11/26/16

Elite Media Plot New Censorship Regime

By: Cliff Kincaid | Accuracy in Media

media

Under the guise of suppressing “fake news,” the elite media and their allies are creating a censorship regime to ban legitimate conservative news from platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

In a November 19 editorial, The New York Times complained about “millions of people” having been taken in by “fake news stories,” such as that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump for president. Think about this claim. For over a year Pope Frances has been denouncing capitalism and calling for open borders. Trump had been openly critical of the pope. If anyone believed the pope had suddenly endorsed Trump for president, they were living in a fantasy land. It’s extremely doubtful that millions believed such rubbish.

But the Times went further, citing a “BuzzFeed News analysis” finding that “during the last three months of the presidential campaign, the 20 top fake news stories on Facebook generated more engagement—shares, likes and comments—than the 20 top stories from real news websites.”

Forget for a moment about what constitutes “real news.” Does the Times really want to cite BuzzFeed as a respectable source of news and information? Didn’t President Obama once joke about the site in the context of noting that when he was growing up in Hawaii, a “buzz feed” was associated with smoking marijuana?

I visited the site on Thanksgiving Day and found such stories as, “The Naked Rowers Are Back And Their Butts Are Ready To Fight Homophobia.”

It’s nice to see that a left-wing journalist, Robert Parry of Consortium News, has written a piece noting that the Times, with its focus on “fake news,” is seeking nothing less than censorship of the Internet. He dismisses the notion that “fake news” was exclusively pro-Trump, saying, “I also know that Clinton supporters were privately pushing some salacious and unsubstantiated charges about Trump’s sex life, and Clinton personally charged that Trump was under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin although there was no evidence presented to support that McCarthyistic accusation.”

Parry then adds, “The simple reality is that lots of dubious accusations get flung around during the heat of a campaign—nothing new there—and it is always a challenge for professional journalists to swat them down the best we can. What’s different now is that the Times envisions some structure (or algorithm) for eliminating what it calls ‘fake news.’” That structure is being set in place by Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, in association with Google, whose parent company chairman, Eric Schmidt, worked hand-in-glove with the Clinton campaign. Google has already been caught altering search engine results to benefit Clinton during the campaign.

Parry cites examples of what he calls “fake news” carried by the Times and asks, “So, should Zuckerberg prevent Facebook users from circulating New York Times stories?”

Parry notes that “the Times and other mainstream news outlets—along with some favored Internet sites—now sit on a Google-financed entity called the First Draft Coalition, which presents itself as a kind of Ministry of Truth that will decide which stories are true and which are ‘fake.’” He says, “If the Times’ editorial recommendations are followed, the disfavored stories and the sites publishing them would no longer be accessible through popular search engines and platforms, essentially blocking the public’s access to them.”

He links to a Reuters article noting that “Facebook and Twitter have joined a network of over 30 news and technology companies to tackle fake news and improve the quality of information on social media…” Reuters said, “Members of the group include the New York Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse, and CNN.”

It’s much bigger than that. This group even includes a division of the Qatar-financed Al Jazeera, the pro-Jihadist “news” agency once known as the voice of al Qaeda.

The “First Draft” coalition says it wants to expose “Hoaxes and fake stories generated for financial or political gain.” But Washington Free Beacon writer Bill McMorris has written a very informative article, “All the News That’s Fit to Fake,” about the fake news The New York Times published during the 2016 presidential campaign. He cites Times stories about how the Hispanic vote was going to carry Hillary to victory, and how whites weren’t going to turn out for Trump. Other “fake news” stories in the Times concerned how Clinton hoped a mandate and coattails would give Democrats control of the House and Senate, and how the stock market would crash if Trump won. The latter ran under the headline, “Debate Night Message: The Markets Are Afraid of Donald Trump.”

The Dow has hit a new high of 19,000 in the wake of Trump’s victory.

The push to ban “fake news” by the elite media, in association with fringe sites like BuzzFeed and Al-Jazeera, is outrageous. But outrage won’t stop the First Draft Coalition from implementing a censorship regime in coordination with Facebook and Google.

In fact, the process is already underway. The misnamed Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which is one of the richest components of the extreme left, is working with Twitter on the “content-policing” of its platform, in order to ban what it considers accounts that spread “hate speech.” USA Today reported that Heidi Beirich, a spokeswoman for the group, told the paper that “the center had asked Twitter to remove more than 100 accounts of white supremacists who violated Twitter’s terms of service.” The banning of these accounts has already begun.

Of course, “white supremacy” is a term that can be assigned to a variety of groups, some of them truly objectionable, but others which simply want to give a voice to the concerns of European-Americans and supporters of Judeo-Christian values.

Twitter might have a case to make if the advocacy of certain views could be directly linked to violence against minorities. Ironically, however, it’s the SPLC that once inspired violence at the headquarters of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group falsely accused of “hate.”

The SPLC itself spews fake news, in the form of false allegations picked up by the media which claim that people like me are radical extremists associated with bigoted members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and the New Black Panthers.

The fact that the elite media and outlets like Twitter use information provided by the SPLC is an ominous indication of where the new censorship regime is headed. It’s time for more honest journalists on the left to follow Robert Parry’s example and speak out against the 1984-style “Ministry of Truth” that is emerging right before our eyes.


Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected] View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

03/1/15

Net Neutrality: “Young fool … Only now, at the end, do you understand.”

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton


Emperor Palpatine. Photograph: Allstar

We keep hearing, from the saviors in Washington, DC, how government regulation is the answer and how “evil monopolies” (created, incidentally, by other government regulations) are responsible for all our trials and tribulations and the “fundamental unfairness” of the Internet as she is currently wrote.

Obligatory movie quote:

“No. No government. I know those people. Absolutely not.” – Col. Ira Kane

Yeah, it’s a movie. It’s also absolutely right.

The founder of Broadcast.com, Mark Cuban, has recently been vociferous in his opposition to so-called “Net Neutrality” with his most recent public appearance on the subject in an interview where he breaks it down. His effort to “plain-language” the argument notwithstanding, and frankly, it’s a subject that should not be oversimplified, he laid out the unintended consequences dominoes and how this “everything is equal” push plays out in terms of common services.

Now, you might want to shrug Mark Cuban off as “some rich guy who owns a sports team” and clearly that’s being done a lot, but don’t forget how he got rich: he pioneered live broadcasting over the Internet. He’s not some political hack, evil cable company exec, or mushy thinking me-too “fairness uber alles” flag waver. He is, for once, someone who knows what the hell he’s talking about.

Net Neutrality, like so many political labels, is a “fair sounding” name that hides the actual motives and consequences of the real world implementations we will experience after the seemingly inevitable adoption of this latest government overreach.

It won’t be fair. It won’t be optimum. And the right answer will never even be mentioned, never mind entertained: deregulate the cable and broadband space to eliminate the protected monopolies.

The broadband space needs more competition, not less; needs less regulation, not more. Companies like Google laying fiber? Cox, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast suddenly no longer have a free pass.

Otherwise? The cynical and dystopian view?

One of the unavoidable dominoes will be broad censorship. Once the deprioritization of broadcast packets leads to the epic traffic jam that will reduce the Web’s US speeds to worse than those found in Europe, the government of the day will, once again, have to “save us” from this “unforseen” outcome and their clever plan will include limiting who can “legitimately” have bandwidth preferences, since clearly “legitimate” news outlets need to bypass the buffering jams that will afflict TV signalling and once dot-gov starts adjudicating who’s a “real” news or other “essential” service, licensing will naturally follow, and then “standards” of what is “acceptable” traffic.

At which point, whichever political party is in power at that time will have the distinct advantage of licensing whomever they deem to be more politically correct in their eyes. “Neutrality” on the ‘Net? Yeah, not so much.

We’re in the hands of fools and corrupt bureaucrats. Last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission held a faux meeting on open Internet rules and access to broadband Internet. Commissioner Ajit Pai made a statement before the FCC vote to take unprecedented control over the internet with a secret plan. Yes, secret. Secret as in no exposure to the public or Congress prior to its enactment. What follows is the transcript of his comments – in echoes of Obamacare, this had to pass before we could know what was in it. Except, they are still keeping it under wraps. It must be very, very bad indeed.

From Breitbart:

“The Wall Street Journal reports that it was developed through ‘an unusual secretive effort inside the White House.’ Indeed, White House officials, according to the Journal, functioned as a parallel version of the FCC. Their work led to the president’s announcement in November of his plan for internet regulation, a plan which the report says blindsided the FCC and swept aside months of work by Chairman Wheeler toward a compromise. Now, of course, a few insiders were clued in about what was transpiring. Here’s what a leader for the government-funded group Fight for the Future had to say, ‘We’ve been hearing for weeks from our allies in D.C that the only thing that could stop FCC chairman Tom Wheeler from moving ahead with his sham proposal to gut net neutrality was if we could get the president to step in. So we did everything in our power to make that happen. We took the gloves off and played hard, and now we get to celebrate a sweet victory. Congratulations. what the press has called the parallel FCC at the White House opened its door to a plethora of special interest activists. Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Public Knowledge, just to name a few. Indeed, even before activists were blocking the chairman’s driveway late last year, some of them had met with executive branch officials.

“But what about the rest of the American people? They certainly couldn’t get White House meetings. They were shut out of the process altogether. They were being played for fools. And the situation didn’t improve once the White House announced President Obama’s plan, and ‘asked’ the FCC to implement it. The document in front of us today differs dramatically from the proposal that the FCC put out for comment last May, and it differs so dramatically that even zealous net neutrality advocates frantically rushed in, in recent days, to make last-minute filings, registering their concerns that the FCC might be going too far. Yet, the American people, to this day, have not been allowed to see President Obama’s plan. It has remained hidden.

“Especially given the unique importance of the internet, Commissioner O’Rielly and I ask for the plan to be released to the public. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune and House of Representatives Chairman did the same. According to a survey last week by a respected democratic polling firm, 79% of the American people favored making the document public. Still, the FCC has insisted on keeping it behind closed doors. We have to pass President Obama’s 317-page plan so the American people can find out what’s in it. This isn’t how the FCC should operate. We should be an independent agency making decisions in a transparent manner based on the law and the facts in the record.

“We shouldn’t be a rubber stamp for political decisions made by the White House. And we should have released this plan to the public, solicited their feedback, incorporated that input into the plan, and then proceeded to a vote. There was no need for us to resolve this matter today. There is no immediate crisis in the internet marketplace that demands immediate action. now. The backers of the president’s plan know this. But they also know that the details of this plan cannot stand up to the light of day. They know that the more the American people learn about it, the less they will like it. That is why this plan was developed behind closed doors at the White House. And that is why the plan has remained hidden from public view.

“These aren’t my only concerns. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal plans that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time. but rather than address them today, I will reserve them for my written statement. At the beginning of this proceeding, I quoted Google’s former CEO, who once said, the internet is the first thing that humanity has built, that humanity doesn’t understand. This proceeding makes it abundantly clear that the FCC still doesn’t get it. but the American people clearly do. The proposed government regulation of the internet has awakened a sleeping giant. I’m optimistic we’ll look back on today’s vote as a temporary deviation from the bipartisan consensus that’s served us so well. I don’t know whether this plan will be vacated by a court, reversed by Congress, or overturned by a future commission, But I do believe its days are numbered. For all of those reasons, I dissent.”

Pai warned that the public and Silicon Valley were in for an unpleasant surprise. While that was being said, Demand Progress and Free Press, headed by Robert McChesney, flew a 2,000 square foot banner over the towering corporate headquarters of the cable giant Comcast, in Philadelphia, that showed Grumpy Cat and the legend: “Comcast: Don’t Mess With the Internet. #SorryNotSorry.” Referring to Pai’s comments, Evan Greer, Campaigns Director at Fight for the Future, had this to say: “What they didn’t know is that when they struck down the last rules we would come back more powerful than they could possibly imagine.” And that is exactly what happened – the Left surged, with Obama’s help and guidance and $196 million from George Soros, to come in and nationalize the Internet and communications. Obama has nationalized the banks, student loans, housing, healthcare and now the Internet. Americans walk around fancying that they live in a Republic that is no more. Marxism rules the red, white and blue now.

Not only will this stifle innovation and raise taxes massively, as well as costs… it opens us to UN intervention, which is exactly what Obama has in mind. You will see that basically your TV and Internet will become one as a utility. Higher costs, with slower speeds and horrid customer service await us. Not to mention, the Fairness Doctrine. Many of our blogs, such as this one, may cease to exist under these fascist rules.

Heed the words of Republican FCC commissioner Mike O’Rielly, when he states: “When you see this document, it’s worse than you imagine.” Of that, I have no doubt. I knew this was coming, but when it happened last week, a very cold shiver went down my spine. For the first time, genuine fear wormed its way into my being. I immediately squashed it and went back to work. I’m not that easily defeated.

The FCC on Thursday voted through strict new rules to regulate broadband and protect net neutrality – the principle that all information and services should have equal access to the internet. That is pure Socialism and worse. Few have seen the actual regulations – a number of Leftist organizations have, the White House who crafted this monstrosity in secret has, and Google who rewrote a portion of it has. We won’t get to see this baby until next week at the earliest.

From The Guardian:

Pai said the new rules would mean “permission-less innovation is a thing of the past”. The new rules will ban broadband providers from creating fast lanes for some or slowing the traffic of others for commercial reasons. They will also give the FCC the power to police conduct by broadband providers on a case-by-case basis.

Internet service providers will not be allowed to “unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage” consumers’ access to content and services.

O’Rielly said this would mean that any company looking to start a new service would have to seek permission ahead of time. He said anybody looking for new business opportunities in the document would be best off becoming a “telecoms lawyer”.

While the wording seems to confine this permission-first model to “services” such as NetFlix, Hulu, and things of that sort, what it will likely mean tomorrow, as scope creep is engaged, is that you would no longer just be able to start a new business or even a blog online, unless you get permission from the government. Is that the “change” everyone wanted? Well, here it is. This echoes the nationalization of the press in Venezuela and other dictatorial provinces.

From National Review:

Net neutrality’s goal is to empower the federal government to ration and apportion Internet bandwidth as it sees fit, and to thereby control the Internet’s content,” says Phil Kerpen, an anti-net-neutrality activist from the group American Commitment.

The courts have previously ruled the FCC’s efforts to impose “net neutrality” out of bounds, so the battle isn’t over. But for now, the FCC has granted itself enormous power to micromanage the largely unrestrained Internet.

It’s not just the conservative Right that now fears these moves… Will Marshall, head of the Progressive Policy Institute, issued a statement that net neutrality “endorses a backward-looking policy that would apply the brakes to the most dynamic sector of America’s economy.” This will destroy the last domain of true freedom in America. Right on target for a Communist agenda.

