Below is my column in The Hill on recent reports of grand jury testimony in the Durham investigation. The implications of the grand jury — and the eventual report — have rattled folks in the Beltway this week . . . for good reason.
We previously discussed the hypocrisy of the D.C. government and the media after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser admitted in court that it was the Metropolitan Police Department who used tear gas and stun grenades near the Lafayette Park in 2020. D.C. counsel also insisted that such use was entirely appropriate and sought to dismiss the lawsuit by the Black Lives Matter movement. The media effectively buried the story despite flogging a false narrative against former Attorney General Bill Barr for over a year in non-stop coverage. Barr was even denounced by members of my own faculty. Now, reporters are suing the city for attacking the media. Yet, there is no outcry in the media or from the left against Bowser and her government. Continue reading “D.C. Sued Over Use Of Stun Grenades and Chemicals Against Reporters in Racial Justice Protests”
The media blackout on Hunter Biden’s laptop remains in force this week despite a major new development with the release of a videotape that purportedly shows Biden claiming that one of his laptops was stolen by Russians for blackmail purposes. He allegedly recorded the statement after filming having sex with an alleged prostitute in a Las Vegas hotel. This is major news from any standpoint. Either the President’s son admitted that Russians have blackmail material on him or the media (or others) have created a fake videotape and falsely framed Biden. One would expect, if it is the latter, that the Biden team will be announcing a lawsuit today. However, like the coverage in most major news outlets, there are only the familiar sound of crickets. Continue reading ““It Was F***ing Crazy Sh**”: Videotape Shows Hunter Biden Purportedly Admitting Russians Have Blackmail Material on Him”
YouTube has continued to enforce and expand its censorship of opposing views on its site — enforcing what it considers to be the truth on various issues. The latest subject is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has been suspended from the site for expressing his opposition to Covid mandates. One does not have to agree with Paul on his view of Covid or mandates to see the danger of such corporate control over public discourse in the United States. However, politicians (including President Joe Biden) are calling for even greater censorship to silence those with opposing views on such subjects.
Below is my column in the Hill on the shift from reasoned consent to coerced consent in the campaign for vaccinations. The push by the Biden Administration for private companies to enforce mandates and restrictions has increased in the last week. There is a high likelihood of a new round of litigation as pressure builds for new mandates and even lockdowns.
Just before this column ran, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was asked by Fox host Bret Baier “Are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level?” She responded “That’s something that I think the administration is looking into.” Later she reversed herself by saying “I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate.” It was a telling response because she was asked about a federal mandate directly. She now says she meant to say a privately enforced mandates is what they are thinking about. The reversal may be a problematic as the original. It would confirm that the Biden Administration is using private companies as a type of direct surrogate for a public mandate.
We have been discussing the long saga over the University of North Carolina’s offering an academic chair to former New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones. Hannah-Jones is one of the most prominent proponents of advocacy journalism and her writings, including as part of the 1619 Project, are highly controversial. Ultimately, Hannah-Jones turned down the UNC offer in favor of Howard University. However, an email triggered a new controversy at UNC after it was disclosed that UNC Journalism and Media Dean Susan King wrote to ABC to expressly ask them to “protect” Hannah-Jones in its coverage. It is an ironic and concerning email. Many of us are critics of advocacy journalism and the growing rejection of objectivity. In this matter, King responded to criticism of Hannah-Jones over advocacy journalism by asking ABC Deputy Political Director Averi Harper to advocate for her in framing the coverage. Continue reading “Advocacy Journalism 101: UNC Dean Asked ABC To “Protect” Hannah-Jones in its Coverage”
I recently gave a speech organized by the office of Sen. Rand Paul on Capitol Hill that addressed the rise of advocacy journalism and other issues impacting our democratic and constitutional values. It was attended by hundreds of staffers from both parties. Afterward Sen. Paul mentioned an example of why he has objected to the role of media framing news stories. I thought that the conflict with the Associated Press offered an interesting follow up to the speech as a useful context to explore the line between accuracy and advocacy. This dispute captures the issues that arise in our heated politics and why interpretative roles in the media can be fraught with difficulties even when done in good faith. Indeed, I believe both Paul and the AP have valid points to raise on these disputes that could be illustrative and instructive for all of us.
It was perhaps inevitable that the embrace of advocacy journalism (and rejection of objectivity in journalism) would eventually dispense with the pretense of the journalism part. The point was reached by National Public Radio which took the controversial step this week to announce that its journalists can engage in protests and advocacy — the abandonment of a long-standing rule for reporters to avoid such causes or demonstrations. The announcement comes on the heels of the Justice reporter for the New York Times calling all Trump supporters “enemies of the state.” New York Times reporter Nikole Hanna-Jones recently declared “all journalism is advocacy.” So that simplifies matters wonderfully for the woke. After all, why have advocacy journalism when you can simply have advocacy?
Just yesterday, we discussed the censoring of a commentator by Twitter for merely expressing an opinion over the need for a “pause” on any federal mandates on Covid-19 as new research is studied. Now, a former New York Times science reporter, Alex Berenson, has been suspended for simply citing the results from a clinical trial by Pfizer and raising questions over any vaccine mandate. In the meantime, the White House accused both the Washington Post and New York Times of irresponsible reporting on Covid, but surprisingly Twitter has not suspended those accounts. It is the license of the censor. Twitter is unwilling to let people read or discuss viewpoints that it disagrees with as a corporation. Many on the left, however, have embraced the concept of corporate speech and censorship. It turns out that the problem with censorship for many was the failure to censor views that they opposed. With the “right” censors at work, the free speech concerns have been set aside.
I recently discussed how the Biden Administration was actively encouraging corporations to limit speech and impose vaccine mandates as a type of shadow state. Rather than take such actions directly ( and face both legal and political challenges), the Administration is relying on its close alliance with Big Tech and other companies to carry out such tasks. That surrogate relationship is particularly clear in the expanding censorship program carried out by Twitter, Facebook and other companies. Twitter’s action against political commentator Dave Rubin is an example of how these companies are now dispensing with any pretense in actively barring criticism of government policies and viewpoints.
We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. The New York Times has been at the forefront of this shift away from traditional reporting but has increasingly found that the fluidity of advocacy journalism leaves it without any clear framework or standards. Consider the latest scandal at the Times. Justice Department reporter and MSNBC contributor Katie Benner went on a rave about Republicans and called Trump supporters “enemies of the state.” She also made a not-so-veiled call for readers to vote against them. The Times has been in total radio silence over what, just a few years ago, would have been viewed as an outrageous violation of journalistic standards. Yet, just recently, it fired another reporter for a comparatively mild tweet supporting Biden. Professional ethics, it seems, has become entirely impressionistic in the age of advocacy journalism. Continue reading ““The Enemies of the State”: The New York Times and The Fluidity of Advocacy Journalism”
According to a new Gallup poll, the Supreme Court has fallen to the lowest point in four years in approval despite a term marked by a long list of unanimous and non-ideological decisions. In perhaps the best evidence that the Court is getting it right, all sides seem equally frustrated with the Court.
A few weeks ago, I testified in the House Judiciary Committee on the surveillance of journalists in a long series of scandals from the Bush to the Obama to the Trump to the Biden Administrations. These scandals have occurred with almost seasonal regularity. There was a rare sense of bipartisanship in the hearing as both parties called for investigation and new legislation to address this ongoing problem. However, there has been a notable silence among members and the media after Tucker Carlson went public with an allegation that his emails were not just intercepted by the National Security Agency (NSA) but that they were shared with members of the press by intelligence officials. Now, there appears confirmation that the communications were mentioned on intercepts and, as some of us assumed early in the coverage, Carlson was “unmasked” by Biden Administration officials. Yet, the response continues to be crickets from the media and members of Congress. Continue reading “Report: Biden Administration Officials “Unmasked” Tucker Carlson”
There was an unnerving conversation between between Biden White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield and MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski that shows how much ground has been lost on principles of free speech. In an exchange on Morning Joe, Brzezinski asks Bedingfield why Biden has not completed his promised review of Section 230 and create an avenue to held social media companies “accountable in a real way” for spreading “misinformation” about vaccines. Brzezinski ignores not only the constitutional implications of such a move but ignores how such an approach would eviscerate free speech and free press rights. Equally chilling is the response. Bedingfield agrees and assured Brzezinski that the Biden Administration believes these companies should be held accountable for allowing others to voice doubts or dissenting opinions on such questions.
We have been discussing the academic saga over the offer of an academic chair by the University of North Carolina to controversial New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. UNC rescinded the offer but then re-extended the offer without tenure. Hannah-Jones accepted but then changed her mind and demanded tenure. UNC then gave her tenure and she changed her mind to take a chair at Howard University. The opposition to Hannah-Jones was based on the historical errors in her 1619 Project and criticism over biased journalism. Now Hannah-Jones is removing any doubt about her view of journalism. She has declared that “all journalism is activism.” Continue reading “Hannah-Jones: “All Journalism Is Activism””