The Media’s Fake News About the Manhattan Terrorist Attack

Yesterday, a 29-man named Sayfullo Saipov plowed through a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan with a white truck, resulting in the death of 8 and the injuring of 11 more.

Along with the lives lost, an additional casualty of the attack is liberals’ ability to recognize reality: among them, that the culprit of this act of terrorism adhered to what he at least understood to be Islam and carried out the attack for the advancement of the self-described “Islamic State.”

As reported by the Daily Wire, a CNN host began by choosing to withhold from his report the description of the attacker the network had obtained by the police. Then, as Newsbusters reported, an MSNBC terror analyst denied any role Islam might have played in the attack, because — and get this — “we have seen Catholics in Canada who converted to, quote unquote, Islam.” He went on to suggest that the attacker may have been Catholic two weeks before. Of course, he did not even consider the implications of a correlation between religious conversion and radicalized actions. Certainly a nascent convert is in a poor position to understand the true embodiment of his new faith, but whether the conversion is a justification for an act he wished to undertake or the misappropriated object of the act itself, it is an indispensable psychological component to his actions.

It is routine in the wake of ISIS-related attacks to discount the importance of the role played by Islam, just as it is routine in the wake of attacks by white males to point out the number of terrorists who have been white or Christian, or even to question why some attacks carried out by white males are not labeled terrorism. The Las Vegas shooting is only the most recent example of this. A Newsweek article on the subject is typical, and only one of many. It points out the differences between Nevada law and federal law on the subject, as well as what President Obama defined as terrorism in addressing the Boston Marathon bombing.

But presidential remarks do not such a vital definition make, and a law contains merely a legal definition of what can be designated terrorism for the purpose of charging a perpetrator with that specific crime. What we are concerned with here is not terrorism as a crime, but terrorism as a tactic. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what Obama said or even what Nevada law says; for observers nationwide, terrorism is not understood to be something so broad as an act intended to harm innocent civilians or “intended to cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.” Federal law comes closest to the standard academic definition: “unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Motiveless attacks are, by any meaningful definition, not terror.

Despite the obviousness of this distinction, the media seem intent of muddying the waters when the facts regarding the motives themselves are not in dispute. The first fact — that the attack was carried out by vehicle, like an increasing number of ISIS-related terrorist attacks in Europe have been — should at least have tipped everyone off to the possibility. But again, terrorism is a tactic, and a vehicular attack could be employed in service of any cause. The second fact, which CNN ultimately reported — that the attacker yelled “allahu akbar” — should have sealed the deal.

Additional facts, such as the description of Saipov the CNN host initially withheld — which would have included a photo and the fact that he was from Uzbekistan, a country which is over 96 percent Muslim — would merely strengthen the already obvious conclusion about his motive. Ultimately, a note was found inside the attacker’s vehicle “claiming the attack was made in the name of ISIS.” Case closed.

But the first aim of the liberals in the mainstream media is not to report facts, but to advance (or undermine) certain narratives. No wonder we’re so suspicious of fake news these days.

Of course the vast majority of Muslims are neither terrorists nor approve of terror. Of course the bulk of terrorist attacks are wholly unrelated to Islam. Of course President Bush was right when he said we are not at war with Islam. The left appears not to trust those facts when it withholds the facts about specific attacks. In order to combat what it considers to be fake news about Islam and terrorism, it creates fake news about specific terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims. Ostensibly, the media don’t trust ignorant Americans to come to the right conclusions, but they undermine their own authority to place terrorists in their proper context whenever they lie by omission.

Even if we decide that true Islam has absolutely nothing to do with creating terrorists such as Saipov, it is imperative to understand what terrorists believe that drives them to use such tactics. It is vital to get inside their heads, in order to understand how to prevent such attacks in the future. We cannot combat what we willingly choose not to see.

The “Fake News” Narrative Is An Old Story

This #FakeNews madness is a headache. The term, coined to describe actual fake news sites that publish not-obvious parody has been co-opted by my fellow conservatives to describe anything perceived to be not conservative. It’s most popular among those for whose deceiving it actually described.

In fact, the last two years social media proliferated with fabricated or purposely exaggerated stories, ironically claiming actual news orgs were fake.  We also now know that the majority of these websites were fabricated, and even promoted at cost by Russian interests. But we ate them up, cuz… “HILLARY!”

It led an entire section of the voting public to believe only subjective truth. It could be said that many of us in the conservative media world became that which we fought: a self-confirming bias that focused on traffic and influence, rather than the truth.

Journalism is a craft. It’s authority is often driven by those most passionate about it. Nearly every journalist you’ll find wants the truth, not their vision of it. Not to say some won’t stray. Some will, and always have. But it’s rare. Real journalists can’t sleep. They ache during the day when they can’t write a story. They hate not having that last piece of information they need to confirm something. They hate being lied to. They’re VERY good BS detectors. Some veterans call it a “disease” you can’t escape.

KNOWING THE HISTORY

First of all, to me there’s a difference between the “press,” and “media.” The “press” means delivering substance, from digging in public information files and conducting boring interviews to sitting in mundane public meetings. The “media” to me has always symbolized the latest foray into sensationalism, and focuses on audience over substance.

The latter pays the bills, so outlets have almost always been some combination of the two. Some focus on one over the other.

In the late 18th and early 19th century, most of the press was consolidated in a few major publications, usually sponsored by political parties. Particularly during campaigns, papers got vicious. Occasionally, they’d flat out lie without much recourse. But even then, the founders insisted first on freedom of the press in the constitution. Since they were mostly political, this clearly involved campaign behavior.

Things changed during the early to mid-1800’s, with the advent of the “penny press,” brought by increases in technology and communication. During this time, democratization of the press resulted in hundreds of publications and various perspectives, along with misinformation. But, still a valuable tool of accountability, and check on power.

Late in the 19th century, and into the middle of the 20th, “yellow journalism” was born, as publishers such as Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst consolidated these papers again, under their respective umbrellas, for the purpose of harnessing political and economic power. (Yes, ironically, Pulitzer supported dishonest news because it sold well. So did Hearst. “Pulitzer prize” was established by his fortune to reward journalist he would likely have never hired. 😉) Modern “tabloid” media was born, as graphics and eye catching front pages became the driving source of most papers.

This of course was disrupted with new technology again, as radio and television in the early 20th century put strains on the traditional press mechanism. People wanted different and new perspectives. However, consolidation set in again over the next several decades, as these entities became similar to each other. There is some debate about what led to this “virtual consolidation” in mentality. I believe the strong nationalistic vibe after the war, combined with a natural trust that followed in the next couple of decades aided this.

While it has its downsides, this consolidation pattern we’ve begun seeing does eliminate inconsistency of public information. But it also led to negligence in government. (See: Vietnam war, Nixon, corruption schemes)

Enter the next technological revolution in the 1990’s: the internet. It democratized the press even further than the 19th century did, leading to more and more opinion and sensationalism (read: the NEW yellow journalism), and less and less *tradecraft* among journalists. This is where we are in 2017.

However, if history is our guide, we will once again see a consolidation of these various outlets in the years ahead. So, are we at the tail end of this democratization pattern, or still in the middle of it?

Regardless of the patterns, the free flow of information, and public awareness has consistently grown. I think that is a good thing.

Throughout history, public trust in the press has gone back and forth, and often for good reason. But, the journalism trade has stayed consistent. It maintains certain standards that you can bank on. Does bias exist? Sure, among writers AND readers alike. (That means you too!) An editor can omit, exaggerate or even tilt a headline or narrative. But actual “fake news” is very rare among the more established outlets. As long as journalists are human, they will always make mistakes, but they rarely flat out lie. Doing so would end their job. The elements you should look for in deciphering truth is not that it confirms your own bias, but that it employs a few standards that have separated the wheat from the chaff.

Ask yourself:

1. Do they have multiple sources for the story (at least two, most three or more)?
2. Is the narrative informative, or implicative?
3. If the issue presents contrasting sides, does it present a quote – or citation of one – from both/all sides?
4. Was the story rushed, or has it been at least updated since publication?  Almost all news stories evolve/grow over time. 
5. Does the story use pronouns or proper names in telling its story? Or is it informal and colloquial?
6. Do they source the story by hat-tipping other journalistic works or original source documents? Doing so shows confidence in a story. Consistency of a story strengthens its veracity.

Even with these standards, mistakes happen. But it doesn’t make for “fake news.” It makes for imperfect, but necessary news. Because they do the hard work we often can’t.

And as a personal note, do you occasionally find a story irritating to read as I do? That’s usually a good sign that you’re being challenged by a news source.

You should be. Stick with it.

#FakeHate #RealNewsHurts

Fox News Exposes CBS’s Hidden Bias

Fake news has been a hot topic this year. What the term actually means is different to different people, but a recent puff piece on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray by CBS News falls into that category.

While the piece was not fake in the sense that CBS made up fake information, it was an egregious example of the liberal bias that is prevalent in the mainstream media. Howard Kurtz of Fox News pointed out the shoddy reporting on Fox’s “MediaBuzz” program on Sunday.

In the CBS piece, correspondent Erin Moriarty profiled Cordray, the first director of the agency created in 2010 at the urging of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). In the course of the piece, Moriarty interviewed four law professors who defended Cordray and attacked Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and his Financial Choice Act that would limit the power of the CPFB.

CBS did present both sides of the issue. Even though it was very sympathetic to Cordray, who Moriarty says “may be the best friend that the consumer has ever had,” she did interview Hensarling as well. So, what is the problem?

The issue is that the four professors interviewed for the piece, Christopher Peterson, Patricia McCoy, Kathleen Engel, and Adam Levitan, were not just random law professors who happened to be fans of the CPFB. In all four cases, the professors had professional relationships with Cordray and his bureau. The professors had either worked directly for the CPFB or had served on its consumer advisory board. CBS did not disclose these relationships in its report.

While it isn’t improper to interview former employees and associates of Cordray, it is improper to not disclose that they had worked for Cordray’s agency. The CBS report left viewers with the impression that the professors were objective, when it fact they were personally involved in the issue.

The internet version of the CBS report contains an “editor’s note” at the end of the article that says, “Some members of the panel of college professors and consumer advocates featured in this report also have previous work experience with or have served on advisory boards for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” The video report did not contain a similar disclosure and on the internet version there was no mention of the fact that the relationships were not disclosed in the original report.

The CBS report can be legitimately called fake news on the basis of its hidden bias. Either CBS failed to do due diligence on the background of all four professors or, more likely, the network chose not to disclose their relationships with Cordray. Either way, it was poor reporting of the sort that feeds the public distrust of the media.

Gorka Taunts CNN

The Daily Wire reports that during  an appearance on Tuesday edition CNN’s “New Day” Dr. Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, taunted CNN live on the air and correctly pointed out, “more people watch Nick at Nite cartoons than CNN.”

The fireworks began when anchor Alisyn Camerota, turned the interview to all things Russia. Camerota asked Gorka about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign. Gorka replied by asking why CNN has yet to cover the Democratic National Committee’s meet-up with operatives at the Ukrainian Embassy with the same breathless zeal they’ve covered the nine-month witch-hunt into alleged Russia/Trump collusion.

Here is some of the exchange:

Gorka: Was it a good idea for the DNC to send its operatives to the Ukrainian Embassy? The amount of time you spend in desperation on a topic that has plummeted you to 13th place in viewership ranking across America, more people watch Nick at Nite cartoons than CNN today.

Camerota: “Our ratings are doing just fine. If you want to go there, our ratings are doing just fine.”

Gorka: Nick at Nite is [in 11th place]. More people are interested in cartoons! . . . CNN no longer puts out journalism, but, rather, ‘fake news.’ What about individuals who got half a million dollars to give speeches when their wife was running for president?

Camerota: Is it possible that your team is obsessed with the Clintons?
Gorka: No. We’d like you to actually do your job. You aren’t in the news business anymore. You used to be. You are in the attacking President Trump business. And it’s sad. It’s really sad.

Camerota: Look, I know you have to go, and I didn’t even want to go down this rabbit hole with you. When you take shots at us and at journalism, at CNN . . .

Gorka interrupting: Not journalism, CNN.

You can watch the heated exchange in this YouTube video. The fireworks start at about the 8:00 mark.

CNN is currently ranked 13th out of all the cable networks, behind Nick at Nite, which ranks 11th.

In addition to its plummeting ratings, CNN has other serious problems. CNN has been caught publishing fake news, some of it so bad that three reporters were forced to resign. It’s been busted by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, which infiltrated CNN and obtained video of a CNN producer admitting that the network’s Russia fixation is “mostly bullsh**t right now,” but they do it because it brings in the money. And to add insult to injury CNN had to give Veritas a retraction.

CNN is desperate to improve its image after weeks of bad and worse news.

What does CNN do to improve their image? They decide to delete their app in a failed attempt to lose the app’s terrible one star rating.

More Fake News From The NY Times

The New York Times, the  newspaper that once claimed to be the nation’s ”newspaper of record,” let its zeal to be part of the Trump haters so-called renaissance cause it to publish more fake news. Thursday the Times published a correction to an article that incorrectly claimed all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that “Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get [Trump] elected.”

The now corrected article was originally published on published June 25, and “covered” certain reactions that President Donald J. Trump gave in response to Russian cyber attacks and interactions with the 2016 presidential election.

The NY Times ’s correction states:

Correction: June 29, 2017

A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community [emphasis added].

It’s really hard to see how any newspaper, let alone The New York Times could make such an egregious error. Hillary Clinton, during a May 31, 2017-interview, claimed that “all 17 intelligence agencies” confirmed with “high confidence” the Russians worked against her in the U.S. Presidential Election:

  The Russians ran an extensive information war against my campaign to influence voters in the election.

You can watch Hillary make these allegations at about the 19:30 in this You Tube video.

In a fact check of Hillary’s allegation the Daily Caller reports that James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, refuted Hillary’s false assertion that “all 17 intelligence agencies” confirmed the Russian meddling against her campaign, during his May 8, 2017 testimony before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Clapper stated that the assessment was only from the NSA, FBI and the CIA.

Here’s the relevant passage from the transcript of the hearing:

FRANKEN: We have — the intelligence communities have concluded all 17 of them that Russia interfered with this election. And we all know how that’s right.

CLAPPER: Senator, as I pointed out in my statement Senator Franken, there were only three agencies that directly involved in this assessment plus my office…

FRANKEN: But all 17 signed on to that?

CLAPPER: Well, we didn’t go through that — that process, this was a special situation because of the time limits and my — what I knew to be to who could really contribute to this and the sensitivity of the situation, we decided it was a constant judgment (ph) to restrict it to those three. I’m not aware of anyone who dissented or — or disagreed when it came out.

According to the Daily Caller those three agencies were the CIA, NSA and FBI.

The New York Times covered that May 8, 2017 Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing. They just didn’t bother to listen.

Trump Tweets Target ‘Fake News’

In his first tweetstorm since returning to the US yesterday after his tour of Europe and the Middle East, President Trump unleashed a fusillade against the media. In a series of tweets, the president lashed out against leaks that have plagued his administration and charged that the media was making up the leaked stories.

“It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media,” Trump tweeted at 6:33 a.m.

“Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names….” a second tweet and third tweet continued, “….it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”

The charge that the leaks are fictitious is a new tack for Trump. In a May 16 tweet, the president said that he had charged former FBI Director Comey with finding the leakers in the intelligence community.

Some leaks, such as the charge that President Trump told a visiting Russian delegation that Comey was a “nut job” whose firing removed “great pressure” from the administration, have not been denied by the White House. Likewise, the Trump Administration has so far not denied reports that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, tried to set up a secret back channel to the Putin government.

Following the Trump tweets, Ben Shapiro of National Review, quipped, “So that whole disciplined Trump abroad basically relied on him not buying Gogo in-flight internet.”

 

 

 

FAKE NEWS: ABC’s Matthew Dowd Tweets On Muslim Persecution By ‘Christian Extremists’

ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd ignited a dumpster fire with this one fake news tweet.

Just to review: Dowd claimed that the growing persecution of Christians around the globe < persecution of Muslims in America and around the globe. And to support this claim, he offered no evidence.

Obviously, a tweet of such monumental insensitivity and stupidity by someone who should know better garnered quite a bit of attention online.

Jay Caruso of RedState challenged the poor fact-challenged Dowd.

https://twitter.com/JayCaruso/status/863008564205539330

 

https://twitter.com/JayCaruso/status/863009061238919173

Roving bands of “Christian extremists” patrol the streets hunting Muslims and murdering them in cold blood, eh? They shout “Praise Jesus!” as they behead women and children in mosques, right?

 

Derrick Johnson, one of my Resurgent colleagues observed, “ISIS boils Christians alive, Redneck says mean things to Muslim in grocery store. Tomato, Tomahto.”

Dan McLaughlin, another RedState contributor, added the small but important fact that the State Department called ISIS attacks on Christians “genocide.”

Dowd never clarified his definition of “persecution.” Maybe he means “funny looks,” or “whispering behind their backs.” Because that’s totally the same as chopping heads off or burning alive.

Yup, we just don’t get it. The point is?

I guess it is because Dowd says so. I think he’s been taking lessons from President Trump.

(H/T Conservative Review)

Netanyahu Illustrates the Appropriate Response to Fake News

You can tell a lot about a person by the way he responds to his enemies. A man who is self-confident and recognizes his strengths and weaknesses either responds calmly and with reason or doesn’t respond at all.

Today’s case in point: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In response to news declaring that Hamas was “moderating” its position on a prospective Palestinian state, Netanyahu recorded a public message to remind the world that Hamas is a terrorist organization bent on the complete annihilation of Israel.

The PM begins by specifically calling out CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Guardian for presenting fake news before making his case.

“Hamas murders women and children. It’s launched tens of thousands of missiles at our homes. It brainwashes Palestinian kids in suicide kindergarten camps.”

Netanyahu’s calm demeanor and rational presentation of facts is a primer on how to handle fake news, and it concludes with a great mic-drop moment.

See for yourself: