02/24/17

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Receives Some Unwelcome Answers

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

It is becoming increasingly clear that the often oppositional mainstream media will only promote stories which contain an angle designed to make President Donald Trump look bad. That this is the opposite of how President Barack Obama was treated by the media only exposes reporters’ ongoing double standard.

One press narrative is that Trump intends to weaken NATO and will, therefore, place American security and interests—as well as those of our allies—in jeopardy by undermining our international alliances. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, in his February 20 show “Wolf,” repeatedly attempted to bait the secretary general of NATO into criticizing Trump for his promise to insist that NATO allies must pay their fair share of the “common defense.”

“You were with the vice president when he said that the U.S. commitment to NATO is firm,” said Blitzer, referring to Vice President Mike Pence’s speech in Munich last weekend. “Were you reassured by those words?” Refusing to follow Blitzer’s narrative, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that he was reassured.

“Absolutely, because it is a very consistent message,” Stoltenberg said.

In other words, the secretary general was saying that there is no contradiction between Trump’s campaign promises and his actions now. The Trump administration seeks to strengthen NATO, not undermine it.

Stoltenberg continued, “I have heard from President Trump in two phone calls, from the vice president today in Brussels, but also in Munich on Saturday and in meetings with Secretary Mattis, Secretary Kelly, and phone calls with Secretary Tillerson. And the message from all of them is that the United States is strongly committed to the trans-Atlantic alliance, to NATO, and will continue to support us not only in words but also in deeds. Because we see that the United States is now increasing their military presence in Europe in new forces and more equipment.”

Wedded to his media narrative, Blitzer then aired a segment featuring Trump saying, “The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense. And if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.”

“As a candidate for office, President Trump actually called attention repeatedly to the fact that for too long, many of our NATO allies have not been sharing the financial burden,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer at a February 21 press briefing. “The President looks forward to working closely with NATO to advance our shared objectives. A strong NATO means a safer world.”

In other words, the Trump administration understands the value of NATO, but wants the countries involved to pay their fair share.

But journalists like Blitzer prefer to fearmonger about this administration, and air segments that emphasize the risks of Trump’s actions, rather than the potential rewards of holding other countries accountable. In a related story, The New York Times wrote that “It is a time of great anxiety in Europe, in no small part because of the rise of Mr. Trump, who has brushed aside long-held tenets of American foreign policy.”

It is ironic that the media continually air Trump’s past statements in order to pressure him to either break those promises or recommit to them. Yet Obama was allowed to break his Obamacare promises, most notably his lie that Americans could keep their doctor if they wanted to, and that their costs would decrease for an average family by $2,500 per year.

“But what happens—what happens if they don’t [increase expenditures]?” Blitzer asked Stoltenberg. “You heard the vice president, Mike Pence, say the patience of the American people will not endure forever. What happens, for example, if rich countries, like France, Germany, Italy, Canada, if those countries don’t step up and meet that two percent threshold?”

Stoltenberg replied that his focus “is on ‘what can we do to make sure that we succeed,’” not prepare for the worst. “And we are—it is quite encouraging to see that defense spending has started to increase,” he said. “The picture is still mixed but it’s much better than it was just a year ago.”

After Stoltenberg’s strong performance, Blitzer admitted that NATO countries committing less than two percent of their gross domestic product is “a problem.”

Blitzer appeared stunned and forlorn at these answers. They were clearly not the answers he was expecting to hear. What Blitzer didn’t mention—but Stoltenberg did—is that the 28 member states of NATO committed to spend two percent of their GDP on this alliance back in 2014. So Trump’s policy is to merely hold these countries to the promises that they have already made.

Stoltenberg told CNBC that there had been a four percent increase in European and Canadian spending in 2016. “Meeting the target will take longer for some countries than others, he admitted,” reports CNBC, “and said he was confident all allies will meet the benchmark within a decade, as promised.”

The Cato Institute’s Christopher Preble argues that Trump’s campaign statements may have rattled the NATO members and caused them to “hedge their bets.” In other words, Trump’s tough stance may actually motivate allies to allocate more of their defense budgets to funding NATO—an improvement that would ultimately enhance world security.

Blitzer’s interview with Secretary General Stoltenberg was just another attempt to elicit a soundbite which could be used to embarrass the administration. Members of the media, as they attempt to tarnish Trump’s reputation, fail to consider the ramifications of their bias, and how it might—just as much as Trump’s own potential missteps—harm America’s standing in the world.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

02/23/17

Fact-Checking the Media’s New Passion for Fact Checking

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

While President Barack Obama was in office, the media’s official “fact-checkers” rarely checked Obama administration policies and narratives for truthfulness or accuracy. In fact, they often published stories based almost entirely on administration talking points or press releases, and disregarded obvious evidence that contradicted the administration’s narratives. But now that President Donald Trump has gained office, the media’s fact-checkers have whipped themselves into a frenzy, reporting on each and every minor misstep that our new President might make during his press conferences, rallies, or in his tweets.

For example, Trump recently tweeted that “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” The press was quick to point out that Trump had gone too far in his statement, even suggesting that he was inciting violence.

“And every time that Donald Trump uses this kind of language,” said Game Change co-author John Heilemann on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “I always worry that it’s an incitement to elements of our country that might go ahead and do something when the President of the United States calls the press the enemy of the people, that they might take that seriously.”

In response to Heilemann’s comments, Joe Scarborough said that “this is very, very dangerous” because there are unbalanced people on the left and the right. In other words, Trump could be blamed for future violence.

But, as Accuracy in Media’s (AIM) chairman Don Irvine notes, Trump is not the first to say that the media are the enemy of the American people. Democratic pollster Pat Caddell made similar comments during our ObamaNation—A Day of Truth conference in 2012: “When they [the media] desert those ramparts and they go to serve—to decide that they will now become active participants—when they decide that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people.”

The two weeks Caddell was referring to were those after the attacks in Benghazi, when it was already obvious that the Obama administration was lying about the cause of the attacks, and the media were rolling over so as not to damage Obama’s chances at re-election a few weeks later.

Trump was not referring to the institution of the free press as an enemy, but rather to how biased and one-sided our mainstream media are when it comes to politics and issues of national importance. AIM’s Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi confirmed that, and much more, regarding Benghazi.

The February 20 MSNBC segment also sought to fact check Trump’s quote of Thomas Jefferson about the press, pointing to Post reporting which argued that Trump took Jefferson out of context.

“Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln: many of our greatest Presidents fought with the media, and called them out, often-times, on their lies,” said Trump on February 18 at a rally in Melbourne, Florida. “In fact, Thomas Jefferson said: ‘Nothing can be believed which is seen in a newspaper.’”

The UK Daily Mail ran with the headline that “Trump takes Thomas Jefferson quote out of context to bash the media…” Similarly, the Post’s Fact-Checker, Glenn Kessler, wrote that “Trump selectively quotes from Jefferson here, who, for most of his life, was a fierce defender of the need for a free press.” Jefferson was, at the time he made those comments, Kessler writes, “embittered” about reports of him having relations with his slave. Politifact piled on with “That quote checks out. But it’s not the whole story on Jefferson.” By the way, AIM has fact-checked the stories of Jefferson’s supposed relations with Sally Hemings, and found them to be baseless.

