Modern Journalism: Viral Lying

WALKER 2016-2

Scott Walker has done it again. And by “done it” I mean “been the victim of a vicious media smear.”

T. Becket Adams:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker believes forced ultrasounds are “just a cool thing for women,” a handful of online news sites reported Wednesday.

Problem is: That’s not exactly what the Republican governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate said.

In an interview Friday with conservative radio host Dana Loesch, Walker defended a bill that he signed into law in 2013 mandating that women seeking abortions must also be provided with ultrasounds.

The measure, Senate Bill 206, or Sonya’s Law, reads, “This bill requires … that before a person may perform or induce an abortion the physician … [must] perform, or arrange for a qualified person to perform, an ultrasound on the pregnant woman using whichever transducer the woman chooses.”

Walker bragged in his interview with Loesch that he and his team, “defunded Planned Parenthood.”

“We also signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” he said.

The Wisconsin governor, who is also the father to two sons, then marveled at the technology behind ultrasounds.

“Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there,” he said.

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would, would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” he added.

Newsrooms took it from there, editing together Walker’s comments so that they could claim in headlines that the Republican lawmaker said “forced ultrasounds” are “cool.”

Right Wing Watch, a left-wing watchdog group, was one of the first to take on Walker’s comments, publishing a story Tuesday titled “Scott Walker: Ultrasounds Should Be Mandatory Since They’re ‘A Cool Thing.'”

On Wednesday, multiple newsrooms appeared to follow Right Wing Watch’s lead.

Talking Points Memo published a headline that read, “Scott Walker: Mandatory Ultrasounds Are ‘Just A Cool Thing’ For Women.”

“Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said in an interview on Friday that mandatory ultrasounds for women hoping to get an abortion was ‘just a cool thing,'” read the opening paragraph to TPM’s write up of the Walker interview.

Politico published a story with the headline, “Scott Walker on mandatory ultrasounds: ‘It’s just a cool thing out there.'” That headline has since been amended so that it now reads, “Scott Walker defends mandatory ultrasounds.”

The Week chimed in, “Scott Walker defends mandatory ultrasounds: They’re ‘just a cool thing.'”

Not to be outdone, Salon claimed in its write-up of Walker’s remarks that he said, “Women should be forced to have transvaginal ultrasounds because they are ‘a cool thing.'”

Raw Story also jumped in with a story titled, “Scott Walker: Women should be forced to have ultrasounds because they’re ‘a cool thing.'”

Then there was Mother Jones, which published a report titled, “Scott Walker Says Mandatory Ultrasounds Are ‘Just a Cool Thing’ for Women.”

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards cashed in on the media brouhaha Wednesday afternoon by saying in a statement to NPR that, “Women are very clear that forced government ultrasounds are not ‘cool.'”

Technically, you could argue (as Josh Marshall was doing last night) that the original story is true because Scott Walker actually said all the things he is quoted as saying. But if you argued that you would be both wrong and stupid.

There is a word for selectively quoting someone out of context to distort or change the meaning of what they said. That word is “lying”.

Meanwhile, over at the New York Times:

Carly Fiorina, in an Ambush of Hillary Clinton, Gets Defensive

Carly Fiorina spends a lot of her time as a Republican presidential candidate attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate, and has earned considerable news coverage for it. On Wednesday, with Mrs. Clinton set to give a speech at a South Carolina hotel, Ms. Fiorina arranged a news conference outside – for little reason, it seemed, other than to taunt her.

Unlike Mrs. Clinton, she pointedly assured reporters, she would take their questions.

And she did – saying, for example, that she did not regret appearing at one Clinton Global Initiative event herself, despite the controversy recently over foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. “Last year we didn’t know all the things that we now know about the Clinton Foundation,” Ms. Fiorina said.

Would she go back? “Well, that was a hypothetical,” she said. “My guess is, they won’t invite me again.”

But Ms. Fiorina quickly grew discomfited when the questions seemed to treat her more as a heckler pulling a stunt than as a formidable candidate making an otherwise significant campaign stop.

One reporter asked if Ms. Fiorina was being used by the men in the Republican field to harass Mrs. Clinton.

Ms. Fiorina insisted she had planned her trip here “many, many weeks ago, so perhaps she’s following me.” She said she had lots more to offer than merely Clinton-bashing: “Anyone who has sat through these avails over many months knows that I will take any question on any subject, and the vast majority of my speeches in front of anyone are about a host of issues.”

About 20 reporters and photographers circled her near a side entrance to the Marriott, leaning in to hear Ms. Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who spoke softly, at times barely audible.

One reporter asked if she was here because of Mrs. Clinton.

“I planned to be here weeks and weeks ago!” she said. “I have a luncheon to go to, with the G.O.P. here.”

At this hotel?

“This trip has been on my itinerary for a very long time,” she said.

Ms. Fiorina was only too glad to discuss immigration reform — she criticized President Obama and Mrs. Clinton — and equal pay. “A man can sit in a government office and watch pornography all day long,” and still earn more than a hard-working woman in the same job, she said. Women, she said, were “held to different standards.”

She did not indicate whether she felt that was true of Mrs. Clinton as well. But she stressed that Mrs. Clinton needed to be held accountable.

“I hope you will continue to be as aggressive with Mrs. Clinton, wherever she is,” Ms. Fiorina said.

“All right, thank you, everyone,” an aide interjected after about 11 minutes.

A reporter tried to pose another question. But Ms. Fiorina demurred.

“Thanks, you guys — I have a lunch to go to,” she said, carefully stepping across the cables stretching to the satellite trucks that had arrived to record Mrs. Clinton’s appearance inside the hotel.

Did you see what they did there?

That is certainly a different definition of “ambush” considering that Fiorina never spoke directly to Hillary. While it is fair to point out that the news conference was a campaign stunt, so is pretty much every campaign appearance Hillary makes.

The life of a reporter is just so unfair:

Sadly, yes:

Clinton Foundation paid Blumenthal $10K per month while he advised on Libya

Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, earned about $10,000 a month as a full-time employee of the Clinton Foundation while he was providing unsolicited intelligence on Libya to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to multiple sources familiar with the arrangement.

Blumenthal was added to the payroll of the Clintons’ global philanthropy in 2009 — not long after advising Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — at the behest of former president Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked in the White House, say the sources.

While Blumenthal’s foundation job focused on highlighting the legacy of Clinton’s presidency, some officials at the charity questioned his value and grumbled that his hiring was a favor from the Clintons, according to people familiar with the foundation. They say that, during a 2013 reform push, Blumenthal was moved to a consulting contract that came with a similar pay rate but without benefits — an arrangement that endured until March.

A Clinton loyalist who first earned the family’s trust as an aggressive combatant in the political battles of the 1990s, Blumenthal continues to work as a paid consultant to two groups supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign — American Bridge and Media Matters — both of which are run by David Brock, a close ally of both Clinton and Blumenthal.

Nope, nothing to see here. Move along.


Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Angry Left Is Angry


My second ex-wife and my Psycho Ex-Girlfriend had something in common – they were angry a lot. While you might think that being with me must have had something to do with it, in both cases the anger generally existed totally independent of anything I said or did. And especially in the latter case, it wasn’t just anger but rage.

Robert Tracinski thinks he knows why the angry left is so angry:

For the secular leftist, the end state is social and necessarily political. It is all about getting everybody else on board and herding them into his imagined utopia. There are so many “problematic” aspects of life that need to be reengineered, so many vast social systems that need to be overthrown and replaced. But the rest of us are all screwing it up, all the time, through our greed, our denial, our apathy, our refusal to listen to him banging on about his tired socialist ideology.

For the Christian, the ideal end state is safely in the next world and therefore is never in doubt. For the individualist, it’s in his own life, and it’s mostly under his direct control. For the leftist, however, it is all outside his control. It requires other people, a lot of other people, and those SOBs usually refuse to cooperate. Talk about rage-inducing.

If the whole focus of your life is on getting everybody else to agree with you on every detail of your politics and adopt your plans for a perfect society, then you’re setting yourself up to be at war with most of the human race most of the time.

Which means an awful lot for the Angry Left to get angry about.

Although he makes a good point, I think it’s a little more complicated than that.

There is an old adage that conservatives think liberals are stupid while liberals think conservatives are evil.

Here’s an example:

Just one little problem. Ted Cruz never said that.

Here’s another example:

These kinds of things are what pass for rational discourse on the Left these days. It’s scary when you think about it. Thankfully they don’t have any guns.

Posted in Uncategorized | 92 Comments

Charles C. Johnson Is The Ugly Side Of Freedom

Assholes CAN blow smoke!

Assholes CAN blow smoke!


Charles Johnson, one of the Internet’s most infamous trolls, has finally been banned from Twitter

Chuck Johnson, the far-right mega-troll who doxed two New York Times reporters and argued that homosexuality caused the Amtrak derailment, may at last be off Twitter — this time, for good.

On Sunday, Johnson was permanently suspended from the site after asking for funds to “take out” the civil rights activist DeRay McKesson, who’s been active in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. Twitter has also suspended a series of Johnson’s new accounts, including @citizentrolling and @freechucknow, prompting Johnson and his lawyers to threaten legal action and accuse the site of “censorship.”

“Twitter doesn’t seem to have a problem with people using their service to coordinate riots,” Johnson complained on his blog,, which has since been downed by an apparent DDoS attack. “But they do have a problem with the kind of journalism I do.”

In other words, Johnson’s saying, Twitter is differentiating between types of acceptable speech; they’re redrawing the boundaries of things you can say in public and things you can’t say in public, in a way that Johnson and others — including Twitter! — aren’t necessarily used to.

See, there’s a popular misconception that moderation on social networks and other Web sites is governed by the First Amendment. (For more on this mistaken point of view, plz see the comments section of virtually any Washington Post story.) That is not, however, technically correct. The First Amendment defines the relationship between you, as a citizen, and the government. It does not define your relationship between, say, you and a private corporation, or you and the university you attend, or you and your neighborhood association.

That means this notion we have about radical free speech — this distinctly American framework, that anyone can say anything, more or less, short of screaming “fire” in a theater or making a “true threat” — does not have to apply to online spaces. Instead, companies like Twitter can make new standards, new frameworks, according to their corporate values and the needs of their users. (Twitter, a longtime holdout here, has recently escalated its attempts to make sure that “differences of opinion do not cross the line into harassment.”)

This does not, alas, mean we’ve seen the last of Chuck Johnson, uber-troll extraordinaire. Banned by Twitter, he can simply take up residence elsewhere — say Facebook, where he purportedly maintains a personal account, or Reddit, where he’s promised an upcoming AMA.

But even Reddit, the mainstream Internet’s long-time champion of absolute free speech, modified its rules to clearly ban harassment on May 14. There’s a growing understanding, it seems, that the standards we use for speech off the Internet are not quite the same as the ones that work on it.

Chuckles Johnson is a shitstain on the underwear of humanity, but he should be shunned by civilized people, not banned from social media. Yes, Twitter has the legal right to ban him. They don’t even need a reason. They can ban anyone, as long as they don’t do it for a prohibited reason, like race, religion, or gender.

But having the right to do something doesn’t it make it the right thing to do. The principle of freedom of speech is enshrined in the First Amendment, but it is somewhat larger in scope. The Constitution didn’t create our rights, it enumerated some of them.

Twitter and Facebook may be private property, but they are also the modern day public square. Freedom of speech becomes meaningless if a few non-governmental entities can effective control who can speak and what can be said.

Liberals want to control the internet so they can regulate “bad” speech. That idea is nothing new.

“If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” – Justice Louis D. Brandeis in Whitney v. California, (1927).

Freedom isn’t free, and Charles C. Johnson is the ugly side of freedom. But his vile antics don’t endanger our freedom the way censorship does.

Posted in Uncategorized | 58 Comments

Same Difference


Raise your hand if you saw this coming:

In Iraq, lessons of Vietnam still resonate

What are the right lessons from America’s Vietnam experience that can be applied to the current situation in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East?

The United States in the 1960s and early 1970s found itself backing a shaky South Vietnam government that lacked full support from religious and sectarian groups within its borders as it faced armed Viet Cong insurgents. Today it’s the newly formed, Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad facing Islamic State fighters without the total support of some Iraqi Sunni, Kurd and secular groups.

In Vietnam, the insurgents were fed arms, supplies and even fighters from North Vietnam through nearby Laos and Cambodia. Today, equipment, supplies and Islamic State fighters come into Iraq through neighboring Syria.

The South Vietnamese military was further weakened by corruption and lack of training. The Iraqi security forces have the same problems.


That should be a key lesson from Vietnam. Foreign governments have to find their own way.

Cordesman, however, is right about several things. He is correct when he says, “We are dealing with a range of extremist movements and an ideological struggle for the future of Islam,” and that “no kind of lasting ‘victory’ in the form of some reasonable degree of stability and security can occur in Iraq — or any of our other wars — without effective national unity.”

Vietnam should have taught the U.S.that as an outside power — with no common language, culture or history — Americans cannot bring about national unity in other countries.

Cordesman makes another point worth remembering in the Vietnam context — there will be no peace in Iraq, even with national unity, if across the border in Syria there is a sanctuary for Sunni forces hostile to the government in Baghdad.

There is one final point that Cordesman makes that the Obama administration, Congress and presidential candidates should take to heart.

“We need regular, honest, and comprehensive Obama administration reporting on the course of our wars,” he writes. He adds that also needed are “hearings and congressional reviews that do more than focus on five minute media visibility exercises for committee members.”

I hope your hand is raised. The Iraq-Vietnam comparisons started before the first American boots touched Iraqi soil, and that was way back during Desert Storm.

I grew up watching the Vietnam war on television. If it had lasted a few more years I probably would have gone there. Even before we left evacuated the Saigon embassy people have been arguing and pointing fingers over why we lost. Some blame the military. Some blame the media. Some blame the politicians. Some blame the American public.

They are all right. And they are all wrong.

Iraq is just like Vietnam. Except it’s not.

Iraq and Vietnam are very different countries with very different people and problems. We fought each war for different reasons facing different enemies. Both outcomes were the same.

For the record, our involvement in Vietnam started before I was born, but I opposed the invasion of Iraq. Both endings left me feeling sad and depressed.

There is, however, a simple lesson to be learned from both Iraq and Vietnam. That lesson is some problems don’t have solutions.


Posted in Uncategorized | 65 Comments

Every One Of Those Headstones Is The Same Color

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is the most famous military cemetery in the country. There are over 400,000 graves in Arlington. Each one holds the remains of an American. Each grave has a headstone. Every one of those headstones is the same color.

None of those headstones indicates the race of the occupant below. The graves are not segregated by skin color. The men and women buried in Arlington are not honored for their ethnic heritage, they are honored for their courage and sacrifice.

Arlington is color-blind. The rest of us should be.

Have a Happy Memorial Day!


Posted in Uncategorized | 54 Comments

Memorial Day Sad Tweets Open Thread

Something different for this Memorial Day. I usually post some schmaltzy stuff but I’m just not feeling it today. So here are some sad, stupid and depressing tweets instead.

Posted in Uncategorized | 37 Comments

Why Does It Have To Be Handled At All?

1920's Democratic Picnic

1920’s Democratic Picnic

The Hill:

Anti-Obama trolls fuel questions about online hate, racism

Two high-profile examples of racism directed at President Obama online in the past week are shining a spotlight on the broader issue of online harassment.
But it’s a problem even the biggest companies in the tech world are struggling to find the right response to — one that would mute hateful trolling and threats while respecting the freedom of speech.

Early this week, it was revealed that if users searched Google Maps for “n—– house,” it showed them the White House. And when Obama launched a personal Twitter account, it attracted attacks virulent enough to warrant an article from The New York Times and, reportedly, a visit from the Secret Service to at least one user.
The president has faced racist attacks since long before he got to the White House. More generally, online environments have been hotbeds of harassment since the inception of the Web. But this week underscored how technology can amplify deeply personal slurs, even against the leader of the free world.


Social networks have been urged to help stop harassment that occurs when users single out someone on a platform for hate or abuse.

“The kind of harassment we are worried about happens when Internet users attract the attention of the wrong group or individual, and find themselves enduring extreme levels of targeted hostility, often accompanied by the exposure of their private lives,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a major privacy group, said in a statement. “And such online harassment can escalate to offline stalking, physical assault, and more.”

Whereas Obama has the protection of the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies, a member of the general public is more reliant on the people who run social networks to deal with threatening messages. But that hasn’t always delivered results, as some leading executives acknowledge.

“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said this year in an internal memo obtained by The Verge.

But the social network has clearly been making an effort to deal with harassment, and threats in particular.

“Like all of our technology industry peers, we do not proactively monitor content. Individual users and law enforcement authorities — including the U.S. Secret Service — report content to us and we review their reports against our rules, which prohibit violent threats and targeted abuse,” said a spokesman. “In cases involving immediate physical danger, law enforcement can submit emergency information requests to us 24/7 via a form available on our site.”

The platform said it received 1,622 requests for information from the U.S. government in the second half of 2014 and that 220 of those were emergency requests.

Twitter also worked with the nonprofit group Women, Action, and the Media to collect data last year about how women were being harassed on the site and help the women take action.

In three weeks, the group said it received close to 700 reports, more than 100 of which received “action from Twitter along the way.”

Condensed Twitter version:

Let’s talk about Obama first. The President of the United States has the finest bodyguards in the world. They’re not perfect, but it’s been over thirty years since someone managed to injure a POTUS. He also has military guards and local law enforcement assisting the Secret Service everywhere he goes.

He lives in a fort and travels around in an armored vehicle designed to withstand an anti-tank round. When he stays in a hotel the entire place is rented for him, his entourage and his security detail. They block roads and shut down air traffic around him. There are special laws against threatening a POTUS that are investigated by the FBI.

So why does he need to worry about some idiot posting mean words on Twitter from his mother’s basement?

Private individuals are somewhat more problematic.

On one hand, trolls can be vicious. Most are too cowardly to constitute a real life physical threat, but being stalked and harassed online by some deranged venom-spewing weirdo can scare the bejeebus out of someone.

There is a thing called “doxxing” where trolls uncover your private information and publish it online. Even worse is mobbing, which is when an online lynch mob goes after someone. Those things can have real life consequences, like costing you your job.

On the other hand, some people have abused the social media anti-harassment policies to shut down opposing voices. I got suspended by Twitter several times for alleged violations of their terms of service, and finally they told me I was permanently banned. When I appealed and kept asking them to tell me what specific violations I had allegedly committed they hemmed and hawed and ultimately reinstated my account.

There is even a term for it: “Twitter Gulag.”

There are things you can do to protect yourself. If you post racist crap under your own name (or an easily traced alias) and it comes back to bite you on the ass, whose fault it that? If you put all your personal information online all it takes is Google and a keyboard to find it. If your Facebook account lists your whole life for anyone to see, then ANYONE can see it.

Or you can follow the Klown Method and always wear an online disguise. Greasepaint, a big rubber nose and a fright wig are not required. I don’t use the name my mom gave me on social media. You cannot find a picture of me anywhere. I don’t give out my number to anyone. I don’t have a tip jar or Amazon doohickey on the blog because that would have to be connected to an account in my real name. Some (or maybe all) of the information I share about myself isn’t true.

I didn’t go off the grid because I was never on it. I started doing this stuff 20 years ago. The feds and maybe a few leet hackers could penetrate my defenses, but it would take a lot more than Google to do it. If need be I could easily dump Myiq2xu in the garbage and disappear forever. I have already established alternate personas I can switch to on a moment’s notice.

But not everyone is as paranoid as me. You can still defend yourself without going to my extremes. It’s like the phone book. You can have a listed number with your address. You can have just your name listed. You can use just your first initial. Or you can be unlisted.

What I am saying is you can be on the grid without sharing too much. Some people say that their life is an open book, then turn around and complain that the wrong people are reading it.

As far as the run-of-the-mill trolls, toughen up, buttercup. This is the internet, not a hothouse for delicate flowers.


Posted in Uncategorized | 109 Comments