Tag: msnbc

Hogg rages against Pelosi and “older Democrats”

The media is finally catching up with Trump.  Boasting an “exclusive”, Reuters is finally reporting the real reason Trump doesn’t want to meet with Mueller.  Anyone who has been paying attention knows that Rudy Guiliani has been talking about their fears of the perjury trap for weeks.  Mostly though the media has misunderstood what Guiliani was saying and instead speculated about why Trump’s lawyers might be meeting with Mueller.  When McGahn met with Mueller for 30 hours with no attorney client immunity, the New York Times speculated that he was flipping on Trump rather than speaking on his behalf.

Trump’s concern has been that if Mueller interviews him and he happens to say something contrary to what Comey or someone else has said, Mueller will slap Trump with a perjury charge.  Of course, it would be a he said, he said situation, but Mueller would likely take Comey’s word for it.  Unlike Bill Clinton who committed perjury and was proven to have lied by the DNA on Lewinsky’s dress, Trump would be giving his word versus Comey or some other long time Mueller ally/business associate.

Media discovers Trump is avoiding perjury trap

Speaking of the unhinged media, NY Times columnist Michelle Goldberg said on MSNBC’s The Lid that she believes Trump wants to “murder people without due process”.  Goldberg was explaining why she felt Trump was no longer the leader of the free world, but instead should be classified as a murderous dictator.  When asked if she thought he would murder people without due process, Goldberg replied “he would certainly like to.”

 

David Hogg is back in the news, giving an interview to New York Magazine.  In the interview, Hogg expressed frustration with “older Democrats”, saying they should get out of the way and let him take over.  He also called Pelosi old and suggested there should be an age limit for people in Congress.  In case you were still taking him seriously, Hogg also said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was going to be the President of the United States.

Hogg: Pelosi is too old for Congress, Ocasio-Cortez will be President

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Healthy skepticism and how to read the paper

Everyone is familiar with the term Fakenews.  But actually, this is nothing new.  If you were into politics in the 90s, then you remember CNN being dubbed the “Clinton News Network”.  The alternative media revolution began with the Rush Limbaugh radio program and has grown to include other programmers as well.  The rise of Fox News initially made for competition between the normal mainstream media outlets and more conservative outlets.

David Hume was a philosopher and skeptic who came up with a guide for reading about miracles.  I think that guide is helpful when reading the paper too.  Is the headline incredible?  Does the person writing it stand to gain?  Does it contradict what you know to be true?  Many people get sucked into clickbait or shocking stories from unnamed sources because they don’t ask these questions.  The Russian Dossier made it into four FISA court applications because it took so long for the FBI to ask themselves what Christopher Steele was getting paid, or whether his incredible and shocking claims had been fact checked.

I would add to Hume’s rules a few of my own.  Do the sources have names?  In the past, you would have an unnamed source because they didn’t want their cover blown.  But they would collect data and release it at a point where it was safe to do so.  Today, the use of unnamed sources often masks the fact that they are embellishing, outright lying, non-existent, or delivering their information to the media illegally.  That last one is especially true in the context of FBI investigations or foreign intelligence.  If you were sitting in a court room and you heard testimony read from a frightened victim who preferred anonymity for her or his own protection, you might give that some credence.  If the prosecutor gets up and announces that according to an unnamed source the defendant also doesn’t wear deodorant and picks his nose, the judge would have some things to say to that prosecutor.

Look at the context.  I recently saw a political ad where an opponent was accused of wanting to raise taxes 23%.  What they were talking about is the Fairtax.  The Fairtax is a 23% tax, but it replaces all income tax, payroll tax and capital gains tax.  Now, I have my own personal feelings about the Fairtax, but without that context this sounded awful.  Once you add that context, it sounds pretty great.

Understand the writer’s bias.  For example, if you’ve been reading my stuff you know that I tend towards libertarian conservatism.  It helps to know who the authors previously worked for or are related to.  Chris Cuomo from CNN is the brother of NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and son of Mario Cuomo.  That’s a good place to start.  And sure enough, you’ll discover he is a New York liberal who sees everything through that lens.  Sean Hannity is obviously biased heavily towards the right.  If Trump says “we need to stop the Mexicans”, Cuomo is going to read that in the worst possible light while Hannity gives Trump the benefit of the doubt.   The best way to combat this is to use multiple sources and check them against each other.

Understand the business.  Let’s go back to the Trump “Mexicans” example.  There may be nuance in that statement.  But nuance doesn’t sell news.  Flashy headlines and shock drive the industry.  So when Trump talks about illegal immigrants, no one wants to take the time to try to figure out if he’s talking about gang members, if he has a slight personal bias against Hispanics, or what his statement was actually all about.  The important thing for the media is getting a headline that people will read.  The partisan sides can do with it what they will.

From time to time you’ll see what I like to call a “false quotable”.  It’s a misstated fact, bad statistic, or urban legend sort of quote that takes on a life of it’s own.  A good example was Sarah Palin’s “I can see Russia from my house” quote.  Except, she never said that.  It was a line by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live impersonating Palin.  But the idea that Palin herself said that persisted in the media.  Another good one is Trump calling Mexicans murderers and rapists.  At the time, he was talking about MS-13 gang members.  But the quote took on a life of it’s own and there are still people who insist that Trump thinks all Mexicans are murderers and rapists.

Lastly, it’s important to understand how narrative works.  Narrative is like an assembly line.  It makes for efficient story writing and disseminating of the news without much worry about content.  If it is commonly accepted for instance, that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, then articles can be written about various instances in accordance with that narrative without having to do the hard work of fact checking.  Trump Russia collusion was a good example of this.  Once the narrative was established, no one seemed to care things happened like Comey said Trump wasn’t a target of the investigation.  Instead, the only stories that were made a focus were ones that fit the narrative.  It took Trump firing Comey and saying that one of the reasons was Comey’s failure to counter the narrative to get any media outlets to even talk about that.

The use of narrative to avoid the hard work of journalism is difficult for the reader to compensate for.  Multiple sources will often run the exact same story even down to the headline rather than balancing one another.  A great recent example was Fox News and CNN both saying that the White House wouldn’t deny the existence of a tape of Trump using a racist slur.  Of course, Trump had already denied it, but that didn’t stop all of the media outlets from persisting with the false narrative based on a false quotable.  To combat a false narrative, the reader needs to go to the source video or documents themselves and do the hard work.  At Political Brief, sometimes we have to go back and listen to several minutes of video to get the context and figure out what truly happened.

It’s sad that the media is so careless and sometimes intentionally biased.  But a reader armed with skepticism and the desire to find the truth can combat this and discover reality.

Fox News and CNN earn 100% bias rating on the same story

It’s rare to see too competing and ideologically different media outlets get the same issue so wrong.  But that’s what happened on Wednesday when Sarah Sanders refused to guarantee that Donald Trump has never and would never behave a specific way.  That sparked unfounded accusations from the two media outlets that Trump was on some secret tape somewhere using racial slurs.  Of course, if that tape ever did arise it would be a glorious day for liberal and establishment Republican allies.  So glorious in fact, that if the tape existed it, like Russian collusion evidence, would be on a 24/7 news cycle until even the spaghetti spine GOP establishment would be voting to impeach Trump.  But no tape has surfaced.

In fact, Trump himself made a statement that no tape exists because he doesn’t use those words.  “They aren’t in my vocabulary” tweeted the President.  Mark Burnett who produced The Apprentice has confirmed no such tape exists.  But the media took one ridiculous question from a reporter and Sarah Sanders’ reasonable response and turned it into the big story.

CNN took it a step further with Anderson Cooper “explaining” how Sarah Sanders basically admitted there is a Trump N-word tape out there somewhere:

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/08/14/kth-omarosa-trump-white-house-nword-dog-ac-vpx.cnn

“Today the woman who speaks for the President of the United States said she cannot rule out…” was how Cooper begins.  But that is a complete mischaracterization of what actually happened.  In fact CNN tweeted the exchange before driving their unhinged narrative that Sanders was admitting something.  As a reporter asks her about the possibility of the existence of the tape, Sanders says several times that President Trump has addressed the question directly and she would refer them to him.

The reporter pressed and asked if she could guarantee that no tape with Trump using a racial slur will ever show up.  But Sanders can’t predict the future, nor can she speak beyond what she knows.  So she directed them back to the President’s statement.  Sanders’ refusal to guarantee that there will never be a tape now or in the future of Trump saying something turned into the Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC headline.

We spelled it out for CNN on our Instagram page:

As a result of this media narrative, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have earned a 100% bias rating on the story, and our Brief’s On Fire label.

Newsflash 7/23/18

Rand Paul is expected to ask Trump to revoke former CIA chief John Brennan’s security clearance.  Since leaving the CIA, Brennan has joined up with MSNBC as a political commentator, often hostile to Trump.  Brennan recently accused Trump of treason and said he should be impeached over his press conference with Putin in Helsinki.  Paul suggested that Brennan was using his security clearance to enrich himself by passing state secrets to MSNBC.  Republicans have expressed concern over the extreme partisanship shown by the former CIA director and former FBI director James Comey.

Rand Paul to ask for Brennan’s security clearance to be revoked

Why Democrats Want Mueller Fired

There have been some interesting theories about why Special Investigator Robert Mueller was hired, why he has put together a legal team of Clinton donors, how fair he actually is, etc. I’d like to look at another theory, why Democrats want Mueller fired. While no Democrats have called for Mueller to be fired directly, it seems a little odd to me how the chips have fallen.

Consider this, on July 19 Trump gives an interview where he suggests that if Mueller starts investigating items outside of Russia that would be grounds for firing.  July 20 headline? Mueller expands probe to Trump business transactions. Citing unnamed officials, Bloomberg says Mueller is doing exactly what Trump said would get him fired. That’s a little too convenient for me.

Special prosecutors have a history of stepping out of bounds. Patrick Fitzgerald, already knowing it was Richard Armitage who leaked Valerie Plame’s name, put Scooter Libby in jail on trumped up obstruction charges so he could try to get to Dick Cheney. Kenneth Starr turned an investigation into a shady land deal into an impeachment trial for lying under oath about sex with an intern.  It’s very likely Democrats are hoping the Russia probe will turn into something similar. Or at least a back ally way to get their  white whale: Trump’s tax returns.

There is a lot of pressure on a special prosecutor to find something to justify their paycheck. Mueller’s team of Clinton donors also may have some incentive to find something. But getting fired could be just as good.

Mueller getting fired would still be a win for Democrats. I’m sure we can all imagine the headlines. Trump fired Comey on the recommendations of his Department of Justice. Comey had screwed up a couple investigations, based findings on the phony Russia dossier, been unclear about Trump not being under investigation, and after being fired Comey released classified info to the media to get Mueller hired in the first place.  But that didn’t stop the media from speculating about Comey’s firing being obstruction of justice.

Can you imagine the media field day if Trump fires Mueller? Every tin foil hat conspiracy theory cooked up by CNN and MSNBC over the last six months will be permanently believable even if never verified. Firing Mueller will permanently create the specter of the Nixonian President who got away with it.

For Democrats, that would be a much better result than if Mueller concluded his investigation empty handed.