Washington Post’s Sunday Night Editorial Massacre

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This morning’s Washington Post newsletter – The 7 – offered a peek into the outlet’s ideological bent.

The seven topics offered to subscribers before 7:00 a.m. to help them catch up, in order presented:

1 — Mexico elected its first female president yesterday.

2 — Hunter Biden’s trial on criminal gun charges begins in Delaware today.

3 — President Biden announced a new cease-fire plan for Gaza.

4 — Anthony Fauci is set to testify in Congress today.

5 — Billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used for tuition at religious schools.

6 — Simone Biles won her ninth national all-around title.

7 — A Chinese spacecraft landed on the “dark” side of the moon yesterday.

That’s right: the U.S.’s fourth largest newspaper by number of subscribers feels that Hunter Biden’s trial is more important than the Biden administration’s efforts to stop the genocide in Gaza.

Never mind the protests across the country over the last six months which have spurred numerous horserace polling articles as well as coverage of conflicts on U.S. campuses.

The trial isn’t even being held in D.C. which the Washington Post calls home.

At the very bottom of the newsletter is this news blurb:

Before you go … some news from The Post: Sally Buzbee, our executive editor since 2021, has stepped down.

How benign that sounds. Happy trails, Ms. Buzbee, good luck on your future endeavors.

Except this is what happened, reported last night:

Steve Herman @[email protected]

Washington Post – Matt Murray, former Editor in Chief of The Wall Street Journal, will replace Sally Buzbee as Executive Editor until the 2024 U.S presidential election, after which Robert Winnett, Deputy Editor of The Telegraph Media Group, will take on the new role of Editor.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/pr/2024/06/02/sally-buzbee-steps-down-executive-editor-washington-post-matt-murray-rob-winnett-take-editorial-leadership-roles-new-newsroom-structure/

Jun 02, 2024, 10:58 PM

Did Buzbee leave willingly? WaPo’s certainly not telling us. It’s as if Buzbee accidentally fell out a window leaving a vacancy.

Here’s the first two paragraphs from the WaPo’s own report on the shakeup:

The Washington Post today announced Sally Buzbee has stepped down as Executive Editor. Buzbee has been with The Washington Post since 2021, leading the newsroom through the turbulence of the pandemic and expanding its service journalism, including Climate and Well+Being. Under her leadership, The Washington Post has won significant awards, including the recent Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting.

Matt Murray, former Editor in Chief of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), will replace Buzbee as Executive Editor until the 2024 U.S presidential election, after which Robert Winnett, Deputy Editor of The Telegraph Media Group, will take on the new role of Editor at The Washington Post, responsible for overseeing our core coverage areas, including politics, investigations, business, technology, sports and features.

Why would WaPo allow an Executive Editor who oversaw award-winning work to “step down”? Why would they promptly replace that EE with a temporary placeholder, and one who operated in a very different news organization?

It seems incredibly convenient that former Murdoch-News Corp editor Matt Murray will run WaPo just until the election.

Then WaPo will be helmed by an editor from a British conservative right-wing news organization, because we don’t have enough of our own Tories in media here. We need to rescue from Brexit import a Tory from a flailing media outlet overseas.

Not to mention Robert Winnett leaves a British paper with a subscriber base one-third the size of WaPo and with far less domestic and international impact.

When WaPo announced their slogan in 2017 – Democracy Dies in Darkness – one month after Trump was inaugurated, most observers scratched their heads. Would WaPo truly shine a light on that which is intent on killing our democracy? Would the paper be up to what has proven to be a monumental task?

But in hindsight we didn’t see that slogan for what it was. WaPo warned us it was going to turn off the lights. This abrupt change in editorial executives moving the paper further to the right is an indicator of yet more dimming of a truly free press.

Three Things: Let the Tedious Bashing Commence!

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Don’t you despise tedious media bashing which is often off base? Ha. I’m still laughing about this.

Quick, name five critics of U.S. media.

If you can’t rattle off at least five without a lot of thought, there isn’t enough media criticism.

We haven’t even touched the depths of tedious media bashing in this country let alone at this site.

~ 3 ~

Headline and subhead from The New York Times on May 9, 2024:

At a Dinner, Trump Assailed Climate Rules and Asked $1 Billion From Big Oil
At a private meeting at Mar-a-Lago, the former president said fossil fuel companies should donate to help him beat President Biden.

Headline and subhead from Washington Post on May 9, 2024:

What Trump promised oil CEOs as he asked them to steer $1 billion to his campaign
Donald Trump has pledged to scrap President Biden’s policies on electric vehicles and wind energy, as well as other initiatives opposed by the fossil fuel industry.

Guess who’s on the bylines for these two pieces. If you read Marcy’s work here frequently you’ll be able to take a good stab at it because of the consistency with which these journalists produce such dreck.

Neither of these articles use the word “bribe” or the phrase “quid pro quo,” and yet that’s exactly what Trump engaged in with fossil fuel companies.

The word “Ukraine” also doesn’t appear though Trump’s first impeachment was kicked off by a whistleblower disclosing a quid pro quo – no association made at all in the articles above with how transactional Trump has been, is, and may be should he win the 2024 election. Readers are supposed to know already just how corrupt Trump’s offer to fossil fuel companies is; they’re not to be so bluntly informed by the two major newspapers in the U.S.

Journalism by shovel. Not just burying the inconvenient, but shoveling bullshit like that POS NYT headline. “At a Dinner…” Really? That’s so critical to the public’s understanding of this candidate’s corrupt election behavior that we need to know this was just a harmless dinner?

If readers are surfing headlines to sift for important news to read, prefacing bribery with “At a Dinner” is one way to ensure readers speed on by.

So is ignoring the bribery.

Go to Google News and search for “trump oil companies” and compare and contrast headlines and articles since May 9. Amazing the consistency with which the Democrats are assailed for questioning a quid pro quo offered during a campaign event.

It’s ridiculous that it took 16 days to learn that the fossil fuel industry would receive a $109 billion return on investment if they paid Trump the $1 billion donation bribe he asked for.

And yes, the Guardian’s piece used the words “quid pro quo” though they quoted Sen. Jamie Raskin in doing so.

~ 2 ~

Jeff Jarvis, journalism prof at CUNY’s Newmark School, is succinct about this particular problem:

Jeff Jarvis @[email protected]

I challenge you to find this good news on the home page of The New York Times. Go to Business and you’ll have to dig to find it. “News judgment” is bias….
S&P 500, Nasdaq and Dow all hit record highs after encouraging inflation data

https://www.cnn.com/2024/05/15/economy/consumer-price-index-inflation-april

May 16, 2024, 07:42

I’ll let the NYT’s front page speak for itself:

You can see today’s front page at https://cdn.freedomforum.org/dfp/jpg16/lg/NY_NYT.jpg

Coverage of the internal friction about the appearance of ideological bent between parent NBC and cable subsidiary MSNBC makes the front page. So does a sextortion piece (which could have been run any time in the last year), and a puff piece about everything becoming a “journey” for celebrities.

The NYT’s online front page is fresher but no better. At 10:25 a.m. as I wrote this, the word “inflation” didn’t appear at all.

Plenty about Biden’s loss of donors and Trump leading Biden in polling.

Can’t imagine why coverage of ideological bent in reporting is above the fold at this newspaper.

~ 1 ~

CNN announced the moderators for the June 27 presidential debate. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, hosts of CNN’s Sunday talk show State of the Union are queued up.

Doesn’t sound like CNN handled this well in past, blaming the institution for confusion about the venue.

You’ll find all the posts at this site tagged with “Jake Tapper” at this link:

https://www.emptywheel.net/?s=jake+tapper

And all the posts at this site tagged with “Dana Bash” here:

https://www.emptywheel.net/?s=dana+bash

Pardon me if I am incredibly skeptical about the ability of these two to catch a lie on the fly – especially at a news media outlet under pressure from management to be more Fox News-ish.

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread. Bring discussion here which would be off topic in other threads.

Three Things: No News Isn’t Good News

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This last several weeks have made the media look really bad. You’d think after several key stories broke there’d be more and deeper coverage but nope.

U.S. media, Congress, and the citizens who elected them each own some of the media fail. Why aren’t we demanding more protection of our personal data in order to protect our democracy?

~ 3 ~

The New York Times published a story on March 28 about the acquisition of the former LIFE magazine assets and the defunct magazine’s resuscitation.

Life Magazine Will Come Back to, Well, Life
The investor Josh Kushner and his wife, Karlie Kloss, have struck a deal with Barry Diller’s media company to revive it as a regular print title.
By Andrew Ross Sorkin, Ravi Mattu, Bernhard Warner, Sarah Kessler, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni

Nowhere in this puff piece a mere 404-words long written by at least one of seven contributors on this byline mention that Josh Kushner is Jared Kushner’s brother.

Nowhere in this heavily-laden beat sweetener is it mentioned that Josh and Jared share ownership of a problematic real estate management company, and that both met with Saudi and Qatari officials during the Trump administration.

Nowhere in this fluff is financing mentioned. Apparently it never occurred to one or more of seven journalists to ask if brother Jared contributed financing or guidance in any way.

We, the readers, are apparently supposed be very happy an attractive model and her now-billionaire spouse are reviving an old American media institution. We’re supposed to assume Kushner and Kloss are wholly financing this project out of their own pockets through their Bedford Media holding out of an appreciation for LIFE.

Why ever would we want to know more? As if we’d expect news from NYT.

~ 2 ~

It’s as if the Ronna McDaniel scandal never happened. There’s been no reported news about her since NBC canned her after MSNBC personalities protested her hiring on air.

I’ve been watching for any news about separation from Creative Artists Agency, who dropped her the same time she was terminated at MSNBC. CAA didn’t keep her on, as if they felt there was no hope of future contracts for her at all, even with right-wing news media.

Nada, not a word has emerged about CAA’s rejection. Just a spattering of op-eds in favor or against McDaniel’s separation from NBC.

One thing which has gone utterly unnoticed by journalists covering U.S. politics and media: a French conglomerate acquired majority interest in CAA last September, with two other foreign firms retaining substantive interest in the firm.

The Pinault Group closed on the deal while Singapore-based Temasek and Shanghai-based CMC Capital retain minority interests.

There are plenty of reasons for McDaniel to have lost her gig on NBC as well as her representation by CAA, like being an unindicted co-conspirator in Trump’s effort to defraud the U.S. and deny U.S. voters their civil rights.

But it doesn’t hurt to ask if foreign interests played a role in her representation or loss thereof. Perhaps a French-owned company doesn’t care to keep a talent who supported a NATO-undermining former president’s attempt to overthrow the U.S. government.

~ 1 ~

For decades there have been restrictions on foreign ownership of broadcast media. It’s about time we began to ask why we don’t have similar restrictions on social media, when social media has become a primary source for news in the U.S. for nearly half of Americans.

Twitter’s acquisition by Elon Musk, funded substantially by foreign interests, is one example. Since its sale, the former Twitter has become one of if not the largest source of misinformation and disinformation in U.S. media consumption. It’s difficult not to assume this is the reason Musk’s financial backers ponied up the money for an otherwise money-losing business.

Grindr, a social media platform for gay and bisexual men, and transgender people, was launched in the US in 2009. A majority interest was sold to a Chinese gaming company, Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd. in January 2016. Kunlun sought a buyer for Grindr after Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) notified Kunlun in March 2019 its foreign ownership of Grindr posed a national security threat.

Now many are watching stock price vacillations for Donald Trump’s Truth Social social media platform, owned by Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. (TMTG), the entity which succeeded the former special-acquisition corporation Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC). DWAC had been associated with Chinese-owned ARC Capital and China Yunhong Holdings, both of which had some role in financing DWAC.

TMTG has been under investigation by the Department of Justice since 2022 for possible money laundering after TMTG had received a loan from Paxum Bank, partially owned by Russian Anton Postolnikov. It’s not clear why TMTG was able to list on a U.S. stock market exchange given the possibility this loan may have violated sanctions against Russian interests.

TikTok is owned by a Chinese firm and its users’ data is stored in China. It’s not the content but the location and control of U.S. users’ data which is and has been most problematic, though it’s easy for TikTok’s Chinese parent to manipulate what U.S. users will see including misinformation and disinformation. Trump’s former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been trying to pull together a consortium to buy TikTok, but TikTok may have no interest in selling out, and it’s not clear if Mnuchin will end up seeking more foreign investors as Elon Musk did.

If Mnuchin – who met with Middle Eastern leaders during his stint as Treasury Secretary and departed with $1 billion in Saudi cash for his Liberty Strategic Capital fund — manages to pull off buying TikTok, what will he do with users’ data since the future business model is unclear at this time. Will he sell it to offshore buyers including hostile nation-states since there are few restrictions now preventing such sales? TikTok would be as much of threat under such a business model as it is now.

We need federal legislation to regulate not only users’ data privacy – all social media created by U.S. users should be kept inside the U.S. – but to limit control of social media firms by foreign owners, especially hostile nation-states.

Why was Grindr, of all the social media platforms which have been sold in whole or part to overseas parties, the one which drew attention from CFIUS? Especially after Twitter had been infiltrated by multiple Saudi spies, one of which were prosecuted before Musk made an offer to buy the platform? What foreign spies now have access to U.S. citizens and users’ personal data after Musk shit canned so many of Twitter’s pre-acquisition personnel?

This isn’t a First Amendment issue. It’s regulation of commerce, and commerce conducted inside the U.S. relying on U.S. citizens and residents as consumers and data sources shouldn’t pose a threat to national security.

~ 0 ~

This is an open thread. In addition to media criticism, bring your stray cat and dog topics here.

Hanging by Meta’s Threads

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

If you are very much online in social media, you’ve likely heard the buzz about Threads – the new microblogging platform owned and operated by Facebook’s parent, Meta.

I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion of Threads versus its problematic competitor Twitter or ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s problematic alternative, Bluesky Social. You’re perfectly capable of doing the homework on them and other competing microblogging platforms.

Of concern to me: how will Threads eventually interact with the open source federated universe (fediverse) of platforms including Mastodon. Threads is expected to federate eventually and allow easy sharing of communications and content between member platforms in the fediverse.

There has been so much conversation about this topic in Mastodon that I’ve had to filter it out. The discussion has been warranted, but the subject has been polarizing and frankly exhausting.

Some Mastodon users – mostly those who left Twitter and miss it badly – want this new Meta project to integrate seamlessly with Mastodon so that they can encourage former Facebook folks to come over to Mastodon. They’re missing much busier levels of activity in their timelines which was driven by algorithms at Twitter and as well at Facebook. And some simply can’t handle the increased complexity Mastodon poses, from choosing an instance to finding friends old and new, or building a feed.

Some Mastodon users – like me – don’t really care to federate with Meta’s users whether from Facebook or Instagram. In my case my primary concerns are data privacy and remaining ad free. While I feel fairly confident my experience within Mastodon won’t ever involve ads, I can’t say that will be the case once I make contact with someone in Threads just as looking at a tweet on Twitter will likely expose me to advertising. I simply do not want to give my attention without my advance consent to any business advertising in social media.

(Side note: look around here in emptywheel – see any ads? How’s that shape your experience here?)

Because of these concerns I’ve been looking for ways to limit exposure of personal data now that Meta has begun a soft launch of Threads over the last 24 hours.

~ ~ ~

Ahead of a formal launch, Eugen Rochko, Mastodon’s creator, published a statement about the way Threads and Mastodon are supposed to work. This statement was the result of meetings he had with Meta about the way Threads was expected to work once it joined the fediverse.

See https://blog.joinmastodon.org/2023/07/what-to-know-about-threads/

Note this paragraph in particular:

Will Meta get my data or be able to track me?

Mastodon does not broadcast private data like e-mail or IP address outside of the server your account is hosted on. Our software is built on the reasonable assumption that third party servers cannot be trusted. For example, we cache and reprocess images and videos for you to view, so that the originating server cannot get your IP address, browser name, or time of access. A server you are not signed up with and logged into cannot get your private data or track you across the web. What it can get are your public profile and public posts, which are publicly accessible.

There’s still a problem here, if you think back to what researcher Aleksandr Kogan could do with Facebook’s data harvested ~2014. The network of people around those whose data had been obtained could still be deduced.

If some users outside Meta have past usernames in Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp which match; and/or if users have had previous long-term contacts with Meta users, and/or if data from Twitter or other social media platforms can also be acquired and correlated, it wouldn’t be difficult to build out the social network of Threads users who interface with Mastodon or other fediverse platform users.

This gets around the reason why Mastodon in particular has been resistant to integrating search across the fediverse. Search was intentionally limited during Mastodon’s development to prevent swarming and brigading attacks and other forms of harassment targeting individuals, particularly those identified in minority and/or protected classes.

Consider for example the case of a gay person who associates with other gay people who know each other locally but communicate using these tools. It won’t take that much effort especially with the aid of GPT AI to to create the means to identify entire networks of gay persons related one to several degrees apart. Once identified, it wouldn’t take much to begin brigading them if enough other hostile accounts have been established. One could even imagine the reverse identification process applied in order find persons who are violently anti-gay and likely to welcome opportunities to harass gays.

Imagine, too, how this could affect young women contacting others looking for reproductive health care information.

~ ~ ~

There is a temporary saving grace: Threads is not approved in the EU. Not yet.

The server which hosts my Mastodon account is located in the EU and therefore will not yet allow Threads users access through federation.

The same server’s administrator also polled users and asked if they wanted to allow Threads to federate with this server they voted it down.

So I guess I’m okay where I’m at for the moment.

There are fediverse servers out there which will never allow Threads to federate with them. I’ve seen a Mastodon server which has said it will never allow Meta applications to federate because it’s against their server’s terms of use to allow entities which enable genocide and crimes against humanity to do so.

Good for them.

And good for us: PressProgress editor Luke LeBrun collected the app privacy policies for Threads, Bluesky, Twitter and Mastodon for contrast and comparison:

Can’t imagine why I would have any concerns about Threads…ahem.

~ ~ ~

This is all fairly new and unfolding even as I write this. What the fediverse will look like once Threads makes full contact is anybody’s guess.

But there are several things we do know right now, with certainty:

– Meta has been and remains a publicly-held holding company for a collection of for-profit social media businesses. Its business model relies on selling ad space based on targeted markets, and selling data. This will not change short of a natural disaster like a meteor strike taking out all of Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco area, and that may still not be enough to change the inevitable monetization of Threads and all the platform touches.

– Meta has been operating under a consent decree issued by the Federal Trade Commission since 2011 after violating users’ privacy; it violated that agreement resulting in a $5 billion fine which it has fought against paying. Meta’s track record on privacy is not good and includes the non-consensual collection of personal data by academic Aleksandr Kogan. The data was later used by Cambridge Analytica/SCL and may have been involved in influence operations during the 2016 election.

– The EU is light years ahead of the US when it comes to privacy regulations. California as a state comes closest to the EU in its privacy regulations but it shouldn’t matter which state we are in – our privacy concerns are the same across the country, and opt-in should be the standard, period. US state and federal lawmakers have been and will likely continue to be slow to take any effective action unless there is considerable pressure by the public to meet the EU’s efforts.

– Law enforcement in the US have purchased and used without a warrant personal data collected through users’ use of social media. There has been inadequate pressure by the public to make this stop and will put the health and safety of women and minority groups at risk.

Changing the direction in which this is headed requires engagement and action. By now you know the drill: contact your representatives in Congress and demand legislation to protect media users’ privacy. (Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or Resist.bot)

That’s no slip: no form of media on the internet should be immune from protecting its users’ privacy.

You should also contact your state’s attorney general and as well as your legislators and demand your state matches California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) when it comes to privacy protections – at a minimum. Meeting the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) would be better yet.

I Did Nazi Crustpunk Bar Fail, Redux [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates to appear at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

Because you people will NOT stop whining about the bird-logoed crustpunk Nazi bar sinking even further below the waterline, I am putting up a dedicated post for that subject.

RULE NUMBER ONE: Nothing but Twitter and social media related comments allowed in this thread.

RULE NUMBER TWO: Do NOT take your comments about Twitter and other social media platforms to other threads.

RULE NUMBER THREE: See the first two rules, and don’t expect this site to have any power to do anything to change the crustpunk Nazi bar or other similarly centralized social media failures like Reddit and that scofflaw Meta (home of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp).

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 8:30 P.M. ET —

Here’s a rough tick-tock leading to today’s huge uptick in new Mastodon account sign-ups —

Wednesday, May 24 — Ron DeSantis’ live campaign launch via Twitter Spaces was an utter disaster; DeSantis’ supporters try desperately to put a positive spin on it.

Thursday, May 25 — Twitter’s chief engineer resigned.

Friday, May 26 — Apparently Twitter had not paid the software company which provided service for live video feeds used in Twitter Spaces.

Sunday, June 11 — Engadget reports there may be problems ahead for Twitter:

More platform instability could be in Twitter’s near future. In 2018, Twitter signed a $1 billion contract with Google to host some of its services on the company’s Google Cloud servers. Platformer reports Twitter recently refused to pay the search giant ahead of the contract’s June 30th renewal date. Twitter is reportedly rushing to move as many services off of Google’s infrastructure before the contract expires, but the effort is “running behind schedule,” putting some tools, including Smyte, a platform the company acquired in 2018 to bolster its moderation capabilities, in danger of going offline.

Thursday, June 29 — Some folks observe difficult sporadically with accessing Twitter links.

The New York Times reported new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino ordered Google to be paid after she spoke with the head of Google’s Cloud division.

Friday, June 30 — Persons attempting to access any Twitter page are unable to do so unless they are a logged-in registered user.

Elon Musk later confirmed access has been deliberately cut off for all outside users, claiming Twitter is being scraped aggressively.

There is a lot of speculation the service is degrading because Twitter didn’t pay Google, but NYT’s report suggested otherwise.

Saturday, July 1 — Twitter users note Twitter is down. Musk also tweets that users will be rate limited on the amount of tweets they can read each day.

Before the widespread outage, observers noted Twitter had been DDoS-ing itself:

Twitter and Mastodon user Sheldon Chang offered more detail:

Sheldon Chang 🇺🇸 @[email protected]
This is hilarious. It appears that Twitter is DDOSing itself.

The Twitter home feed’s been down for most of this morning. Even though nothing loads, the Twitter website never stops trying and trying.

In the first video, notice the error message that I’m being rate limited. Then notice the jiggling scrollbar on the right.

The second video shows why it’s jiggling. Twitter is firing off about 10 requests a second to itself to try and fetch content that never arrives because Elon’s latest genius innovation is to block people from being able to read Twitter without logging in.

This likely created some hellish conditions that the engineers never envisioned and so we get this comedy of errors resulting in the most epic of self-owns, the self-DDOS.

Unbelievable. It’s amateur hour.

#TwitterDown #MastodonMigration #DDOS #TwitterFail #SelfDDOS

Jul 01, 2023, 11:03 · Edited Jul 01, 13:02

You can see the videos he shared at the link above.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick offered his opinion about the rate limiting:

I don’t have words for this clusterfuck except to say I expected this level of fail and worse to come, even with a new CEO on board. Good luck, Yaccarino. I hope you got a guaranteed payout.

~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, at Mastodon:

Mastodon Users @[email protected]

12,916,975 accounts
+4,614 in the last hour
+34,484 in the last day
+108,119 in the last week

[Graphic alt text: Four time-based charts

Upper blue area: Number of Mastodon users
Upper cyan area: Hourly increases of number of users
Lower orange area: Number of active instances
Lower yellow area: Thousand toots per hour

For current figures please read the text of this post]
Jul 01, 2023, 19:00

~ ~ ~

If there is more news in the next 12-24 hours about Twitter, I will update this post.

Trash Talk: Get (Fourth) Down and Dirty

Golf widow here once again, enjoying the dwindling days of Michigan’s golf season.

By which I mean I am doing more fall cleaning while looking forward to a nice cold Modelo and an entertaining book once my chores are done.

Lawn furniture put away? Check.

Outdoor cushions washed and dried? Check.

Fireplace prepped for winter use? Check.

A couple more chores and I can revel in quiet quaffing. I keep a couple lounge chairs on the deck through the winter to enjoy the midday sun; soon I’m going to park in one with a book and my beer and partake in the peak autumn color here.

I’m sure it’s nice out on the fairway but I don’t have to put up with trash talk from the rest of my foursome to do so, nor do I have to spring for beers for the winner.

Golf widowhood for the motherfucking win.

~ ~ ~

If you are a regular Twitter use you already know exactly what happened last night in Major League Baseball because it flooded Twitter users’ feeds.

One friend whined for hours about the Houston Astros (at Seattle Mariners). Another dropped offline because they couldn’t take anymore stress watching the New York Yankees (at Cleveland Guardians).

Best take:

Hell, I didn’t even watch the game and I could feel that one – the Astros-Mariners’ game was over six hours long.

The Guardians didn’t win until the ninth inning, which merely made the game feel long.

In hindsight I must not follow many people in my other Twitter account in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, or San Diego because their presence as fans was so much less obvious in my Twitter timeline in spite of the Padres beating the Dodgers and the Phillies taking the Braves out of their series with last night’s win.

Dr. Biden caught the Phillies’ win, though.

Good for her.

~ ~ ~

I’m just not in the mood for NFL football today. I’m hanging onto the fleeting sensation of yesterday’s Big 10 conference win by Michigan State’s Spartans against Wisconsin’s Badgers.

It’s not been a good season for the Green and White up to now. Every game has been a roller coaster ride.

Hah. Funny. Manzullo doesn’t note the fourth observation by Scott Bell is that of a University of Michigan fan. U-M is still ranked in the top five in the nation.

Next week will probably be rocky around here, and a good time to go shopping because every public venue except for bars with big screen TVs will be empty while MSU meets in-state rival U-M at U-M.

MSU is expected to get the stuffing knocked out of them but the rivalry is pretty intense and not factored into the odds.

~ ~ ~

This post is called Trash Talk, not sports talk so now I’m going to take out the trash

This tweet by Maggie Haberman crystalizes what the fuck is wrong with Haberman’s journalism.

Pure regurgitation, no analysis, zero pushback on naked hate. Her subject barfed up a noxious furball she then dutifully carried from the cesspool in which he left it to the bigger pond at Twitter.

Haberman is trash, allowing herself to be used for hateful propaganda purposes.

~ ~ ~

All right, have at it, use this as an open thread. Air out your trash.

And pass me my beer.

All Republican Gang of Eight Members Condone Large-Scale Theft of Classified Information, Press Yawns

The Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee went on a four tweet rant yesterday, complaining that the FBI is conducting an investigation into the suspected large-scale theft of highly-classified materials.

The House Minority Leader used the instance of a lawfully executed warrant in support of a national security investigation to call for an investigation not into the man suspected of stealing code word documents, but instead, of Attorney General Merrick Garland for authorizing this investigation into a classified breach.

The Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, more appropriately asked for a briefing, but even after admitting he hadn’t had one yet and claiming (dubiously) that he didn’t know of the suspected massive theft of highly classified information, scoffed at the seriousness that such a large-scale compromise of classified information might cause.

Mitch McConnell weighed in, belatedly, to demand transparency about an investigation into stolen secrets.

The country deserves a thorough and immediate explanation of what led to the events of Monday. Attorney General Garland and the Department of Justice should already have provided answers to the American people and must do so immediately

These men are all entrusted with the protection of Americans intelligence secrets. But when faced with a choice of putting party or America’s security first, they immediately rushed to protect their party, even while admitting they don’t know the facts of the underlying investigation.

And in spite of the fact that these men have all engaged in minimizing the large-scale compromise of classified information with their rants, virtually every press outlet has reported their comments as more horse race journalism, one side against the other, as if top Republicans attacking the FBI for trying to protect classified secrets is not itself newsworthy.

The lazy-ass press couldn’t even be bothered to show how all these men, especially Marco Rubio, made wildly inconsistent statements when Jim Comey or Hillary Clinton were suspected of mishandling far less sensitive intelligence. Nor did the press bother asking these men about the destruction of DHS (including Secret Service) and DOD records that Congress itself had already asked for before magnifying their comments.

They just let these men turn this into a partisan fight rather than a serious legal investigation, all for free!

Update, 8/10PM: Included Mitch McConnell’s statement.

This Is Not How You Wield Power: Toxic Punditry’s Lack of Self Awareness

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This is complete and utter bullshit:

We all know asking Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself is merely pissing into the wind. Congressional Democrats are obligated to ask this of him but they know Thomas is corrupt and won’t give the demand a second thought.

What’s bullshit, though, is MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan and Ayman Mohyeldin ripping into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about a request by Democrats to Thomas for his recusal on cases related to the January 6 insurrection.

We all know as well the real problem is that Thomas should be removed from the Supreme Court. Pelosi was absolutely correct saying that Thomas should never have been approved as a SCOTUS jurist to begin with. His failure to report his spouse’s income appropriately — particularly Ginni Thomas’s income from her nonprofit — during the lead up to the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision was unacceptable, as was his meeting with the Koch brothers.

But the House had absolutely nothing to do with Thomas being approved in the first place. The Senate is responsible for review of nominees to the Supreme Court and their approval.

We all know, too, that the House may impeach jurists, but they cannot be removed without a two-thirds vote for conviction by the Senate.

And in this case, a Senate which is only nominally held by Democrats. They couldn’t convict and remove Trump twice after impeachment for the same reason — an inadequate number of Democrats in the Senate.

Where is this power that Hasan and Mohyeldin think Pelosi has as House Speaker when she cannot remove Thomas? Why are they insisting she launch a war she can’t win? (We can see how that works out for Putin in Ukraine.)

All these two boneheaded pundits (and others making the same argument like them) are doing is misogynist pontificating when they know it’s the Senate which can force the issue and only if there were two-thirds of the Senate willing to vote to convict Thomas for his continued corrupt practices.

Yet you don’t see pundits like Hasan and Mohyeldin going after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Nope.

Why is that?

~ ~ ~

They’re literally filling empty air time with useless crap which only serves to damage the public’s opinion of House Democrats — the portion of government which has most reliably served the needs of the people during the Biden administration while the Senate obstructs its efforts.

They’re directly contributing to and amplifying the same poisoning of public opinion already performed by right-wing media outlets Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN, grossly distorting the public’s perception of US government.

It’s right there in front of their noses and they don’t see it:

Hello, Sam Stein, who’s with both MSNBC and Politico? You’re not doing a very good job breaking through to the public if they believe the complete opposite of the truth.

Dan Froomkin elaborated on media’s failures with help from Dean Baker; public opinion about employment is particularly telling.

An additional 21 percent didn’t know one way or the other. Only 28 percent said, correctly, that jobs were created. Less than half of those — only 12 percent — knew that it was more jobs created than in any other year in history.

Similarly, only 19 percent said they thought the U.S. economy experienced more job growth than normal in the past year. The plurality – 35 percent – said they thought more jobs were lost than usual, which is of course spectacularly wrong.

Media figures go out of their way to make sure something looks like it’s on fire or bleeding, so much so that it’s a joke.

But sure, keep beating on House Speaker Pelosi because that will effect the change needed as will pissing into the wind.

~ ~ ~

A pre-print study found that it’s not solely the public at fault when it comes to misperception — it’s not purely partisanship which mis- or disinforms their opinions.

A key problem is the business model: audience members’ understanding and opinions could be shaped by exposure to media, if media bought their time.

Unfortunately, cable and broadcast news don’t pay their viewers. They rely on advertising and subscription volume; their programming becomes little more than reductive clickbait fighting for audience attention. They’ll run the inflammatory material which skews public opinion the wrong way because good news is boring.

It makes sense, and yet the answer to running content which is both more attention-grabbing and -retaining to viewers and the ethically responsible content to run is right there under their noses.

Assuming, of course, the media outlets aren’t forcing their pundit-anchor class to promote corporatism über alles.

Why aren’t programs like Hasan’s and Mohyeldin’s contacting every goddamned Senator and putting them on the record one at a time on camera about their position on Thomas’s failure to recuse himself and whether they would vote to convict him if impeached for abuse of his office as jurist?

I’d pay to watch them squirm. I’d pay to watch Senators’ chiefs of staff run away from mics to avoid answering.

I’d pay to watch them ask Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and Tommy Tuberville if Thomas should recuse himself on any lawsuit in which they may be named as co-conspirators because Thomas’s wife Ginni sided with Hawley and Cruz on overturning or obstructing the election…and was it obstruction of Congress or overturning an election in which they had been encouraged to participate?

That’d be Must-See TV.

~ ~ ~

The other person who gets off lightly all the damn time to the point every media outlet forgets he exists: Chief Justice John Roberts.

He’s the administrative leader of SCOTUS. Every decision made during his tenure will be attributed to the Roberts’ court.

Clarence Thomas’s unmitigated corruption including the damage to democracy Thomas’s role in Citizen United played is the product of Roberts’ court.

The lack of a self-imposed binding code of conduct is Roberts’ failure. Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from January 6 cases which may be decided by SCOTUS is also his failure.

The lack of legislation requiring a SCOTUS code of conduct with adequate teeth to ensure enforcement is Congress’s fault, but primary responsibility is that of the Senate. In its absence Roberts could administer his court in a way which enforces judicial ethics.

Why wasn’t Roberts a subject of Hasan’s and Mohyeldin’s critique when Roberts clearly has the power to rein in corruption among his jurists?

~ ~ ~

But the real power to which Hasan and Mohyeldin deliberately turned a blind eye wasn’t Nancy Pelosi’s as House Speaker.

It wasn’t even Chuck Schumer’s, or John Roberts’ power.

That pre-print study says it’s their own. How convenient these media figures with a bully pulpit have a handy favorite punching bag to use as clickbait, redirecting attention away from their own failures as media figures with sizable audiences whose perception they shape.

By the way, you have power, too. You should be exercising it by calling your representative and senators and demanding legislation to implement a code of ethical judicial conduct for the Supreme Court (since Roberts appears unable or unwilling to produce one), and impeachment and conviction of Clarence Thomas for his lack of ethics as a jurist.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Three Things: No, No, and Hell to the NO, NYT

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

They can’t stop the bullshit. It’s in The New York Times’ DNA. Why should we trust their newsroom when the editorial page is full of crap created from distorted news?

I hope the better op-ed writers have backup plans because at some point they have to ask themselves why they want to be associated with idiots for neighbors…

~ ~ ~

Two words probably tell you most of the problem without elaboration: Maureen Dowd.


Look, when a white person uses the word “woke” as a pejorative adjective you should walk away because they are fucking racist.

It’s that simple.

Which means you should walk away from BOTH MoDo and the person she allowed to vent their racist spleen, James Carville. The latter who once was a respected Democratic political consultant when Clintonian third-way ideology and its emergent neoliberalism walked the earth, needs to retire his big fat trap because the 1990s have been over for more than two decades. He clearly has no grasp of racism’s toll on Black Americans including the constant erasure of their oppression, even though Black women in particular are the most reliable Democratic voters. (Not to mention the average Millennial and Gen Z Democrat would have a difficult time recognizing the old coot.)

Read this article by Aja Romano at Vox on the history and use of “woke.” This exhortative word of caution and awareness has belonged to the Black community, and bled into progressive activists’ use because of the overlap between Black activists and progressives.

Like the word “liberal” and the framework of critical race theory (CRT), the right-wing has now seized “woke” to poison it and make it toxic, to discourage its wider exhortative use to beware racism’s threats and racists.

When it’s used by whites who are neither Black and/or progressive, who are not activists advocating for their intersectional human rights, it’s amplification of the same poisonous effect and the same underlying racism.

Oh look, it’s that tool Bret Stephens doing his duty once again for the right-wing, this time bolstering the promulgation of racism by the rest of NYT’s editorial page combined with bashing intersectional anti-racist progressivism.

Just walk away from these asses.

~ ~ ~

Contrast and compare: here’s the opinion editorials at the Los Angeles Times on November 10 and today.

And the Washington Post from today.

While there are the spot annoying bad actors like Marc Thiessen at WaPo helping push the toxification of CRT, there’s a better mix of opinions not intent on poisoning left of center ideology compared to NYT which has persistently offered a home to crap like Maureen Dowd’s closeted racism and Bret Stephen’s more overt racism.

[Disclosure: I have subscriptions to WaPo and LAT — guess why.]

~ ~ ~

And then the news page…perhaps it didn’t make it into an NYT article, but this tweet by Maggie Haberman which has now been deleted displays a weakness for amplification of right-wing crap without validating it first. Thank goodness this garbage didn’t make it into a news piece (that we know of so far).

I wish I’d taken a screen shot of the original tweet when I first saw it, before it was deleted. It’s only available now in the Internet Archive and without the link to the original crappy story she had retweeted with comment — an article at New York Daily News which made a false claim about Black Lives Matter activists without checking first to see if the sources they relied upon were in anyway associated with BLM.

Haberman made a claim in this reweet-with-quote without first verifying who Hawk Newsome is, assuming NYDN did their work.

Uh, no; it’s as if Haberman never heard the old journalists’ aphorism, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Worse, it’s as if Haberman would accept Trump’s word and stick with it long after he was disproven. Newsome is NOT affiliated with BLM and cannot speak for them; BLM had to issue a statement about this a year ago June when Trump used Newsome as a mouthpiece.

If you are white and a journalist, unless you have been very close to BLM and covering it regularly as part of your beat, DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS about the movement’s members; validate your sources’ relationship and authority for authenticity and accuracy.

Jesus Christ, it’s a well-known Russian active measure to use racism in this country as a wedge to increase political tension, with BLM in particular a target of their efforts.

Unless, of course, you enjoy being used by foreign influence ops as a useful idiot and don’t mind further trashing your credibility.

~ ~ ~

Institutionalized systemic racism doesn’t always look as obvious and egregious as it does in the Rittenhouse trial. Sometimes it just looks like laziness by journalists and contributors who are privileged by their circumstances. And sometimes it looks like readers who can’t be arsed to recognize and call out that racism based in easy material which satisfies a majority white audience.

Bullshit Brigade: Now with More NYT Bullshit [Action Item Included]

[NB: Check the byline, please. Action item at bottom. /~Rayne]

I know I’m not the only person who’s raging at The New York Times, yet again. They’ve somehow managed to do it again and at the worst possible time — the day the Build Back Better bill will go to a vote in the House.

And whoever wrote this latest bullshit managed to do it cloaked behind the Editorial Board byline, leaving no one individual exposed to a well-deserved pummeling.

I’m talking about this POS: Democrats Deny Political Reality at Their Own Peril

Utterly unglued from reality, missing completely that:

– this country has become more progressive over the last 20 years;
– the country on a bipartisan basis supports the Build Back Better bill, with a majority supporting each of its key deliverables;
– Congress doesn’t represent a true reflection of this country thanks to gerrymandering and the corrupting effects of Citizens United on elections;
– Joe Biden was elected by a majority of voters, winning the popular vote with the most votes ever, to deliver a bill which both fixed decades of infrastructure problems AND helped the nation recover from the pandemic.

Seriously, they missed the true bipartisanship:

The opening graf sets the tone for the entire op-ed:

Tuesday’s election result trend lines were a political nightmare for the Democratic Party, and no Democrat who cares about winning elections in 2022 and the presidential race in 2024 should see them as anything less.

It’s a disaster for Democrats when one goddamned state with a weak sauce Democratic candidate narrowly lost to their GOP opponent — and by narrowly I mean 2.4% margin, less than the typical margin of error?

A disaster when that same state has a history of voting for a gubernatorial candidate from the party opposing that in the White House?

And of course it’s a disaster when the incumbent Democrat wins re-election as governor in New Jersey, right?

Never mind the NYT had also published this piece:

Murphy Narrowly Wins Re-Election as New Jersey Governor
The victory over Jack Ciattarelli, which ended Democrats’ 44-year re-election losing streak in the state, was far tighter than polls had predicted.

Oh yeah, what a disaster, breaking 44 years of New Jersey kicking out one-term Democratic governors.

~insert image of Hindenburg on fire~

Not to mention the wide swath of Democrats and in some cases Democratic Socialists who won their mayoral races across the country which I noted in my previous post.

The NYT’s editorial board had the gall to summon neoliberalism, saying, “Bill Clinton’s mantra from 1992 of ‘it’s the economy, stupid’ is rarely out of vogue, and it certainly isn’t now.”

Which is why this bullshit must be dealt with, shoveled and tossed in the manure heap to rot. This economy isn’t like any economy we’ve seen before and certainly not the one in 1992. Neoliberalism and centrism haven’t worked if one pries their privileged head out of their ass and takes a look around at this country. After so many inane pieces on “economic anxiety,” the NYT still doesn’t grasp that anxiousness doesn’t belong just to those folks who were told in 2016 and earlier that immigrants were coming for their jobs.

In spite of their access to research and likely their own reporting, the NYT editorial board still hasn’t cottoned onto that 50 years of data show trickle-down economics promulgated in tandem with moderate austerity don’t work — not here, not across 18 countries.

Though the pandemic placed a premium on the lowest paid jobs, minimum wage workers still cannot afford rent anywhere in the country — if they can even find a place to rent.

Lower wage workers who can save enough for a down payment are living in their cars because they can’t find affordable homes to buy.

But sure, let’s do what worked in the 1990s during the dot com boom, when we still had a huge middle class which could save money and buy houses with good paying blue collar jobs.

With the pandemic COVID came for their jobs. Then Trump’s disastrous handling of the pandemic came for their jobs. With that came the societal Jenga following more than 750,000 COVID deaths and more than 800,000 excess deaths, creating greater uncertainty about who was going to work where and would they and their families and loved ones survive this tectonic shift.

What families have had to go through during the pandemic requires more than temperate centrism:

Did the babysitter survive their exposure to COVID? Are they vaccinated? Are the other children in the daycare vaccinate (no, of course not, we don’t have a vaccine and won’t for a while for little ones)? Are the other parents vaccinated? Who will stay home with the kids if school is closed again because of an outbreak? Will either parents’ employer fire them for taking the time to watch their children since not all jobs permit working from home? How will we make the rent, car payment, health care, food bill, even if we’re getting $300 month for each child if we can’t work because we have no daycare and school is remote again? Who will take the time needed to provide the extra coaching the kids need through at-home coursework?

But yeah, let’s be careful and restrained right now after nearly 22 months of a rolling massive death event. Let’s not rock the boat because Tuesday was a disaster and not the pandemic or decades of starving infrastructure combined with offshoring industry, critically damaging supply chains.

Don’t even get me started on how this nation is flirting with looming disasters like the 2007 I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse when a third of the bridges in this country are in disrepair, and the mounting climate emergency demands hardening of infrastructure, not more centrist restraint.

Fuck you editorial assholes at The New York Times. You’re privileged, blinkered morons, the lot of you. How do you even sit up and take nourishment each day?

~ ~ ~

ACTION ITEM: You can tell those NYT editorial assholes to fuck off more effectively by calling your representative and senators IMMEDIATELY this morning and insisting they vote to support the Build Back Better bill. More specifically, ask your representative to:

Pass the infrastructure bill which has already passed the Senate
Pass the Build Back Better Act which is a reconciliation bill

And then ask your Senators to pass the Build Back Better Act.

Call them at Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or use Resist.bot.

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