum wasn’t fully in place. But the D.C. Circuit opinion effectively foreshadowed the same idea. The court said it was “presented with a situation where the White House has voluntarily decided to establish press facilities for correspondents who need to report therefrom. These press facilities are perceived as being open to all bona fide Washington-based journalists.”

The court explained: “White House press facilities having been made publicly available as a source of information for newsmen, the protection afforded newsgathering under the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press requires that this access not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons.”

That’s a pretty clear statement of the law. It applies even though the issue never went to the Supreme Court — because D.C. Circuit precedent is the law in the District of Columbia.

Trump has essentially no credible answer to CNN’s legal claim. About the most White House could do would be to say that Acosta represents a security threat. The problem with this argument isn’t only that, as the video of the encounter clearly shows, Acosta did nothing but hold on to the microphone when the White House intern tried to take away. It’s that Trump himself, in his own words, told Acosta that he was a terrible person — and later warned that other reporters could be excluded next.

An ordinary president, or really any ordinary litigant, wouldn’t be so quick to sink his case with his own words. But Trump doesn’t mind losing in court. His travel ban was repeatedly struck down before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the watered-down third version. Trump’s plan to pull funding from sanctuary cities was blocked by the courts. As far as it is possible to tell, he minded not at all.

That’s because Trump wanted to send a message. In the case of CNN and the rest of the press, the message is that they should be nicer to him. He also wanted to send a message to his supporters that he is tough on the news media, whom he condemns as “enemies of the people.”

Trump has now sent those messages. Headlines down the road that explain his defeat in court and the reinstatement of Acosta will cost him less than he has gained by the messages sent now.

The resulting strange situation is that while the courts are doing their job of protecting the Constitution and blocking the president from violating it, Trump is nevertheless managing to chip away at the freedom of the press — and the rule of law more generally.

Press freedom can be undercut by putting obstacles in the way of basic reporting. That’s what Trump has done with Acosta: interfered with his capacity to report.

In our judicial system, such interference can’t really be punished in an effective way when it’s perpetrated by the government. All courts can do is tell the government that its actions are unlawful, and order the government to act differently. It’s extremely unlikely that a court would impose any damages on the White House or Trump personally, even for willful, knowing violation of the Constitution.

This is a problem for the rule of law because Trump is telling the world he’s happy to violate the First Amendment and then have the courts tell him he can’t. At his inauguration, he swore to faithfully execute the laws and uphold the Constitution. He isn’t.

Trump fight with media escalates after White House suspends Jim Acosta

November 8, 2018

“This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American.”

Image result for Jim Acosta, photos

CNN’s Jim Acosta barred after exchange with president at post-midterms press conference White House suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass after the journalist engaged in a heated exchange with Donald Trump

By Mark Wembridge

The White House has suspended the press pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, after the journalist engaged in a heated exchange with Donald Trump, further straining the president’s already tense relations with the media.

Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, said Mr Acosta’s credentials had been revoked “until further notice” after the journalist refused to hand over the microphone during a press conference following the midterm elections.

“We will . . . never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable,” Ms Sanders said, adding that Mr Trump welcomed difficult questions.

Mr Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, later wrote on Twitter that Ms Sanders’ statement was “a lie”, and noted that secret service officers had denied him entry into the White House grounds.

Trump war with media escalates


CNN said the revocation was “in retaliation for [Mr Acosta’s] challenging questions at today’s press conference” and defended his conduct.

“This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. We stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.” Video of the incident shows Mr Acosta attempting to ask a follow-up question to Mr Trump, a day after elections that saw Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives but make gains in the Senate.

When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people

— Donald Trump

The video shows Mr Acosta refusing to return the microphone to a White House intern in a bid to continue his line of questioning, prompting the president to tell the reporter: “That’s enough. Put down the mic.” Mr Trump then called Mr Acosta “a rude, terrible person” and said that “CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them”.

The president then verbally sparred with the next reporter to ask a question, NBC’s Peter Alexander, after the journalist described Mr Acosta as “a diligent reporter”. Mr Trump then said of Mr Alexander: “I am not a big fan of yours, either.”

The president added: “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, said on Twitter of the ban: “Trump @PressSec confirms that White House has suspended the hard pass of a reporter because it doesn’t like the way he does his job. This is something I’ve never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association said it “strongly objects to the Trump administration’s decision to use US secret service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship”.

See also:

President Trump calls media ‘hostile,’ says of CNN reporter Jim Acosta: ‘You are a rude, terrible person’


(Includes video)