That Trump had taken Jefferson out of context has become an article of faith for the media, as they dig for as many misstatements of Trump’s that they can find. But is Trump really taking Jefferson out of context if he cites a quote that Jefferson actually made? Trump is hardly going to explain the entire history of Jefferson’s thoughts on the media while making a stump speech. This appears to be the media playing little more than a “gotcha” game with the President.

“And, in any event, Jefferson’s saying something different on another occasion does not render Trump’s quotation ‘out of context,’ misleading, or in any way inappropriate,” writes John Hinderaker for Powerlineblog.

The media continue to fact check and mock many of President Trump’s statements. They should fact-check him, and he should make a greater effort to be more precise in his choice of words. If these media outlets had applied the same standard to President Obama, then there might have been some accountability for his administration. But it is clear that it is of no benefit for Trump to lie to the press or to his supporters, for that works against his ability to advance his agenda.

Whether the Trump presidency succeeds will depend on his ability to deliver on his campaign promises regarding border security, jobs, trade deals and Obamacare, to name a few. As long as he keeps those promises, many in the public will likely continue to support him.

By focusing on the trivial, the media undermine their own legitimacy. Take, for example, Politifact’s takedown of Trump’s statement that “Look at what’s happening to every poll when it comes to optimism in our country…It’s sweeping across the country.” Politifact counters with polls on America’s low favorability of our “standing in the world” and Trump’s low approval rating. Polls can be used to show many things. This week, Trump’s approval rating is up two points in the Gallup Poll, to 42 percent, and Rasmussen has Trump down two points to 51 percent approval.

Another example is fact checking Trump’s claim that Meryl Streep is overrated as an actress. That clearly falls into the category of opinion, and is one of four examples cited by Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist in an excellent analysis of the sorry state of media “fact checks.”

We have often pointed out that fact-checking shouldn’t be the domain of a particular columnist in a newspaper, but should be part of every article published. The subjective choices of which comments should or shouldn’t be fact-checked, and what criteria to use, usually end up demonstrating the political bias of the publication or the journalist doing the fact checking.

The media, and fact-checkers, are grasping at straws in their attempts to contradict President Trump and reduce his influence. They tried it all throughout the presidential campaign, and obviously did not succeed. But it may be that the support for Trump will continue to swell: he has momentum, and may just surprise the pollsters again in 2020.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

02/17/17

The Trump Presidency: Four Weeks Down, 412 to Go?

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

The media think they’ve found their Watergate, and it only took them three weeks to get there. The truth may be something altogether different. With retired General Mike Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama, and former National Security Advisor under President Donald Trump, now gone from the administration, many questions remain. The media have seized on, “What did Trump know and when did he know it?” It has a nice Watergate ring to it. Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal doesn’t think that we’re quite to that point.

But because the media have maxed out their outrage meter on everything from Dr. Ben Carson’s qualifications to be the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, to the size of the inauguration day crowd, to Kellyanne Conway’s careless but lighthearted remark about plugging Ivanka Trump’s line of merchandise, the questions on the Flynn matter could potentially disappear in the same blizzard of daily outrage. Or, these questions could grow like a cancer on the Trump presidency, in the midst of congressional hearings and a media obsessed with bringing Trump down.

After all, the media spent eight years pretending the Obama administration was scandal free, that Obama never lied to them, that he always acted in a Constitutional manner. We have documented many of his scandals, and the fact that the Supreme Court unanimously overruled his Justice Department a record 44 times. Overall, Obama had the worst record by far of any president of the last half century when it comes to the number of cases lost at the Supreme Court level. Yet when the Trump administration loses one appeal at the Circuit Court level, it is treated as proof that Trump is shredding the Constitution.

The media also acted as though Hillary Clinton’s actions did not rise to the level of scandal, including her use of an unsecured server to traffic in classified material for four years as secretary of state; her pay for play financial dealings benefiting her family fortune, often, ironically enough, benefiting Russia; and of course Benghazi.

The unproven offense by the Trump administration is that Flynn may have told the Russians to hold off on reacting to Obama’s new sanctions imposed on them in his final month in office, as well as the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats. This appears to have been a highly politicized move to bolster the case of his political appointees in the intelligence community (IC) that that Russians hacked the U.S. presidential election with the goal of tipping the scales for Trump, although their report proved nothing of the sort. Obama even claimed that he was aware of this Russian hacking at least a month before the election, but kept his mouth shut because he didn’t want to appear to be trying to overtly help Hillary get elected.

Writing for National Review, Andrew McCarthy has done an outstanding job examining the possible scenarios involving Flynn, and urging Trump to release the tape of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. It will eventually come out anyway. In a parting interview shortly before his resignation, Flynn insisted that he crossed no legal lines in his conversations, and urged an investigation into the leaks about him, which he called a “criminal act.”

As to the possible Logan Act violation, i.e., negotiating foreign policy with a foreign power by a private citizen not authorized by the current government, we frankly don’t know at this point. No one has ever been prosecuted under that 1798 law. But what about Obama’s overture to Iran in 2008, in which he sent Ambassador William Miller to tell the Ayatollahs not to make a deal with President George W. Bush, but to wait for his presidency, when Iran would be able to get a better deal? Where was the outrage—and the investigation—when that became known?

And what about the January 23 story in The Washington Post, pointing out that the FBI had picked up Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador? “The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn—national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump—but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.” Was the FBI lying back then, still investigating, or what?

And despite a provocative title of The New York Times’ much talked about article this week, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” the article states that the intelligence agencies “sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election,” but according to the officials they spoke with, “so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.”

Michelle Malkin reminds us of several Obama appointees who were forced to withdraw before moving into their appointed positions for a variety of improprieties.

I began writing about politics in 1968, covering the Democratic convention in Chicago and the demonstrations inside and outside the hall for a weekly Jewish newspaper in Texas. I spent the summer of 1972 in Miami Beach, covering both the Democrat and Republican conventions, as well as the demonstrations in the streets that extended throughout the summer. Is this déjà vu all over again?

Nixon, like Trump, was hated by the news media and the left in general. While the left had been actively protesting against Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey over Vietnam, it was nothing compared to how it was amped up after the ’68 election. In 1972, the Democrats nominated George McGovern, a liberal, anti-Vietnam War candidate, who nonetheless had been a distinguished World War II fighter pilot, and unlike Hillary Clinton, had been free of corruption and scandal. Nixon won 301 electoral votes in 1968 to defeat Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace, a Democrat turned independent who won five Southern states. Nixon, in 1972, won the Electoral College vote by a margin of 520 to 17, with McGovern winning only Massachusetts and Washington D.C.

This is Trump’s fourth week in office. If you look at the Tweets of Michael Moore, and comments from other members of the radical left, they smell blood and think this could already be the moment to try to impeach Trump. Dan Rather, the disgraced former CBS News anchor, is comparing this moment to Watergate. The New York Times’ Tom Friedman is comparing Trump’s election to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. The left may get one chance at impeaching Trump, but if they don’t succeed, he will be stronger, and most likely continue on for another 412 weeks. The Republicans have such a favorable lay of the land for 2018—there are 25 Democratic senators up for re-election and only eight Republicans—that if Trump gains his footing, and gets past all of these rookie mistakes, and isn’t dragged down by some genuine scandal, the GOP could end up with a filibuster-proof Senate, and head into 2020 with a great chance for a landslide re-election.

The left is once again overplaying their hand. They can’t help themselves. Michael Wolff seemed to agree in the pages of Newsweek: “The media believes that it speaks for Hillary Clinton’s national ballot box majority, for the millions who have now marched against Trump, for the demographically expanding left wing (although not in the right-wing states) and, as well, for obvious common sense. And the media believes that everybody believes what it believes. How could they not? It’s Donald Trump!

Obama and his operatives are reportedly pulling the strings, attempting to overwhelm the system and shut down the Trump presidency. This is unprecedented by a former president against a sitting president, and should be another area of investigation. The same political forces that swept Trump to victory in 2016 will likely come out again—perhaps in greater numbers—in spite of the riots and protests in the streets, the outrage from most of the news media, and from the likes of Madonna, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Bruce Springsteen, Chelsea Handler and the Obamas. Not only is Trump in good position to win re-election, but next time it could be a real electoral landslide.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

02/11/17

Trump’s Court Battle in Perspective

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

Now that a federal appeals court panel has upheld the freeze on President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration, he will likely have his first case before the U.S. Supreme Court in the not too distant future. This may have been an unforced error on the part of the President. While I believe it was wrong and counter-productive for President Trump to belittle the Washington state judge and suggest that even a “bad high school student” would understand the law, the media, in their hyper-hostility toward Trump, are demonstrating their complete double standard. Where was their criticism of Obama when he attacked and pressured the courts to rule in his favor, or condemned them after rulings went against him? The press was missing in action.

President Obama wasn’t shy about criticizing the courts. He did so during his 2010 State of the Union address where he criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United. “With all due deference to separation of powers,” said Obama, “last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.” Justice Samuel A. Alito made news by mouthing “Not true” in response to the president’s comments.

Just “two days before oral arguments” in the Obamacare case known as King v. Burwell, writes Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, Obama told Reuters, “In our view, [there was] not a plausible legal basis for striking [the IRS rule] down.”

As we reported at the time, a favorable outcome of King v. Burwell could have gutted Obamacare subsidies, but the media predictably “marshaled their forces in defense of Obama and his signature legislation.”

Why did the media, time and again, come to Obama’s aid? It was because the media were generally in support of Obama’s agenda, and more importantly, chose to cover for him and protect his legacy and political viability.

Yet, as Blackman writes, “It is wrong when Trump does it [criticize the courts]. It was wrong when Obama did it.”

Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute finds that the Supreme Court decided unanimously against the Obama administration 44 times, nearly 50 percent more than under Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

In other words, Obama’s attempts to expand the power of the executive branch was widespread and pervasive, and he often could not win favor for his agenda, even from the two Supreme Court justices that he had named to the court. “But the reason Obama was hit with so many more unanimous decisions was because he went rogue early on, asking his staff to look for novel theories that would allow him to move forward with implementing his agenda,” writes Merrill Matthews for Rare. “And if that meant twisting the Constitution—and basic logic—to get it, so what?”

“President Obama…stands alone in his pointed and directed arguments to the Supreme Court,” argues Blackman. “The forty-fourth president, himself a former constitutional law lecturer, has set a new precedent for ex parte arguments [by one side only] to the Supreme Court.”

The media have also continued a double standard in their coverage of presidential executive power. One example of Obama’s executive overreach, although not tied to executive orders, is when he exchanged five high-ranking members of the Taliban held at Guantanamo for deserter Bowe Bergdahl “without following a statutory notice requirement.” Another, the Post writes, is the “job-destroying environmental regulations” created by Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. And yet another was when Obama unilaterally changed an immigration law by ending the “wet foot dry foot” policy that had “allowed most Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil to stay and become legal permanent residents after one year.” That was a sop to the communist regime that has gripped Cuba for nearly six decades. Where were the protests then?

On a recent segment of MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams,” Ali Velshi, formerly of CNN and Al Jazeera, said that “We’re now into our third presidency where executive orders and White House action is deemed more important. George W. Bush, with the help of Dick Cheney, started this with a lot of executive orders. President Obama wasn’t shy about that. He approached it differently with a lot more legal backing to his executive orders. Donald Trump has taken this to a new level.”

Velshi’s statement is false in several ways. First, if Obama failed before the Supreme Court so many times, it is hard to argue that he had more legal backing for his actions.

Second, executive actions have been used more frequently by a number of presidents throughout history—far exceeding the usage by recent presidents. For example, The American Presidency Project at UC Santa Barbara finds that Franklin D. Roosevelt issued approximately 307 executive orders per year, dwarfing Obama’s 35 per year and George W. Bush’s 36 per year. In addition, Bill Clinton issued an average of 46 per year, Ronald Reagan 48 per year and Jimmy Carter 80 per year. President Trump hasn’t had enough time to demonstrate the number of executive orders that he will use over the next four or eight years.

It’s true that it’s not always about the quantity of executive orders, as much as it is about the substance of those orders, as Jonah Goldberg of National Review pointed out: “The entire issue of executive orders amounts to misdirection. The serious complaint is that Obama is abusing executive powers (which he is) not that he’s abusing executive orders (which he may or may not be).” Citing The Washington Post, Goldberg adds: “While Obama issued only 20 executive orders in 2013 (the lowest single-year total in more than a century), that same year he issued 41 presidential memoranda to the heads of departments and agencies, along with nine additional presidential ‘determinations’ designed to serve as the basis for bureaucratic behavior.”

While Trump’s rate of executive overreach is unknown, it is clear that he is not holding back in criticizing the courts. “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” tweeted Trump.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, told Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut (D) that he finds criticism in general of a judge’s integrity and independence to be “demoralizing and disheartening.”

This, of course, made major national news. But Obama himself criticized the courts and bullied them to rule in his favor.

This is the state of our news media, which goes to great lengths to protect Democrats and the progressive agenda, and goes on the attack against Obama’s successor. Predictably, the media are unwilling to acknowledge their blatant double standard on executive action and criticism of the courts.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

02/9/17

Trump’s Immigration Pause and the Media Backlash

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

The mainstream media continue their misleading reporting about President Donald Trump’s executive order, which calls for temporarily limiting immigration into the United States from seven countries, and a review of refugee policy. The media have blatantly sought to undermine Trump’s initiatives.

Judge James Robart, who serves on the District Court for the Western District of Washington State, asked the Department of Justice representative, “How many arrests have there been of foreign nationals for those seven countries since 9/11?” Robart then continued, saying, “The answer to that is none, as best I can tell.”

Well, Judge Robart is wrong. Data provided to Congress indicates that between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2014, “at least 60” persons from those seven countries were convicted “of terror-related offenses,” writes Byron York for The Washington Examiner. There may have been more, since an additional 129 persons convicted of these crimes were “of unknown origin,” York reports.

Yet ABC News sought to downplay the security risk individuals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen pose. Instead, it reports that “Only eight of the 78 attacks that appeared on a White House list of terrorist incidents over the past two years were committed by individuals from the seven countries affected by Donald Trump’s immigration order…”

In other words, ABC is arguing that the travel pause would have little national security benefit. “In fact, the list provided by the White House shows Americans were responsible for more attacks than those from the seven banned countries combined,” reports ABC News.

The media have clearly chosen a side in the debate about the travel pause, and are willing to deceive their audience. In a recent appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer got into a discussion with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) over Obama’s immigration record, and its similarity to Trump’s recent immigration executive order.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that this [Trump’s action] is unconstitutional or illegal,” said Labrador, a former immigration attorney, on CNN. “In fact, the President of the United States, our previous president, President Obama, did the same actions three times during his administration. There wasn’t a single protest.”

“There were some nuance—there were some differences. We don’t have to go through all of that,” replied Blitzer.

Why did Blitzer not want to get into specifics with Rep. Labrador? It might have informed his viewers. Instead, Blitzer aired a misleading clip featuring former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

According to the edited clip, Giuliani stated, “When he [Trump] first announced it, he said Muslim ban. He called me up, he said, put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.”

Blitzer doubled down after airing the misleading Giuliani clip, saying, “So, basically, what Rudy Giuliani helped him come up with was this formula for having a Muslim ban, but not calling it a Muslim ban.”

LABRADOR: You’re misleading a little bit, Wolf.
BLITZER: Tell me why.
LABRADOR: If you listen to the entire interview…Rudy Giuliani said…that a Muslim ban would be unconstitutional, illegal.
BLITZER: You believe that?

Blitzer, like so many in the media, is skeptical that Trump might have had other than bigoted motives. He is clearly taking a side in this argument, and abandoning journalistic impartiality.

NBC had been called out just the day before for showing this deceptively edited clip. In full context, Giuliani continued by saying, “And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on.”

Opponents of Trump’s travel pause claim that the President’s immigration executive order is religiously motivated and discriminatory. So, too, The Wall Street Journal reports that critics note that “all seven affected nations are majority Muslim…”

The media, and Democrats, are engaging in hysteria by labeling this a “Muslim ban.” This is worse than hyperbole—it is deception. After all, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, and other countries have significant Muslim populations and yet have not been blocked. An estimated 85 percent of all Muslims are not affected by Trump’s executive order.

We are right now contemplating no other countries,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress this week, admitting the executive order was rolled out too hastily, for which he himself took the blame.

“The bottom line is that Trump is improving security screening and intends to admit refugees at close to the average rate of the 15 years before Obama’s dramatic expansion in 2016,” wrote David French for National Review, in a sober analysis of what the executive order does and does not do. “Obama’s expansion was a departure from recent norms, not Trump’s contraction.”

To his detriment, President Trump appears to be getting in the way of his own potential success. He argued at a recent meeting of law enforcement officials in Washington that “A bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this.” In other words, he argued, a clear reading of the law should grant the government victory in this case.

This is a misstep by Trump. It is, as The Hill reports, “highly unusual for presidents to publicly comment on court cases dealing with their policy proposals,” especially when a case is open.

Trump is also putting the judiciary in a position to directly challenge him; he has made this into a high-profile showdown with his inept utterances.

Trump also asserted that the media have not sufficiently covered terrorist incidents. Trump told troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa this week that “It’s gotten to a point where it’s [terror] not even reported, and in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t even want to report it.” His administration then issued a list of 78 attacks that had taken place between September 2014 and December 2016. The liberal media had a field day with the list, citing misspellings and proclaiming that they had covered many of those events, often for days at a time. National Public Radio (NPR), for example, claims this was false, because most news organizations covered the attacks in Paris; San Bernardino, California; the Orlando night club; and others.

But, as Robert Spencer points out for Jihad Watch, it is not the act of covering the attacks for which the media have been derelict—it is how these events are covered. “But in virtually all cases, they did all they could to obscure the motivating ideology behind those attacks,” writes Spencer. “They deliberately conceal and/or misrepresent the aspects of them that make it clear that they’re Islamic jihad attacks. This is in accord with the guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists, which tells journalists not to connect Islam with terrorism, and to obscure that connection wherever possible.”

Once a terrorist has been confirmed to have Islamic jihadist ties, the media then question whether the attacker was a “self-radicalized lone wolf.” Whether these jihadi terrorists were inspired by the Islamic State or al Qaeda, or were directed members of these terrorist groups, makes little difference. Islamic jihadist terrorists drink from the same poisonous well.

Perhaps the starkest example of the treatment of such an act, by the Obama administration and the media, was the case of Major Nidal Hasan, who murdered 13 and injured 32 others at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas back in September of 2009. For approximately five years the case was treated as “workplace violence.” It wasn’t until 2015—nearly three years after 150 family members who struggled to pay their medical bills filed a lawsuit—that the government switched its position and gave the wounded victims Purple Hearts, which carried with them added medical benefits and the acknowledgement that they had been wounded in the line of duty.

As long as the public allows it, the media will continue to avoid honest discussions about the real terror threat that jihadists and potential terrorists from these seven countries—and others—pose to the health and welfare of American citizens.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

02/2/17

The Obama Legacy

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

While the media continue to champion the legacy of former President Barack Obama, some of his signature policies are rapidly being ended or overturned by his successor, President Donald J. Trump. However, this does not mean that Obama’s policies weren’t a disaster for America during his tenure. Obama’s enduring legacy, far from a collection of his signature achievements, will be the decline of his own party and a lackluster economy, as well as the appeasement of dictators, and a world in chaos and disarray.

While it is Trump who has been frequently ridiculed—and he certainly uses Twitter to hit back—Obama took to Twitter to defend his legacy. He championed his economic policies, with “the longest streak of job growth in our history,” and how “today nearly every American now has access to the financial security of affordable health care.” Obama also claimed to have reestablished “U.S. leadership—leading with diplomacy & partnering with nations to meet global problems.”

In other words, Obama continues to claim that his presidency was a resounding success. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Obama’s economy is leaving millions of Americans behind. The UK Guardian reported that growth under Obama was “anemic.” They also pointed to the low labor participation rate, writing, “why fewer people are looking for work is a subject of much debate.”

Surely Obama’s many regulations, including those of Obamacare, have had something to do with the poor economic recovery. Peter Roff wrote for US News & World Report that the American Action Forum estimates the “economic cost of all the new federal regulations finalized since [Obama] became president” at a stunning “$870.3 billion.”

Contrary to Obama’s assertions about crafting a strong recovery, a recent Gallup study found that there was no economic recovery under his leadership. Rather, senior economist Jonathan Rothwell writes that “on a per capita basis, median household income peaked in 1999; the subjective general health status of Americans has declined, even adjusting for the aging population; disability rates are higher; learning has stagnated; fewer new businesses are being launched; more workers are involuntarily stuck in part-time jobs or out of the labor force entirely; and the income ranks of grown children are no less tied to the income ranks of their parents.”

Rothwell also attributes an increase in part-time employment to the “rising burden of healthcare costs.” This claim was also made by Mortimer Zuckerman, who wrote for The Wall Street Journal that “slow growth” and the “perverse incentives of Obamacare” can be blamed for poor employment numbers.

In other words, Obama failed to turn the economy around after the Great Recession, which officially ended in June of 2009, and his policies directly contributed to anemic growth and a doubling of the national debt. Yet The New York Times reported in December that “President Obama Is Handing a Strong Economy to His Successor.”

The press failed to challenge Obama’s blatant lies because they support his liberal agenda, such as Obamacare. The Guardian reports that Obamacare was “the first social safety net created in more than 50 years. The law was a legacy-maker.”

Thus, as we have repeatedly argued, the media have tried to present Obama’s signature health care reform as successful in bringing health care access to average Americans. But having insurance with large deductibles and skyrocketing premiums has hardly equated to more Americans receiving care. In fact, The New York Times reported on how, under Obamacare, the deductibles are so steep that individuals were skipping vital medical procedures because they still could not afford them even though they had enrolled in the health care program.

Despite its considerable flaws, the press rallied around Obama’s signature legislation when it was before the Supreme Court, in an attempt to ensure that the court did not gut this legislation. The media’s reporting focused almost exclusively on the dangerous effects of eliminating subsidies, and how this would affect millions of Americans. But the press ignored the fact that Obamacare wasn’t supplying quality care to its enrollees.

While much of Obama’s legislation and many of his executive orders can be rolled back, it is impossible to undo the destruction in the Middle East that has occurred as a result of Obama’s policies. His legacy is one of having ignored the rise of the Islamic State, and by precipitously removing troops from Iraq, he helped create a vacuum that allowed ISIS to grow. Obama originally dismissed the Islamic State as a “JV” team. Now, this terror group threatens the stability of both Iraq and Syria, operates in 18 countries, and is responsible for the murder of thousands.

Much of the time, Obama’s aspirations to success rely on his claims that the world would be worse off were it not for his leadership. Saying that things could have been worse without Obama’s policy interventions is an argument based on counterfactual reasoning, as if the president could somehow know the future that he avoided. Yet President Obama often complained that his biggest problem as president was simply that he didn’t explain himself well enough.

No amount of explaining can undo the destruction that Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s leadership brought to Libya, which is currently a haven for the Islamic State and gripped by chaos.

As the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi pointed out in its 2014 and 2016 reports, the ultimate goal of the Obama administration was regime change in Libya. In fact, the administration switched sides in the War on Terror by facilitating the removal of Muammar Qaddafi, who had become one of America’s counterterrorism partners.

Instead of combatting terror, the CCB wrote, Obama and Secretary Clinton “worked with the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood and materially aided known al-Qa’eda-linked militias to topple [Muammar Qaddafi’s] regime.” The CCB also found that the Obama administration repeatedly ignored “multiple advance warnings about an impending attack against the U.S. mission in Benghazi.”

In addition, the report stated, “The President, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of Defense Panetta, and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey…must be required to answer for their dereliction of duty…in failing to provide appropriate protection in advance and to commit forces immediately to a rescue attempt the night of 11-12 September 2012.”

The Obama administration failed to anticipate the attack on the Benghazi Mission, despite the fact that it knew that there were 10 al-Qaeda and Islamist training camps nearby. It also failed to secure the ambassador and other State Department personnel despite a number of urgent security requests, and then blamed the attack on a protest inspired by a YouTube video while knowing that the attacks were the result of terrorism.

While much of the Benghazi scandal was blamed on Hillary Clinton because she was secretary of state when Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans died, it is in fact Obama who is ultimately responsibility for this failure. Policies flow downward from the president to his subordinates.

The press has gone to great lengths to mislead about the administration’s Benghazi cover-up. It repeatedly criticized the House Select Committee on Benghazi as a waste of money, and concluded with each new factoid or document release that no smoking guns were uncovered. But, as we have written, no new revelations were necessary to demonstrate that Benghazi is an enduring scandal.

Obama, however, claimed that “I am very proud of the fact that we will, knock on wood, leave this administration without significant scandal.…I will put this administration against any administration in history.”

This is part of the legacy of the Obama administration: incompetence by the president, at best, and malfeasance more likely. The press remains blinded to this fact. From Fast & Furious to Benghazi to the IRS targeting scandal, the Obama administration has left behind a trail of corruption and cover-ups. A number of individuals—The New York Times’ David Brooks, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod, and, most recently, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett—have claimed that President Obama served two terms without any scandals. This is a convenient narrative for the press because it ignores the many lies told by this administration.

One of President Obama’s biggest lies is that the Iran deal will somehow prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. Far from hindering the mullahs, the Iran deal legitimizes Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology and virtually ensures that it will eventually develop the bomb. Yet, as we reported, the Iran deal isn’t even signed—it is, instead, a set of political commitments.

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” the State Department’s Julia Frifield told Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) in a letter.

The Iran deal commitments differ between Iran and the United States. The Iranian parliament, the Majlis, signed an agreement notably different than the one the P5+1 countries supported.

The media are obviously aware that this is not a signed deal, so why do they keep calling it one as if that is an insignificant detail? I believe it’s because they see their role as trying to help President Obama secure his legacy as the Nobel Peace Prize winner who was able to finally tame the Iranian theocracy, and save the world from nuclear destruction.

If the press were to be believed, the unsigned Iranian deal was to usher in a new rapprochement with Iranian leaders such as President Hassan Rohani. But Rohani’s decisions are subject to the will and desires of the hardline dictator and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Obama also sent the Iranians $1.7 billion in cash to obtain the release of four American hostages—all the while denying that this was a ransom payment. But the $100 billion and sanctions relief that Iran received as part of the unsigned nuclear deal was itself a ransom payment; it was designed, if not successfully, to dissuade the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons.

The result of Obama’s deal with the Iranians and the abstention on a key United Nations resolution to condemn Israeli settlements, was a worsening relationship with key ally Israel. The United Nations then appropriated funds to put together a blacklist of Israeli companies which could be targeted for sanctions. Since the changeover of administrations, the relationship between the U.S. and Israeli governments has dramatically changed for the better.

Obama’s foreign and domestic policies have reflected badly not only on his own legacy, but also have bled into the approval ratings for the Democratic Party, which supported Obama’s many endeavors. Trump’s victory leading to majorities in both houses of Congress has served as a referendum on Obama’s failures. We called this “Trump’s Amazing Victory Against a Stacked Deck.” The deck was stacked because of a complicit, incestuous media that worked hand-in-glove with Democrats to try to defeat Trump.

Hillary Clinton, far from running from Obama’s legacy, could not separate herself from appearing to represent a third term of the same. “Politically Obama has been the worst thing to happen to his party since Bill Clinton,” wrote Roff. “During the eight years he was president, the Democratic Party has lost 717 seats in state houses across the country, 231 seats in state senates, 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 12 governorships and 12 seats in the United States Senate.”

These losses will likely continue. “But in 2018, Democrats must defend 25 seats (including the two Independent senators who caucus with the Democrats), while the GOP must defend only eight seats,” we noted.

In addition to Democrats losing political ground, the media have not escaped censure for supporting Obama and refusing to report on his many failures. Trump has repeatedly called out the mainstream media for their unfair coverage of him and ongoing double standard. Trust in the media has plummeted by eight percentage points since 2015, and only 32 percent of Gallup’s respondents said they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the media. Only 14 percent of Republicans trust the mainstream media.

Speaking of Gallup and approval ratings, the media gushed about how high Obama’s were as he left office. But what they failed to point out was that his average approval rating over his eight years was lower than that of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. A lot of the reason for the high ratings at the end were presumably that Obama began to look good to a lot of people compared to Hillary and Trump, who were engaged in a brutal knife-fight of a campaign that dragged them both down.

The media, in an effort to create an enduring, historic Obama legacy, has perpetuated a con game against the public for the past eight years, as well as during the 2008 campaign. It refused to report fairly on Obama’s communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis, and connections to radical, left-wing terrorists such as Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

It is little surprise, then, that a media so complicit and intent on elevating candidate Obama to the presidency would continue their misreporting and underreporting while he was president. The media continued to ignore and failed to report on stories that could damage the progressive agenda of “hope and change.” They largely repeated the administration narrative and failed to report evidence contradicting that narrative.

No figure represents as great an attack on Obama’s legacy as Donald Trump does. The new President has already begun steps to roll back Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, improve ties with Israel, get the economy moving again, revisit the unsigned Iran deal, and stop illegal immigration. In doing so Trump has set himself up as the anti-Obama, the President who will undo the “progressive” accomplishments of his predecessor.

Trump faced an acknowledged media double standard in his campaign against Hillary Clinton. Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times suggested that the media abandon impartial reporting and engage in oppositional journalism against this candidate. While the mainstream media clearly favored Mrs. Clinton for president, the vitriol and venom against Trump originated, at least in part, with the fact that he ran against Obama as much as he was a counter to Hillary. The double standard against Trump wielded by the media shows no sign of abating, as Trump undoes the disastrous Obama legacy.

One legacy item that may surprise people is the number of bombs dropped by the U.S. during the Obama years. Despite Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of his presidency, in his final year alone, the U.S. dropped an average of approximately 500 bombs per week, on a total of seven different countries, mostly Syria and Iraq. But how often did we read about this, see the results, or hear about collateral damage or civilian casualties? Again, our media had no interest in reporting on that.

Among the other lasting legacy items, President Obama suffered 20 unanimous defeats before the Supreme Court in just his first five years in office. We called Obama “the least transparent” President in history, with good reason. And it wasn’t just us. “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered,” said David Sanger of The New York Times. And his Times colleague James Risen called the administration “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”

This was a result of the administration’s war on journalists, during which they prosecuted more leakers than all previous administrations combined. And while I could go on, the neutering of the news media has to rank as one of President Obama’s most enduring legacy items. Regardless of all we’ve pointed to in this report, the degree to which the media closed their eyes to the scandals and failures of the Obama administration represents a permanent stain on the institution of the free press in this country. The media’s pent up energy and desire to be thought of as speaking truth to power, and holding the powerful accountable, is all coming out now in their rage and transparent hatred of the Trump administration.

But the Obama legacy will live on.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

01/28/17

Obama’s Disgraceful Departure

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

Although President Barack Obama acted friendly toward Donald Trump, aiding him in the transition and meeting with him, behind the scenes he left Trump with a number of policy landmines that our new President must confront as he pursues his agenda.

“We didn’t discuss the negative, we only discussed the future and the positive. And we really get along well. Now again, he may say differently, but I don’t think he would,” said Trump, according to The Hill. He told the press that he received a “beautiful letter” from Obama upon taking office.

No matter how friendly he may have appeared in person, President Obama signaled that he would stand up to Trump if the latter engaged in certain policies. “There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” said Obama. Those core values included “systematic discrimination,” rounding up DREAMers, and silencing “dissent or the press.” All of that sounds quite reasonable.

Yet Obama had already done much behind the scenes to embarrass Trump and put up obstacles in his way. In a last-ditch effort to derail the agenda of incoming President-elect Trump, President Obama issued an edict preventing future gas drilling in our oceans and dismantled a registry designed to stop potential terrorists from entering the United States. His actions were calculated to raise the potential for future protest against Trump’s policies. Otherwise, why didn’t President Obama act on these policies sooner?

These policies were deliberately designed to cause trouble for the incoming president.

“In his enviro-extremism, President Obama is attempting to tie President-elect Trump’s hands by blocking vast swaths of the Arctic Ocean and stretches of the Atlantic from oil and natural-gas drilling,” noted Andy McCarthy for PJ Media in December. “The gambit…is part of an eleventh-hour wave by which Obama is flooding the regulatory zone: Promulgating so many rules—of the unpopular, hard-left variety that Democrats dare not unveil before Election Days—that he hopes the Trump administration will find it too cumbersome to undo all of them.”

Obama likely didn’t try to prevent this type of drilling earlier because he knew that Democrats would have faced a referendum on his controversial policies when they ran for re-election. But when Obama became a lame duck, and the Democrats had already lost the House and Senate, there was little left to prevent him from taking extreme action.

“See, the anti-drilling edict was not issued as a rule,” wrote McCarthy. “Obama’s lawyers combed the statute books and found a stray sentence in the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act…” By basing this new policy on a statute, Obama hoped that it will be more difficult for Trump to overturn.

After all, it could also become a public relations nightmare for Trump to be cast early in his first term as anti-wilderness and anti-environmentalist, promoting drilling in the pristine Arctic and Atlantic.

One of Trump’s campaign promises was to stop immigration from dangerous parts of the world. In advance of Trump’s reexamination of our immigration system, The New York Times reported that President Obama was “dismantling” a “dormant national registry program” which gave additional scrutiny to persons from countries with high levels of terror.

The Times admitted in December that this was an attempt by Obama and his cohorts to “prevent, or at least slow, what Democrats fear may be a swift rollback of President Obama’s efforts on immigration and climate change.”

A draft of an executive order by Trump indicates that he will temporarily stop immigration from “seven Muslim majority countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran,” reported Politico on January 25.

“Some people could get in, Trump suggested, but only after what he called ‘extreme vetting,’” reports USA Today.

Does this count as the “systematic discrimination” that Obama warned would prompt him to action? To many people this is basic, common sense.

The dismantling of this registry system was another blatant effort to stop Trump even before he took office. “Since the most controversial part of the Bush administration’s registration effort was abandoned in December 2003, the Obama team’s move to dismantle the regulations [of the Nseers program] is largely symbolic,” reported Politico.

But what these news outlets failed to mention is that the so-called Nseers program was very successful. The program “stopped at least 330 known foreign criminals and three known terrorists who had attempted to come into the country at certain official ports of entry,” wrote Michelle Malkin in 2013. “But grievance-mongering identity groups and the American Civil Liberties Union could not stand the idea of an effective national security profiling database.”

Also, just “hours” before he left office, President Obama “released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority,” reported the Associated Press. As of January 25, this action was frozen and under review by the Trump administration.

Obama had released the money over the objections, and Congressional hold, of Republicans. “Republicans have increasingly called for blocking or canceling funding to the Palestinian Authority, not only because of unilateral diplomatic moves toward statehood, but also because of increasing evidence that funds are used to incite violence and provide financial rewards to terrorists,” reported Breitbart.

In December, the Obama administration chose to abstain from a UN Resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, allowing it to pass. Alan Dershowitz, who had voted for and supported Obama throughout his presidency, said that Obama was “stabbing Israel in the back,” and would go down in history “as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever.”

Obama’s ongoing antipathy toward Israel, and his attempts to bind the hands of Trump, create a stark contrast between the current and former presidents. In essence, Obama is forcing Trump to break continuity with the former administration in order to fulfill his campaign promises. Only time will tell whether Trump will look better or worse because of Obama’s many landmines.

Little could accentuate the difference between Obama and Trump than one of the former’s commutations. Trump has signaled his desire to build a border wall and decrease crime from illegal immigrants. Obama, instead, commuted the life sentences of four Mexican cartel leaders. “Four family members who ran one of the largest cartel smuggling operations in south Texas had their life in prison sentences commuted and will likely be returning to this border city from where they ran their criminal empire,” writes Breitbart. “They ran a criminal organization made up of close to 80 men and women who worked with Mexico’s Gulf Cartel to move between 100,000 to almost 750,000 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. during a 10-year period.”

One more thing: Does anyone believe that if Hillary Clinton had won the election in November, Obama would have expelled 35 Russian diplomats, opened an investigation into FBI Director James Comey, and opened another investigation into Russia’s hacking?

All of these actions have one thing in common. President Obama waited until the elections were over and he was walking out the door. No profile in courage here.

The media continue to give Obama a pass, highlighting and even manufacturing his policy successes while ignoring his many scandals. While the outgoing president encouraged the press to hold Trump “accountable,” they failed, utterly, to hold Obama accountable. They were much more concerned with protecting his legacy. In contrast, the media’s long knives are out for Trump, and they have been since Election Day.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

01/26/17

Who Decides Which Facts are “Alternative” and Which are Real?

By: Roger Aronoff – Accuracy in Media

When White House counsel Kellyanne Conway said on NBC News that the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, had presented the press with “alternative facts” about the size of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd, the press immediately concluded that alternative facts were, in fact, lies. They’ve had a field day with it ever since.

Yet Spicer argued at a January 23 press conference that if the press publishes a correction, it is not necessarily seen as lying. So, too, the press shouldn’t assume the White House is lying if they are proven wrong. However, Spicer maintained that the inauguration viewership—including online viewers and television viewers—was the largest ever.

“Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods,” said NBC’s Chuck Todd during the January 22 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press in which he relentlessly hounded Conway about Spicer’s conduct:

CHUCK TODD: What was the motive?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: —and your job is not to give your—

TODD: What was the motive?

CONWAY: —opinion, Chuck. Respectfully, your job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by our press secretary and our President. That’s not your job. You’re supposed to be a news person. You’re not an opinion columnist.

TODD: Can you please answer the question? Why did he do this? You have not answered it.

Todd continued to badger Conway, asking the same question at least a half dozen times. It is highly unlikely that Todd would have relentlessly badgered a Democratic guest the same way. After all, Todd is a former Democratic staffer, and his wife is an activist for liberal Democrat politicians and causes. We always know where his sympathies lie.

The press and social media have relentlessly mocked and criticized Conway for the idea that there might be alternative facts that support differing interpretations. “Most people believe there is truth and there are lies,” writes Jill Abramson, former executive editor at The New York Times, for the UK Guardian. “‘Alternative facts’ are lies.”

Karen Tumulty, writing for The Washington Post said, “Donald Trump, having propelled his presidential campaign to victory while often disregarding the truth, now is testing the proposition that he can govern the country that way.”

But alternative facts aren’t necessarily lies, or even false. Sometimes they are misleading, but other times they provide context which illuminates the original lie—often the ones perpetuated by the mainstream media.

“We believe there is an objective truth, and we will hold you to that,” states a letter to President Trump from the press corps authored by Kyle Pope of the Columbia Journalism Review. “When you or your surrogates say or tweet something that is demonstrably wrong, we will say so, repeatedly,” states the letter. “Facts are what we do, and we have no obligation to repeat false assertions…”

We have repeatedly reported about how the media have continued to distribute fake and false news in the service of President Obama, most notably the continued claim that the Iran deal is signed. It is not, and the lack of anything that would make this agreement enforceable explains continued Iranian aggression. Here the Obama administration narrative is fed by false reporting.

Another pervasive lie by both the media and Obama administration officials is that former President Obama had a scandal-free administration. What, exactly, does it take to make something officially a scandal? Is it only a scandal if the liberal media label it one? Instead, reporters ignored or downplayed the IRS scandal; the death of four heroes in Benghazi; the hundreds of thousands who died while waiting for care from the Veterans Administration; and gun-running under Fast & Furious. What about Hillary Clinton’s lies about Benghazi, about her years as secretary of state, regularly sending and receiving classified material on an unsecured server, and her outrageous pay-for-play schemes that she ran out of the State Department? How do those compare to lies, if that’s what they are, about the size of the crowd at the inauguration, or the number of fraudulent votes cast in the presidential election? Why weren’t the media more vigorous in an effort to hold Obama and Hillary accountable? It’s because they’re on the same ideological team.

When the IRS scandal broke, Obama claimed that he found out about it from national news at the same time that the public became aware. We found that, in fact, the White House Chief Counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, knew about the brewing scandal weeks earlier, as did White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. Are we supposed to credibly believe that President Obama wasn’t told by his staff?

Former President Obama must have operated in a bubble. Otherwise, how could he also claim that he learned about Hillary’s private email at the same time that the news broke? Press Secretary Josh Earnest massaged Obama’s claims back in 2015: “The point that the President was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s e-mail address…But he was not aware of the details of how that e-mail address and that server had been set up…”

By making the scandals about other entities—whether it is a regional Cincinnati IRS office, or Mrs. Clinton herself—Obama sought to save himself from the mark of scandal. However, claims about a scandal-free Obama administration are not alternative facts—they come from an alternative reality altogether.

Accuracy in Media has reported how the media have used unemployment statistics to support the contention that Obama handed off a growing, thriving economy to Trump. The alternative fact here, however, is that millions of Americans are being left behind in our economy. The relevant data is not the rosy unemployment rate so much as our ailing labor participation rate. The only reason the unemployment rate is so low is that millions of people have quit looking for work because so few good jobs were available, and Obamacare’s mandates forced millions of people into part-time jobs. The unemployment number by itself doesn’t mean much, without additional, or alternative, facts that give it context.

Alternative facts can shine a light on the times that the left sell their own lies.

As for the inauguration turnout, it is clear that the press is playing a duplicitous game. This New York Times article contains a video that shows vast open white spaces at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. However, our screen captures of CNN’s gigapixel panorama of the event shows those areas filled. I am no expert in this area, but it appears that there were a lot more people at Trump’s inauguration who weren’t in the Times’ photo, so this is guesswork. Brit Hume of Fox News tweeted that the Times’ photo with all of the empty space was “taken early,” and that the “area was considerably fuller by time of speech.”

It matters little, in the end, whether Trump had a momentous inauguration turnout or not. But the mainstream media should think before claiming a whole set of facts are false; they have been guilty of purposeful twisting of the truth too many times themselves.

None of this is meant to justify Trump or his appointees saying things that they can’t back up with some credible evidence or sources. Being the president is different than being a candidate or even President-elect. They have to be more careful. But the media’s disposition towards Trump is proving far more adversarial than towards previous administrations. All of a sudden they are eager to show how principled and high minded they are when it comes to their sacred profession. The sad truth is that what we are witnessing by the media is largely partisan politics and a double standard, not a passion for speaking truth to power, or holding the powerful to account.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

01/19/17

Obama’s Iranian Nuke Deal is a Major Challenge for Trump

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

No matter how false and misleading it is to cite the Iran deal as “signed,” when it is little more than a set of unenforceable political commitments, the news media continue to publish fake news arguing that somehow Iran and the P5+1 have agreed on a single text of the deal. In reality, the Iranian parliament endorsed a different version of the deal than was supposedly accepted by the P5+1, and the JCPOA was agreed upon without signatures or signatories.

