2019-04-07

More than a Simple Mistake in Mainstream Media

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by Neil Godfrey

The headline speaks of Rachel Maddow but the article is about a systemic failing in mainstream media:

Though she doesn’t often bring it up these days, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow remembers how the media abetted the Bush administration’s lies justifying the 2003 Iraq invasion. That was when elite (in many cases handpicked) journalists spent months serving as stenographers for the push to war, parroting every carefully crafted leak without question. They dismissed skeptics as disloyal and spiked stories that would have raised questions about the narrative. When they got caught, they declared “never again.”

Yet with Rachel Maddow as their poster child (along with David Corn, Luke Harding, Chris Hayes, the entire staff at CNN, and hundreds more), journalists over the last two years repeated every mistake their predecessors had made in 2003.

They treated gossip as fact because it came from a “source” and told us to just trust them. They blurred the lines between first-hand knowledge, second- and third-hand hearsay, and “people familiar with the matter” to build breaking news out of manure. They marginalized skeptics as “useful idiots.” (Glenn Greenwald, who called bull on Russiagate from the beginning, says MSNBC banned him after he criticized Maddow. He’d been a regular during the Bush and Obama years.)

They accepted negative information at face value and discarded information that did not fit their pre-written narrative of collusion.

Buren, Peter Van. 2019. “How Rachel Maddow Turned Into Infowars.” The American Conservative. Accessed April 5, 2019. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-rachel-maddow-turned-into-infowars/.

There’s something seriously wrong here and it goes well beyond any single reporter or commentator:

Though the wars across the Middle East the media helped midwife are beyond sin, the damage done to journalism itself is far worse this time around. With Maddow in the lead, journalists went a step further than just shoddy reporting, proudly declaring their partisanship (once the cardinal sin of journalism) and placing themselves at the center of the story. In one critic’s words, “In purely journalistic terms, this is an epic disaster.”

Very seriously wrong:

There’s a difference between being wrong once in a while (and issuing corrections) and being wrong for two years on both the core point as well as the evidence. There is even more wrong with purposefully manipulating information to drive a specific narrative, believing that the ends justify the means.

In journalism school, the first is called making a mistake. The second, Maddow’s offense, is called propaganda.

 

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43 Comments

  • Sili
    2019-04-07 11:20:57 GMT+0000 - 11:20 | Permalink

    A peculiar, but not surprising, lack of both-sideism in that piece.

    I admit to being a fan of Maddow (and recently Hayes), so that of course flavours my opinion.

  • Paxton Marshall
    2019-04-07 11:22:32 GMT+0000 - 11:22 | Permalink

    What is he talking about? Russian interference? The Mueller investigation? Trump in general?

  • proudfootz
    2019-04-07 11:34:24 GMT+0000 - 11:34 | Permalink

    Endlessly hyping the ‘Putin puppet/Russian agent/Kremlin asset’ fantasy did seriously damage to the public’s trust in mainstream news channels and helped Trump. But the Russiagate story did generate millions of dollars for the networks as a very popular conspiracy theory that fed wishful thinking that at any minute Trump would be removed. It also has the virtue of disrupting international relations and upping tensions between nuclear powers.

    The sad thing is that there is no price to pay for lying to the public in service of the powerful. No matter how many times the political, military, or economic ‘experts’ get it wrong they will always be invited back to mislead the public again.

    The only people who seem to get punished are those like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, or Julian Assange who bring out the truth.

  • Pofarmer
    2019-04-07 12:08:29 GMT+0000 - 12:08 | Permalink

    Isn’t the castigation here a wee bit premature? I mean, the Mueller report hasn’t been released, even to Congress. We also know, for instance, that Paul Manafort shared internal poling data with Deripaska. The final chapter in this hasn’t been written.

  • db
    2019-04-07 12:16:16 GMT+0000 - 12:16 | Permalink

    For those not familiar with the “Infowars” reference:

    “Pizzagate conspiracy theory”. Wikipedia.

    “Pizzagate”. rationalwiki.org.

    Alex Jones fanned the flames by adding his own conspiratorial twist, posting an InfoWars bulletin titled “Pizzagate Is Real: Something Is Going On, But What?”

    For those not familiar with Peter van Buren:

    • Buren, Peter Van (9 August 2018). “I Was Banned for Life From Twitter”. The American Conservative.

    Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan.

    “Peter van Buren”. Wikipedia.

    Mueller report info:

    “Trump-Russia connection”. rationalwiki.org. Last updated 5 April 2019‎.

    The House Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena the full Mueller report. Democrats are not satisfied with a redacted version, even though Barr said he was censoring classified information, details related to the grand jury, and anything else related to individuals not indicted.

    Comment by Richard Carrier—4 April 2019—per “The Truth about Donald Trump and His Collusion and Criminality”. Richard Carrier blogs. 2 April 2019.

    [T]he Mueller report is not brief. It’s over 300 pages. And read the intel analyses I linked to: Barr’s letter uses an ellipsis to remove reference to all the evidence of collusion in that report; and Barr himself references all the evidence in the report on obstruction—and only dismisses it for want of provable motive, just as I explain. The report most definitely is full of tons of evidence of soft collusion and obstruction. Just as I explain.

