Posted tagged ‘Faked news’

REALLY Fake News | Basic Reporting Errors Lead Media To Falsely Report Trump Pay-To-Play Allegations

February 26, 2017

Basic Reporting Errors Lead Media To Falsely Report Trump Pay-To-Play Allegations, Daily Caller, Peter Hasson, February 26, 2017

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Basic reporting errors by Reuters and NPR resulted in journalists falsely reporting that President Trump attended a foreign diplomat’s party at Trump’s D.C. hotel in what was portrayed as a possible pay-to-play scenario.

NPR and Reuters both reported that Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S., Salem al-Sabah, was throwing a gala in honor of his country’s independence day at the Trump International Hotel. Reuters definitively placed the event as happening on Saturday, while NPR’s coverage implied the same.

According to Reuters, the event was expected to cost between $40,000 and $60,000. When Trump was spotted at the hotel on Saturday, a number of prominent journalists on Twitter spread the allegation that Trump was appearing at al-Sabah’s party after the ambassador gave Trump tens of thousands of dollars in business.

There’s just one problem — the party took place on Wednesday, not Saturday, hotel staff confirmed to The Daily Caller. But by the time the facts came to light, the media had already widely circulated the false story.

An editor at left-wing website Think Progress, Judd Legum, led the charge in cranking up the rhetoric surrounding Trump’s apparent cameo at his hotel during al-Sabah’s party. “The message is clear to foreign governments,” Legum declared. “Hold your lavish events at my hotel and I might stop by.” Other journalists spread Legum’s claims across Twitter, furthering the false narrative. (Legum has since deleted the tweets, although not before other Twitter users captured screenshots.)

Independent journalism nonprofit ProPublica, which is funded by left-wing financier George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, relied on Legum’s tweets and uncritically spread the false narrative, implying that Trump’s appearance at his hotel Saturday night was related to the money received for the Kuwaiti party. Sopan Deb, a reporter at The New York Times, retweeted ProPublica’s false tweet to his followers.

 

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ProPublica later issued a tweet acknowledging the error, although the correction received a fraction of the retweets the original tweet did.

MTV senior political correspondent Ana Marie Cox, who also writes an interview column for the New York Times, sarcastically called “Trump swinging by the Trump hotel during the Kuwaiti gov event” a “big coincidence.” By press time, Cox had neither deleted nor corrected her tweet.

partytweet1

Trump swinging by the Trump hotel during the Kuwaiti gov event is a big coincidence I’m sure Spicy will explain. https://twitter.com/anamariecox/timelines/835674727846928384 

The Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, Phillip Rucker, also spread the false allegations, although he later deleted it and admitted the party took place on Wednesday.

By press time, neither Reuters nor NPR had corrected their stories to indicate that the Kuwaiti event took place on Wednesday.

 

When President Obama’s National Security Advisor Lied, The Media Laughed

February 17, 2017

When President Obama’s National Security Advisor Lied, The Media Laughed, The Federalist, February 17, 2017

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Sometimes the hypocrisy, double standard, and outright lies by the media under the Trump presidency is funny. Sometimes it is infuriating. But never was the media’s complicit sheep-like coverage more evident than it the days after Benghazi, behavior you can never imagine now. They have yet to admit their mistakes and failures, even as more evidence is revealed.

Remember that the next time you want to worry about how Trump is responsible for undermining the media’s integrity and credibility.

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Buried deep beneath the Michael Flynn hysteria this week was Judicial Watch’s release of newly obtained State Department documents related to the Benghazi terrorist attack on September 11, 2012. One email confirms—again—that the Obama administration knew the day after the attack it was not a random act of violence stemming from an anti-Muslim video. That was the excuse shamefully propagated by top Obama administration officials (including the president himself) and swallowed whole by a media establishment desperate to help Obama win re-election six weeks later.

According to the summary of a call on September 12, 2012 between State Department Under-Secretary Patrick Kennedy and several congressional staffers, Kennedy was asked if the attack came under cover of protest: “No this was a direct breaching attack,” he answered. Kennedy also denied the attack was coordinated with the protests in Cairo over the video: “Attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.”

It’s somewhat ironic—galling?—that this email was disclosed the same day the anti-Trump universe was spinning into the stratosphere over Flynn’s resignation as President Trump’s national security advisor. It begs for a little trip down memory lane, to a kinder, gentler time when the media gave a great big pass to another national security advisor in the days after four Americans, including an ambassador, were murdered in Libya by Islamic terrorists under her watch.

Lying to Us Only Matters If We Dislike You

Fun fact: While Trump press secretary Sean Spicer fielded 55 questions on February 14 related to the Flynn debacle, Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney received only 13 questions from reporters on September 12, 2012, three of which were set-ups to blast Mitt Romney’s criticism of the administration after the attack. 55 to 13.

So as we now suffer through yet another patch of media mania, conspiracy theories, and unsubstantiated claims about how Trump hearts Russia, as well as the daily beatings endured by Spicer, let’s reminisce to when the media and Obama’s press flaks spun, deflected—even joked about golf and “Saturday Night Live!”—less than a week after Benghazi.

The day after Hillary Clinton’s deputy had that call with key Capitol Hill staffers, including advisors to senators Durbin, Feinstein, and McGaskill, to dispute the notion the attack was about an anti-Muslim video, here’s what Carney said: “I think it’s important to note with regards to that protest that there are protests taking place in different countries across the world that are responding to the movie that has circulated on the Internet. As Secretary Clinton said today, the United States government had nothing to do with this movie. We reject its message and its contents. We find it disgusting and reprehensible.”

On September 14, hours before the remains of the Benghazi victims would arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Carney was still blaming the video. Just steps from the Oval Office, Carney opened his briefing with this: “First of all, we are obviously closely monitoring developments in the region today. You saw that following the incidents in response to this video, the president directed the administration to take a number of steps to prepare for continued unrest.”

Carney went on to mention the video/film/movie another 30 times during his briefing. He stuck with his story even after some reporters pushed back, citing other sources who said it was indeed a pre-mediated attack. One reporter said several senators admitted the “attack on Benghazi was a terrorist attack organized and carried out by terrorists, that it was premeditated, a calculated act of terror,” and asked Carney, “is there anything more you can — now that the administration is briefing senators on this, is there anything more you can tell us?”

Carney: “Again, it’s actively under investigation, both the Benghazi attack and incidents elsewhere. And my point was that we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film. But we’re obviously investigating the matter…” Who cares, Sean Spicer called Justin Trudeau Joe, OMG!

Susan Rice’s Audacity of Trope

But of course nothing matches the audacity of trope by Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice on September 16, 2012. Rice went on several Sunday shows to peddle a story she knew was completely phony, one that was already quickly unraveling even as most in the media and administration tried to keep it intact.

You can read most of her comments here, but Rice repeats the line that Benghazi attack was not premediated and was connected to the demonstrations in Cairo over the video (a document obtained by Judicial Watch last year shows Hillary Clinton met with Rice a few days before her television appearances). Which presidential administration is fact-challenged, again?

In a press gaggle on Air Force One the next day, guess how many times Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked about Rice’s comments? Ten? Five? One? Not once. Let me repeat that. The day after Obama’s national security advisor was on five news programs to blame a terrorist attack on a YouTube video, not one reporter asked the White House about it. I actually had to re-read the transcripts several times, even checking the date over and over, to make sure this was accurate. Her name did not even come up.

No discussion about the investigation. No discussion about emerging evidence from around the world that Benghazi was indeed a terrorist attack. (The only time it was mentioned was when Jen Psaki criticized Mitt Romney’s comments about how the administration handled Benghazi and questioned whether he was ready for “primetime.”)

Here’s what they did discuss: Debate prep, Occupy Wall Street, and the Chicago’s teachers strike. An actual human reporter asked this: “It was a beautiful weekend for golf and he wasn’t out on the course. Is it safe to assume maybe he was doing some preparation at the White House?” WHAT? Then they joked about football and “Saturday Night Live.”

Sometimes the hypocrisy, double standard, and outright lies by the media under the Trump presidency is funny. Sometimes it is infuriating. But never was the media’s complicit sheep-like coverage more evident than it the days after Benghazi, behavior you can never imagine now. They have yet to admit their mistakes and failures, even as more evidence is revealed.

Remember that the next time you want to worry about how Trump is responsible for undermining the media’s integrity and credibility.

Fake News: Media Reports That Muslim Olympian Was Detained Because of Trump’s Travel Ban

February 14, 2017

Fake News: Media Reports That Muslim Olympian Was Detained Because of Trump’s Travel Ban, PJ MediaDebra Heine, February 13, 2017

muslimatheleteIbtihaj Muhammad attends ESPN: The Party 2017 held on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP)

Nothing triggers liberal mainstream media types more than being accused of being purveyors of “fake news.” But stunningly enough, that hasn’t stopped them from…well…being purveyors of fake news.

The latest example features Ibtihaj Muhammad, the New Jersey native who recently became the first female Muslim-American to win an Olympic medal for the United States. Muhammad, a vocal Trump critic, answered a journalist’s question with so much ambiguity it seemed designed to be deceptive. Regardless, several major media outlets jumped on her story without verifying it and now have egg all over their faces.

Via the Washington Examiner:

Muhammad, a lifelong American citizen, claimed in an interview Tuesday that she was detained “just a few weeks ago” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. She said she was held for a few hours without explanation.

It’s important to recognize from the get-go that Muhammad didn’t put a hard date on when the alleged detaining occurred (this will come up later). It’s also probably worth noting that she is an outspoken Trump critic, and that she is extremely displeased with his executive order temporarily barring immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries.

Here’s a transcript of what Muhammad told Popsugar’s Lindsay Miller on Feb. 7 about the alleged incident with customs agents [emphases added]:

Popsugar: Do you know anyone who was directly impacted by Trump’s travel ban?

Ibtihaj Muhammad: Well, I personally was held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago. I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I’m Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and how people perceive you.

Unfortunately, I know that people talk about this having a lot to do with these seven countries in particular, but I think the net is cast a little bit wider than we know. And I’m included in that as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab.

A rule of thumb for responsible journalists is, “if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” So wouldn’t a responsible journalist want to be even more skeptical of an obvious partisan? You would think so, right? Well, you would be wrong. Journalists were so eager to virtue signal their outrage and despair over this supposed injustice that Time, the UK’s Independent, the Daily Mail, the New York Daily NewsThe Hill, and of course Sports Illustrated and ESPN all spread the story far and wide before verifying it. Specifically, they should have double-checked whether she was detained after Trump’s travel ban went into place, after Trump was inaugurated, or perhaps while Obama was still president.

As it happens, according to Muhammad herself, her purported “detention” took place in December while Obama was still president.

Muhammad clarified several days after her Feb. 7 interview that she meant December 2016 when she said, “just a few weeks ago.”

“Thanks to all who reached out regarding the December incident at customs. I will continue be a voice for all impacted by profiling & bigotry,” she said in a tweet on Feb. 11.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has not yet responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment, so it’s not certain that she was even detained.

As the Examiner notes, “Muhammad isn’t blameless in all of this.”

A less-than-charitable person would suspect her of being purposefully vague and imprecise. She was asked a simple “yes or no” question about the president’s immigration order. Instead of giving a simple answer, she provided an anecdote involving the very misleading use of “just a few weeks ago.”

A less-than-charitable person might also suspect that MSM types who share these kinds of fake stories don’t even care if they get it wrong at first because they know another ironclad rule of journalism: The initial, mistaken information will be retweeted much, much more than any subsequent correction.

And to a liberal, agenda-driven news media, the “narrative” is all that matters.

For the Media, the Only Jihad Is Against Trump

February 13, 2017

For the Media, the Only Jihad Is Against Trump, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, February 12, 2017

In their zeal to “Jump on Trump,” is our media — not to mention their 9th Circuit cohorts — doing an immense disservice to the American public by obfuscating, effectively censoring, serious discussion of Islamic immigration and what to do about it?

It’s a global problem, surely, and we have a lot to learn from the mistakes of the Europeans who — according to the latest polls — are expressing serious regrets about their open-border immigration policies.

Several countries are beginning to return their migrants, sometimes offering economic incentives.  And you can see why, reading last Friday’s report from the Gatestone Institute:

Several young  gang-rapists started laughing in a Belgian court while yelling:

“women should not complain, they should listen to men.”

The seven ‘men’ were seen in a video where they are standing around an unconscious girl who is lying on a bed, then seen pulling down her pants and raping her. Also in the video, they are dancing around the victim and singing songs in Arabic.

I imagine they’ll be getting some “extreme vetting.”  Let’s hope so anyway.  But does this “extreme vetting” go far enough? In America’s case, it’s complicated by the fact that Trump’s original seven countries in his travel ban are rather circumscribed and arbitrarily limited, despite having been the seven singled out by Obama. As we have seen on multiple occasions, second-generation jihadists come from all over Western Europe, like two of the above un-magnificent seven, not to mention North Africa and the obvious omissions of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.  They come from Russia and the Far East as well. Shouldn’t they all be on the list?  Yes, I realize the seven countries were chosen because at least some keep no verifiable records of who’s coming and going.  But I’m not sure that matters.  These days identities are more easily forged than ever.  The Daily Beast reports you can buy an undetectable UK passport from the Neapolitan Camorra.

So can “extreme vetting” finally do the job it’s supposed to do? What is the real extent of its capability?

Marine/contractor Steven Gern’s video from Iraq (before being asked to leave) is viral for a reason. Gern has an authenticity and seems to be telling the truth, two truths actually, and those truths are, to say the least, uncomfortable.  One is that many Iraqis (I would assume most Middle Easterners) hate Americans despite all we may have tried to do for them and would kill us if they had any opportunity. The second is that they are master dissemblers (remember taqiyya?) and are willing to wait years, all the while seeming perfectly pleasant, before acting on their hatred. This does not augur well for immigration, to put it mildly.

Given this dissembling/taqiyya that Gern speaks of, we do have some serious”extreme vetting” to do.  It’s almost impossible to see how it can be done without the most detailed attention. Obama, Hillary and Kerry did less than zero to improve the situation. They either exacerbated or ignored it, mostly the former.

Trump asked for a 120-day travel ban, a tiny length of time under the circumstances, to try, in his words, to figure out what’s happening.  But his rapacious opponents in the media (and the judiciary), slavering like a pack of morally narcissistic wolves, would have none of it. He was not to get one day.

Did they have another suggestion?  No, of course not.  Their suggestion comes down to this: anything but Trump.  Forget reason.  Forget what’s left of their own thoughtfulness.  Forget the safety of the American people and the world.  The Orange Man must pay.  He’s too vulgar… or something.  Maybe one of his daughter’s shoes gave someone a blister.  Or Stephen Miller was too rude to one of his high school teachers. Something significant like that.

Meanwhile, the media in its fact-finding mission does nothing to help us because it finds no facts, other than scurrilous gossip about Trump. That’s all they seem to look for. Their myriad liberal and progressive pundits make no suggestions either, contribute no fresh ideas (have you noticed?) to the fight, as if the status quo were just fine with them.  (This is true of many conservative pundits too — no thoughts on what to do about radical Islam.) It’s a mixture of selfishness and envy from which we all lose. Let our children or our children’s children deal with it.   (And they will.)  There may be a jihad in the big world, people being raped and having their throats cut, bombs going off, trucks driving into crowds of innocent tourists, but to our media, the only jihad worth fighting against is against Trump.

 

16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won

February 6, 2017

16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won, The Federalist, February 6, 2017

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Since at least Donald Trump’s election, our media have been in the grip of an astonishing, self-inflicted crisis. Despite Trump’s constant railing against the American press, there is no greater enemy of the American media than the American media. They did this to themselves.

We are in the midst of an epidemic of fake news. There is no better word to describe it than “epidemic,” insofar as it fits the epidemiological model from the Centers for Disease Control: this phenomenon occurs when “an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts.”

The “agent” in this case is hysteria over Trump’s presidency, and the “susceptible hosts” are a slipshod, reckless, and breathtakingly gullible media class that spread the hysteria around like—well, like a virus.

It is difficult to adequately sum up the breadth of this epidemic, chiefly because it keeps growing: day after day, even hour after hour, the media continue to broadcast, spread, promulgate, publicize, and promote fake news on an industrial scale. It has become a regular part of our news cycle, not distinct from or extraneous to it but a part of it, embedded within the news apparatus as a spoke is embedded in a bicycle wheel.

Whenever you turn on a news station, visit a news website, or check in on a journalist or media personality on Twitter or Facebook, there is an excellent chance you will be exposed to fake news. It is rapidly becoming an accepted part of the way the American media are run.

How we will get out of this is anyone’s guess. We might not get out of it, not so long as Trump is president of these United States. We may be up for four—maybe eight!—long years of authentic fake news media hysteria. It is worth cataloging at least a small sampling of the hysteria so far. Only when we fully assess the extent of the media’s collapse into ignominious ineptitude can we truly begin to reckon with it.

Since Trump’s election, here’s just a small sampling of fake news that our media and our journalist class have propagated.

Early November: Spike in Transgender Suicide Rates

After Trump’s electoral victory on November 8, rumors began circulating that multiple transgender teenagers had killed themselves in response to the election results. There was no basis to these rumors. Nobody was able to confirm them at the time, and nobody has been able to confirm in the three months since Trump was elected.

Nevertheless, the claim spread far and wide: Guardian writer and editor-at-large of Out Zach Stafford tweeted the rumor, which was retweeted more than 13,000 times before he deleted it. He later posted a tweet explaining why he deleted his original viral tweet; his explanatory tweet was shared a total of seven times. Meanwhile, PinkNews writer Dominic Preston wrote a report on the rumors, which garnered more than 12,000 shares on Facebook.

At Mic, Matthew Rodriguez wrote about the unsubstantiated allegations. His article was shared more than 55,000 times on Facebook. Urban legend debunker website Snopes wrote a report on the rumors and listed them as “unconfirmed” (rather than “false”). Snopes’s sources were two Facebook posts, since deleted, that offered no helpful information regarding the location, identity, or circumstances of any of the suicides. The Snopes report was shared 19,000 times.

At Reason, writer Elizabeth Nolan Brown searched multiple online databases to try to determine the identities or even the existence of the allegedly suicidal youth. She found nothing. As she put it: “[T]eenagers in 2016 don’t just die without anyone who knew them so much as mentioning their death online for days afterward.”

She is right. Just the same, the stories hyping this idea garnered at least nearly 100,000 shares on Facebook alone, contributing to the fear and hysteria surrounding Trump’s win.

November 22: The Tri-State Election Hacking Conspiracy Theory

On November 22, Gabriel Sherman posted a bombshell report at New YorkMagazine claiming that “a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers” were demanding a recount in three separate states because of “persuasive evidence that [the election] results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked.” The evidence? Apparently, “in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots.”

The story went stratospherically viral. It was shared more than 145,000 times on Facebook alone. Sherman shared it on his Twitter feed several times, and people retweeted his links to the story nearly 9,000 times. Politico’s Eric Geller shared the story on Twitter as well. His tweet was retweeted just under 8,000 times. Dustin Volz from Reuters shared the link; he was retweeted nearly 2,000 times. MSNBC’s Joy Reid shared the story and was retweeted more than 4,000 times. New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman also shared the story and was retweeted about 1,600 times.

It wasn’t until the next day, November 23, that someone threw a little water on the fire. At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver explained that it was “demographics, not hacking” that explained the curious voting numbers. “Anyone making allegations of a possible massive electoral hack should provide proof,” he wrote, “and we can’t find any.” Additionally, Silver pointed out that the New York Magazine article had misrepresented the argument of one of the computer scientists in question.

At that point, however, the damage had already been done: Sherman, along with his credulous tweeters and retweeters, had done a great deal to delegitimize the election results. Nobody was even listening to Silver, anyway: his post was shared a mere 380 times on Facebook, or about one-quarter of 1 percent as much as Sherman’s. This is how fake news works: the fake story always goes viral, while nobody reads or even hears about the correction.

December 1: The 27-Cent Foreclosure

At Politico on December 1, Lorraine Wellert published a shocking essay claiming that Trump’s pick for secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, had overseen a company that “foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman after a 27-cent payment error.” According to Wellert: “After confusion over insurance coverage, a OneWest subsidiary sent [Ossie] Lofton a bill for $423.30. She sent a check for $423. The bank sent another bill, for 30 cents. Lofton, 90, sent a check for three cents. In November 2014, the bank foreclosed.”

The story received widespread coverage, being shared nearly 17,000 times on Facebook. The New York Times’s Steven Rattner shared it on Twitter (1,300 retweets), as did NBC News’s Brad Jaffy (1,200 retweets), the AP’s David Beard (1,900 retweets) and many others.

The problem? The central scandalous claims of Wellert’s article were simply untrue. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ted Frank pointed out, the woman in question was never foreclosed on, and never lost her home. Moreover, “It wasn’t Mnuchin’s bank that brought the suit.”

Politico eventually corrected these serious and glaring errors. But the damage was done: the story had been repeated by numerous media outlets including Huffington Post (shared 25,000 times on Facebook), the New York PostVanity Fair, and many others.

January 20: Nancy Sinatra’s Complaints about the Inaugural Ball

On the day of Trump’s inauguration, CNN claimed Nancy Sinatra was “not happy” with the fact that the president and first lady’s inaugural dance would be to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The problem? Nancy Sinatra had never said any such thing. CNN later updated the article without explaining the mistake they had made.

January 20: The Nonexistent Climate Change Website ‘Purge’

Also on the day of the inauguration, New York Times writer Coral Davenport published an article on the Times’s website whose headline claimed that the Trump administration had “purged” any “climate change references” from the White House website. Within the article, Davenport acknowledged that the “purge” (or what she also called “online deletions”) was “not unexpected” but rather part of a routine turnover of digital authority between administrations.

To call this action a “purge” was thus at the height of intellectual dishonesty: Davenport was styling the whole thing as a kind of digital book-burn rather than a routine part of American government. But of course that was almost surely the point. The inflammatory headline was probably the only thing that most people read of the article, doubtlessly leading many readers (the article was shared nearly 50,000 times on Facebook) to believe something that simply wasn’t true.

January 20: The Great MLK Jr. Bust Controversy

On January 20, Time reporter Zeke Miller wrote that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the White House. This caused a flurry of controversy on social media until Miller issued a correction. As Time put it, Miller had apparently not even asked anyone in the White House if the bust had been removed. He simply assumed it had been because “he had looked for it and had not seen it.”

January 20: Betsy DeVos, Grizzly Fighter

During her confirmation hearing, education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos was asked whether schools should be able to have guns on their campuses. As NBC News reported, DeVos felt it was “best left to locales and states to decide.” She pointed out that one school in Wyoming had a fence around it to protect the students from wildlife. “I would imagine,” she said, “that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

This was an utterly noncontroversial stance to take. DeVos was simply pointing out that different states and localities have different needs, and attempting to mandate a nationwide one-size-fits-all policy for every American school is imprudent.

How did the media run with it? By lying through their teeth. “Betsy DeVos Says Guns Should Be Allowed in Schools. They Might Be Needed to Shoot Grizzlies” (Slate). “Betsy DeVos: Schools May Need Guns to Fight Off Bears” (The Daily Beast). “Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies” (CNN). “Betsy DeVos says guns in schools may be necessary to protect students from grizzly bears” (ThinkProgress.) “Betsy DeVos says guns shouldn’t be banned in schools … because grizzly bears” (Vox). “Betsy DeVos tells Senate hearing she supports guns in schools because of grizzly bears” (The Week). “Trump’s Education Pick Cites ‘Potential Grizzlies’ As A Reason To Have Guns In Schools” (BuzzFeed).

The intellectual dishonesty at play here is hard to overstate. DeVos never said or even intimated that every American school or even very many of them might need to shoot bears. She merely used one school as an example of the necessity of federalism and as-local-as-possible control of the education system.

