Barbarians at the Gate

barbarian

Donald Trump’s stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton will be sliced and diced in the news media for years. The political significance of what happened on Election Day 2016 can’t be understated.

By all accounts, this was a populist revolt against what many believe is a corrupt, business as usual government designed to benefit the wealthy and connected.

While you were watching a political revolution play out, you were also watching a concurrent revolution in the news media. The revolution in the news media may well have tipped the scales in the 2016 election.

People have been drifting from so called legacy media for years. Just ask print newspaper companies like the New York Times and Gannett.

The reasons range from technology to trust and beyond, but consider that the news media missed the political story of a lifetime when they failed to see the depth and breadth of the Trump phenomenon, or appreciate its significance.

The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg’s navel gazing piece the morning after the election makes good points. But he scoffs at the idea of getting to know the people he never knew existed. The thing that made him, and other “elites,” miss the story in the first place.

In the end he can’t help but blame those ignorant barbarians who didn’t go with the press’ choice for president.

Smug much?

One CBS journalist thought so and put it in writing.

Enter stage right:

Organizations like Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, and Tom Fitton’s Judicial Watch are doing things people expect of journalists. Sort of. But, hang on sloopy and consider this.

Is it hard to believe that some disillusioned Bernie Sanders voters, angered by the Democratic National Committee’s collusion with the Clinton campaign to fix the primaries, just stayed home on Election Day?

That would be Wikileaks, which also exposed some of the nasty inner workings of the Clinton campaign. The daily drip of news that confirmed people’s mistrust of Hillary Clinton.

And before you say the Wikileaks saga was a big nothing-burger consider this Jeff Dunetz piece.

Some journalists have a problem with Assange’s method of obtaining his information. Hackers.

But today’s hackers are yesterday’s document thieves. See: The Pentagon Papers.

Troubling? Decide for yourself.

How about reporters going undercover?

Many in the journalism world are unhappy with James O’Keefe’s hidden camera stings. O’Keefe uses deception, such as phony ID’s and aliases. His tactics are frowned upon by many in the news media.

O’Keefe has had run-ins with the law, for trespassing. He’s been criticized for editing video to make his point. He reportedly settled out of court for $100,000 with an ACORN worker after he was accused of misrepresenting him in a video.

While some of his behavior is problematic, journalism is often messy and uncomfortable. It’s why every news operation I’ve ever worked for had lawyers on staff. Journalists make mistakes.

Could on camera admissions of voter fraud and organized political violence from Democratic party operatives have swayed some votes?

I hope so.

Is James O’Keefe an example of today’s gonzo journalist?

Read about the debate, and check out some of the horrible things brave undercover journalists have uncovered going back to the 19th century. Some cool stories.

Judicial Watch has spent years prying loose information for, ”we the people” from our government. Tom Fitton uses Freedom of Information laws and the courts.

Look at his work on Hillary’s State Department e-mails. By the way, note “Vice” as a player in the second paragraph. Fitton has long been a thorn in the Clinton’s side.

And there’s the hacktivist group Anonymous, who went after the KKK in Ferguson, Missouri.

What’s happening reminds me of the days of so called “underground newspapers’ like New York’s East Village Other or the early days of the Village Voice.

They were often counter-culture thorns in side of “polite” journalism and everyone else.

What’s more, technology has spawned “citizen journalism.”

Hacktivist Kim Dotcom Tweeted out this nugget in response to Wikileaks revelations about some reporters:

kimdotcom

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Photo courtesy: Twitter/@aksana_6

Then there’s this from social media activist Cristina Laila:

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Technology has democratized information in ways we couldn’t imagine just a generation ago. It’s allowed everyone with access to the Internet and a computer to become their own journalists and editors. That’s both exhilarating and frightening at the same time.

Exhilarating because change keeps institutions alive and dynamic.

Frightening, because with all those voices, on all those platforms, who do you trust?

Not all of those voices are equal. We need to be more discerning about where get our facts.

Pro tip: Skip the sketchy web-sites that make insane sounding claims you’d like to believe.

This time the barbarians aren’t leveraged buy-out, junk bond traders who destroy companies and jobs like in the great book. They’re the people challenging the conventions of journalism.

Today’s media barbarians are carrying smart-phones and video cameras and tablets. They’re changing the paradigm at light speed.

It seems old media has two choices. Embrace some of those new voices that make you uncomfortable and challenge your beliefs, or face an uncertain fate.

One thing for certain is the barbarians aren’t going away.

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

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The Winter of Our Discontent

I don’t see how the vitriol on either side of this election ends after the votes are counted. No matter who wins in November the schism in this nation will only grow and get nastier unless something is done to restore people’s faith in the institutions of politics and the press.

Recent Wikileaks disclosures about press bias, Project Veritas videos that show Democratic political operatives admit to voter fraud and political violence, added to President Barack Obama’s legacy of lies don’t make people confident.

The people already believe Hillary Clinton should have been indicted over her e-mail mess.

Of course, what the people believe isn’t necessarily the law, but now FBI agents are now talking to the press and are angry with FBI Director James Comey. They say he got in the way of their investigation. That’s a serious charge.

If you’re keeping score that’s the IRS, and the possibility of the Department of Justice colluding with the administration to break the law for political gain.

Those Podesta Wikileaks don’t do Hillary Clinton any favors. Seems Patrick Kennedy tried to make a deal with FBI investigators into declassifying some of Hillary Clinton’s documents.

Everyone’s denying it. Like that insurance commercial says, “that’s what we do.”

There are many other disturbing Wiki revelations if you can find them.

Which brings me to the news media.

I think the proffering of a quid pro quo (bribe) for changing a security classification is a serious thing. People get in trouble for stuff like that. Most people.

But it seems that Will Rogers had this situation covered.

“All I know is what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”

I went looking for stories about the quid pro quo on the afternoon of 10/17. As of about 4:00 pm neither the NY Times or Washington Post had stories up.

It took the Washington Post print edition until Tuesday the 18th to report the story most other media had reported for days. Yesterday’s news tomorrow.

If you go through the print edition of the Post you’ll see article after article bashing Trump while ignoring Hillary’s problems. This has been going on for months.

The latest batch of Wikileaks show the NY Times’ Maggie Haberman as someone the campaign can count on to get out their message.

So far, I’ve seen no comment from the reporter or the NY Times. Other reporters at various news organizations are named throughout as “friendlies.”

Before I retired, a DC councilman used to refer to me as “Fucking Gottlieb.” My colleagues would laugh when they knew I had him on the phone. I guess I got under his skin. He wasn’t used to being pushed.

And no, despite what you might have heard, DC Council people are not read their rights as they’re sworn in as a time saver.

The people’s confidence in the press is at the lowest point it’s ever been. Who can blame them?

The frustration also comes from the obvious media bias displayed by what we call the mainstream media. As I’ve written in the past, more coverage is better than less coverage when it comes to anything.

But the news media doesn’t seem to agree.

While there’s been some good, if not hysterical, reporting on Donald Trump and his past, it’s as if Hillary Clinton were born yesterday.

If you’re in your twenties or thirties you probably don’t really know much detail about the Clinton administration and especially about Hillary’s past behavior.

Hillary’s first act as First Lady was the destruction of a man named Billy Dale. Dale ran the White House travel office for years before Clinton decided she wanted her cronies in there.

Yes, the president has a right to choose employees, but Hillary literally destroyed Dale by having him prosecuted for embezzlement. He was exonerated but broke from defending himself. His crime? Wanting to keep his job.

Of course, Hillary said she had nothing to do with Dale’s troubles. You’ll be shocked to know she lied. (Transparency note: I did business with Dale when I was a DC Bureau Chief.)

Or there was Hillary’s behavior during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Maybe Maureen Dowd put it best: Hillary killed feminism.

I’m not the only one who thinks the media have screwed the pooch. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel wrote.

Hillary’s health? A big meh, and you better not report on it said the press, but here’s how the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway took apart the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Cillizza was torn to shreds on Twitter after this inexplicable Tweet:

cillizzatweet10-16-16

My response was simple, and perhaps not so eloquent. “Bullshit.” It was retweeted dozens of times over twenty four hours.

If you follow Cizzilla on Twitter you can see his open derision of Trump and his supporters. If you follow some of his colleagues at the Post and NY Times you’ll see the same thing.

It’s keyboard courage.

Now, Cillizza and others, are shocked angry citizens are fighting back and “yelling at them.” Grow a pair. At least no one is “grabbing your arm.”

But even “The Fix” sees the public’s love affair with the press is long over. So he writes piece defending journalism against Donald Trump’s criticism. The piece is worth reading for the statistics and for one unintentionally ironic line.

“If one group allowed itself to be attacked relentlessly for decades, what do you think people would think of it?” Cizzalla then shows a graph showing America’s disdain for the media.

Isn’t piling on what they just did to Trump?

Admittedly, some of the newspapers did decent reporting on the Clinton Foundation. Like the NY Times on Hillary’s uranium sell out to the Russians.

And the Washington Post story on buying access to then Secretary of State Clinton.

Good stories, but too few and much too far in between. It doesn’t matter how much you hate Donald Trump. You still have an obligation to report on Clinton.

Cable and network news have become a hot mess of anything negative about Trump, and as little as possible that can hurt Hillary. Even when Hillary’s troubles are reported by media they’re underplayed.

I used to watch MSNBC and CNN in the morning. I thought the talk was smarter on MSNBC, but Mika’s insane rantings became too toxic for me. Angered up the blood and threatened to give me skin failure or even worse: bonus eruptus. Not a good way to start the day.

Over on CNN, Chris Cuomo would occasionally do a decent political interview, but it’s obvious where his heart is. Cuomo also says stupid stuff. His latest tweet about who can and cannot see stolen Wikileaks material was bizarre if not uninformed for a lawyer and journalist.

Cuomo’s comments and the media’s initial reluctance to publish the Podesta and other Wikileaks (after some media – cough, cough the Washington Post, crowd sourced the Cairo leaks) made me wonder what Daniel Ellsberg would think about all this.

Daniel Ellsberg, a State Department analyst, leaked “The Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times in 1971. The Pentagon Papers showed that our government knew early on that we would not win the Vietnam War and grossly lied about casualty projections and more.

The Nixon administration blocked the Times from publishing, but the Supreme Court sided with the Times and the paper published the leaked info for two weeks.

Ellsberg was charged with espionage, conspiracy, and theft. Because of the government’s misconduct the case against Ellsberg was dismissed. Here’s what Ellsberg had to say about Wikileaks.

CNN even has its very own Hillary media apologist in Brian Stelter. His daily newsletter tries to set the agenda for Trump bashing, while ignoring Hillary’s bad news.  It’s also a thinly veiled house organ.

When I once asked Stelter on Twitter where all the news was about Hillary’s e-mails, his response was that “Trump is a media story.” OK, and Hillary’s not?

Stelter has been a big proponent of the “false equivalency” argument in covering Trump that was started by the NY Times’ Jim Rutenberg.  Simply stated, Trump is so horrible that media shouldn’t be objective in their reporting about him. Rutenberg is a good writer and journalist. His piece is worth reading even though I strongly disagree with him.

My problem is that Rutenberg and Stelter are giving the media cover for biased reporting.

Remember, Stelter is a former TV gossip site guy, who became a media reporter for the NY Times, who is now a media reporter/gossip guy for CNN. It’s tough to take him seriously sometimes given his track record. Apparently, some of his media reporting colleagues don’t either.

When Katie Couric was caught doing misleading edits to a gun documentary Stelter didn’t run the story on TV for a week. Naturally, stories popped up that Jeff Zucker, Stelter’s boss, spiked the story to help his old NBC friend Katie.

Stelter denied everything.

FTV’s Scott Jones was having none of it. For those of you not familiar with FTV, it’s a sometimes raw and derisive look at the TV and media business. Scott takes no prisoners.

It’s not often media critics attack each other, but Stelter drew fire from the Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein after his toadish reporting on Hillary’s health issues.

Most recently Stelter blamed Donald Trump’s rhetoric for the fire-bombing of a GOP headquarters in North Carolina. Basically, that’s the argument that “if I say something you don’t like enough, it’s OK to attack me.” I’ll let that just sit there.

As a news guy, I know to get my news from multiple sources. I now do so while sitting on my deck with a cup of coffee. With no multiple daily deadlines or producers to annoy me, I’m able to read a pretty good sample of news from the left and the right. Instead of news people braying teases into commercials for diseases I’ve yet to get, I hear birds singing. That eases the absurdity of the day’s news. There’s one cheeky squirrel who hangs out on the deck rail and eats nuts. While his impudence annoys me, he’s preferable to watching the same pundits make the same party talking points day in and day out. Think “Groundhog Day.”

The way things stand today it looks as if Hillary Clinton will win the election. While poll numbers are all over the place, most have her ahead.

Donald Trump has charged that the election is rigged. This freaks out journalists and political types to no end. While he has no proof this is the case, and that makes me nervous as a journalist, Trump’s charges would get no traction if people trusted the government.

And it’s troubling we’re seeing more and more stories like this.

Like him or not, James O’Keefe may have uncovered systemic fraud in the system. His latest videos should be taken seriously.

It’s unreasonable for people to ask:  How can I trust the government that just silenced its political opposition by using the IRS against them and no one went to prison. How can I trust the government after FBI agents say their boss impeded their investigation into their boss’ chosen successor?

Yes. Donald Trump is an asshole for making unsubstantiated charges and for many other things. But if the government is going to cheat in the ways described above, why is it impossible they would rig an election?

Is there “even a smidgeon” of rigging? I would ask Barack Obama, or Elizabeth Warren who’ve complained of a rigged system themselves.

As they say on social media: “where was the outrage?”

Should we consider information rigging a form of election rigging? Information is power, and without that information voters can’t make a wise decision on who to vote for. It’s the press’ job to show us all the warts, not just the warts they don’t like. When the press withholds information from the people, it’s the media making voting decisions for the people.

The Podesta Wikileaks show former CNN commentator and head of the DNC Donna Brazile leaked a question to the Clinton camp. Here’s what Jake Tapper had to say.

As Chris Cizzilla says, a constant pounding has an effect. Americans don’t like the pounding they’re getting from the press. They have an absolute right to be angry. The press won’t even buy lunch first.

Those opposed to the status quo have chosen Donald Trump as their instrument of destruction. While Trump, for some, is a big symbolic FUCK YOU to both the political and media establishments, most supporters are not the loudmouth louts the media portrays them to be. Salena Zito is one of the few reporters today that has a feel for the American people.

Zito also writes about American’s frustration with the news media. She’s spot on.

You may think I’m going to vote for Donald Trump. You’d be wrong. At this point in time I am not voting for president. I’ll vote in the other races, as if that matters. I live in the People’s Republic of Maryland, where Democrats tax the rain on your roof and gerrymander Republican districts out of existence. I reserve the right to change my mind based on events between now and election-day.

Our choices for president are down to Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most self-serving, dishonest politician who ever walked the earth. A woman that sold her office at the State Department. A woman that trashed her predatory husband’s victims while proclaiming all sex assault victims should be believed. A woman that continues to lie, in the face of reality, about classified e-mails.

Hillary is the business as usual candidate who represents everything we say we hate about politics. Clinton is the rotten intersection of politics, influence and money that we all despise. Yet she is the media’s darling. This is hard for me, and many others to understand. The Clintons simply have no moral or ethical center. What does that say about the press? And no, it is not a binary choice.

One writer called Hillary the most unfit and undeserving candidate to run for president.

Donald Trump has brought to light a number of issues that needed airing like illegal immigration and the real threat of Islamic terrorism. Say it Barack. Just say it.

At the same time, whenever I would start to hold my nose enough to vote against Hillary, Trump would say something ignorant and make unforced errors. Knowing the news media will jump down your throat if they found out you said “doody” when you were eight, why would you not be more careful? Because Trump is all over the place on many issues it doesn’t feel like he has a coherent vision for the nation. I don’t know who he is.

The who he is that I do know, I don’t like.

Donald Trump is American businesses Hillary Clinton. A bragadocious bullshitter stuck in a bad time warp. He’s the dark side of the retro days we love reminisce about. The bad old days of three martini lunches and what followed. Trump was that “international guy” girls would dread. The guy with “Roamin’ hands and Rushin’ fingers.”

As for the locker room tape, there’s no defending it. At that point in Trump’s life he should have been beyond that kind of talk. I say beyond that stuff because despite what anyone says, that kind of talk, and worse, did go on in some locker rooms. I don’t care what athletes say when interviewed by reporters. No one admits to behavior like that. “Sure, that shit goes on all the time over in our locker room. “

The same media that trashed Trump for his recorded comments about “grabbing pussy,” ignored a host of accusations against Bill Clinton, saying they were just accusations. While Trump shot off his mouth about vile acts, President Clinton committed those acts. See Paula Jones.

Here’s what Michelle Obama had to say about Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Now Michelle is out campaigning for Hillary? See why the people are frustrated?

The Trump accusers who sat quietly for years, then emerged followed the video that was buried until a month before the election are just that, accusers. It’s not like the media ever jumps to conclusions. If you believe Trump’s accusers why not believe Clinton’s accusers?

Compare media’s treatment of Trump to how they treat the Clintons.

Still, none of the above is an excuse. The standard can’t be “vote for me because I’m the same as Bill Clinton.” We have to do better, if we’re going to get better.

While Victor Davis Hanson makes a strong case that you have to vote for Trump to stop Hillary, at this point I can’t.

In fact, most Americans are voting against a candidate rather than for a candidate.

On November 9th, when we wake up and one of the two worst people in the world is our president elect, it’s hard to see us coming together. Whoever wins will do everything they can to hold onto and extend their power. The democrats have already signaled their move. They plan to use Obama and Eric Holder to gerrymander the GOP out of existence.

While I have little hope for the politicians, I want to have hope for the press. How does the news media regain the trust of the people it claims to serve? The first step is to admit there’s a problem. Right now defensive is what I see.

Here are a few things to think about to start the conversation.

Do we need an affirmative action program to recruit conservative journalists into media? We did it for women and minorities saying that their viewpoints should be represented in newsrooms. Why not conservatives? Only 7% of media identify as Republicans. That’s way below their representation in the population. Isn’t that how we look at diversity these days?

Since journalists have decided to drop impartiality it would only be fair to be transparent about who they are. Let’s develop on screen symbols for how people reporting, or opining, on elections have voted in the past. Has the journalist or pundit worked for a political party? Are they related to someone in politics or to a political operative? Like so many of the bloviators you see these days, do they work for an organization that promotes or supports a point of view, candidate, or party? You get the idea.

Should we vet the people who purport to vet our leaders?

How do we hold the media accountable?

What should the people’s reaction be to media they know isn’t telling the whole truth? Is the answer an economic boycott of media sponsors? That seems to work for some pressure groups. Why not a pressure group to fix journalism?

How about accuracy ratings? How often do they get it right?

I’d like this to be the start of a conversation. That’s what journalism is. Everyone is a stake-holder in a trustworthy and honest news media. I’m interested in what news consumers have to say. Sometimes journalists can’t see the forest for the trees.

Oh, and The Winter of Our Discontent?

For those of you who haven’t read John Steinbeck’s last book (1961) it may have some relevance to what we see in front of us these days. (Steinbeck took the title from the first line of William Shakespeare’s “Richard III.”)

It’s the story of a man who will do anything to regain the wealth and status his family enjoyed before his father lost their fortune.

He will cheat friends and take bribes.

He turns in an illegal immigrant who unwittingly trusts him, and signs over his store as he’s being deported because he thinks the man who screwed him is honest.

Can you guess the two people I’m thinking of?

I won’t tell you how the book ends. Read it and find out.

As for how this election ends, it won’t. I think we’ll be litigating it for a long time.

The mistrust is too deep. The wounds we’ve inflicted on each other are fierce.

Revelations that Hillary Clinton’s team is behind some of the violence at Trump rallies just turned the dial up to eleven. This seems like a violation of civil rights.

Reports of another GOP office vandalized, this time in Delaware, feel like attempts at intimidating voters.

What happens when victims of this violence and intimidation have had enough?

What do you think?

I don’t know how we bring out our better instincts. I don’t know if we have better instincts.

I’ve spent the better part of this piece blaming the politicians and news media for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They deserve it.

But truth be told we’re responsible for the institutions we don’t trust. They couldn’t exist without our acquiescence.

Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” comes to mind:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

Back in the USSR

People react to bad news in a number of ways. They freak about the message, or freak about the messenger. After it was revealed the Democratic National Committee screwed Bernie Sanders and his supporters, by favoring Hillary Clinton, media is angry at the possible messenger.

Yes, the more information profession is pissed off about more information. So, when in doubt, blame the Russians. It reminded me of this scene from “Dr. Strangelove.” Media jumped on that narrative faster than Slim Pickens on a nuke.

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Photo courtesy: Dr. Strangelove/Columbia Pictures

Never mind it took the FBI up to a year to determine they couldn’t figure out if the Russians, or others, hacked Hillary’s server of convenience and obstruction. Within days, we hear it’s likely the hackers were the Russians. From “experts.” As a former TV producer I can find an expert to tell you Guam is sinking. In Congress. But, that’s a story for another time.

And it’s not like the DNC wasn’t warned.

This morning, Donald Trump dared to go where Hillary hasn’t since December 4, 2015. The candidate for US president held an open press conference and took questions from reporters for about an hour.

Here’s what made the media crap themselves today.

While answering questions from reporters in Florida today, Trump looked directly into the cameras and said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” (ABC News)

Clinton’s camp was in high dudgeon. The media followed.

Clinton’s senior policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, released a statement in response to Trump’s comments.

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Sullivan said. “That’s not hyperbole. Those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity and a matter of politics to being a national security issue.” (ABC News)

Now, here’s the part of that exchange that isn’t getting a lot of play. It changes the context of Trump’s “Russia, if you’re listening…” remark.

“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.” (ABC News)

Trump mocked the press and they bit.

Now, to be clear, if the Russians are trying to influence our politics it’s a bad thing. But that bad thing has been going on forever. We do the same. Look at Barack Obama trying to oust Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the administration’s earlier denials, look at what a Senate committee turned up.

And it’s not the first time a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent.

Think “Lion of the U.S. Senate” and, bad driver of Oldsmobiles, Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy (lost to Jimmy Carter in 1980 and had to withdraw because of the Oldsmobile in 1972) was so desperate to keep Ronald Reagan from being re-elected in 1984, he secretly went to the Soviet Union for help. This was made public in the early 90’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Never mind that the current administration and current Democratic candidate for president underestimated Russia and mocked Republicans about the Cold War.

But back to the media.

Not all WikiLeaks are equal. Or so it would seem.

The Washington Post was thrilled to invite its readers to find what they could in the so-called “Cairo cables.” They went as far as crowd-sourcing the database to turn up more information faster.

Just like the Cairo WikiLeaks, the DNC WikiLeaks are about information. Sure, the Russians may be a secondary story and a big one at that, but the screwing over of a candidate and his followers is really the story right now.

Bernie Sanders knows darn well what happened. When asked if he trusted Hillary to carry out the “left leaning platform” for the Democrats, Sanders balked.

“Sorry, I’m not going to get into the trusted or not,” he responded.

“Hillary Clinton, you know, as I just said a moment ago, [you asked me to] characterize somebody in a way I’m not going to. Hillary Clinton is a very, very intelligent person . . . I’ve known her for 25 years.” (NY Post)

Just as Ted Cruz didn’t endorse Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t, when he could, say he trusted Hillary Clinton.

And, if you believe for a second that Debbie Wasserman Shultz wasn’t in the tank for Hillary Clinton, look at it this way instead.

Who knows more than DWS about collusion between the DNC and Hillary camp against Sanders? Best way to silence people: hire them. Debbie also needs party backing in a potentially tough re-election to the House.

So yeah, go ahead and be outraged by Russian mischief. I’m into nostalgia.

It takes me back to the good old days of duck and cover.

DuckandCover

And given the Trump press conference took place near Miami Beach, I couldn’t help but think of the Beatles send-up of the Cold War.

Here’s Paul McCartney performing in Kiev in 2008.

No matter how you feel about the DNC leaks and who leaked them, it’s hard to see why the content rather than the alleged leaker is the main story. I expect our enemies to mess with us. But neither Obama’s “flexibility,” or Clinton’s “reset button,” look like good foreign policy right now.

Funny thing. When I was a TV news manager I took many calls from disgruntled (love that word) viewers who had issues with stories. Only a tiny percentage of those stories had factual problems.

I always touched base with the producer or reporter involved with the questioned piece. More often than not one of us uttered this phrase of frustration, “they always want to kill the messenger.”

 

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

The Dallas Police Memorial: Obama’s missed opportunity

Obama Dallas
Photo Courtesy: WALA-TV/Mobile, Ala.

Barack Obama knows an opportunity when he sees one. It puzzled me when his highly anticipated “healing speech” fell flat on a number of fronts. Even worse, the president couldn’t stay away from his favorite rhetorical vehicles and his agenda.

The speech seemed fine, albeit unremarkable, at the get go.

Usually, a speaker kicks off with a joke to relax the crowd. Obama’s Stevie Wonder/Michelle/Chief Brown joke seemed more about relaxing himself. Decide for yourself if it was appropriate for the situation.

But there were the usual and appropriate things in Obama’s speech about police officers killed in the line of duty. The emotional references to family, service, and selflessness we’ve heard at all too many police funerals.

None of this was terrible, and I thought the president might get it. Does he finally get there are times to stay away from politics. Does he get this wasn’t the moment to scold and lecture America? This was the moment to honor five dead cops who were killed doing their jobs.

About a quarter of the way through the speech the president could no longer stifle his instinct to use any tragedy, any event, anything to push his narrative du jour.

“And then around nine o’clock, the gunfire came. Another community torn apart; more hearts broken; more questions about what caused and what might prevent another such tragedy.”

– Barack Obama; July 12, 2016

I knew the speech had turned.

And then soon after, this little gem:

“We turn on the TV or surf the Internet, and we can watch positions harden and lines drawn and people retreat to their respective corners, and politicians calculate how to grab attention or avoid the fallout. We see all this, and it’s hard not to think sometimes that the center won’t hold and that things might get worse.”

The president fails to mention that many of the offending opiners, and some of the most bombastic, are put out there by the White House.

And for at least the second time Obama used the, “I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem” line. An odd thing to say at a memorial for five slain officers. How much more divided do we have to be?

But Barack was just warming up. He was about to employ one of his favorite tactics: “Because I said so.”

“As a society, we choose to under-invest in decent schools.”

As if there can ever be enough money for schools. Any politician who doesn’t agree loses.

Fact: We spend about $70 billion a year on education at the federal level alone.

“We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment.”

Fact: While the military continues to take the lion’s share of our budget, we spend more than $62 billion on housing and community.

“We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs.”

Fact: We spend $66 billion on Medicare and health.

It’s easy to say we need to do more. But who’s been president for nearly eight years? “The buck stops here.” No?

Still, up until this point it was the president’s usual speech. Then came this doozy:

“We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than to get his hands on a computer or even a book.”

My stomach sank and my ass liked to bite the seat. The Internet exploded into ridicule. As fact as you can hit send, people like Sean Davis of “The Federalist” were on the president’s case.

Social media became a cornucopia of call-out.

Why the hell did Barack Obama go there?

Statements like that may sound and feel good to the president’s most rabid supporters, but even the rational faithful know it hurts the chances of having a real dialogue about the issue anytime soon.

“Don’t do stupid shit,” was, at one time, the motto of this White House.

I’ll let that one sit there.

I think the president had to bring up race. I know many were upset with that, but it’s impossible to unravel what happened in Dallas from race.

Maybe the surprise of the day, for me, came from none other than former president George W. Bush.

While still not no orator, Bush’s words felt real.

“At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization. Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose.”

– W; July 12, 2016

And like all things real and true, his words left me a little enlightened, and a little ashamed.

 

Barack Obama’s Alternate Reality

“Who are ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”  

That Chico Marx line from the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup” could well sum up President Barack Obama’s reaction to the slaughter of innocents.

Before the shock of a radical Muslim attack that killed 14 people at a Christmas party in San Bernardino wore off, Obama was blaming guns despite what the killers had to say: They swore allegiance to ISIS.

“Just after the shooting began, Malik went on Facebook and pledged her allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the militant group that says it has established a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, according to law enforcement officials. A Facebook official confirmed the posting, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigation.”

– The Washington Post; December 4, 2015

Straight from the horse’s mouth, as we used to say.

But never mind what the radicalized Islamists told us. Here’s what the president wanted to talk about.

Not only was San Bernardino all about guns and the end of due process to the president, Attorney General Loretta Lynch carried his message even further. Lynch saw fit to stifle free speech. Is there something about the Bill of Rights this administration hates?

In the middle of his murder spree inside the Pulse nightclub, Omar Mateen couldn’t wait to tell us why he was bent on killing as many Americans as possible. So he called 911.

When it was announced that Mateen made the call, the Obama administration’s first reaction was to try to block the public from seeing his true motives. The “most transparent administration,” as the president likes to tout, finally relented to political and media pressure. Like the massacre in San Bernardino, Obama would rather the terrorist’s motives for killing 49 people remain unknown.

Here is Mateen’s response when the police dispatcher had asked for his name: “My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.” Sound familiar?

Faster than a speeding bullet, Obama blamed guns. Once again, sound familiar?

To admit Mateen’s act was ISIS inspired, a group he once called the “JV squad,” wasn’t politically palatable for the president.

Admitting that adherence to the principles of radical Islam was at the root of the worst terror attack on the United States since 9/11, destroys Obama’s ISIS narrative.

And now we come to Dallas. For the past eight years, Obama’s surrogates like Black Lives Matter and Al Sharpton have been telling black people the police are the enemy. Police deaths are up this year. Is it a coincidence?

In New York, attendees of a Black Lives Matters march chanted for “dead cops.”

Why did Micah Johnson shoot 12 police officers and two civilians? He wanted to “kill white people, especially white officers.”

Finally, under the intense weight of a narrative he helped create, Obama tried to dial it back.

But the damage has already been done in so many ways.

The cynical use of the Ferguson fantasy as well as the use of people of color being shot by police as political hammers have served only to divide the nation along hard racial lines. Especially when those stories don’t turn out to be what’s been pushed.

Yet, in an election year, dead cops and ISIS inspired attacks are not a good narrative for the president’s legacy.

So Obama goes back to old, reliable, “The guns made him do it.”

Radical Islam and race relations are both important subjects the nation must discuss. Both will be uncomfortable conversations for each side if an honest talk is to take place. The president’s insistence on seeing these issues through his preferred political lens is dangerous and non- productive.

Three times now, murderers have told the nation why they committed the atrocities they did. And three times Barack Obama has asked, “Who are ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?”

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

The Immaculate Indictment

Yesterday’s remarkable performance by FBI Director James Comey, or as I call it, The Immaculate Indictment, would take a religious epiphany for one to conclude Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be indicted based on the evidence presented.

Why “immaculate?”

Because while not an official indictment, Comey indicted Hillary in the court of public opinion.

Fifty four percent of voters polled believe Hillary should have been indicted.

Eighty one percent of the voters, as indicated in the latest Rasmussen Reports Poll, believe the powerful get preferential treatment when they break the law.” Clinton should have been indicted.

Just what this election has been about from the get go.

Them and us.

The people believe the elites play by different rules, made by the elite, for the elite. Have I said elite enough?

Most TV reporters you see on cable or the networks aren’t the “ink stained wretches” of black and white movies. They often party and play with the people they cover. They make a lot of money. They are the elite.

The crossover and intermingling of the worlds of journalism and politics is understandable. You meet people at work. But it’s also understandable that the people might be suspicious. They have every right to be.

Polls show voters believe the media have a pro Hillary bias. [See The Samuel Taylor Coleridge Election].

Here’s a way to try and win back the confidence of some of those voters.

It’s time for the elites in media to pressure the former Secretary of State into an open press conference.  Not a controlled sit down on a set with a sympathetic reporter, no redundancy intended. Not a town hall stacked with anyone’s adoring supporters.

A real press conference. The last one Hillary Clinton held was on December 4, 2015. That’s 215 days, or a little more than seven months ago.

Obnoxious time comparisons:

– It took the Mayflower a little more than three months to make it from England to the shore off of what’s now Cape Cod.

– The gestation period of a grizzly bear is about 220 days.

– The gestation period of an opossum is 12 -13 days. I don’t know if they’re frisky creatures.

Resist shiny things and low hanging fruit.

Donald Trump makes it easy for the media to lose focus on what they’d like to lose focus on. Seems The Donald praised Saddam Hussein. Not the first time, but the first time media was looking for anything to change the narrative. A number of reporters jumped on it. Why not?

It’s a gift to media and Democrats redundant) that Trump seems to lack the ability to process and stop his thoughts before they become headlines. “Dude, do you hear yourself talking?”

The shooting of Alton Sterling, while a big story because of what looks like an execution by police of a black man, shouldn’t be ignored, nor should it be a distraction from Hillary Clinton’s deeds.

I hope the media, especially cable TV, resists the urge to politicize this the way they did Ferguson. Remember the now embarrassingly discredited “hands up don’t shoot” theme of nearly every show on CNN?

CNN.jpg

I doubt the social justice warriors in newsrooms will be able to resist, especially with the shooting video to use in teases and promos. Conflict works.

Hint to media: you can cover both stories.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has already handed the investigation over to the Department of Justice and the FBI. It’s time to let the system work. You know, the same system that delighted liberals when it didn’t didn’t indict Hillary. No justice, no peace anyone?

There’s no point in asking the Democrats and Hillary to lay off the racial politics for the good of the country. If they make the calculation a long hot summer is good for their electoral fortunes, there will be a long hot summer.

But back to the media.

Once again the people are telling the media, screaming at the media, “we’re being rat-fucked, please do something.”

When eighty one percent of the people believe they’re screwed it’s a dangerous thing.

To my former colleagues and friends in the media: isn’t it time to get back some of your self-respect? You work for the people, not the politicians. You have the unique opportunity and privilege to hold those politicians accountable. With that privilege comes the responsibility to do so.

Demand Hillary face the press and the people.

 
© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

Dazed and Confused. The Comey Statement.

If you watched James Comey’s statement on TV, maybe you came away dazed and confused like I did.

The FBI Director went through his department’s year-long investigation and addressed what they had found. Not being a lawyer, it seemed to me Hillary Clinton was about to be indicted.

Some lawyers thought Clinton should have been indicted too. Andrew C. McCarthey, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, and a personal friend of Comey’s, tore him a new one.

All over social media, people mockingly rejoiced in the “lack of intent” part of Hillary’s seeming exoneration.

“Sorry officer, I didn’t mean to speed. Will that be all?” You get the picture.

But I’m not sure Comey let Hillary off the hook. He may have even signaled his disdain for Clinton when he said:

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences.

If you read Comey’s speech you can see it’s an attack ad bonanza for Donald Trump.

Comey’s description of how the woman who would be president handled state secrets for self-serving reasons has to make even the deepest blue Democrats question Clinton’s judgement and honesty. Again.

The recent State Department Inspector General’s report showed Clinton’s key assertions about how she handled her e-mails were false. Today, according to the Comey FBI report, her claims have once again proven to be mostly lies.

Jim Nabors Surprise

And surprise, surprise, It also seems Hillary’s representatives lied to the press about the process her lawyers employed to sort through her e-mails.

Even worse, Hillary may have perjured herself when she testified before Congress.

In light of today’s events, it becomes increasingly hard to believe the Clinton-Lynch tale about “running into each other at the airport,” calling into question Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s honesty. Today makes it feel even more like the fix was in. Think about the timing of today’s Obama campaign trip.

Maybe even worse for Clinton, it’s not hard to see how people believe that laws are different for the little people. It’s also not hard to believe if you have enough power and influence you can seemingly skate by anything. The very things Bernie Sanders voters despise.

The candidate that could least afford to look like a privileged insider will have a harder, if not impossible time shaking that mantle. Photo ops in a Mexican fast food place or on a subway car can’t wash away the smug entitlement of someone the voters believe is above the law and not accountable.

Not a good look for a candidate in the year of populism and the outsider.

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet