Category: Media

Trump: “Something Weird Going On At Fox”

President Donald Trump blasted Fox News yesterday for simply reporting various polls showing him falling farther behind with voters across the country. Trump complained that “something weird going on at Fox.” This follows the firing of Trump pollsters (including long-standing campaign aides) after poll results were leaked showing Trump behind Biden in various key states. Trump denied any such polls existed and denounced the stories as “fake news”, but later the White House admitted that they did exist. There is nothing weird going on. Just reporting.

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Trump Denounces NYT Cyber Warfare Story As “A Virtual Act Of Treason”

I have previously criticized President Donald Trump for his relentless attacks on the media and his mantra of labeling such publications as the Washington Post and New York Times as “the enemy of the people.” He has also routinely called a couple dozen people and organizations “traitors,” as recently listed by Axios. This weekend Trump continued the attacks on the New York Times for a story that revealed attacks on Russia’s electric power grid. Trump declared that the publication of the article was a “virtual act of treason” — an act on a classic example of investigatory reporting. Trump’s continued attacks on the free press are not just highly embarrassing but highly disturbing from a President of the United States. With free speech, the free press is the very touchstone of liberty in our nation.

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Office of Special Counsel Calls For Removal Of Kellyanne Conway

The Office of Special Counsel today took the extraordinary step of recommending the removal of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway from federal office for violations of the Hatch Act. That Act bars federal employees from engaging in political activity in the course of their work and Conway has been repeatedly cited with violations. (For the record, Kellyanne Conway is one of my former students).

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Trump Is Still Three Nixons Short Of Watergate

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent testimony by former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean. While President Trump has personally attacked Dean, I have always liked and respected him. However, I disagree with his historical analogies. Comparisons to the Nixon case are fair, but they become forced when people insist that the conduct or record is the same. There are fundamental and likely determinative distinctions. There is a valid basis for an investigation but the record does not support the extent of comparison laid out by John Dean. John often seems to rank presidents on a Nixon scale. Yet, rather than giving Trump essentially “five Nixons,” I would put it as one or two pending further investigation. In other words, the case must still be made that this is “just like Watergate.”

Here is the column:

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Trump: I Would Accept Dirt On Political Opponents If Offered By Foreign Governments [Updated]

In controversial interview, President Donald Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office that he would accept dirt on political opponents from foreign governments and would not necessarily alert his own FBI. He further said that FBI Director Christoper Wray was “wrong” in saying that such contacts should be reported. There is nothing illegal in receiving such information for either politicians or journalists. However, it puts Trump at odds with the view not only of his own agencies but most of the public on the need to alert the FBI. In the aftermath of the interview, various Fox hosts criticized not Trump but ABC for what they portrayed as an ambush. It was not an ambush. It was a standard interview with a highly relevant (and predictable) question by Stephanopoulos. At the same time, the CNN’s Chris Cuomo is also wrong to portray this as endorsing possible criminal conduct. There is nothing illegal in accepting information from foreign intelligence figures, which was done by the Clinton campaign in the Steele Dossier. Trump has downplayed the comments.

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New York Times Confirms Death of Humor . . . And Daily Editorial Cartoons

Political cartoons are some of the oldest forms of commentary and dissent of humanity. They have had transformative effect on politics and policies, often highlighting important issues through satiric or absurd images. Indeed, a cartoon can often say in a single image what some of us struggle to explain in hundreds of words. Legendary figures from Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Nast advocated such forms of commentary. They are visual narratives that continue to be valued by readers but have been curtailed by small groups of well-organized critics. It is for that reason that the recent announcement by the New York Times is so distressing. After a controversy over a cartoon denounced as anti-Semitic, the paper will cease running political cartoons. It is the perfect embodiment of our humorous, hyper-sensitive environment of the age of rage.


“The Enemy of the People”: Trump Resumes His Attacks On American Media As China Bans The Washington Post

Flag of the Peoples Republic of China

I was been a long critic of President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media even though I have been critical of biased reporting by some outfits. Trump’s mantra of calling the media, and particularly the Washington Post and the New York Times, “the enemy of the people” was repeated on Twitter last weekend as China banned the Washington Post (and the Guardian) from access to its citizens. Both publications joined others behind the infamous “Great Firewall” of China’s massive censorship apparatus. While Trump has only called for greater liability for American media (rather than censorship), the confluence of these stories is concerning. China can cite our own president in declaring the Washington Post as an enemy and “fake news” to justify its censorship of one of the last remaining free press accessible to some Chinese.

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Australian Government Raids ABC Headquarters After War Crimes Story

We have been discussing how the free press is under attack in both the United States and Europe. Like free speech, Western nations appear to have lost patience with free press protections. The latest example is an outrageous raid on a leading media organization in Australia. On the heels of the Assange case and other attacks on media protections, the raid on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation raises a chilling prospect that the free press could soon go the way of free speech in the West.

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China: Commemorating Tiananmen Square Massacre Is A Violation Of International Law

There is something about controlling information and censoring any criticism that can blind you to irony. That seems to be the problem this week when a Chinese spokesperson objected that a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre as a violation of international law. So massacring thousands is a purely domestic matter but criticizing it is an international law violation.

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Mueller’s Mount Sinai Moment Leaves Media With A Crisis of Faith

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the press conference held by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his refusal to answer questions from the media (or any questions from Congress beyond what is written in his Report). Mueller not only demanded silence but faith from the media, which surprisingly obeyed. Few reporters noted the direct contradictions in Mueller’s brief statement or the many unanswered questions that he left in his imperious wake. Since Attorney General Bill Barr has already testified on the process and his decisions related to the Report, there was nothing preventing Mueller from answering questions about his own decisions. Instead, Mueller simply said that the media would listen and remain silent . . . and the media dutifully complied.

Here is the column:

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Vanity Fair: New York Times Blocking Reporters From Going On Certain MSNBC and CNN Shows As ‘Too Partisan”

For two years, I have written about the declining journalistic values in this age of rage with both reporters and legal analysts becoming open partisans for or against Donald Trump. I recently spoke on this decline in objective and neutral reporting. It appears that the situation has become a threat to the journalistic principles of The New York Times. According to Vanity Fair, the newspaper is barring its reporters from appearing on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon as too biased and one-sided.

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Wolff Book Prompts Rare Denial From Special Counsel’s Office

Michael Wolff made a killing on his last book on Donald Trump despite denials from his sources as to key statements. He is now back with a sequel entitled “Siege: Trump Under Fire.” As before, there were instantly questions about Wolff’s standards and sources in making sensational claims. Two such claims immediately stood out as highly dubious, if not facially untrue. The Special Counsel’s office has already made a rare public denial of one of those claims: that Mueller’s office actually drafted indictments against Trump for obstruction of justice.

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Poll: Only 18 Percent Of Germans Feel Free To Voice Views In Public

For years, we have discussed the unrelenting attacks on free speech in Europe with the expansion of hate speech laws and the general criminalization of speech, including international speech crimes. Some in the United States would like to follow down that dangerous path (and universities are reinforcing the view of the need to regulate speech). The implications of such anti-speech policies are evident in Germany where a survey, conducted by the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach(and published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) found that only 18 percent of Germans feel free to express their views in public. It is the most vivid example of how Europeans are learning to live without free speech. Undeterred, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the successor to Angela Merkel, is now calling on greater limits on free speech during election periods — a concept that would normally be viewed as counterintuitive outside of the new European model.

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Biographer: MLK Watched And Laughed During Rape Of Follower

Pulitzer prize winning author and MLK biographer David Garrow has written a disturbing piece in the British magazine Standpoint on his review of secret tapes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There have long been stories about MLK’s affairs and even discussions of reexamining his standing in the MeToo period. However, the details in this article are different and deeply unsettling, if true. If not, Garrow has ruined his own celebrated career and defamed an American icon. Either way, one would think that there would a huge amount of coverage of the allegations in the mainstream media. Instead, there has been very little coverage of the story. While Yahoo and MSN ran foreign-based stories, most of the coverage has come from newspapers outside of the United States.

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