Rather than report accurately on her stance, these media outlets created a fake news event to smear a reasonable woman’s perfectly reasonable opinion.

January 26: The ‘Resignations’ At the State Department

On January 26, the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin published what seemed to be a bombshell report declaring that “the State Department’s entire senior management team just resigned.” This resignation, according to Rogin, was “part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.” These resignations happened “suddenly” and “unexpectedly.” He styled it as a shocking shake-up of administrative protocol in the State Department, a kind of ad-hoc protest of the Trump administration.

The story immediately went sky-high viral. It was shared nearly 60,000 times on Facebook. Rogin himself tweeted the story out and was retweeted a staggering 11,000 times. Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum had it retweeted nearly 2,000 times; journalists and writers from Wired, The Guardian, the Washington Post, BloombergABC, Foreign Policy, and other publications tweeted the story out in shock.

There was just one problem: the story was more a load of bunk. As Vox pointed out, the headline of the piece was highly misleading: “the word ‘management’ strongly implied that all of America’s top diplomats were resigning, which was not the case.” (The Post later changed the word “management” to “administrative” without noting the change, although it left the “management” language intact in the article itself).

More importantly, Mark Toner, the acting spokesman for the State Department, put out a press release noting that “As is standard with every transition, the outgoing administration, in coordination with the incoming one, requested all politically appointed officers submit letters of resignation.” According to CNN, the officials were actually asked to leave by the Trump administration rather than stay on for the customary transitional few months. The entire premise of Rogin’s article was essentially nonexistent.

As always, the correction received far less attention than the fake news itself: Vox’s article, for instance, was shared around 9,500 times on Facebook, less than one-sixth the rate of Rogin’s piece. To this day, Rogin’s piece remains uncorrected regarding its faulty presumptions.

January 27: The Photoshopped Hands Affair

On January 27, Observer writer Dana Schwartz tweeted out a screenshot of Trump that, in her eyes, proved President Trump had “photoshopped his hands bigger” for a White House photograph. Her tweet immediately went viral, being shared upwards of 25,000 times. A similar tweet by Disney animator Joaquin Baldwin was shared nearly 9,000 times as well.

The conspiracy theory was eventually debunked, but not before it had been shared thousands upon thousands of times. Meanwhile, Schwartz tweeted that she did “not know for sure whether or not the hands were shopped.” Her correction tweet was shared a grand total of…11 times.

January 29: The Reuters Account Hoax

Following the Quebec City mosque massacre, the Daily Beast published a story that purported to identify the two shooters who had perpetrated the crime. The problem? The story’s source was a Reuters parody account on Twitter. Incredibly, nobody at the Daily Beast thought to check the source to any appreciable degree.

January 31: The White House-SCOTUS Twitter Mistake

Leading up to Trump announcing his first Supreme Court nomination, CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny announced that the White House was “setting up [the] Supreme Court announcement as a prime-time contest.” He pointed to a pair of recently created “identical Twitter pages” for a theoretical justices Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, the two likeliest nominees for the court vacancy.

Zeleny’s sneering tweet—clearly meant to cast the Trump administration in an unflattering, circus-like light—was shared more than 1,100 times on Twitter. About 30 minutes later, however, he tweeted: “The Twitter accounts…were not set up by the White House, I’ve been told.” As always, the admission of mistake was shared far less than the original fake news: Zeleny’s correction was retweeted a paltry 159 times.

January 31: The Big Travel Ban Lie

On January 31, a Fox affiliate station out of Detroit reported that “A local business owner who flew to Iraq to bring his mother back home to the US for medical treatment said she was blocked from returning home under President Trump’s ban on immigration and travel from seven predominately Muslim nations. He said that while she was waiting for approval to fly home, she died from an illness.”

Like most other sensational news incidents, this one took off, big-time: it was shared countless times on Facebook, not just from the original article itself (123,000 shares) but via secondary reporting outlets such as the Huffington Post (nearly 9,000 shares). Credulous reporters and media personalities shared the story on Twitter to the tune of thousands and thousands of retweets, including: Christopher Hooks, Gideon Resnick, Daniel Dale, Sarah Silverman, Blake Hounshell, Brian Beutler, Garance Franke-Ruta, Keith Olbermann (he got 3,600 retweets on that one!), Matthew Yglesias, and Farhad Manjoo.

The story spread so far because it gratified all the biases of the liberal media elite: it proved that Trump’s “Muslim ban” was an evil, racist Hitler-esque mother-killer of an executive order.

There was just one problem: it was a lie. The man had lied about when his mother died. The Fox affiliate hadn’t bothered to do the necessary research to confirm or disprove the man’s account. The news station quietly corrected the story after giving rise to such wild, industrial-scale hysteria.