Robert McChesney, the Marxist head of Free Press, made his stance on his goals crystal clear: At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies,” he told the website Socialist Project in 2009. “But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.” Earlier in 2000, he told the Marxist magazine Monthly Review: “Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism.” McChesney has come a long way… the Marxists know that if they get control of the military and communications, they can change the political structure of the US into a bonafide dictatorship. We’re here folks, they’ve done it.

We’re not done yet though… I suspect there will be a massive fight in Congress over this. If they can’t overturn it legislatively, they will try and starve it through funding. And the lawsuits and legal problems for the Marxists who have orchestrated this go on forever. The Republicans so far have been a massive, deadly disappointment. They better find their spines and stand against this. Between all the scandals, Amnesty, 2nd Amendment issues and this, the country is on the very edge of a civil uprising.

When the quislings in Silicon Valley finally wake up after this, they aren’t going to like what they have wrought. There will be unintended consequences galore and they’ll proclaim: “We couldn’t have seen this coming!” Oh, but you could have if you had any foresight at all. Quoting Emperor Palpatine, Republican Ajit Pai, a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said: “Young fool … Only now, at the end, do you understand.”

02/6/15

Scandal Rocks Fox News Over Saudi Terror Link

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Fox News Correspondent James Rosen reported on Wednesday night that a “major investor in the parent company” of Fox News has been implicated in financing the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Rosen made the embarrassing disclosure in a story on the channel’s “Special Report” show hosted by Bret Baier.

The alleged al-Qaeda financier, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, is a very close friend of Rupert Murdoch and his family, who control major media companies like News Corp and 21st Century Fox. The latter is now the parent company of the Fox News Channel.

The second largest shareholder in the Fox News parent company after the Murdoch family, Alwaleed has been addressed as “Your Highness” during his appearances on the network. His recent appearances have made him sound moderate, while denouncing Islamic extremism and the ISIS terrorist group.

Fox News is to be congratulated for reporting on a developing scandal that puts its chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rupert Murdoch, in a very bad light.

A video posted by Alwaleed’s company, Kingdom Holdings, shows Alwaleed and Murdoch warmly embracing at one of several intimate meetings they have held over the years. Alwaleed has also met regularly with Murdoch’s liberal son, James Murdoch, the co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox.

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, Alwaleed offered a $10 million contribution to a 9/11 fund for families and victims. Then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rejected the money because Alwaleed had blamed the terror attacks on U.S. Middle East policy.

Rosen, a hard-charging investigative reporter, really had no alternative but to cover the damaging disclosures. The allegations were made by Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker of 9/11, and provided in the form of a sworn statement to attorneys for families of 9/11 victims for their lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. He is serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Fifteen of the 19 terrorist hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks came from Saudi Arabia, and the role of the Saudi government and its top officials and citizens in the massacre of nearly 3.000 Americans on that day has been a matter of controversy ever since.

Rosen said Moussaoui’s sworn statement named Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal,“a leading Saudi businessman and major investor in the parent company of this network,” as one of the financiers of al-Qaeda.

But Alwaleed is much more than just an investor in Murdoch’s companies. He is also a personal friend of Murdoch’s who boasted in 2005 that a phone call to Murdoch resulted in the Fox News Channel altering its coverage of Muslim riots in France, in order to eliminate references to the religious affiliation of the Muslim extremists.

“I picked up the phone and called Murdoch and said that I was speaking not as a shareholder, but as a viewer of Fox. I said that these are not Muslim riots, they are riots,” Alwaleed reportedly said. “He [Murdoch] investigated the matter and called Fox and within half an hour it was changed from ‘Muslim riots’ to ‘civil riots.’”

I asked Murdoch about this at the 2006 annual meeting of News Corporation. He confirmed that a call from Alwaleed had resulted in the change. Murdoch said the change was made after it was determined that there was also a Catholic role in the riots. I had never heard or seen it reported anywhere that there was a Catholic role in the riots.

In 2002, it was revealed that Alwaleed had contributed $500,000 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood front that has boasted of influence over Fox entertainment programs. The bio for Nihad Awad, CAIR’s Executive Director and co-founder, describes how he “has successfully led negotiations with Fortune 500 companies and Hollywood film corporations on issues of concern to American Muslims. These issues include religious discrimination in the workplace, racial and religious profiling, negative stereotypes about Muslims in major Hollywood films, and products that are offensive to Muslims.”

In recent years, however, Alwaleed has postured as an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups. In 2013, for example, he announced the sacking of Tarek Al-Suwaidan as director of one of his TV channels because of his Muslim Brotherhood ties. Alwaleed said at the time that he was opposed to “the Brotherhood terrorist movement.”

The channel is a part of Alwaleed’s Rotana Group, an Arab media conglomerate based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that is partly owned by News Corp.

On the October 26, 2014, “Sunday Morning Futures” Fox News Channel program hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Alwaleed declared that Saudi Arabia was opposed to the terrorist group ISIS, regarded by many experts as a spin-off from al-Qaeda.

The following exchange took place:

Bartiromo: Prince Alwaleed, what do you say to those out there who say that Saudi Arabia has had a history of supporting and funding some extremists, particularly in Syria, for example? Do you believe Saudi Arabia should take some responsibility for ISIS even being formed?

Alwaleed: Well, the whole world has to take responsibility, not only—I mean, there is no doubt there are some Saudis, like there are some people in the United States, like in Europe, in some other Arab countries, who really are (INAUDIBLE) and support these terrorist groups.

Alwaleed didn’t explain who these Saudis or other people were. He went on to tell “Maria” that she should “rest assured” because Saudi Arabia “right now has enacted laws” against supporting terrorist groups.

During another appearance with Bartiromo, Alwaleed called ISIS a “disease” that has to be eradicated.

While Alwaleed is now putting the best face on what the Saudis and other “moderate” Muslims are supposedly doing around the world to counter terrorism, his behind-the-scenes influence on the Murdoch empire continues to generate controversy. Speculation emerged recently that Alwaleed’s influence was a factor in the Fox News Channel’s apology for covering Muslim-dominated “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims and police fear to enter.

The unwarranted apology dismayed conservatives who were counting on Fox News to cover the growing problem of the Islamization of Europe.

It is curious that as the Moussaoui allegations against Alwaleed and other Saudi officials and citizens were making news, it was suddenly disclosed that Alwaleed was reducing his stake in News Corp while maintaining his investment in 21st Century Fox.

Alwaleed’s organization, Kingdom Holding, discussed the change in stock ownership in an announcement featuring a photo of Alwaleed and Murdoch walking through what appears to be a newsroom. It said Alwaleed remains “fully supportive of Rupert Murdoch and his family.”

The disclosures of a Saudi role in financing al-Qaeda is a subject that deserves more follow-up from Fox News and other media organizations.

To its credit, the Fox News website is now running a follow-up story noting that the new charges are prompting calls for the declassification and release of 28 classified pages of the full report on 9/11. The role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks is said to be a major topic covered in the 28 pages.

01/2/15

Top 10 Misreported or Underreported Stories of 2014

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

As 2014 comes to an end, and the new year begins, we want to highlight some of the worst abuses by America’s news media in the past year. We have picked 10 stories for which there were general narratives presented by the mainstream media, which either ignored the larger truths to be gleaned from these stories, or, in some cases, the media missed the story altogether. We easily could have picked 15 topics that met those criteria, but arbitrarily chose to look at 10, and in no particular order.

Among the glaring examples of journalistic malpractice in 2014 was the Rolling Stone magazine report of an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia. There was near-unanimous agreement that the publication failed in its most basic journalistic responsibility: to attempt to verify whether or not the story they were publishing was true, and what those accused of this alleged crime had to say in their own defense.

The ongoing IRS scandal, involving the targeting of conservative organizations for their political beliefs, and a blatant attempt to cover it all up, could also have been on this list. The media went along with the Obama administration claim that the IRS story is a phony scandal, without a “smidgen of corruption.”

What the stories we have chosen have in common is that in each case, the media have gone with a narrative that is intended to put the Obama administration, the Democratic Party, or the left in general in the best possible light, all things considered. Clearly, one can find articles and interviews and TV reports that contradict those narratives, and even some that put the Obama administration in a negative light. However, this is our view of how a corrupt, mainstream media attempt to spin these stories, and a brief analysis of what is being ignored or misreported:

  1. Benghazi: The Scandal that Won’t Die
  2. Obama’s Cynical Leadership
  3. Obama’s Foreign Policy Disasters
  4. The Rise of the Islamic State & Islamic Terror
  5. Covering Momentous Elections
  6. Democratic Civil War
  7. Continued Failures of Obamacare
  8. How the Media Inflame Racial Tensions
  9. Media Portray Israel as the Aggressor
  10. Judges Challenge Obama Actions

 

      1. Benghazi: The Scandal that Won’t Die

In November, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released what it called the “definitive” report on Benghazi regarding the activities of the intelligence community in Benghazi, Libya, surrounding the deadly terrorist attacks that killed four Americans on September 11th and 12th in 2012. Reporters and pundits argued that this new report proves that Benghazi is a dead-and-buried story and that there is nothing new to learn about the attacks nor the efforts by the Obama administration to cover up the truth of what happened. They must have not read the report by the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi (CCB), nor the media coverage thereof.

Our April 22 press briefing and Interim Report outlined how Muammar Gaddafi offered a truce to discuss his abdication in March 2011, which was rejected by the Obama administration. In addition, the CCB found that the U.S. government had knowingly facilitated the delivery of weapons to al Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya, that the failure to bring military assets to attempt to rescue our people in Libya amounts to a dereliction of duty, and that what was needed was a Select Committee on Benghazi to uncover the ensuing government-wide cover-up. The CCB’s findings received coverage from the Drudge Report, the Daily Mail, Newsmax, Town Hall, Fox News, and others, but only for a couple of days. However, within about two weeks of our press conference, the House voted to create a Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks. The verdict is out on whether or not the House Select Committee remains really determined, and empowered, to reveal the whole truth about what happened. If so, that will involve holding Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Barack Obama accountable for their actions before, during and after this sordid scandal.

  1. Obama’s Cynical Leadership

The New York Post’s William McGurn called President Obama “shamelessly cynical” on immigration because the President had punted this issue until past the election, so that voters’ input had little effect on the President’s actions. “Like every other action this President has taken on immigration, this new one will, in fact, make genuine immigration reform less rather than more likely,” wrote McGurn. Yet the President and his administration continue to call for immigration legislation as a means to mitigate and counteract the President’s clear executive overreach.

President Obama also delayed Obamacare’s employer mandate for medium-sized employers until 2016, and an Iranian nuclear deal keeps on being pushed off into the sunset. The normalization of relations with Cuba also occurred after an election that could be seen as a repudiation of the President’s radical policies, yet we see more of the same. “[American voters are] going to see Washington working better if this president has his way,” said White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough just days after the November elections.

In the wake of such administration intransigence, POLITICO started championing “Obama libre”—the liberation of Obama from his earlier hesitancy and doubt. He is unleashed, the media argue, to be the president he always wanted to be during his lame duck session. Is that because he no longer feels accountable to the voters? Did he ever? The President must realize that what he is doing is making it highly unlikely that there will be any meaningful cooperation with Congress in the upcoming session.

  1. Obama Foreign Policy Disasters

President Obama’s foreign policy disasters continue apace. In November, his administration eased sanctions on Iran provided that it “limit the growth of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, convert or dilute its uranium that is close to bomb-grade, and not install any new machines for producing uranium fuel,” according to USA Today. What the media did not say is that this heralds the acceptance of a rogue state—which sponsors terror and threatens the international community—and its ability to move forward in enriching uranium, ostensibly under the auspices of a peaceful nuclear energy program. The administration is desperate to achieve an agreement, so that they can claim to have achieved “peace in our time.” Meanwhile, Iran has repeatedly proven itself to be untrustworthy.

The Obama foreign policy crises turned so sour that when the Islamic State rose up in Iraq and Syria, the media couldn’t help but note President Obama’s “evolving” rhetoric—which ranged from containment to utter destruction. The Washington Post gave White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest four Pinocchios for his claim that Obama wasn’t singling out the Islamic State (IS) when he called the group a “junior varsity” team in an interview with the New Yorker magazine.

By the administration’s own estimate, the military response to the war against IS will likely last three years, with the actual destruction of terrorist havens in Syria punted to the next administration. Currently, the plan is to vet 5,000 Free Syrian Army members, train them in Saudi Arabia, and bring them back to defeat and destroy IS. Meanwhile, members of the media complain that they don’t have access to any of the bombers or the ability to embed with the troops to report on what’s really happening. The truth of the matter is that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry claim to have put together a coalition of more than 60 nations to help the U.S. “degrade and defeat” IS. In the meantime, IS continues to butcher and force conversion or death on tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis, and the U.S. is serving as the Air Force for Iran against IS, while leaving their proxy, Basher Assad, in charge in Syria, where more than 200,000 people have already died since that war began in 2011.

The normalization of relations with Cuba was really a lifeline to a desperate, failed communist regime, but to the media, it was a welcome and long overdue act. CBS’s “60 Minutes” apparently had advance notice, as their cameras were there capturing events as they unfolded, helping to spin this into a foreign policy victory for Obama. The journalist Daniel Greenfield demonstrated what a betrayal this was to the Cuban people, yet it was an act very consistent with Barack Obama’s prejudices in favor of leftist thugs. It was also another broken promise. Obama had said that he would support and promote normalization with Cuba, reported The New York Times, only “if Cuba took steps toward democracy and released all political prisoners.” Instead, we got nothing in return.

  1. The Rise of the Islamic State & Islamic Terror

Examples of beheadings, murders, and other killings by ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State (IS), al Qaeda and various “lone wolves” are increasing at an alarming pace, but the media dislike reporting on them in a religious context, even when it comes to the beheading of their own journalists by IS. There is a failure in the West, by the media and our government, to acknowledge and confront the threat to our freedoms and our way of life by Islamists bent on spreading their poisonous ideology.

In our coverage of the Moore, Oklahoma beheading, we noted that MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry was quick to label the Islam-inspired attack as “workplace violence” and said that the attacker’s Islamic affiliation had as little to do with his actions as what he’d eaten for breakfast. Yet we also have seen the attack at the Canadian Parliament; Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley’s murder of two Brooklyn police officers in December; the attack on four policemen in New York in November by a hatchet-wielding convert to Islam, called a terrorist act by Police Commissioner William Bratton; the Taliban murder of 141 (mostly children) in Pakistan; the Sydney, Australia hostage situation resulting in three deaths, including that of the Islamic terrorist responsible for the crime; jihadists driving cars into groups of pedestrians in France; and Islamic State massacres of religious minorities, burying some alive.

What does it take to spark media outrage? Instead, when the FBI decides to categorize the Moore, Oklahoma decapitation as workplace violence, we have Mark Berman of The Washington Post debating how some experts define terrorism. He quoted terrorism analyst J.M. Berger as saying, “One of the problems with an inconsistent definition of terrorism is basically, if a Muslim does it, it’s terrorism and if a white guy does it, it’s not…” What is it going to take to end this ongoing slaughter by jihadists, acting in the name of Islam?

  1. Covering Momentous Elections

Throughout 2014 the public was alternately told that the Republican Party had failed miserably due to its unpopular government shutdown of last year, that the Republican-dominated House had blocked too much legislation and was a “do-nothing Congress,” and that the American people outright disapprove of the GOP as compared to the Democratic Party. And sometimes the media openly took sides. Accuracy in Media reported how “Lean Forward, an MSNBC motto developed in 2010, morphed into a campaign theme President Obama adopted in his 2012 campaign, and has come to mean, Vote Democratic.”

When the election neared and it became clear that the GOP would have a sweeping victory, the media started to downplay polling numbers that showed President Obama’s support was flagging.

Then the election arrived, and there was a shellacking. Now, states with a GOP-controlled legislature and governor outnumber Democrat-controlled states by a margin of 24 to 7, on top of GOP majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate. But the media had a different take on it. Instead of receiving a mandate, the GOP was told that the message from elections was to compromise with the President’s radical policies, although the people had clearly rejected them.

Matthew Dowd of ABC News said, “This wasn’t a vote for them, it was a rejection of the President and it was a rejection of the politics that’s been practiced the last couple of years in Washington, D.C.”  He asserted, “Well, the Republican brand is still very damaged.” But, as AIM reported, polling showed that 53% of Americans wanted the GOP to have more control over the country’s direction than Obama in 2015. For more than a year, we had heard incessantly how out of touch and unpopular the Republicans were, and how damaged they were because they had become too extreme.

  1. Democratic Civil War

Conflicts within the GOP grab headlines, but what about conflicts within the Democratic Party? In the case of the Republican takeover of the House and Senate, “Republican leaders won’t be able to satisfy their restive members with the familiar…excuse that they only control one-half of one-third of government,” said the New Republic, a magazine in turmoil. Yet, the last thing Republicans want is to “allow inmates to take over the asylum.”

Contrast that with coverage given to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), whose agitation during the threatened 2014 government shutdown earned her praise as presidential material from The Washington Post. There is, in fact, a crisis in the Democratic Party, as many Democrats are running from President Obama’s record, and presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has proven to be “not ready for primetime,” according to POLITICO. The long knives are coming out, as more and more Democrats and their media allies are calling for “anybody but Hillary” for the Democratic nomination.

We reported on Hillary’s many gaffes in what The Washington Post called her “Worst Week in Washington.” Hillary claimed that she and her husband were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001. (She had signed an $8 million book deal before leaving, and her husband has earned over $100 million in speeches.)  The Washington Post expressed dismay that “some Democrats fear” Clinton evokes an “imperial image that could be damaging in 2016.” But perhaps, for us, Hillary’s most evocative image remains her question, “What difference at this point does it make?”—which will haunt any presidential campaign she embarks upon.

  1. Continued Failure of Obamacare

Obamacare continues to be the signature legislation of the Obama administration, and, therefore, must be championed by the press. The New York Times, and other outlets, tried in vain this year to cover the “successes” of the health care legislation, be it through anecdotal evidence or inflated health care numbers. CNN reported in July that 10 million Americans gained health insurance this year due to the Affordable Care Act. We helped expose these numbers for the fraud that they are. In reality, there is only about “a net increase in private-sector coverage” of about 2.5 million individuals. The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal found that 71% of the increase in coverage was “attributable to Obamacare expanding Medicaid to able-bodied, working-age adults.”

Yet how many people have lost full time jobs or couldn’t find them as a result of the perverse incentives written into the law? Many Americans are unable to meet the high deductibles with these plans, and, as a result, are forgoing important medical procedures in order to ration their own health care. Yet about 85 percent of those signing up on the exchanges qualify for subsidies, a major redistribution of wealth.

Now federal investigators have found that half of listed Medicaid providers are unable or unwilling to serve enrollees. Ultra-narrow networks, which dominate the signature legislation, have also led to reduced care under Obamacare this year.

  1. How the Media Inflame Racial Tensions

Our race-baiting media have fomented strife between citizens and the police, citing false statistics such as that blacks are 21 times more likely to be killed by the police than whites, driving a further wedge between the police and their communities.

MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, who headed the witch-hunt for George Zimmerman last year, has led the charge on behalf of the late Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s families. He has been a rallying figure behind the protests. Some of the left’s demonstrations against the police have been led by Sharpton, and were encouraged by Attorney General Eric Holder, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and President Barack Obama. Most of the speakers at the demonstrations criticized the police, or talked about racism by the police—and Ferguson, Missouri burned and protesters attacked NYPD cops. Brown’s stepfather shouted “burn the b—ch down!” Protesters even chanted, “What do we want? Dead cops!” But after a “mentally ill” man killed two cops in Brooklyn, The Washington Post provided protest leaders with a chance to point to their disclaimer statements calling for peaceful protests only, and The New York Times merely highlighted the “change in tone” after the attacks.

The evidence shows that Ferguson and Staten Island weren’t racial incidents, but they are being used to inflame racial tensions.

  1. Media Portray Israel as Aggressor

Hamas planned a massive tunnel attack on Israel this year, to occur on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. The attack would allegedly have included mass killings and kidnappings around Israel. However, the media firestorm surrounding Operation Protective Edge blamed Israel, casting it as the aggressor in last summer’s war, which was instigated by continuous missile attacks from Gaza in the direction of Israel’s civilian population. Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza, committed the double war crime of using women and children as human shields while aggressively trying to kill Israeli civilians. They used hospitals and schools to launch attacks, hoping for return fire, in order to turn the world against Israel.

Although Israel agreed to ceasefire after ceasefire with Hamas, the media highlighted when Secretary of State John Kerry played “peacemaker” by consulting Qatar and Turkey, and, as we reported, “submitting a draft proposal that completely favored Hamas.” The media assertions that “there was little substantive difference between the proposal drafted by Secretary Kerry and the one released by the Egyptians earlier” that month was “quite frankly, untrue.”

As President Obama and Secretary Kerry kept blaming Israel for the ongoing hostilities, there was massive dishonesty by the media in this respect and in the treatment of casualty numbers. Unfortunately, the media continued to get its casualty count from biased sources on the ground in Gaza, but we also set the record straight about the inflated numbers.

  1. Judges Challenge Obama Actions

As of June, President Obama had suffered his 12th unanimous defeat at the hands of the Supreme Court, according to National Review. But some have observed that this may be just the “tip of the iceberg,” since not all cases have made their way to the nation’s highest court. One pending Supreme Court case, King vs. Burwell, will determine the future of Obamacare subsidies, and will come before the court in March 2015. Will the judges rule against the administration there, as well?

In December, the administration suffered a setback when federal district court Judge Arthur Schwab concluded, “President Obama’s unilateral legislative action [on immigration policy] violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause, and therefore, is unconstitutional.” This was because, in part, Schwab wrote in a 38-page opinion, the executive action “allows undocumented immigrants, who fall within these broad categories, to obtain substantive rights.”

As President Obama continues his executive overreach as a means to step around Congressional oversight and ignore the nation’s system of checks and balances, many of these battles will likely continue to be fought out in the courts.

12/30/14

Russian Nativity Play: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph Stalin

The People’s Cube
Red Square

User avatar
What happens to a Christmas play when Joseph Stalin is more known than the biblical Joseph.

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First published in Front Page Magazine
by Oleg Atbashian

This “life imitates the People’s Cube” moment comes from St. Petersburg, Russia. What seems to be a spoof is a legitimate story via RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency. As a historical footnote, Nativity plays are a new concept in Russia, where Joseph Stalin is better known than the biblical Joseph, which occasionally causes Freudian slips like the one below.

A St. Petersburg student mistakenly showed up dressed as Joseph Stalin to the Christmas play where he was supposed to play the biblical character of Joseph.

“Yesterday, my 12-year-old son participated in a school play. He told us ahead of time that he got the role of Joseph Stalin who is talking to some woman. It wasn’t a big surprise to us, as he has played parts in school plays before, and once he was even a watermelon,” wrote the student’s father Fyodor Gavrichenko on his Facebook page.

Gavrichenko said the whole family worked on making the costume – especially the grandmother, who sewed trouser stripes to the pants, found some old army boots, made a generalissimo mustache and a red folder with a big star.

They didn’t realize the mistake until the last moment because the play was in German as part of the boy’s foreign language class, and no one understood what the son’s lines meant. Apparently, the boy hadn’t been paying attention in class either. Instead of bringing the costume to school before the play, he showed the teacher its picture on his cell phone. The teacher thought it was a joke and said that the costume “rocks.”

The family sensed trouble when they saw their son’s classmate dressed as Magi. “Who are you?” asked the Magi. “I’m Mary’s husband… Joseph Stalin,” said the boy. His confidence shaken, the classmate went to the teacher: “Our Joseph turns out to be Stalin… Is that a good thing?” “What?” asked the teacher, as he pulled the curtain revealing the Nativity scene with Joseph and Mary. It was too late to change.

The plot thickened before the drama began. According to the father, Stalin’s outfit was a smash. The boy’s lines were accompanied by fits of hysterical laughter through the tears from other parents, some of whom reportedly fell off their chairs.

Those who can read the original Facebook post in Russian will notice that the father knows as little about the Nativity story as his son, confusing characters and their roles in the story. This is rather a norm in Russia, where erstwhile official atheism is only now being replaced by the official Orthodox Church. This St. Petersburg family couldn’t tell the shepherds from angels even if their son’s play weren’t in German. But at least they’re trying.

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