Now President Obama is using a news organ of the U.S. government, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, to sell the narrative that this is a signed deal. “Rohani has been accused of overhyping the agreement and being duped by Washington and five other world powers at the negotiating table,” reports Frud Bezhan for RadioLiberty. “In many ways, it mirrors the situation in the United States, where supporters have fended off consistent opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), in which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, since it was signed in July 2015” (emphasis added). In other words, American critics should stop complaining because the Iranians don’t believe the deal benefited them either.

How can the author of that article not know that the Iran deal was not actually signed? It was the State Department’s Julia Frifield who sent a letter to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) saying that the Iran deal is “not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document.” Rather, she wrote, this deal represents “political commitments” between Iran and other nations. How, exactly, can policymakers politically commit to something that the parties have not agreed on in writing, validated by signatures? There is no such document, and this news article is little more than government-funded propaganda.

Even The New York Times admits that the parties had to parse out different interpretations when it reported in January of last year that Iran and the United States had not yet agreed on “details of what kind of ‘advanced centrifuges’ Iran will be able to develop nearly a decade from now.” This, the Times stated, was “the kind of definitional difference that can undermine an accord”—yet these details were being worked out months later than when the agreement was supposedly signed.

“But as the first anniversary of implementation day approaches on January 16, Rohani has been saddled by the high expectations he set, as Iran’s economy continues to struggle and the great boost in foreign investment and other benefits he envisioned has so far failed to materialize,” reports RadioLiberty. There are a number of different landmarks in how the Iran Deal is supposed to be implemented, which allows the Obama administration to acknowledge multiple anniversaries of the deal.

For example, the White House celebrated July 14, 2016 as the first year anniversary of this unsigned deal. “Today marks one year since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal…by representatives of the United States, Iran, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, and the European Union,” read President Obama’s statement. “Over the last year, the Iran Deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”

But there are multiple anniversaries that the administration, as well as the compliant press, can use to their political advantage, highlighting Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. After all, there is the day of the agreement (July 14, 2015), Adoption Day (October 18, 2015), and Implementation Day (January 16, 2016). The Hill, in particular, published a news story on the anniversary this week which exclusively cites President Obama, and no other sources. In other words, this January anniversary is yet another chance for the mainstream media to produce more propaganda in favor of the unsigned and unenforceable deal.

“Today marks the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—a deal that has achieved significant, concrete results in making the United States and the world a safer place,” reads President Obama’s statement this week. The Washington Times reports that Obama used the one-year anniversary to warn “Americans—chief among them President-elect Donald Trump—that unraveling the agreement would bring ‘much worse’ consequences.” In other words, Obama is willing to lie to the public about the contents of the deal in order to salvage his foreign policy legacy from Trump’s future actions.

Obama is on the same page with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who had harsh words for President-elect Trump. On Tuesday, Rohani said that talk of renegotiating the deal was “meaningless,” and that he “doesn’t think [Trump] can do much when he gets to the White House.”

Trump has nominated Rep. Pompeo to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo, in response to the letter he received from the State Department, said that the deal was “nothing more than a press release and just about as enforceable.” Yet Obama continues to claim, again and again, that the Iran Deal will make the world safer. The opposite is true: Iran, under this deal, has been given a pathway to develop nuclear weapons.

I recently asked Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a great friend of Israel, how this is a deal if it’s not signed. He said that “theoretically it wasn’t signed, but it was agreed to.” Theoretically? He said that it was a matter of semantics. “It was a bad deal,” he told me. “It doesn’t matter whether it was signed or not, it was a bad deal.”

Perhaps there is another anniversary that Obama should be celebrating—coordinating ransom money to the Iranians. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. Treasury Department wired the money [$1.7 billion] to Iran around the same time its theocratic government allowed three American prisoners to fly out of Tehran….The announcements coincided with the implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran, lifting international economic sanctions in exchange for Iran curtailing its nuclear program.” President Obama claimed that this wasn’t a ransom payment—but the proximity to the release of U.S. prisoners demonstrates that this was, in fact, nothing short of buying off the Iranians.

If Obama wishes to celebrate, and the media continue to applaud, the anniversary of this terrible, unsigned agreement, then both parties must take ownership of how the ransom money sent to Iran—and sanctions relief—emboldens this totalitarian, theocratic regime.

Obama continues to appease the Iranians, opposing Congress’ recently renewed Iran Sanctions Act. The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama “decided to let the legislation imposing U.S. restrictions on Iran’s missile program become law without his signature” and that the law had overwhelming bipartisan support from Congress. In fact, the vote in the Senate was 99-0. In response, Rohani “ordered the development of a nuclear-powered system for ships, a move described as retaliation for the sanctions extension,” yet Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, claimed that “Iran’s decision does not violate the nuclear deal.”

What, exactly, would violate this unsigned, unenforceable agreement? The fact that the parties have not signed this agreement, and that Iran has a different conception of the deal, means that Iran’s belligerence, and the deceit from both Iran and the Obama administration, amounts to a very challenging mess for the incoming Trump administration. Will the “art of the deal” prevail, or is a military confrontation inevitable?


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

01/18/17

AIM Editor on Cavuto about Trump and the Media

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media Editor Roger Aronoff was a guest on “Cavuto Coast to Coast” on January 13 on the Fox Business Network. The topic was how the mainstream media came to the defense of CNN after their confrontation with President-elect Donald Trump during his press conference last week, yet said little when President Barack Obama repeatedly attacked Fox News.

“When you saw the situation with [CNN’s] Jim Acosta the other day, it reminded me of when George Bush had a shoe thrown at him,” said Aronoff. “We haven’t seen it in these last eight years. And generally, there’s been very little support for Fox as this administration has attacked Fox. But there was immediately support for CNN.”

President Obama has blamed Fox News for poor polling numbers and Democrat losses during the election. “…[A]fter the election he referred to Fox in ‘every restaurant and bar and big chunks of the country,’” said Aronoff. “That’s why the Democrats lost, he thinks.”

Reporters are using unverified claims to tar Trump’s presidency before it begins, even if the charges may be baseless. “They’re throwing out through innuendo this scurrilous report which was nothing but opposition research,” said Aronoff. “A number of facts that we know to be wrong. And then this got leaked by the intelligence community.”

“I was struck by something Carl Bernstein said on the panel that night,” said Aronoff. “He said, ‘Look, do we know if this is true, do we know if any of it’s true? No we don’t. But here we are talking about it anyway.’”

Aronoff argued that Trump wasn’t in conflict with the intelligence community as a whole, just with the political appointees. “This is so political, coming from the top,” he said. “And I think we have to realize that, if Hillary [Clinton] had won this election, there would be no 35 Russians expelled, there would be no investigation into the FBI and [Director James] Comey, there would be no investigation into the Russian hacking.”

It is also suspicious that Obama has done little about this recent leak. “Why isn’t Obama saying we’re going to investigate who’s leaking this information?” asked Aronoff. As AIM has pointed out, Obama has a track record of going after journalists who print leaked information, as well as their sources. But this time the President has not signaled that he will go after the culprits.

You can watch the segment here: