Tag Archives: Washington Post

If all the fake news is really fake, does that mean the fake news is true?

Research has shown that over 90% of the media’s coverage of President Trump is negative.  2017 was a year of unrelenting bias, unfair news coverage, and even outright fake news.

Here’s some of the proof that the fake news is really fake:

The New York Times “won” first place for an op-ed about Trump’s effect on the markets, published right after the election.

CNN, perhaps not surprisingly given Trump’s vitriol, took home four “honors.”

Trump’s list is a collection of some of the biggest journalistic errors of the past year (and a lesson in the perils of aggregating viral videos or sending hasty tweets).

The aftermath of the stories listed also shows news organizations’ commitment to setting the record straight. In almost every case, media outlets issued corrections. When reporters made mistakes, they acknowledged them repeatedly. In one instance, the reporters and editors involved resigned.

Below is an annotated list, to give some context to these “awards.” The full list is (probably) available here.

1. The New York Times’ Paul Krugman claimed on the day of President Trump’s historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover.

This is a short op-ed, published, it appears, soon after the election — a prediction, not a report.

2. ABC News’ Brian Ross CHOKES and sends markets in a downward spiral with false report.

ABC News was rightly criticized for botching a report that said President Trump had directed Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russians. Ross later issued a clarification on “World News Tonight,” and ABC News followed up with a full apology for the “serious error,” which it said had not met the network’s editorial standards or vetting process. Ross was suspended from ABC News for four weeks as a result of his misreporting.

3. CNN FALSELY reported that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks.

CNN initially falsely reported that Donald Trump Jr. received an email from Wikileaks about hacked DNC documents on September 4 — which would have implied he had advance notice of the trove to be released online. But Trump Jr. actually received that email on September 14, the day after the cache was posted online. The Washington Post revealed the discrepancy and CNN issued a prominently placed correction, though the error undercut the entire report.

4. TIME FALSELY reported that President Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.

Time reporter Zeke Miller initially reported that the bust was gone, but followed up quickly with a correction. He sent out numerous tweets and apologies immediately correcting the record.

5. Washington Post FALSELY reported the President’s massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty. Dishonest reporter showed picture of empty arena HOURS before crowd started pouring in.

Dave Weigel, a reporter at the Washington Post, tweeted a picture that underestimated crowd for Trump’s rally in Pensacola. Weigel deleted the initial tweet from his private account, saying “it was a bad tweet on my personal account, not a story for the Washington Post.”

6. CNN FALSELY edited a video to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister. Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding.

The videos and photos of Trump dumping an entire box of food into a koi pond circulated widely on social media, and were picked up by CNN and others before fact-checkers pointed out that the full video disproved the notion that Trump committed a faux pas — although CNN did write in its story that “Abe… actually appeared to dump out his box of food ahead of Trump.”

7. CNN FALSELY reported about Anthony Scaramucci’s meeting with a Russian, but retracted it due to a “significant breakdown in process.”

This retracted story was one of CNN’s biggest black eyes of 2017, but the network’s response was severe — three reporters and editors resigned as a result, including the executive editor in charge of investigations.

8. Newsweek FALSELY reported that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake President Trump’s hand.

Like the koi pond incident, this was a case of a publication (Newsweek, but also Vanity Fair, Time, and The Hill, and that’s just from the first page of Google results) reporting on a viral video clip without seeing the whole story — which, in this case, showed that the Polish first lady eventually shook Trump’s hand after shaking Melania’s first. Newsweek updated its story within three hours with a correction: “The mildly awkward and humorously relatable exchange was just that, and no apparent swipe at the U.S. president.”

9. CNN FALSELY reported that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute President Trump’s claim that he was told he is not under investigation.

Here’s what CNN got wrong: “One source said Comey is expected to explain to senators that those were much more nuanced conversations from which Trump concluded that he was not under investigation.” That source was apparently incorrect, and the story was corrected and updated after publication. (One of the reporters involved in this story, Eric Lichtblau, resigned after the Scaramucci report, No. 7 on this list, a few weeks later.)

10. The New York Times FALSELY claimed on the front page that the Trump administration had hidden a climate report.

This isn’t exactly what happened. The Times reported in August that scientists were afraid that the Trump administration would suppress a report on the impact of climate change that was awaiting review, and said it was making the draft publicly available for the first time. This wasn’t true — the report had surfaced on the nonprofit Internet Archive in January 2017, and the Trump administration still had time to approve and publish the report.

As the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote at the time, this was a significant blow to the Times’s premise. But the reporters never claimed the Trump administration had already suppressed the report. (The climate change report was eventually published.)

11. And last, but not least: “RUSSIA COLLUSION!” Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. THERE IS NO COLLUSION!

Besides Ross’s error, Trump did not call out any specific story about the Russia probe or special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Trump, after posting the link to the awards, wrote, “There are many great reporters I respect and lots of GOOD NEWS for the American people to be proud of!” But so far, no word of any awards for that.

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  A journalist in days gone by would not print a story, and certainly would not allow his or her name to be attached to the story, unless all facts and statements in the story had been checked, rechecked, and fully verified. That is, or was, simply a part of being a professional journalist.  It’s no different than telling lies to people you know.  Once you are known for telling lies, no one will believe you any more no matter what you tell them.  You can’t get away with telling lies in a court of justice; what makes people think they can get away with telling lies in the court of public opinion?
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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970
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Even Clinton’s supporters won’t call her “honest” or “trustworthy”

Telling it like it is...

If I could get my liberal Democrat friends to answer one question honestly, I think it would be this one:  “Do you really believe that Hillary Clinton is innocent of the crimes she’s been accused of and has been honest with the American people?”

If they were being honest, I don’t think any of them could reply affirmatively. I am almost certain that none of them would be willing to make themselves liars by calling the woman honest or innocent. I know this because even liberals who are a bit more craven, like New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and liberal journalist Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame), can’t bring themselves to do it.

Hassan is a devoted Clinton surrogate who has been making the rounds in the media trying to drum up support for her candidate. However, she got tripped up when she appeared on CNN Tuesday morning. During her conversation with CNN’s Manu Raju, she was asked a completely surprising question… well at least it was surprising to her.

“Do you think that she is honest and trustworthy?” Raju innocently asked the Governor. Did Hassan respond with an immediate and emphatic, “Yes, of course she is!”

NOPE.

Even a seasoned Clinton shill like Hassan could not bring herself to sink so low as to claim that Clinton was “honest”. Here’s how Hassan responded:

Maggie Hassan: “I support Hillary Clinton for the presidency because her experience and her record demonstrate that she is qualified to hold the job.”

So Manu Raju tried again, “Do you think she is honest?”

Maggie Hassan: “She has, um, a critical, critical plan among others for making college more affordable.”

 Finally, Raju pled with Governor Hassan to answer the question, “But do you think that she is trustworthy?”

To which Hassan replied: “I think she has demonstrated a commitment always to something beyond herself, bigger than herself.”

Maggie, don’t worry about it. I couldn’t have told a bald-faced lie like “Hillary is honest” on national TV either. That kind of insincerity could only come from someone as seasoned at lying as a Clinton.  

Don’t blame Hassan for being unable to even pretend that Hillary Clinton is honest. Even the most anti-conservative among us can see the dishonesty and the corruption oozing from Hillary’s pores. Just ask the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward.

Woodward was on CBS This Morning to discuss Donald Trump’s recent foreign policy speech and the state of the Hillary Clinton email scandal, but when asked to comment on what we should be watching for in the Congressional Clinton email investigation, Woodward described this as a “very serious issue.”

This is a “very serious issue. So many unanswered questions. Let’s face it, Hillary Clinton has not come totally clean on this…”

When answering why she hasn’t come clean on this, Woodward responded: Habit of secrecy. The whole idea of the private server was so no one would know. It’s a very bad habit. I think people say, ‘if she became president are we going to have some kind of transparency. Is there going to be a culture of straight talk, rather than a culture of concealment?’”

You know, Bob, when anyone else is called out for having a “habit of secrecy,” they’re usually just called LIARS. I know, that’s probably too straightforward for a liberal journalist who’s spent the last 50+ years living and working in Washington, D.C. but that’s exactly what you’re talking about here. It’s not a culture of secrecy or concealment. It’s a culture of lying to cover up the things that might derail her future.

Let’s stop parsing. Stop using weasel words. She is a liar and she hasn’t “come clean” because she knows that the things she is lying to cover up could destroy her career and her chances at becoming President. Hillary Clinton knows it, Maggie Hassan knows it, Bob Woodward knows it, and the American people know it.

 

[from an article by Onan Coca appearing on CONSTITUTION.COM]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

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TPP trade deal explanation for people who fall asleep hearing about trade deals…

With votes expected later today in the House on the trade deal, we are reposting this terrific explanation that will make you care about trade deals. Or, at least, understand them better.

I spend my life writing about politics. I also like math and data and so on. And yet even I find the discussion of the trade deal being considered in Washington to be hopelessly dull. (I say this sincerely.) But we are all adults, and we should be informed about what the government is doing. So allow me to do my best to outline what’s being discussed in a way that will offer at least a 22 percent chance you’ll stay awake for the entire thing.

Okay. Two separate things are being talked about, each of which is often referred to by an abbreviation, and the two abbreviations are almost identical. (We are starting off poorly.)

First, there’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. This is the actual trade deal that President Obama is hoping to secure with a number of countries, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. You can remember that TPP is the trade deal itself because TPP is like OPP, and the deal is all about getting other people’s property. Specifically, the people of the Pacific Rim.

Then there’s Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA. This is also known as “fast-track” authority because it gives the president the ability to negotiate a deal that will receive only an up-or-down vote in Congress. Without fast track, Congress can amend the terms of the deal. You can remember that TPA is “fast track” because when you T.P. a house, you are on the “fast track” to juvenile delinquency. Or you can just call it fast track, which is easier.

Fast-track authority doesn’t apply to only one agreement. In the past, it has spanned presidencies, beginning in 1974 and lasting until the Clinton administration. It also existed during parts of both terms of George W. Bush’s presidency. From the president’s standpoint, fast-track authority is critical to negotiating agreements because he can negotiate in good faith — what he says to his negotiating partners he’s confident will be part of the final deal (if Congress approves it).

So that’s TPP and TPA. Now let’s talk politics.

Trade deals are often contentious, particularly among Democrats. (Last year, the National Journal called trade the “last major fault line” in the party.) Environmentalists often oppose the deals because they don’t include heightened environmental protections. Labor loathes trade deals, having seen hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs go to Mexico in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA) and because they want stronger worker protections included (in part, to ensure that overseas manufacturers aren’t cutting costs on the backs of their workers).

But the business community — and therefore most Republicans and pro-business Democrats — loves these deals, because they open up new markets. (And, in the past, because companies have been able to cut costs by moving jobs to, say, Mexico.) This led to the unusual spectacle this week of the Chamber of Commerce, which opposed Obama’s reelection, arguing in favor of giving Obama fast track and the AFL-CIO, which backed his reelection, arguing against it.

We should mention: Fast track is the actual political issue right now because Obama considers it essential for completing the TPP (yeah, you know me). He has been trying to line up Democratic support for reinstating the authority, but has had trouble getting some of his team on board. Last week, he had a big victory when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) reached an agreement with Republicans for what he calls “smart track” — fast-track authority overlaid with mandatory protections for workers and the environment.

The louder fight, as always, will be in the House. As you may have gathered above, many House Democrats have expressed reluctance to approve fast track. More than 120 signed a letter opposing TPA during the last Congress. And as The Post’s Reid Wilson elegantly details, Democratic power centers have changed since NAFTA was passed in the 1990s, making the fight trickier.

So what, you might ask. If Republicans like the idea, doesn’t Speaker Boehner have enough votes from his conference? And my response is: Has Boehner ever had a unified caucus? As usual, the most conservative wing of the House GOP is giving Boehner trouble. Earlier this year, a prominent tea party organization trumpeted that it was teaming up with labor to block fast track, yet another set of weird bedfellows in Trade Deal Hotel. The conservative opposition comes from a different place, though: The group does not support granting that much power to the president, particularly this president. A common argument is that fast track skips over the democratic process of Congress weighing in on an agreement — which is true, but is also something Congress has overlooked in the past.

Hanging over all of this is 2016. You may remember several references above to NAFTA, the big trade deal in the 1990s that labor hates. You also may remember that the president who finalized that deal was a gentleman who went by the name of “Clinton.” (Here’s the Web page from his administration explaining what fast track is!) You also may have heard that his wife is running for president.

Hillary Clinton is in a tough spot. She seems eager to get the left-most wing of the party behind her, but it almost uniformly doesn’t like the TPP. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been outspoken in her opposition, prompting an unusual rebuke from the president.) When Clinton was secretary of state, she backed the deal — but she can easily point out that she was working for the guy who is so eager to see it pass now. She offered a tepid note of caution on the deal last week, including that she is worried about “currency manipulation” — something that has been called a “poison pill” for a deal. (Meaning: If it’s included, the bill is dead. You probably knew that, but we’re just making sure.)

Jeb Bush has already attacked Clinton for her “flip flop” on the deal, because . . . he’s on Obama’s side? As we said earlier, the politics on this are weird.

So, that’s where we are. Congress is expected to vote on the issue next month, meaning lots more time to hear about how all of this works. (And lots more time for 2016 candidates to try to beat each other up.) If you made it this far, if you read this far down, you deserve a reward. E-mail me, and I will e-mail you back a personal thank-you note. You deserve it. Being an adult doesn’t have to be hard.

 

[by Philip Bump, writing for The Washington Post]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

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Perhaps the Hubble Space Telescope’s greatest image…

Hubble Space Telescope is having a birthday...

The Hubble is about to turn 25. That’s an awesome milestone for a piece of hardware that’s vastly exceeded expectations.  We’re doing a story that will run between now and the anniversary of the launch next Friday. See also Rachel Feltman’s Speaking of Science blog for coverage. Here’s a verbatim e-mail exchange I had the other day with astrophysicist Mario Livio, about the “Mystic Mountain” pillar of dust and gas (above) that became the 20th anniversary image of the Hubble Space Telescope back in 2010:

JA: “How big is the Mystic Mountain? I mean, like, in hundreds of miles, billions of miles, light years?”

Mario Livio: “It is about 3 light-years tall, which is about 18 trillion miles.”

So here is one of the big insights about outer space: It’s big. And it’s full of big stuff. I know I’m threatening to go over everyone’s head here with the scientific and technical language. Sorry, it just makes me feel smarter to sling the jargon.

The other thing you see in Hubble images is the dynamism of the cosmos. Nothing out there is static. It’s roiling and rumbling. It’s exploding and exuding and entropically eroding. The whole thing is expanding, and thanks to the Hubble and some other telescopes we now know the expansion is accelerating. Hang on for dear life, folks.

I’ll have more to say on the Hubble after this brief intermission when I go find my gate (am at BWI again — my second home!).

[Muzak…]

I’m back. So I’ve already covered space is big and space is dynamic, my two major insights, and now here’s another bonus observation: The Hubble is a great story of human engineering, not only because it works so well but because for a while there it didn’t work very well at all. Spherical aberration: the two most dreaded words in any telescope’s vocabulary. [Mudge from the Boodle suggests two more: “bird poop.”] The flawed mirror threatened to render the whole project a disappointment, but in 1993 shuttle astronauts flew to Hubble, grabbed it, and put in an instrument [COSTAR, for “Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement”] that corrected the aberration. Hubble was off to the races.

 

norm-al-150416-2

[by Joel Achenbach, who writes on science and politics for the Washington Post’s national desk and on the “Achenblog.”]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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What we know — and think we know — about the late, great housing bubble…

We are constantly learning new stuff about the housing bubble — and some of the new stuff contradicts the old. This is obviously important, because the bubble led to the 2008-2009 financial crisis and Great Recession. What we don’t understand may one day come back to bite us.

There’s a standard and widely shared explanation of what caused the bubble. The villains were greed, dishonesty and (at times) criminality, the story goes. Wall Street, through a maze of mortgage brokers and securitizations, channeled too much money into home buying and building. Credit standards fell. Loan applications often overstated incomes or lacked proper documentation of creditworthiness (so-called no-doc loans).

The poor were the main victims of this campaign. Scholars who studied the geography of mortgage lending found loans skewed toward low-income neighborhoods. Subprime borrowers were plied with too much debt. All this fattened the revenue of Wall Street firms or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored housing finance enterprises. When home prices reached unsustainable levels, the bubble did what bubbles do. It burst.

Now comes a study that rejects or qualifies much of this received wisdom. Conducted by economists Manuel Adelino of Duke University, Antoinette Schoar of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Felipe Severino of Dartmouth College, the study — recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research — reached three central conclusions.

First, mortgage lending wasn’t aimed mainly at the poor. Earlier research studied lending by Zip codes and found sharp growth in poorer neighborhoods. Borrowers were assumed to reflect the average characteristics of residents in these neighborhoods. But the new study examined the actual borrowers and found this wasn’t true. They were much richer than average residents. In 2002, home buyers in these poor neighborhoods had average incomes of $63,000, double the neighborhoods’ average of $31,000.

Bigger home, bigger mortgage.

 Second, borrowers were not saddled with progressively larger mortgage debt burdens. One way of measuring this is the debt-to-income ratio: Someone with a $100,000 mortgage and $50,000 of income has a debt-to-income ratio of 2. In 2002, the mortgage-debt-to-income ratio of the poorest borrowers was 2; in 2006, it was still 2. Ratios for wealthier borrowers also remained stable during the housing boom. The essence of the boom was not that typical debt burdens shot through the roof; it was that more and more people were borrowing.

Third, the bulk of mortgage lending and losses — measured by dollar volume — occurred among middle-class and high-income borrowers. In 2006, the wealthiest 40 percent of borrowers represented 55 percent of new loans and nearly 60 percent of delinquencies (defined as payments at least 90 days overdue) in the next three years.

If these findings hold up to scrutiny by other scholars, they alter our picture of the housing bubble. Specifically, they question the notion that the main engine of the bubble was the abusive peddling of mortgages to the uninformed poor. In 2006, the poorest 30 percent of borrowers accounted for only 17 percent of new mortgage debt. This seems too small to explain the financial crisis that actually happened.

It is not that shoddy, misleading and fraudulent merchandising didn’t occur. It did. But it wasn’t confined to the poor and was caused, at least in part, by a larger delusion that was the bubble’s root source.

During the housing boom, there was a widespread belief that home prices could go in only one direction: up. If this were so, the risks of borrowing and lending against housing were negligible. Home buyers could enjoy spacious new digs as their wealth grew. Lenders were protected. The collateral would always be worth more tomorrow than today. Borrowers who couldn’t make their payments could refinance on better terms or sell.

This mind-set fanned the demand for ever bigger homes, creating a permissive mortgage market that — for some — crossed the line into unethical or illegal behavior. Countless mistakes followed. One example: The Washington Post recently reported that, in the early 2000s, many middle-class black families took out huge mortgages, sometimes of $1 million, to buy homes now worth much less. These are upper-middle-class households, not the poor.

It’s tempting to blame misfortune on someone else’s greed or dishonesty. If Wall Street’s bad behavior was the only problem, the cure would be stricter regulatory policing that would catch dangerous characters and practices before they do too much damage. This seems to be the view of the public and many “experts.”

But the matter is harder if the deeper cause was bubble psychology. It arose from years of economic expansion, beginning in the 1980s, that lulled people into faith in a placid future. They imagined what they wanted: perpetual prosperity. After the brutal Great Recession, this won’t soon repeat itself. But are we now forever insulated from bubble psychology? Extremely doubtful.

[by Robert J. Samuelson, writing for The Washington Post]

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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Once again, a picture is worth a thousand words…

Sometimes our political cartoonists get it SO right that we just have to share it with you. Such is the case with Lisa Benson of The Washington Post Writers Group.

Mr. C still alive and well...

 

As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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