Posts Tagged ‘partisanship’

Philippines: Treatment of Senator Trillanes Is A Legal Atrocity

September 27, 2018

The decision of Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Elmo Alameda to revive the rebellion case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that he himself dismissed, and to issue a warrant of arrest and a hold departure order against the President’s chief critic, is a legal atrocity.

It is fundamentally unfair, because it shifts the burden of proof; it is deeply undemocratic, because the court abandons its duty to serve as a check on power; and it is essentially antijudiciary, because it betrays a clear partisanship.

 / 05:28 AM September 27, 2018
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The ruling is another unfortunate addition to the growing body of judicial rationalizations that Inquirer columnist John Nery calls “jurisPRRDence” — court rulings “that break both law and logic, offend the Constitution and overturn normality,” just to meet President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s “partisan political objectives.”

How else can Alameda’s decision, which was handed down on Tuesday, be understood? Its entire argument centers on this passage:

“To prove that Senator Trillanes did not apply for amnesty under Proclamation No. 75, the prosecution presented a certification dated Aug. 30, 2018, issued and signed by one Thea Joan Andrade, Lieutenant Colonel JAGS, Chief, Discipline, Law and

Order Division, to wit:

“‘To whom it may concern:

‘This is to certify that based on the records of this office, ex-LTSG Antonio F. Trillanes IV O-11797 PN was granted amnesty on Jan. 21, 2011, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 75 dated Nov. 24, 2010… However, there is no copy of his application for amnesty in the records.

‘This certification is issued upon the request of Solicitor General Jose C. Calida.’

Image result for Antonio Trillanes IV, photos, arrest

“The Court’s evaluation of the above certification is that it confirms the claim of the prosecution that Senator Trillanes did not apply for amnesty.”

Truly, there is none so blind as he who refuses to see.

The certification Andrade issued at Calida’s request confirms that “there is no copy” of the application, not that Trillanes did not apply at all.

In fact, the same certification confirms that, “based on the records of this office,” Trillanes, as a former member of the military (“ex-LTSG”), was in fact granted amnesty.

So an honest and fair evaluation of Andrade’s certification should lead to the conclusion that Trillanes’ application for amnesty is missing. That’s it.

Because this secondary document was in the safekeeping of Andrade’s division, the responsibility for its loss, and any administrative or criminal liability, lies with Andrade and her staff, not with Trillanes.

If, say, Judge Alameda’s passport was to be challenged at the airport because the Department of Foreign Affairs cannot find the application or renewal form he filled out and filed, he would have the right to be incensed, both at the absurdity of the challenge and the DFA’s negligence. The passport itself is proof that the process was followed.

But Alameda was not content to stop at making his illogical and unjust evaluation. He proceeded to overturn one of the most fundamental of rights guaranteed by the Constitution — the presumption of innocence — and shifted the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.

“Since Senator Trillanes wants to establish a legal right on the amnesty granted to him, he has therefore the burden of proving his compliance with the minimum requirements to entitle him to be granted amnesty…”

In other words, and even without as much as a modicum of introspection, Alameda presumes that Trillanes is guilty of not complying with the amnesty requirements, and wants him to prove his innocence.

This is wrong, plain and simple. The burden is on Andrade’s office, to explain how the secondary document went missing, and on the Department of Justice, to prove that the grant of amnesty to Trillanes — itself confirmed in the certification — must be considered anomalous, violative of the presumption of regularity.

The power to grant amnesty, shared by the political branches of government, is not something that the courts should trifle with. At the same time, abuse by any branch should be decisively met by the countervailing force of judicial reasoning. This did not happen with Alameda’s ruling.

Indeed, Alameda showed a curious preference. He immediately presumed that Proclamation No. 75, issued by President Benigno Aquino III in 2010, must be invalid or has no effect on Trillanes.

He also immediately presumed that Proclamation No. 572, issued by President Duterte last month, supersedes Aquino’s amnesty proclamation.

Now why would he think that?

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Partisanship Is Breaking Both Parties — Full Text

September 29, 2017

Republicans fail again on health care, while Democrats refuse to get serious about taxes.

Republicans announce their tax-reform plan, Sept. 27.
Republicans announce their tax-reform plan, Sept. 27. PHOTO: © BILL CLARK/CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY/NEWSCOM VIA ZUMA PRESS

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal

The subject is realism. It involves seeing clearly your moment in time and where you are within it. We have a heck of a time with this. Our dreams, hungers and illusions get in the way.

But I’ve never seen such a lack of reality among our two great political parties in Congress.

Their own survival as parties requires bipartisanship—concrete achievements and progress. They have to work together and produce! Nobody likes them. The biggest “party” in America is those who call themselves independent. Gallup has the Democrats’ and Republicans’ favorability each at about 40%. Both parties are internally riven, warring and ideologically divided. Neither is as sure as it’s been in the past of its philosophical reason for being. Both have to prove they have a purpose. Otherwise they will in time go down, and it may not take that long.

Both parties go forward as if they are operating in a pre-2016 reality. But the election, now almost a year ago, should have changed so many assumptions. For instance, when the Republican nominee promised not to cut entitlements, his crowds—Republicans, Democrats and independents—cheered.

Health-care reform this week went down, again. The Republicans did not have the votes in the Senate, again. How they tried to get the bills through suggests they are living in a dream. The dream was that once they held the House, the Senate and the White House, they would be able to call the shots, crush the foe, bully their way through. They thought they would finally be able to do what the Democrats did when President Obama and the Democratic Congress bullied through Obamacare.

That was a mistake. What the Democrats did shouldn’t be emulated.

Sen. John McCain, who basically killed the two Republican bills, did it based on a central insight as to the facts of the moment and the issue: The path to a new health-care law runs through the Democrats. The path to a bill better than ObamaCare—and it would have to be bad indeed to be worse than ObamaCare—runs through the Democrats. Changing one-sixth of the American economy cannot be successfully done without them. The American people will never accept a health-care law that is not backed by both parties. That means regular order—hearings, debate, negotiations—as Mr. McCain has said.

The Republicans failed because they tried to do what Mr. Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid did, passing ObamaCare on a party-line vote. But bills that make great changes in how Americans live, such as Social Security and Medicare, must always have broad, two-party support. The Democrats pushed ObamaCare without fully understanding what the bill even contained. “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” said Mrs. Pelosi, mindlessly and in a way accurately: They were content to let regulators and administrators figure out the implications of everything.

But fierce pushback followed—the tea party uprising grew; the Democrats lost the House in 2010. Then came the failure in 2013 of the website on which the entire program depended, the admission by one of its architects that it was marketed to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter,” and the revelation that the central promise—“If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”—was a lie.

The bill failed on its own terms, and it is still the law of the land. When Republicans tried to replace it, they tried to do just what the Democrats did—hold party-line votes on bills that few in the electorate fully understood. The difference is the electorate had previously been scalded. They’re not in a trusting mood.

Health care is experienced now as a fully national issue, and there are signs America is tilting left on it. (A bipartisan health-care bill might help blunt the coming movement for single payer.)

Democrats have to be part of fixing ObamaCare. And though they should be in a weak position, having lost the congressional majorities and the White House, they’re holding strong cards. The Republicans have crashed and burned twice, and there’s no reason to think they’ll magically succeed next time.

Health-care reform will have to come from both parties or it will not be accepted by America. It will have to be a compromise that comes from both parties or it will not pass the Kimmel test, the nonsensical but powerful showbiz bar such a bill must now clear. That means it will be more liberal than the Republicans want, and more expensive.

The Democrats will be hellish in negotiations. They will not call it “repeal and replace”; they’ll call it “repair and reinforce.” They’ll be demanding. And this is unjust. They caused the problem in the first place! They should be feeling chastened; they should be desperate to create a fix. Instead they’ve been amusing themselves watching the hapless Republicans blow it again. They should amuse themselves less.

Now the Republicans turn to tax reform. Again they move from a weakened position. They’re going forward without the momentum of victory, without the confidence of recently demonstrated skill. As he unveiled the plan this week, Speaker Paul Ryan wore a weirdly triumphant smile. “Today,” he said, “we are taking the next step to liberate Americans from our broken tax code.” He compared this moment to 1986, when Ronald Reagan won tax reform. But that was another world—a broadly popular president, both parties strong, each working, however reluctantly, with the other.

As strange as Mr. Ryan’s enacting of a happy warrior’s joy was the Democrats’ response. They reverted to their own antique playbook, taking potshots, being unserious. The Republican plan is “a massive windfall for the wealthiest Americans,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “It seems that President Trump and Republicans have designed their plan to be cheered in the country clubs and the corporate boardrooms.” It should be called “wealth-fare.” Sen. Bernie Sanders said the plan is “morally repugnant and bad economic policy.”

But the tax code is too big and too complicated, as Mr. Ryan said. It would do the country good to see it improved.

Both parties are breaking and broken. They both need a win. They could recover some of their standing with a bipartisan victory. It would show America the two-party system itself can win and produce something needed. This would reinforce the position of both parties. It would suggest they’re needed!

If they can’t produce something big together, more Americans will become certain they are not.

Meanwhile, thousands of K Street tax lobbyists will be crawling the halls trying to affect the shape of the bill for their clients.

Everyone is acting as if they don’t know what time it is, or what position they themselves are in.

America is in trouble, with huge problems. The people need improvements in health care, in the tax code. They’re desperate for is a sense that improvement is actually possible.

This is no time for Democrats to be small, tatty and cheap, to do the old class warfare, to issue one-liners instead of thoughts. They should wake up and get serious.

It’s weird to see everyone going through the old motions, dream-like.

Political Divisions in U.S. Are Widening, Long-Lasting, Poll Shows

What Putin’s 2016 tricks owe to the czars — and how to fight back

September 19, 2017

By Ralph Peters
The New York Post

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‘Fake news” isn’t new. It’s just our down-market term for propaganda. And the Russians have been the reigning masters of propaganda since Catherine the Great.

Indeed, the most-destructive and most-enduring single work of fake news was Russian in origin, linked to the czar’s secret police and spies: “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a toxic anti-Semitic concoction embraced by Hitler yesterday and by Hamas today — as well as by our own ugliest extremists.

Last Sunday, The New York Times Magazine published a vital article explaining how Vladimir Putin’s regime used overt resources, such as government TV station RT, to disseminate fake news during the last US election campaign.

The uniquely Russian brew of mystical nationalism, fantastic lies and canny focus has been fermenting for centuries. The only thing that’s different now is the technology — a proliferation of global-reach, blink-of-an-eye dissemination means, from phony Facebook feeds to Internet trolls.

First printed in 1903, “The Protocols” was slow to catch on until spurred by the Russian Revolution and a shockwave of anti-Jewish fervor fanned by a perceived association with revolutionaries.

Today’s lies can span the world in seconds, get picked up by third-party sites in minutes and mainstream headlines in hours.

Russian mastery of propaganda — of lies promoted for strategic advantage — has been impervious to regime change, too. When Vladimir Lenin took power, key security players just changed uniforms. The term “Bolshevik” itself was grand propaganda: It means “of the majority.” The Bolsheviks were, in fact, a small minority, but they managed to label their far-more-numerous opponents “Mensheviks,” “of the minority.”

Lenin was the original Don Draper.

By the 1930s, as millions of Ukrainians starved to death, Soviet fake news peaked. The New York Times’ Russia correspondent, Walter Duranty, wrote glowing tributes to the benevolent progress of Stalin’s regime — complete fabrications, all — and got a Pulitzer for his “reporting.” Fake news has a distinguished pedigree.

In the depths of the Cold War, Russian propaganda intensified, abetted by naïve Westerners parading to “ban the bomb.” But Moscow’s Cold War fake news was a harder sell, as the Iron Curtain descended and the world witnessed brutal Soviet interventions in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) and Poland (several times).

By the 1980s, Soviet propaganda shifted its focus from proclaiming the threadbare glories of Communism to simply attacking the United States. One of its ugliest gambits was planting the lie that the CIA had developed AIDS to kill blacks.

Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and fake news stalled. Until Putin arrived.

Last year, we got The Protocols of the Elders of Putin, a broad, deep-reaching assault on our electoral system and a triumph that only went bad when Western intelligence services and the much-maligned “mainstream media” exposed it.

Yet, Russia was so successful in manipulating our system that a number of conservative media figures derided our intelligence agencies and insisted reports of Russian activities were “fake news.” Even today, a few career conservatives dismiss Russian chicanery as “a nothingburger.” Walter Duranty is back.

We needn’t have been surprised. Longtime Russia watchers warned of interference early on. But no one listened. We allowed angry partisanship to blind us.

So what can we do to prevent further Russian manipulation of our people and system of government?

We need revolutionary thinking about the Internet. Instead of prostituting every last shred of principle to add billions in profits to billions, the tech industry needs to shift to “provenance transparency,” unmasking the sources of all public Internet postings. No more “TrueRebel69” posing as an Arkansas mom from a keyboard in Archangelsk.

If Big Tech is too greedy, Congress must legislate. We need to know who’s peddling that incendiary story about a race-charged gang-rape that never happened.

And Big Tech needs to go to war on bots. Internet companies want the pings, even if it undercuts our elections and system of government. Regulation may get a bad name, but the Internet needs it badly.

And the USA needs to get back in the business of telling our story. We’re the ones with the great — and true — tale to tell.

Unlike Putin and his legions of Russian trolls, we don’t need to push fake news to win.

Ralph Peters is Fox News’ Strategic Analyst.

Why the media has broken down in the age of Trump

July 5, 2017

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

July 1, 2017

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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.


Romney & Ryan Will Get America Back To Work

August 27, 2012

As Republicans take the stage in Tampa, we have a message for Americans: Elect Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and we can get this country working again. America can do better than the last four years, and with the proven leadership of Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, we can secure a better future for the country and the next generation.

Our convention is an opportunity to share our vision with the country. “A Better Future” is the theme of the four-day event. It’s also more than that. It is a promise to voters. While President Obama has no plan to fix the economy or rein in government spending, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a plan and will be prepared to lead on Day One.

By Reince Priebus; Chairman of the Republican National Committee
The Washington Times

Read more: PRIEBUS: A convention and candidate for a better future – Washington Times

When Mr. Obama was elected in 2008, he was inexperienced and unproven. Americans were willing to take a risk, but it turned out to be a bad bet. He was not up to the job, as the weak economy and skyrocketing debt so unambiguously demonstrate.

Mr. Romney has a proven record of successful leadership. In the private sector, he provided steady leadership that saved failing companies and started successful ones, like Staples and Sports Authority. When the 2002 Winter Olympics were mired in scandal and mismanagement, they turned to Mitt Romney for help. He saved the games and brought pride to the nation.

That record convinced voters in Massachusetts that he was up to the task of leading their state. Once again, he did the job admirably. He balanced the budget every year, cut taxes, and left $2 billion in the state’s rainy day fund. The economy grew, and unemployment went down to 4.7 percent. Throughout his governorship, he was able to work across the aisle with the Democrat-controlled legislature, and when he left office, Massachusetts was undeniably better off.

This is the story we’ll tell at the convention — the Mitt Romney story, about his life of leadership as well as his dedication to family and faith. Those who listen will know he is a man uniquely qualified to address the challenges of our time.

Four years ago, when candidate Barack Obama stood before the American people at the Democrats’ convention, he promised hope and change. He promised jobs, good governance and economic recovery.

He also offered a way to judge his presidency. He said Democrats “measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma.”

By that standard, we have not seen progress under Mr. Obama. Twenty-three million of our fellow Americans are struggling for work. The unemployment rate, which has been above 8 percent for 42 straight months, is higher than it was when Mr. Obama took office. After nearly four years, Americans are not better off.

Mr. Obama promised to change Washington. He promised to end the days of bitter partisanship and business as usual. Yet, unlike Mr. Romney, he never showed any serious interest in working across the aisle. He has no bipartisan accomplishments to point to. His liberal big-government agenda drove his presidency, and his presidency drove us in the wrong direction.

After promising to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, the president instead added $5 trillion to the national debt. He has racked up a massive bill for our children to pay off. What do we have to show for all that spending and borrowing? Americans are still trying to figure that out.

From raiding Medicare to fund Obamacare to spending billions in taxpayer dollars to pay off political cronies, Mr. Obama has not put the interests of Americans first. As a result, he has no record of accomplishment on which to run. So his campaign resorted to a despicable divide-and-conquer strategy devoid of any positive vision.

They refuse to condemn a Super PAC ad attempting to use a woman’s death for political gain. They concocted a phony “War on Women” to cover over their record of leaving women worse off in the Obama economy. The candidate in 2008 who promised to “walk the walk” has become the hypocritical president who only talks the talk.

It’s time for a president and vice president who know how to lead, who have a proven record of getting results. That president is Mitt Romney. His running mate, my friend Paul Ryan, is known and respected inside and outside of Washington for his seriousness and dedication to meaningful reform. Contrast that to the president’s running mate, known everywhere for his gaffes and insensitivity.

Romney and Ryan are America’s Comeback Team. Both bring experience and a wealth of expertise on the issues. Most importantly, they bring a plan. To get Americans working again, they will focus on five key components: achieving North American energy independence, responsibly reducing the deficit, ensuring workers have the education and skills they need, empowering small businesses, and pursuing trade that works for America.
Read more: PRIEBUS: A convention and candidate for a better future – Washington Times