Trump won, journos zero (again): media chases shiny ball of plagiarism, missing the real story

Trump wins the news cycles, again. For now.

The 2016 Republican National Convention got off to its anticipated rocky start on Monday. Anti-Trump protesters, Black Lives Matter protesters, a floor fight to change the rules regarding how delegates could cast their votes so they wouldn’t be bound to Trump – this promises to be a big, meaty news week!

But, thankfully, there’s been no heavied-up blue lines outside the convention center menacing pedestrians, no cops-vs-protesters confrontations on smoke-filled streets, but mostly scenes like this:

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, the Revolutionary Communist Party, anti-police-brutality protesters, militia members wearing semi-automatic weapons, and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones walked into a public square on Tuesday. Nobody was arrested.

Instead, the political protest action was going on inside the convention center. On Monday it looked like the big story at the end of the day would be about the the anti-Trump movement gathering strength among the delegates, yet being procedurally robbed by the party in a voice vote…but it wasn’t.

News analysts could have been nattering endlessly about the strength of the “never Trump” movement, and the rifts it has exposed in the party. They could have been reporting on the signatures collected far in excess of what was needed to force an up-or-down vote on the convention’s rules package. But, not so much.

They could have been discussing the selective deafness of Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack, the convention chair, when he declared that the ayes had it on a voice vote to approve the existing convention rules, yet somehow seemingly failed to hear the simultaneous nays and strong objections of several delegations through the din. But, meh.

Thoughtful journalists might have even compared and contrasted the suppression of dissent at the convention with attempts across the country to suppress other kinds of protest against an oppressive status quo – protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement, or whatever’s left of the Occupy movement, or even whatever the scary hell it is that’s going on in Turkey.

But no, that’s not what we’re getting. What is the American public being fed for its news diet this week? What did the all-news-is-breaking-news cable networks decide was most important for us to know, most worthy of our sustained attention as they carried out their sacred trust of providing journalism in the public interest?

Plagiarism. Well…maybe plagiarism. Possible plagiarism. Or something that, Continue reading

Hate to harsh your mellow, dudes, but Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are only tokin’ libertarians; what they really believe in is bigger

Their records as governors show that Johnson and Weld like their policies and programs to be more “concrete”.

It looks like we won’t be entertained by the crisis-circus of a brokered Republican convention after all: a safe alternative has arrived for Republicans who just can’t stand the thought of Trump actually winning the nomination. The Libertarian Party has stepped up with what they think is the winning ticket: former Republican-but-Libertarian-leaning governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

On CNN, Johnson cut a cool figure in a slightly rumpled suit and Brooklyn-cool black Nikes (Chris Cuomo’s comments about them, and the shoe’s free advertising close-up moment, were unfortunately removed from the posted clip). Johnson referred to himself and Weld as “two-term Republican governors in blue states who made names for [them]selves by being fiscally conservative”. But, hey, don’t get scared about that conservative label, because they’re not uptight, really, they’re cool – they’re socially liberal. Wait! Not the Democrat kind of liberal! Nawwwww…when they say liberal, they mean liberal in the laid-back, you-do-your-thing-and-I’ll-do-mine, free love free market kind of way, which is why each and every time they tell you that they’re socially liberal they will immediately pivot to talking about drug policy and decriminalizing marijuana so you will continue to think of them as cool dudes, not covert Dems.

Fiscally conservative, socially liberal…after all the god-awful caterwauling of the primary races this past year, these two neat boys in suits with a calm, maybe toke-induced, laid-back mood seem so soothing, so…cool.

I hate to harsh your mellow, but Continue reading

A Day In The Life: this espresso cup artwork about wartime tragedies and John Lennon’s death is actually an ingenious biography of his life

‘Mended Cups’ was released in 2015 – but for over a year no one saw its story of life and love, artfully hidden in six dates

“Oh no – did they get the year wrong? That would be a proofreading disaster….”

I was looking online at a photo of Yoko Ono’s set of espresso cups, artwork that she had created for the illycaffè espresso company in 2015 as part of an ongoing artist series, which had been released to coincide with her exhibit Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971 (May 17-September 7, 2015) at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The set ‘Mended Cups‘ consists of six “shattered and mended” cups, and six individual saucers, each with the place and date of a catastrophic war event written on them, along with the words “…mended in 2015.” A seventh cup and saucer, ‘Unbroken Cup’, remains undated and unbroken, and is inscribed with the words “This cup will never be broken as it will be under your protection.”

Due to the way the photo was composed, on one of the cups I couldn’t read the name of the event, just a slightly blurred date: April 26, 1987. But wait: didn’t the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happen in 1986? I looked it up…yes, the Chernobyl disaster occurred April 26, 1986. But that last number in the photo was clearly a “7”. That can’t be right. Continue reading

How Donald Trump played rope-a-dope with the media and turned sponsorship divestment into a free advertising bonanza

Those black-rimmed-glasses cable political analysts are seriously and shoutily reporting:

Donald Trump has insulted a major voting demographic! (gasp!)
Donald Trump has dissed the venerated decorated war veteran John McCain! (gasp!)
Donald Trump has Tommy TuTone’d Lindsay Graham’s phone number! (gasp!)

And yet…and YET…stay tuned, folks, the round panel will continue to go ’round on this discussion after the break to try to understand why, despite these soundbite bombs, Donald Trump is STILL AHEAD IN THE POLLS!!!!

Of course he’s ahead in the polls. OF COURSE HE IS. Those gasping analysts in fact do understand why – but saying so would reveal the self-serving nature of the news coverage. Relentlessly goading that faux confusion keeps people roped in and watching, and thus pumps up the ad revenue.

What is going on is that the polls, at this tender time in the GOP clown car (now a stretch limo) round-up, do not measure whether a respondent to a poll will actually vote for a particular person when push comes to punch chad. The polls, at this moment, are mostly measuring Continue reading

Why did the Ferguson grand jury take so long to decide? Was someone giving Darren Wilson enough time to hide his assets?

Updated 11/26/2014 to remove information that directly identified the property.

After a tense weekend when speculation about an imminent announcement heightened concerns about protests, on Monday morning the grand jury that had been hearing unusually detailed evidence and testimony for over 3 months announced that it had reached a decision as to whether there was probable cause to indict Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson – who is white – for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown – who was black.

Just before the start of that weekend, at 4:41pm on Friday, November 21st, property owned by Darren Wilson and his now-wife Barbara Spradling was transferred into a trust, according to St. Louis County land records.

The timing is awfully suspect. Some key dates:

August 9 – During a confrontation, a police officer who was not identified shoots black teenager Michael Brown 6 times in rapid succession. Brown dies on the street almost immediately, but his body is not removed from the scene for over 4 hours. Extended protests ensue over the following weeks.
August 15 – Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson identifies Darren Wilson Continue reading

Eric Cantor is unexpectedly crucified in primary elections; is Michael Grimm his Judas?

Judas.

I had no idea why at the time, but that was the unbidden thought I had upon seeing Michael Grimm (R-NY) directly behind Eric Cantor (R-VA) at a press conference on May 29th. He was, according to some, “not invited”. But, there he was, within cheek-kissing distance behind Cantor. Puzzling, since these GOP photo ops are carefully scripted, and they wouldn’t want Grimm to be there, since he’d just been indicted on 20 counts of federal fraud and tax charges:

House Republican leaders have carefully distanced themselves from Grimm since his indictment on charges of underreporting income and employing undocumented immigrants at a restaurant he co-owned in Manhattan.

They cut off party support and financial aid for his reelection bid, and forced him to give up a seat on the House Financial Services Committee. Grimm has said he’s innocent.

In a press release after the event, Grimm’s office included a photo of him standing just behind and right between House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.

In January, a reporter for NY1 attempted to ask Grimm about some of those allegations, and was quickly and memorably cut off.

Fast forward to today. Continue reading

You want them to change the name? Hit the NFL in the wallet: boycott the Washington Redskins broadcasts #RedskinsPride

The management of the Washington Redskins has asked fans to tweet their #RedskinsPride to Sen. Harry Reid and tell him just what the team name means to them, as a PR campaign response to the letter from Reid and 49 other Democratic Senators who wrote letters last week to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging him and the league to endorse a name change by the Redskins.

What could possibly go wrong? Twitter, that’s what. The hashtag was hijacked by an overwhelming majority of protestors who told Harry Reid exactly what the team name meant to them: racism. As I said in an earlier post,

It is troubling that owner Dan Snyder, a person who made his fortune in marketing and product positioning, can’t figure out how to position his organization better.

But venting on Twitter is not going to get the team owners to change their stance on changing the name. For them to do that, it has got to cost them more to keep the name than to change it. To get that to happen, you have got to Continue reading

American babies are in Sudan prison because mother won’t recant Christianity. Where’s the Fox News – or any media – outrage?

The story is heavily covered in international media. A 27-year-old pregnant Sudanese woman married to an American has been held shackled in prison for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Amnesty International calls it a “flagrant breach of international human rights law”. New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri have written to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to grant political asylum. Other representatives and senators have taken similar actions.

Yet a quick search through Google News yields very few results from American mainstream media sources. Why?

The Daily Mail reports that Meriam Ibrahim (also referred to as Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag) a Sudanese doctor, was sentenced in a Khartoum court to death earlier this month after being found guilty of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying in 2011 a Christian man, Continue reading

When headlines undermine news content: Detroit, abortion rates, poverty, and Third-World references

The bold story headline: “Doctor: Detroit abortion stats ‘like some Third World country'”

The quote: “We’re seeing a picture that looks more like some Third-World country than someplace in the United States,” said Dr. Susan Schooley, chairwoman of the Department of Family Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital.

The meme: “Third-World” as code for “African”.

The article: policy advocacy, or selling news?

The Detroit News published a provocative article this week about abortion rates in Detroit. The facts may be true (I would still want to verify them), but is the article being truthful in its presentation? Yes, technically, the abortion rate in Detroit as calculated is similar to that in some developing countries. But at 37.9%, one could also say that it is similar to the 2008 rates in Latin America (32%) or Asia (28%), or that it’s better than (gasp!) Europe in the 1990s (48%). However, presenting the information that way wouldn’t Continue reading

Getting it right but missing the whole picture: the coverage of NBA Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling’s racist remarks

Yes, we can say with near-certainty that Los Angeles Clippers basketball team owner Don Sterling is a racist. You don’t even have to believe that the audio tape published by TMZ is in fact Sterling talking (but it sure does sound like him); there have been other lawsuits alleging discrimination, such as the 2009 wrongful termination lawsuit by the Clippers’ general manager, African-American Elgin Baylor, who claimed that Sterling said he wanted the team to be composed of “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach” (the suit was later dropped), and, that same year, the settlement of a Justice Department lawsuit alleging discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (this article provides a good picture of the Slumlord Billionaire), which was the largest housing discrimination settlement ever obtained by the Justice Department. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But this latest example has had the effect of focusing attention on Sterling’s entire racist oeuvre, along with the question of the scope of legal and moral responsibility to the public that a sports team and a league might have.

Predictably, politics has entered it, with some Republican pundits trying to confuse and defuse the Cliven Bundy issues by tying the two racists together to cancel them out, shouting that Democrats are keeping quiet about Sterling’s racism because he’s a Democrat! Democrat pundits shout: no, wait, Sterling’s a Republican! Others chime in: no, wait, he contributes to both parties!

This issue has nothing to do with partisan politics or Continue reading