Category Archives: Media Watch

Instead of getting distracted, drive the narrative

 

Puerto Rico devastation from Hurricane Maria

Back in February 2011, we published Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. Perhaps some folks need a refresher course. In that post, we wrote, “If you’re fighting a political battle on the other side’s rhetorical turf, you’ve already lost.” At the time, such advice was referring to phony cultural issues like “Ground Zero Mosque” and “is President Obama a Muslim?” that Republicans had ginned up and repeated everywhere they could (see Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat). With their herd mentality, the mainstream media then picked up these issues and focused their broadcasts, cablecasts and column space on them.

Fast forward to today. Donald Trump and the Republicans are doing the same thing again, and it’s working. Currently, the phony cultural issues are: “Kneeling NFL Players” and “Harvey Weinstein.” To those, you can add, “NBC and CNN Licenses.” By next week, expect different cultural issues.

Right wing Twitter bots posing as attractive women

Orange-helping fembots

If you search Twitter for “John Kelly” (White House Chief of Staff) to find out the latest on rumors of his possible resignation, you may stumble upon tweet after tweet indicating “John Kelly Reveals Why He Didn’t Wear a US Flag Pin During Confirmation.” Here’s an example:

Checking out some of these tweets, you will find that nearly every one was posted by an attractive-looking white woman, according to their profiles. Moreover, many such profiles were nearly identical, often indicating “Wife,” “Mom,” “Animal Lover,” “Patriot,” “Middle Class Trump Supporter,” etc. And even more creepy is that, besides the tweet about Kelly and the flag pin, many of these accounts have identical tweets down the line, in the same order, including “Lying Liberal Media is 92% Negative Against President Trump,” “RNC Chairwoman RIPS Michelle Obama’s Claim GOP is ‘ALL WHITE MEN,’” “BREAKING: Senate Intel Committee BLASTS Media for FAKE Russia News,” and the like. Furthermore, many of the posted stories come from “reportsecret.com.” When you search for that outlet, you get a 404 Error. Other links go to truthfeednews.com, which does exist, and it is some conservative publication. Their Kelly post didn’t criticize Kelly directly, but it did say this:

Ever since Barack Obama’s disastrous presidency, the American flag has been under an all-out assault.

NFL athletes routinely disrespect our flag, as do Hollywood celebrities, far-left denizens, and Democrat politicians.

In fact, many Democrat politicians make a point of choosing to not wear an American flag pin on their jackets, a subtle snub to our country and to those who are patriotic.

Here are a few more examples of the profiles found and some of the tweets in question:

Social media coverage of Hurricane Harvey brings Americans together

Driver receives assistance in Pearland, TX during Hurricane Harvey

This past weekend, Twitter and Facebook posts about the Mayweather-McGregor fight gave way to posts about Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas, and causing tremendous flooding devastation. Since then, as more traditional media such as broadcast and cable TV news are making admirable efforts on the scene with live reporting (and even some rescue work), social media users are sending around gobs of information, donation and volunteering tips, and rescue requests. Here are some of the highlights of social media activity in Houston, around the U.S. and in other countries as well:

Donald Trump’s war with the press

White House protest the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired

White House protest the day after FBI Director James Comey was fired

After a disastrous week for Donald Trump and his White House, with ever-changing stories about Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump tweeted on Friday that he may discontinue White House daily press briefings. This follows a series of disturbing incidents exhibiting shabby Trump administration treatment of the national news media, including:

  • Banning The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Politico, BuzzFeed, the BBC and the Guardian from press briefings.
  • Ejecting Andrea Mitchell of NBC News from State Department events where she tried to ask questions.
  • Repeatedly referring to the mainstream news media as “fake news” whenever they report on real stories that are unflattering to the Trump administration, especially the investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
  • Having a reporter arrested after he asked questions at Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price at the West Virginia state Capitol.
  • Cutting off veteran reporter April Ryan, who is a black woman, and telling her, “stop shaking your head” while she was asking a question in the White House Press Room.

Senate Intelligence Committee hearing: Russia waging cyber war against United States

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Trump/Russia Inauguration Day protest

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held an open hearing designed to lay out Russia‘s intentions and techniques (“active measures)” to influence the U.S. 2016 elections, and to propose actions and solutions to address them going forward. According to Independent Senator Angus King, from what he heard during the hearing, “we’re engaged in a new form of aggression, if not war,” from Russia. King’s statement echoed former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said a few days earlier that, “in some quarters,” Russia’s interference in the U.S. election “could be considered an act of war.” Witnesses at the hearing agreed that Russia is engaged in cyber “warfare” against the U.S. This is a crucial first step in investigating whether Donald Trump‘s campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election.

Donald Trump’s media mistake

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

For over 40 years, Donald Trump has been a media creature. He has successfully used the media, from his books to his TV and radio interviews to his reality TV shows to his tweets, to further his business and political interests. Trump’s love of the spotlight was well rewarded during the 2016 Republican primaries and general election with an astounding $2 billion or more of free media coverage. That’s why Trump’s rookie mistakes towards the media since stepping into the White House are so surprising.

In the Trump age, be your own news editor

Faux News, the original Fake News

Faux News, the original Fake News

In September 2015, we gave some recommendations on how to bypass the corporate mainstream media, which were doing an awful job reporting real news. We suggested that readers and viewers choose their own news sources, follow such sources on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and share important stories. This way, you can act as your own news editor and broadcaster. Given the mainstream media’s abysmal 2016 election coverage, and with Donald Trump now in the White House, these efforts are more important than ever.

Trump’s troubling ties to Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Several weeks ago, Donald Trump kicked off a constitutional crisis by firing the Acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates, after Yates opposed Trump’s Muslim Ban. Since then, after rulings by numerous federal courts, Yates’ view has been validated. Now it turns out that another correct decision by Yates, regarding Russia, was ignored by Trump and his White House staff, with dire consequences.

Republicans obsessed with fighting Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Like a dog with a bone, many Republicans just won’t let go of their battles over culture in America, from LGBT rights to guns to infusing government with their religion — often referred to by the phrase “God, Guns and Gays” — to the media we consume. Led by Donald Trump himself, these conservatives seem to be spending an awful lot of time fretting over Super Bowl commercials and other corporate policies. The results vary from ill-fated boycotts to a further tearing of the fabric of America.

The Breitbarting of America

Trump/Breitbart propagandist Stephen Bannon

Trump/Breitbart propagandist Stephen Bannon

Donald Trump‘s unofficial electoral win, as well as the elevation of Stephen Bannon to Trump campaign CEO and then future White House counsel, demonstrates how Andrew Breitbart‘s style of propaganda and fake news has triumphed. The mainstream media helped the Breitbart model win, cheering every step of the way. All of this is dangerous for the country.

Before his death in 2012 from a heart attack at age 43, Andrew Breitbart launched Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv and other related sites, which furthered right wing narratives such as “Scary Brown People” and “Corporations Good, Government Bad.” During President Barack Obama‘s administration, Breitbart helped to push anti-Obama and anti-Democratic Party stories, many of which were at least partially fake or based on doctored videos (i.e., propaganda), but which got picked up by the major news media and became the news, with marvelous results for the GOP. Among the best-known stories flogged by Breitbart were: