Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
Sullivan writes in the Washington Post:
At the northeast corner of the National Archives building sits Robert Aitken’s sculpture “The Future,” inscribed with some famous words from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”: “What is past is prologue.”
If you buy that, it’s possible to have a solid idea of what Donald Trump’s presidency will be like for the American media and for citizens who depend on that flawed but essential institution.
The short form: hellish.
Consider, for example, the saga of Serge Kovaleski, the highly regarded New York Times reporter whose disability limits the use of his arms.
Yes, this is the reporter whom Trump mocked during the campaign — waving his arms in a crude but unmistakable imitation of Kovaleski’s movements. When criticized for doing so, Trump vehemently denied that mocking Kovaleski was even possible because he didn’t know him. (Which was also a lie.) All this, because Trump wanted to promote a myth — talk about “fake news” — that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11, which he falsely claimed Kovaleski reported while working at The Washington Post. Any reasonable person looking back at the facts would find that absurd.
What can this small chapter tell us about what’s to come?
That Trump will be what columnist Frida Ghitis of the Miami Herald calls “the gaslighter in chief” — that he will pull out all the stops to make people think that they should believe him, not their own eyes. (“Gaslighting” is a reference to the 1940s movie in which a manipulative husband psychologically abuses his wife by denying the reality that the gaslights in their home are growing dimmer and dimmer.)
“The techniques,” Ghitis wrote, “include saying and doing things and then denying it, blaming others for misunderstanding, disparaging their concerns as oversensitivity, claiming outrageous statements were jokes or misunderstandings, and other forms of twilighting the truth.”
But that’s just part of what experience teaches us to expect from Trump.
Here’s another: Trump will punish journalists for doing their jobs. Famously touchy and unable to endure serious scrutiny, he has always been litigious — although, as journalist Tim O’Brien has pointed out based on Trump’s failed suitagainst him, sometimes unsuccessfully so.
Imagine that tendency, now with executive powers, a compliant attorney general and a lily-livered Congress. Trump’s reign will probably be awash in investigations and prosecutions of journalists for doing their jobs, stirring up the ugliest of class wars along the way.
What’s worse, as investigative reporter James Risen wrote recently, President Obama has set the stage with his administration’s use of the once-forgotten Espionage Act to prosecute government whistleblowers and threaten journalists; the blueprint awaits.
Another: He will relentlessly manipulate. For example, Trump’s first news conference as president-elect last week featured a crowd of paid staffers who cheered his every statement, creating a false picture for viewers.
After all, his public image as reflected in media coverage is perhaps his highest priority. And he has assembled plenty of expert help.
As Emily Bell argued in the Columbia Journalism Review, Trump is a media entity unto himself: “For Trump, the medium is not just the message, it is the office, too.” His coterie stands ready: “His chief of strategy Steve Bannon was most recently editor in chief at Breitbart . . . Jared Kushner, the son-in-law with Trump’s ear, owned the New York Observer. Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who put Gawker out of business by backing the multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan, is also in the trusted inner circle of supporters.” And media mogul Rupert Murdoch, head of Fox, is said to talk to Trump several times a week.
So, we can expect . . .
The column concludes on a grim note:
. . . To those who say let’s wait and see, or maybe it won’t be as bad as you think, or stay hopeful, I’m having none of it.
Journalists are in for the fight of their lives. And they are going to have to be better than ever before, just to do their jobs.
They will need to work together, be prepared for legal persecution, toughen up for punishing attacks and figure out new ways to uncover and present the truth.
Even so — if the past really is prologue — that may not be enough.
The new rule allows the sharing of “raw” data—data with no privacy protection. You are totally identifiable. Charlie Savage reports in the NY Times:
n its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.
The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.
The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.
Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.
Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions. . .
Trump will obviously have access anyway. Wonder how he will use it. He’s a vindictive man who lashes out, and this should give him some good ammunition. Is he such a person as would likely do it? Sure seems so to me.
Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the move an erosion of rules intended to protect the privacy of Americans when their messages are caught by the N.S.A.’s powerful global collection methods. He noted that domestic internet data was often routed or stored abroad, where it may get vacuumed up without court oversight.
“Rather than dramatically expanding government access to so much personal data, we need much stronger rules to protect the privacy of Americans,” Mr. Toomey said. “Seventeen different government agencies shouldn’t be rooting through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant.”
The ACLU is fighting to protect your rights. Support them. (I make a monthly donation.)
Annie Waldman has a column in ProPublica that includes a SoundCloud recording, and it’s worth listening:
For decades, the daily life of North Koreans has remained a mystery. Few foreign journalists have been allowed into country, and North Koreans are rarely allowed to leave. The regime has relied on an oppressive surveillance apparatus to sustain its power and limit the flow of information.
But some journalists have been able to evade the censorship. Suki Kim, an American novelist and investigative journalist, spent months undercover inside the country, working as an English teacher at a boarding school for North Korea’s young elites. Her reportage captured an unprecedented portrait of the country, showing the hopes, dreams and lies of North Korean youth.
This week on the Breakthrough, Suki Kim takes us behind the closed borders of the Hermit Kingdom and reveals how she became one of the first reporters to go undercover in North Korea.
Enjoy the podcast and want more? Dive deeper into this week’s episode:
I’m referring to the comments in the tab “Editors’ Picks.” We really do seem to be at an inflection point.
Melanie McFarland has an intriguing column at Salon:
Historically, the month of January has been very good to Megyn Kelly.
In January 2014, three months after “The Kelly File” made its debut on Fox News, a fawning Elle magazine profile described her as “an almost self-parodically perfect apotheosis of her species, the FOX fox.”
A Megyn moment, Rutenberg explained, “is when you, a Fox guest — maybe a regular guest or even an official contributor — are pursuing a line of argument that seems perfectly congruent with the Fox worldview, only to have Kelly seize on some part of it and call it out as nonsense, maybe even turn it back on you.”
He goes on: “You don’t always know when, how or even if the Megyn moment will happen; Kelly’s political sensibility and choice of subjects are generally in keeping with that of the network at large.”
Skipping ahead to January 2016 — past her game-changing turn as moderator of the Republican presidential debate, where she confronted Donald Trump on his sexist and questionable temperament — Vanity Fair’s Evgenia Peretz warned all blowhards that “Megyn Kelly Will Slay You Now.”
At last, here we are in January 2017, closing Kelly’s employment file at Fox News and witnessing the turn to the next part of her career with NBC News.
Gauging the extent to which the mediasphere shuddered at Tuesday’s news of Kelly’s departure from Fox to take a job at NBC, one would have thought that some natural disaster had knocked the world off of its axis. But the sun came up this morning, didn’t it? The earth still rotates. Maybe Matt Lauer can exhale a little over his weekend brunch.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Kelly’s leap from cable to a Big Three broadcast newsroom indicates a seismic shift that’s been rumbling under the crust for years. Mainstream broadcast and cable news has steadily veered to the right since Fox News aligned itself with the Bush administration after 9/11, as news organizations have done everything possible to capture some of the audience the conservative network has attracted.
NBC’s hiring of Kelly, one of Fox’s most popular personalities, is simply . . .
There really does seem to be a mass cultural shift to the right—perceptibly so, and in any areas.
And in this connection, consider this passage from one of the movie discussions blogged earlier today:
If there is one thing that unites many of Trump’s voters it is a desire to “shake things up,” an understandable wish given the mess in Washington, but one that counts on the unspoken presumption, which history flatly and terrifyingly contradicts, that there is in effect a safety net under this country, that there is a limit to how bad things can get under any presidency, no matter how feckless. Viewed in that light, what’s the risk?
Hollywood has promoted this illogical protective idea throughout its history, insisting that this country’s citizens are the good guys, protected by John Wayne and the almighty and destined to always come out on top. The apocalypse, by definition, rains destruction only on other people.
That’s from Kenneth Turan’s perceptive essay, and you should definitely read the whole thing.
Alex Emmons points out in The Intercept how Obama laid the foundation and readied to tools to clamp down on a free press, and Trump will exploit Obama’s work to the fullest. Read the full report. The latter part:
. . . Despite claiming to oversee “most transparent administration in history,” Obama has presided over an unprecedented crackdown on leaks and whistleblowers, laying the groundwork for future Presidents to threaten would-be leakers.
Obama has used the Espionage Act – a World War One-era law designed to outlaw spying – to prosecute twice as many leakers as all his predecessors put together. As part of leak investigations, the Justice Department has authorized the FBI to collect the phone records and emails of journalists, even naming a Fox News reporter an unindicted “co-conspirator” in one case.
Obama even opposed efforts to grant journalists more legal protection. After Congress was close to passing a law in 2009 that would have shielded reporters from having to testify against sources, Obama’s demands to add exceptions to the bill ended up killing it.
The Obama administration fought a costly, seven-year legal battle to force Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times Reporter James Risen to testify against his sources after reporting on a botched operation where the CIA passed nuclear blueprints to Iranian scientists. The government dropped its subpoena only after taking the case to the Supreme Court, likely to avoid negative publicity for jailing a reporter.
In several weeks, the system Obama has created will pass to the next president, who has already proven himself deeply hostile to press freedom.
Throughout his campaign, Trump threatened to sue newspapers for negative coverage. In response to the Chelsea bombings in New York City in September, he told Fox News that “freedom of the press” was what allowed terrorists to learn how to build bombs. He said that the press has “too much protection,” and that he wants to “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue media companies.
Writing in the New York Times last month, Risen argued that Obama’s expansive war on press freedom laid that groundwork for future abuses. “If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistleblower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist,” Risen said, “he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama.”
Well worth reading, and on a topic he understands well, because it affects him directly.