  • James Green
    2019-04-07 12:56:29 GMT+0000 - 12:56 | Permalink

    This is a fact free opinion masquerading as a critique of the media. At least you should give specific examples of these media sins. I cannot think of many cases where the media reporting (outside of Fox) has been proven to be inaccurate. Examples would be helpful, so that we may assess what their mistakes have been in your opinion. It seems clear and obvious that the Russians meddled in our elections, that they tried to utilize members of Trumps inner circle to facilitate this attack, that the Russians in deed wanted Trump to win, that Trump’s inner circle were in violations of several laws (many indictments), that Trump himself openly attempted to obstruct justice and continues to do so, that Trump has taken a bizarre pro Putin stance (from changing RNC platform into more pro-Russian perspective, dragging its feet in extending sanctions that Congress had placed on Russia, talking continually about relieving Russian sanctions, lying about meetings with Russians), from Trump’s serial sexual assaults, to illegal hush money to silence his mistresses and preserve his election potential, to Trumps consistent effort to accept Putin’s denials in the face of a unanimous opinion of our intelligence agencies, to the double-digit lies Trump foists upon the American people on a daily basis. Thank God for the traditional media who have shone a light upon the most corrupt administration in American history. Please, real examples and argumentation of media errors, and not your Trump-cult opinions.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-04-08 07:38:12 GMT+0000 - 07:38 | Permalink

      My “trump-cult opinions”??? I deplore the “trump cult”. I have no time for Trump. See the various posts of mine relating to Trump here: https://vridar.org/?s=trump

      But what we have seen with so much hyperventilating over the seriously expected exposure of a Russia-Trump conspiracy to win the election is, to this outsider, yet another illustrationn of the truth at the heart of Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics. It simply defies all logic to even think that Russia and Trump plotted to deliver a Trump victory. No doubt Russian parties sought to sow discord etc but to seriously think they believed they could do anything to bring about a Trump victory is fantasy-conspiratorial thinking.

      The article from which I quoted gave a very specific example in very great detail.

      • Pofarmer
        2019-04-08 12:27:45 GMT+0000 - 12:27 | Permalink

        I have to disagree here. If it were the case that the Russians or the Trump campaign didn’t think they could affect the election in a specific way, then why did Manafort share internal polling data with Russians? In actual fact the margin of victory in several key States was very small. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/swing-state-margins/ Trump essentially won by 107,000 votes in a few key “Swing States.” He lost the popular vote by several million. This particular foible of our election system probably made it easier to manipulate. So, the only real questions are “Did the Russians attempt to influence the election in Trumps favor?” Most people say probably. “Did the Trump team have contact with Russians in the leadup to the election.” Yes, definately. Did this contact amount to collusion or conspiracy? Well, without seeing the evidence, we can’t make an informed decision, can we?

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-04-08 18:13:57 GMT+0000 - 18:13 | Permalink

          then why did Manafort share internal polling data with Russians?

          Arguments grounded in rhetorical questions remind me of Daniel Dennett’s quip in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea:

          I advise my philosophy students to develop hypersensitivity for rhetorical questions in philosophy. They paper over whatever cracks there are in the arguments. (p. 178)

          I can think of multiple possibilities but would like to examine the context and evidence before assuming just one possible explanation, especially if that explanation is a conspiracy that prima facie seems highly unlikely and more in line with the sort of historical style of thinking Hofstadter wrote about.

          • Pofarmer
            2019-04-09 01:02:46 GMT+0000 - 01:02 | Permalink

            That’s the thing though, it’s not a rhetorical question? Why did Manafort share confidential internal polling data with Deripaska, and what did Derioaska do with it? That would be nice to know. Also, we know that Roger Stone, by his own admission was in contact with Gucifer 2.0, and that Gucifer 2.0 was Russian intelligence. What we don’t know is of stone knew that. Manafort came out of nowhere to be Trumps campaign manager. Most of his work had been managing campaigns for – Russians, or pro Russian interests. Why Manafort? Who recommended him. Oh, and now one of manafort’s “Associates” is being charged with illegally funelling foreign funds through Trumps inauguration. And on, and on. Oh, and Trump and Russians had done “business’ in the past to the tune of hundreds of millions on various projects over the years. Given the oligarch and govt system in Russia, would it be that far out of the norm for the rich and powerful over there to help “one of their own” gain more money and power? Maybe a little. Oh, and Manafort indicted something like 17 Russians for election tampering. There isn’t much doubt they did it. There isn’t much doubt the Trump campaign benefited from it. The only real question is were they coordinating with the Russians when they did it? We’d really like to know what the Mueller investigation determined and the evidence they had.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2019-04-09 01:49:48 GMT+0000 - 01:49 | Permalink

              All of that is a long, long way from a conspiracy to win the election for Trump, a long long way. Something unimaginable has happened in the U.S., something that has tossed out the normal run of historical processes, something bizarre and unacceptable has happened ….. and Hoftstadter’s article on the Paranoid Style of American Politics has, as he predicted, once again kicked in. Conspiracy is the only explanation for many people.

              Trump’s rise is well explained by normal historical processes and social dynamics without any need to resort to Masonic, Catholic, Jewish, Communist, Russian conspiracy. In fact, the conspiracy theory is far more problematic and unlikely.

              • Pofarmer
                2019-04-09 04:48:18 GMT+0000 - 04:48 | Permalink

                I wasn’t gonna reply any more.

                But.

                There is no conspiracy.

                The Russians sought to interfere in the U.S. 2016 elections. That is established fact. The margin in 3 swing states was 107,000 votes. That is establised fact. Paul Manafort shared confidential polling data with Deripaska leading up to the 2016 election. That is established fact. What did Deripaska do with that information and how was it used? That is unknown. Why did Manafort share it with Deripaska? That is unknown. Did the Russians win the election for Trump? I have no idea. Did they seek to? It certainly appears that way. Certainly, you can explain the rise of Trump in regards to social and political strains in the U.S. That doesn’t mean that other interests weren’t at play. They certainly were. It’s all well established by court filings. I agree that something bizzare and unacceptable has happened, but I don’t think we agree on what it is. If you weren’t in the U.S. you may not have seen all the ads and posts and bots on Facebook and Twitter leading up to the election in 2016. Many of them were very slick and seemed genuine. And, even if Trump had lost, these questions should still be answered, IMHO.

              • Neil Godfrey
                2019-04-09 06:15:26 GMT+0000 - 06:15 | Permalink

                I have no doubt Russian agencies do what mischief they can within the U.S. just as the U.S. has done the same in Russia and elsewhere. But I have a hard time thinking they were so naive or comical or so devilishly cunning as to seriously expect to deliver or help deliver an actual Trump victory in 2016. That is the stuff of conspiracy theory in a long tradition of such mass beliefs in high-level conspiracies within major sections of the U.S. public. All the dots you are setting out are a copy book repeat of all the dots that were set out for the Masons, the Catholics, the Jews, the Communists…. Take a look at the Hofstadter article. His analysis of manichean thinking, of apocalyptic type all or nothing, black or white thinking in U.S. political discourse is as much alive as it ever was — at least that’s how it certainly looks to an outsider looking in.

              • Pofarmer
                2019-04-09 12:30:31 GMT+0000 - 12:30 | Permalink

                This is Muellers indictment.

                “Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants’ means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system, including the presidential election of 2016.”

                The indictment also notes that the IRA:

                “[H]ad a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump Campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton. Defendants made various expenditures to carry out those activities, including buying political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities. Defendants also staged political rallies inside the United States, and while posing as U.S. grassroots entities and U.S. persons, and without revealing their Russian identities and ORGANIZATION affiliation, solicited and compensated real U.S. persons to promote or disparage candidates. Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.””

                Here is the alleged scope if the operation

                Facebook data:

                As part of the Committee’s open hearing with social media companies in November 2017, the Minority used a number of advertisements as exhibits, and made others available as part of a small representative sampling. During the hearing, Committee Members noted the breadth of activity by the IRA on Facebook:

                3,393 advertisements purchased (a total 3,519 advertisements total were released after more were identified by the company);
                More than 11.4 million American users exposed to those advertisements;
                470 IRA-created Facebook pages;
                80,000 pieces of organic content created by those pages; and
                Exposure of organic content to more than 126 million Americans.
                The Facebook advertisements we are publishing today have been carefully reviewed by the Committee Minority and redacted by Facebook to protect personally-identifiable information (PII). To protect innocent victims, Facebook—at the urging of the Committee Minority—also has notified users whose genuine online events were unwittingly promoted by the IRA.

                The data made available today does not include the 80,000 pieces of organic content shared on Facebook by the IRA. We expect to make this content public in the future.“

                “During the Committee’s November 2017 open hearing, the Minority introduced into the record 2,752 Twitter accounts that Twitter identified as connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Kremlin-linked “troll farm.” These accounts were designed to impersonate U.S. news entities, political parties, and groups focused on social and political issues. During the hearing, the Minority also revealed a selection of Twitter advertisements paid for by Russian news outlet RT, which the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment labeled as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”

                According to data provided to the Committee by Twitter, a snapshot of relevant Twitter activity in the period between September 1 and November 15, 2016 reveals:

                More than 36,000 Russian-linked bot accounts tweeted about the U.S. election
                More than 36,000 Russian-linked bot accounts tweeted about the U.S. election
                Approximately 288 million impressions of Russian bot tweets; and
                More than 130,00 tweets by accounts linked to the IRA.
                The Minority is making public an additional 1,103 accounts that were identified by Twitter subsequent to the November 1, 2017 hearing as connected to the IRA. Twitter has also informed that it removed 14 handles from the original list provided to Congress last fall, yielding an updated total of 3,841 Twitter accounts affiliated with the IRA. Twitter now believes those 14 accounts should not be included based on improved methodology, improved understanding of IRA characteristics, and other new information – including the possibility that some a“

                This was a large, coordinated operation.

                https://intelligence.house.gov/social-media-content/

              • proudfootz
                2019-04-09 14:23:49 GMT+0000 - 14:23 | Permalink

                Interestingly, when the accused turned up in court to face the Mueller team, the prosecution was unwilling to present its ‘evidence’.

                ““Defendant voluntarily appeared through counsel as provided for in [federal rules], and further intends to enter a plea of not guilty. Defendant has not sought a limited appearance nor has it moved to quash the summons. As such, the briefing sought by the Special Counsel’s motion is pettifoggery,” Dubelier and Seikaly wrote.

                The Concord lawyers said Mueller’s attorneys were seeking “to usurp the scheduling authority of the Court” by waiting until Friday afternoon to try to delay a proceeding scheduled for next Wednesday. Dubelier and Seikaly complained that the special counsel’s office has not replied at all to Concord’s discovery requests. The lawyers, who work for Pittsburgh-based law firm Reed Smith, also signaled Concord intends to assert its speedy trial rights, putting more pressure on the special counsel’s office to turn over records related to the case.”

                https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/04/mueller-russia-interference-election-case-delay-570627

                Likely Mueller and his minions did not expect to ever have their claims examined.

                “Many inside and outside the Justice Department saw the indictment from the outset as a “name and shame” effort, that was intended to put the Russian government on notice that such conduct would be exposed and pursued by the U.S. The likelihood that any of the defendants would ever appear in a U.S. courtroom seemed remote.

                Concord’s decision to contest the charges shattered that expectation…”

                https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/07/mueller-probe-concord-management-1085285

                It’s all very easy to make public accusations, but apparently it’s a bridge too far to back them up.

            • proudfootz
              2019-04-09 14:03:19 GMT+0000 - 14:03 | Permalink

              There’s some evidence which indicates the bland assertion that ‘Guccifer 2.0 is Russian intelligence’ is speculative at best.

              “There was a flurry of activity after Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016: “We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication.” On June 14, DNC contractor CrowdStrike announced that malware was found on the DNC server and claimed there was evidence it was injected by Russians. On June 15, the Guccifer 2.0 persona emerged on the public stage, affirmed the DNC statement, claimed to be responsible for hacking the DNC, claimed to be a WikiLeaks source, and posted a document that forensics show was synthetically tainted with “Russian fingerprints.”

              Our suspicions about the Guccifer 2.0 persona grew when G-2 claimed responsibility for a “hack” of the DNC on July 5, 2016, which released DNC data that was rather bland compared to what WikiLeaks published 17 days later (showing how the DNC had tipped the primary scales against Sen. Bernie Sanders). As VIPS reported in a wrap-up Memorandum for the President on July 24, 2017 (titled “Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence),” forensic examination of the July 5, 2016 cyber intrusion into the DNC showed it NOT to be a hack by the Russians or by anyone else, but rather a copy onto an external storage device. It seemed a good guess that the July 5 intrusion was a contrivance to preemptively taint anything WikiLeaks might later publish from the DNC, by “showing” it came from a “Russian hack.” WikiLeaks published the DNC emails on July 22, three days before the Democratic convention.”

              https://consortiumnews.com/2019/03/13/vips-muellers-forensics-free-findings/

              • Pofarmer
                2019-04-09 14:24:40 GMT+0000 - 14:24 | Permalink

                Ok. now THAT’S conspiracy theory nonsense.

              • proudfootz
                2019-04-09 15:17:08 GMT+0000 - 15:17 | Permalink

                Just disinterested experts in the field debunking partisan nonsense.

      • James Green
        2019-04-09 13:20:58 GMT+0000 - 13:20 | Permalink

        Neil, You take Hofstadter’s article, which is solely focused upon the conspiracy mindset of conservatives, and somehow decide that it’s applicable to the liberal mindset, ignoring that the two intellectual paradigms are radically different, and almost never analogous. That is why Hofstadter focuses exclusively upon the conservatives, the only mindset easily amenable to such conspiracy theories. My own reading of the Russia issue is that Russia clearly intended to manufacture political discord in the US, then found that it was working even better than expected. Strong cases can be made that Putin despises Clinton and would like nothing better than for her to be defeated. He found in Trump a useful idiot who could be promoted as the foil for Clinton. I doubt that he ever believed that Trump could win, just as Trump never did. The word collusion is probably inappropriate in this case, but it was the master brander himself, Trump, who mono-maniacally kept talking about collusion. If you follow the mainstream news trajectory, you will discover that “collusion” was not part of their reporting until Trump made it his mantra. The media still attempted to avoid the word, but it ultimately slipped into the conversation over time. I am an economist, and collusion is a word far more useful in studying markets, but there is a term “tacit collusion” that might be helpful here. A tacit collusion occurs when two sides agree to play a certain strategy without explicitly saying so. It is generally not illegal. It invokes the Nash Equilibrium, and in the modern era, has been perfected by Oligopolies. Trump was and is a political neophyte, and he has surrounded himself with like minded neophytes. They are easily converted to useful idiots. As for criminal conduct, I have seen and heard with my own eyes Trump’s obstruction of justice in several areas, where he did so on national television. Anyone who finds Trump blameless has lost any objective perspective, and may have devolved into tribalism.

        • db
          2019-04-09 14:48:30 GMT+0000 - 14:48 | Permalink

          Anyone who finds Trump blameless has lost any objective perspective, and may have devolved into tribalism.

          • I see several topics of discussion and various levels of granularity spawning in the response comments to the original post (OP).

          IMO the primary question of the OP is: “Does the mainstream media’s failure of professional skepticism per the Trump–Russia collusion allegations reflect a similar pattern overall in mainstream media?”

          I agree with the following:

          • A strong case can be made that Putin would of liked nothing better than for Clinton to be defeated and if not—then at least politically compromised.

          • Putin found in Trump a useful idiot who could be promoted as a foil for Clinton. I doubt that he ever believed that Trump could win.

          • The word collusion is probably inappropriate in this case. A tacit collusion occurs when two sides agree to play a certain strategy without explicitly saying so. It is generally not illegal.

               Cf. “Tacit collusion”. Wikipedia.

          • The mainstream media’s failure of professional skepticism per the Trump–Russia collusion allegations does reflect a similar pattern overall in mainstream media.

          • James Green
            2019-04-09 18:22:28 GMT+0000 - 18:22 | Permalink

            My response is that the so-called skepticism failure of the media has not been demonstrated. Certainly not to my lights. We of course can note many of the usual suspects that decry the fake news and the bias of the media. This is almost universally from the right. It is a part of Trump’s attempt to demonize the very people who have the responsibility to hold him accountable. Similar oversight parties such as the FBI, the Justice Dept., Congress, the mythical deep state, and pretty much everyone other than Fox News have come under similar attack. Such attacks are the hallmark of an authoritarian. The only surprising aspect is the number of minions who are willing to support the propaganda meme that Trump is under attack through no fault of his own. I’m not sure what one could expect the media to do, given the constant lies, obfuscations, and conspiracy theories initiated by this White House. The media has been forced to dig deep beyond their natural sources due to the dishonesty and lies spun by Trump and his supporters. For one, I am not at all on board with the idea of the failure of the media in the last two years. I have yet to hear any specifics where their reporting was incorrect. All that seems to offend anyone is their standard marketing utilization of the “This doesn’t sound good. Stay tuned,” fade outs, which in no way diminishes their facts as reported. FYI, there were many moments when the entire media radar went up, indicating they were , contrary to opinions here, being skeptical and cautious. Several times they could not independently corroborate other outlet’s stories. Similarly, they cannot corroborate the conclusions being offered by Barr, a Trump appointee with dubious opinions about such investigations, who was not part of the investigation itself. In short, we do not today have any reason to doubt the mainstream media’s factual reporting, other than Barr’s uninvestigated conclusions.

            • db
              2019-04-11 03:04:55 GMT+0000 - 03:04 | Permalink

              the so-called skepticism failure of the media has not been demonstrated

              • Carrier holds that the main stream media narrative has consistently been true all along.

              Comment by Richard Carrier—7 April 2019—per “The Truth about Donald Trump and His Collusion and Criminality”. Richard Carrier Blogs. 2 April 2019.

              [Why has] the US main stream media, especially the “liberal”, have pushed this “Russia collusion delusion” as hard as they did.

              [The] narrative they were pushing . . . has consistently been true all along, not false. At most you can say they over-stated how certain we can be that Trump himself consciously collaborated with the Russian government, or how much they mistakenly thought his collaborating with Russian citizens is specifically a crime rather than merely disturbing and dangerous.
              […]
              So in fact very few liberal media actually went for any “wacko conspiration theory.” Some did winge over its possibility, but that’s not the same as saying it’s true; and those who only winged over the actual likelihood of Russian manipulation of Trump (and not his conscious conspiring with Putin) were pretty near correct.

              • Neil Godfrey
                2019-04-16 00:51:18 GMT+0000 - 00:51 | Permalink

                I don’t see Carrier’s or anyone else’s opinion as having any weight in the analysis of the actual evidence as opposed to speculation and inferences.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-04-10 01:19:23 GMT+0000 - 01:19 | Permalink

          . . . Hofstadter’s article, which is solely focused upon the conspiracy mindset of conservatives, and somehow decide that it’s applicable to the liberal mindset, ignoring that the two intellectual paradigms are radically different, and almost never analogous. That is why Hofstadter focuses exclusively upon the conservatives, the only mindset easily amenable to such conspiracy theories. . . .

          That’s not quite so. Hoftstadter writes:

          But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoîd style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.

          and if we associate left-wing with good causes . . . .

          . . . the paranoíd style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoíd style

          Then again:

          These quotations give the keynote of the style. In the history of the United States one finds it, for example, in the anti-Masonic movement, the nativist and anti-Catholic movement, in certain spokesmen of abolitionism who regarded the United States as being in the grip of slaveholders’ conspiracy, in many alarmists about the Mormons, in some Greenback and Populist writers who constructed a great conspiracy of international bankers, in the exposure of a munitions makers’ conspiracy of World War I, in the popular left-wing press, in the contemporary American right wing, and on both sides of the race controversy today, among White Citizens’ Councils and Black Muslims.

          What is significant is the reason given for historical right-wing susceptability to the paranoid style. Today the shoe is on the other (the left) foot”

          But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans . . .

          And finally:

          Perhaps the central situation conducive to the diffusion of the paranoid tendency is a confrontation of opposed interenns which are (or are felt to be) totaly irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise. The situation becomes worse when the representatives of a particular social interest — perhaps because of the very unrea1istic and unrealizable natute of its demands — are shut out of the political process. Having no access to political bargainigg or the making of decisions, they find their original conception that the world of power is sinister and malicious fully confirmed.

          That sounds to me very much the situation the “left” or “liberals” find themselves in under Trump.

  • db
    2019-04-07 13:00:03 GMT+0000 - 13:00 | Permalink

    • Per Glenn Greenwald, the media should have been more skeptical about the Trump–Russia collusion allegations.

    Cf. “Glenn Greenwald Debates Cenk On Mueller Investigation”. YouTube. The Young Turks. 4 April 2019.

  • Sili
    2019-04-07 15:33:42 GMT+0000 - 15:33 | Permalink

    Upon review, no actually.

    The comparison with Infowars is disingenuous. Arguing that Msnbc is mirror of Fox News could perhaps be defended, but completely ignoring that elephant in the room ruins the writer’s credibility.

    I know he’s probably not responsible for the subhead, but the “even as her ratings come crashing down” stinks of Drumpf’s “failing New York Times” mantra. Unfortunately my google-fu is not up to the task of finding longitudinal viewers hip numbers.

  • proudfootz
    2019-04-07 16:48:25 GMT+0000 - 16:48 | Permalink

    The reported dip in Maddow’s viewership is possibly linked to Nielsen ratings.

    “Maddow’s audience has dipped on her two days back on the air since Attorney General William Barr reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had found no collusion between Trump and Russia’s efforts. Her audience of 2.5 million on Monday was 19 percent below her average this year, and it went down further to 2.3 million on Tuesday, the Nielsen company said.”

    https://www.apnews.com/6a418de605ab4fb5a8cddf958ac190f0

    • Sili
      2019-04-07 19:18:06 GMT+0000 - 19:18 | Permalink

      Really? I guess I didn’t be surprised at the poor understanding of statistics.

      • Sili
        2019-04-07 20:53:56 GMT+0000 - 20:53 | Permalink

        *shouldn’t

      • proudfootz
        2019-04-08 00:37:56 GMT+0000 - 00:37 | Permalink

        Yes, people who think the loss of half a million viewers is insignificant may need a little help.

        “Maddow, who has consistently vied for the first or second top-rated cable news program, was sixth on Monday evening, down almost 500,000 total viewers from the previous Monday, as was MSNBC’s second top-rated program in primetime, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.

        Conversely, “It was obviously a big couple of nights for Fox,” said one network insider, claiming, however, that nobody at MSNBC is panicking.”

        https://www.thedailybeast.com/msnbcs-trump-russia-ratings-juggernaut-fizzles-time-to-pivot-to-2020

        • Sili
          2019-04-08 12:24:35 GMT+0000 - 12:24 | Permalink

          Is viewership really that consistent from week to week? That’s why I wanted longitudinal data. Yes, a drop of half a million (extrapolated) could easily be regression to the mean. How many viewers does it translate to in actual Nielsen families?

  • proudfootz
    2019-04-07 17:28:34 GMT+0000 - 17:28 | Permalink

    The hysteria bout Russia has been a very divisive element in American politics over the past few years.

    “However, one major effect of the change has been to hammer progressive outlets that challenge the status quo. The Intercept reported a 19 percent reduction in Google search traffic, AlterNet 63 percent and Democracy Now! 36 percent. Reddit and Twitter deleted thousands of accounts, while in what came to be called the “AdPocalypse,” YouTube began demonetizing videos from independent creators like Majority Report and the Jimmy Dore Show on controversial political topics like environmental protests, war and mass shootings. (In contrast, corporate outlets like CNN did not have their content on those subjects demonetized.) Journalists that questioned aspects of the Russia narrative, like Glenn Greenwald and Aaron Maté, were accused of being agents of the Kremlin (Shadowproof, 7/9/18).

    The effect has been to pull away the financial underpinnings of alternative media that question the corporate state and capitalism in general, and to reassert corporate control over communication, something that had been loosened during the election in particular. It also impels liberal journalists to prove their loyalty by employing sufficiently bellicose and anti-Russian rhetoric, lest they also be tarred as Kremlin agents.

    For the Democrats, Russiagate allows them to ignore calls for change and not scrutinize why they lost to the most unpopular presidential candidate in history. Since Russia hacked the election, there is no need for introspection, and certainly no need to accommodate the Sanders wing or to engage with progressive challenges from activists on the left, who are Putin’s puppets anyway. The party can continue on the same course, painting over the deep cracks in American society. Similarly, for centrists in Europe, under threat from both left and right, the Russia narrative allows them to sow distrust among the public for any movement challenging the dominant order.

    For the state, Russiagate has encouraged liberals to forego their faculties and develop a state-worshiping, conspiratorial mindset in the face of a common, manufactured enemy. Liberal trust in institutions like the FBI has markedly increased since 2016, while liberals also now espouse a neocon foreign policy in Syria, Ukraine and other regions, with many supporting the vast increases in the US military budget and attacking Trump from the right.”

    https://fair.org/home/the-utility-of-the-russiagate-conspiracy/

  • Kenneth
    2019-04-08 02:51:54 GMT+0000 - 02:51 | Permalink

    Maddow’s had some embarassing moments. Not as many has her competitors. It’s unfortunate that so many viewers want that emotional hit rather than credible perspectives and information.

    This victory lap re: “Russiagate” seems premature. I don’t know how anyone can claim to be a critic of corporate media or state actors, yet accept a four-page summary of the Mueller Report from Trump’s handpicked AG, of an investigation run by his own party faithful. I’ll wait until the investigations are over.

  • 2019-04-08 10:58:40 GMT+0000 - 10:58 | Permalink

    Problems with American news coverage is why I started by website over 10 years ago. http://www.rationalrevolution.net/war/index.htm

    Honestly at this point I can’t fully explain it.

    I know that part of the problem lies in the corporate-owned for-profit driven system, but how exactly this all plays out I’m not sure.

    I think Chomsky, Hedges , etc. are largely right about the phenomenon. There is a form of self-censorship that takes place, especially in American for-profit mass media(news and otherwise) that just takes various perspectives off the table.

    When I look at what is produced by American news media it’s mind boggling. It’s very different from news media in places that are more directly under government control. But what you have to understand in America is that the American government is under corporate control, and so thinking about government controlling media is the wrong way to think about it.

    The model with a regime that controls media is very direct and kind of obvious. The American model is much different, where it’s more like a fraternity. I think something important about how American major news media works is that all of the top decision makers and broadcasters are very highly paid, and I think this high pay serves as a control mechanism, certainly as a way to bring people into the fraternity.

    And BTW, I was never a fan of Maddow, from the very first days. I never liked her and always sort of viewed her as s sell-out who would end up exactly where she is now, as faux-opposition.

    In Russia the ruling regime actually sets up faux-opposition parties and candidates and they actually develop much of the anti-administration rhetoric and coverage. so basically the ruling regime creates its own opposition, and that opposition has to be “good enough” to gain support and buy-in from the public, so it’s not necessarily completely weak. They develop real news stories against themselves and use the faux-opposition sometimes to take-down members of their own party that have fallen from grace, etc.

    I see, and have always seen, Rachel Maddow and MSNBC as essentially the American version of this.

    There are very few major American journalists I have much respect for. Matt Taibbi and Chris Hedges being among the few.

    BTW, here is Taibbi on the issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duCihHP8pJs

    I don’t know. It’s hard to even know what to think about American society at large. It’s so f*ed up it’s beyond comprehension. America is completely drowning in propaganda. It’s endless, it’s constant, it comes from all directions – all precisely because it isn’t a top-down controlled system. What we’ve done is unleash the free-market system on propaganda. So instead of having state-run propaganda, we have free-market propaganda, which is so much more powerful.

    But who is the customer? It’s just like Facebook. Facebook came along and was this new startup entity, but by becoming a for-profit corporation it was inevitable that they would end up serving the broader corporate interests, as they have. The customer in American media is Wall Street. That’s the issue. Facebooks users aren’t Facebook’s customers. The users are the product being sold to the customer, which is corporate America.

    It doesn’t matter what it is in America, the customer is major corporate stock holders. So whether it’s news or cartoons or movies or music, everything is serving the same customer. Everything is geared around pleasing and catering to the interests of powerful wealthy investors and property owners. So nothing gets produced in major American media that runs counter to those interests. It’s a whole self-reinforcing system of corporate advertising, and corporate sponsorship and corporate ownership. And also the public at large is conditioned and trained to serve this customer as well. When kids watch corporate produced TV, movies, or listen to music, play video games, etc., they are learning what is popular and successful, and they are taught that they should want to be popular and successful, and to do that they know to emulate what they see as popular and successful, which is pro-corporate crap.

    And the public system don’t get around it either, because they are entirely beholden to wealthy donors. In America we have PBS and NPR, both non-profit media outlets. These are our closest things to the BBC. But these institutions receive nominal funding from the government, and the majority of their funding comes from private donations. The top underwriters of PBS and NPR in America are the Koch brothers, Dow, etc.

    So I think a lot of the problem with American journalism comes from the fact that the people at the top (this includes Maddow) have sort of been given keys to the penthouse and at that point their perspective is such that their interests become aligned with the broader corporate interests.

    Stuff like this Russia business is a distraction and always has been. What American news media specializes in is covering meaningless controversy. It can be partisan, in fact all the better, as long as the real fundamental issues aren’t addressed.

    Look at the whole voting issue. In America what we heard from the major news outlets is a lot of talk about Russia, prospects of foreign tampering, claims from the right about voter fraud, etc. What we’ll hear in the “liberal opposition” media is denials of voter fraud and a lot of statements from officials and important people assuring us that the electoral system is sound and reliable and the best in the world and that we have a top-notch democratic system and that claims of voter fraud are nonsense.

    But what we don’t hear about is the fact that the American system is actually very undemocratic and is fraught with problems and is in fact highly biased and actually unreliable and not representative at all of the will of the majority. I covered this after the election here: http://www.rationalrevolution.net/articles/stolen_election.htm

    What the American news media does, ultimately, is always support the system. The current system in place serves the interests of corporations and wealthy elites. It is the system they want. Thus, ultimately, what we see in corporate media is always assurance that the system is sound and that the people in charge are good people who know what they’re doing. You can question and criticize various features of the system and various individuals, but not the system itself.

    And Trump has been hard for the media to handle because he himself has been a threat to the system. He’s an idiotic and moronic threat, but a threat none-the-less. So its been open season on Trump because the establishment never liked him anyway. So Maddow plays her part in the faux drama, faux-opposition circus of entertainment, distracting from the real fundamental issues.

    Oh, and also, why didn’t American journalists push back more on stuff like the Iraq War and the Housing Bubble? It’s partly because of what I’ve just said, but also partly for the same reason that mythicism doesn’t gain traction or get the support that it deserves. Because, again, of support for “the system”, support for ‘the experts”. It’s all part of the same issue.

    And this is the issue I have with the so-called “skeptic” community. Due to the fact that there are so many nonsense and anti-scientific claims made by fringe morons and right-wing political forces, many so-called skeptics have essentially become nothing more than status-quo bots. So instead of sorting through nonsense and actually evaluating evidence they just constantly defer to authority. This is also what the vast majority of journalists do as well.

    • proudfootz
      2019-04-08 13:50:10 GMT+0000 - 13:50 | Permalink

      Ironically, CBC and BBC don’t have to register as ‘foreign agents’ like RT has to. Trump is the worst puppet ever.

      • Pofarmer
        2019-04-08 14:07:45 GMT+0000 - 14:07 | Permalink

        “RT claims that it is a “publicly funded” media outlet, similar to the BBC or Germany’s Deutsche Welle and would qualify for an exemption.

        But to prove the exemption, the Atlantic Council writes, RT would need to disclose its finances, board members and show evidence of editorial independence from the Russian government.

        Russia targets US media in row over RT

        Other international media outlets are registered as agents of foreign governments, including China Daily, NHK Cosmomedia, and KBS Korean Broadcasting System.

        This week, RT decided to register under Fara.”

        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41991683

        • proudfootz
          2019-04-09 14:27:47 GMT+0000 - 14:27 | Permalink

          If there was anything to this conspiracy theory that Trump was a Putin stooge, you’d expect RT a Sputnik to get preferential treatment.

  • Neil Godfrey
    2019-04-10 23:00:42 GMT+0000 - 23:00 | Permalink

    I believe we see here from the DCReport.org page far more plausible and economical explanations of the “dots” that many believe point to a Russian government-Trump conspiracy:

    Why Trump Wants the Mueller Report and His Taxes Kept Secret

    He’s Just One Step Away from the Russian Mob and a North Korean Arms Dealer. Anyone Have Osama’s Private Number?

    By C. Collins

    • db
      2019-04-10 23:37:11 GMT+0000 - 23:37 | Permalink

      • The Young Turks (TYT) opine on the Deutsche Bank loans to Trump.

      “How Trump Swindled Billions Out Of Deutsche Bank”. YouTube. The Young Turks. 19 March 2019.

      [08:50] Deutsche Bank was trying to get into the American market. . . . It was hard to break-in in a regular way. . . . So they’re like well here’s another way to do it let’s just make risky loans that nobody else will make and that’ll be our niche. Well if you’re in the banking business that’s a bad idea and so—they didn’t care. They were like okay, “Hey we made a splashy loan to Donald Trump and he’s on TV . . . We have a very important client!” [09:30]

      • db
        2019-05-21 12:17:50 GMT+0000 - 12:17 | Permalink

        “Trump Money Laundering EVIDENCE”. YouTube. The Young Turks. 20 May 2019.

        [00:39] The Times is reporting executives of Deutsche Bank which had lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies rejected their employees’ advice when these employees flagged the accounts the reports were never filed with the government. [00:55]

  • Myshkin
    2019-04-16 03:32:00 GMT+0000 - 03:32 | Permalink

    Let’s get it straight: Trump was a money-launderer in bed with the Russian kleptocracy/mafia. They are blackmailing him. To quote John Lennon in his infamous Maureen Cleve interview, ” I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right.” This will come out eventually, and if Trump is not impeached in the mean time, history will be embarrassed for this era.

  • Sili
    2019-05-21 11:17:22 GMT+0000 - 11:17 | Permalink

    I weren’t really familiar with who Greenwald is, but this long Twitter thread just gave me some interesting background on him: https://mobile.twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1130534973902020608

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