February 1: POTUS Threatens to Invade Mexico

On February 1, Yahoo News published an Associated Press report about a phone call President Trump shared with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto. The report strongly implied that President Trump was considering “send[ing] U.S. troops” to curb Mexico’s “bad hombre” problem, although it acknowledged that the Mexican government disagreed with that interpretation. The White House later re-affirmed that Trump did not have any plan to “invade Mexico.”

Nevertheless, Jon Passantino, the deputy news director of BuzzFeed, shared this story on Twitter with the exclamation “WOW.” He was retweeted 2,700 times. Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, also shared the story, declaring: “I’m sorry, did our president just threaten to invade Mexico today??” Favreau was retweeted more than 8,000 times.

Meanwhile, the Yahoo News AP post was shared more than 17,000 times on Facebook; Time’s post of the misleading report was shared more than 66,000 times; ABC News posted the story and it was shared more than 20,000 times. On Twitter, the report—with the false implication that Trump’s comment was serious—was shared by media types such as ThinkProgress’s Judd Legum, the BBC’s Anthony Lurcher, Vox’s Matt Yglesias, Politico’s Shane Goldmacher, comedian Michael Ian Black, and many others.

February 2: Easing the Russian Sanctions

Last week, NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted out the following: “BREAKING: US Treasury Dept easing Obama admin sanctions to allow companies to do transactions with Russia’s FSB, successor org to KGB.” His tweet immediately went viral, as it implied that the Trump administration was cozying up to Russia.

A short while later, Alexander posted another tweet: “Source familiar [with] sanctions says it’s a technical fix, planned under Obama, to avoid unintended consequences of cybersanctions.” As of this writing, Alexander’s fake news tweet has approximately 6,500 retweets; his clarifying tweet has fewer than 250.

At CNBC, Jacob Pramuk styled the change this way: “Trump administration modifies sanctions against Russian intelligence service.” The article makes it clear that, per Alexander’s source, “the change was a technical fix that was planned under Obama.” Nonetheless, the impetus was placed on the Trump adminsitration. CBS News wrote the story up in the same way. So did the New York Daily News.

In the end, unable to pin this (rather unremarkable) policy tweak on the Trump administration, the media have mostly moved on. As the Chicago Tribune put it, the whole affair was yet again an example of how “in the hyperactive Age of Trump, something that initially appeared to be a major change in policy turned into a nothing-burger.”

February 2: Renaming Black History Month

At the start of February, which is Black History Month in the United States, Trump proclaimed the month “National African American History Month.” Many outlets tried to spin the story in a bizarre way: TMZ claimed that a “senior administration official” said that Trump believed the term “black” to be outdated. “Every U.S. president since 1976 has designated February as Black History Month,” wrote TMZ. BET wrote the same thing.

The problem? It’s just not true. President Obama, for example, declared February “National African American History Month” as well. TMZ quickly updated their piece to fix their embarrassing error.

February 2: The House of Representatives’ Gun Control Measures

On February 2, the Associated Press touched off a political and media firestorm by tweeting: “BREAKING: House votes to roll back Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership.” The AP was retweeted a staggering 12,000 times.

The headlines that followed were legion: “House votes to rescind Obama gun background check rule” (Kyle Cheney, Politico); “House GOP aims to scrap Obama rule on gun background checks” (CNBC); “House scraps background check regulation” (Yahoo News); “House rolls back Obama gun background check rule” (CNN); “House votes to roll back Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership” (Washington Post).

Some headlines were more specific about the actual House vote but no less misleading; “House votes to end rule that prevents people with mental illness from buying guns” (the Independent); “Congress ends background checks for some gun buyers with mental illness” (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette); “House Votes to Overturn Obama Rule Restricting Gun Sales to the Severely Mentally Ill” (NPR).

The hysteria was far-reaching and frenetic. As you might have guessed, all of it was baseless. The House was actually voting to repeal a narrowly tailored rule from the Obama era. This rule mandated that the names of certain individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income and who use a representative to help manage these benefits due to a mental impairment be forwarded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

If that sounds confusing, it essentially means that if someone who receives SSDI or SSI needs a third party to manage these benefits due to some sort of mental handicap, then—under the Obama rule—they may have been barred from purchasing a firearm. (It is thus incredibly misleading to suggest that the rule applied in some specific way to the “severely mentally ill.”)

As National Review’s Charlie Cooke pointed out, the Obama rule was opposed by the American Association of People With Disabilities; the ACLU; the Arc of the United States; the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network; the Consortium of Citizens With Disabilities; the National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery; and many, many other disability advocacy organizations and networks.

The media hysteria surrounding the repeal of this rule—the wildly misleading and deceitful headlines, the confused outrage over a vote that nobody understood—was a public disservice.

As Cooke wrote: “It is a rare day indeed on which the NRA, the GOP, the ACLU, and America’s mental health groups find themselves in agreement on a question of public policy, but when it happens it should at the very least prompt Americans to ask, ‘Why?’ That so many mainstream outlets tried to cheat them of the opportunity does not bode well for the future.”

Maybe It’s Time to Stop Reading Fake News

Surely more incidents have happened since Trump was elected; doubtlessly there are many more to come. To be sure, some of these incidents are larger and more shameful than others, and some are smaller and more mundane.

But all of them, taken as a group, raise a pressing and important question: why is this happening? Why are our media so regularly and so profoundly debasing and beclowning themselves, lying to the public and sullying our national discourse—sometimes on a daily basis? How has it come to this point?

Perhaps the answer is: “We’ve let it.” The media will not stop behaving in so reckless a manner unless and until we demand they stop.

That being said, there are two possible outcomes to this fake news crisis: our media can get better, or they can get worse. If they get better, we might actually see our press begin to hold the Trump administration (and government in general) genuinely accountable for its many admitted faults. If they refuse to fix these serial problems of gullibility, credulity, outrage, and outright lying, then we will be in for a rough four years, if not more.

No one single person can fix this problem. It has to be a cultural change, a kind of shifting of priorities industry-wide. Journalists, media types, reporters, you have two choices: you can fix these problems, or you can watch your profession go down in flames.

Most of us are hoping devoutly for the former. But not even a month into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, the outlook is dim.

Climate “Science” Rocked by Another Scandal

February 5, 2017

Climate “Science” Rocked by Another Scandal, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, February 5, 2017

A just-retired scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has blown the whistle on a scandal of epic proportions involving fake news ginned up by climate “scientists.” Dr. John Bates, who until the end of 2016 was one of NOAA’s top scientists, told the story to the Daily Mail:

The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.

The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.

But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.

NOAA violated its own rules by publishing the report without subjecting it to required verification procedures–procedures that were designed by Dr. Bates himself.

His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.

Of all the “fake news” stories that emerged in the last two years, this is undoubtedly the most important. More:

NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.

Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.

The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.

This is just one of the tricks the NOAA “scientists” employed to exaggerate warming:

The sea dataset used by Thomas Karl and his colleagues – known as Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperatures version 4, or ERSSTv4, tripled the warming trend over the sea during the years 2000 to 2014 from just 0.036C per decade – as stated in version 3 – to 0.099C per decade. Individual measurements in some parts of the globe had increased by about 0.1C and this resulted in the dramatic increase of the overall global trend published by the Pausebuster paper. But Dr Bates said this increase in temperatures was achieved by dubious means. Its key error was an upwards ‘adjustment’ of readings from fixed and floating buoys, which are generally reliable, to bring them into line with readings from a much more doubtful source – water taken in by ships. This, Dr Bates explained, has long been known to be questionable: ships are themselves sources of heat, readings will vary from ship to ship, and the depth of water intake will vary according to how heavily a ship is laden – so affecting temperature readings.

Dr Bates said: ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’

The Earth’s surface temperature record has been so hopelessly corrupted by “adjustments” made for political purposes by NOAA and other agencies that it likely can never be accurately reconstructed. This is a great loss to science. The Mail story suggests that evidence may have been destroyed to cover the tracks of NOAA’s activists:

Then came the final bombshell. Dr Bates said: ‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’

The reason for the failure is unknown, but it means the Pausebuster paper can never be replicated or verified by other scientists.

Sounds like they borrowed the computer from the IRS.

NOAA is a rogue, politicized agency, like so many others. It has defied a Congressional committee’s subpoena, and apparently lied to the committee:

NOAA not only failed, but it effectively mounted a cover-up when challenged over its data. After the paper was published, the US House of Representatives Science Committee launched an inquiry into its Pausebuster claims. NOAA refused to comply with subpoenas demanding internal emails from the committee chairman, the Texas Republican Lamar Smith, and falsely claimed that no one had raised concerns about the paper internally.

Heads need to roll. Donald Trump has his work cut out for him, to put it mildly.

FAKE NEWS: Iraqi Woman “Killed by Trump” Died Days Before Travel Ban

February 2, 2017

FAKE NEWS: Iraqi Woman “Killed by Trump” Died Days Before Travel Ban, Front Page Magazine (The Point), Daniel Greenfield, February 1, 2017

dan-rather-document-investigation

Don’t worry, Snopes and FactCheck will rate it mostly true. Dan Rather will explain that it’s the idea of the story that matters not the minor question of when the woman actually died. Brian Williams will claim that he personally tried to ferry her out of Iraq on a helicopter.

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How can you tell the media is lying? When its cameras are rolling, its keys are clicking and its presses are printing.

You may have seen this latest horrifying Trumptrocity earlier today when it was being broadcast for all it was worth.

Green-Card Holder Dies a Day After Being Prevented From Returning Home by Trump’s Order, Report Says- TIME

Detroit Son: My Mom Died Waiting In Iraq Because Of Trump – Huffington Post

An Elderly Iraqi Woman Died After Trump’s Travel Ban Barred Her From the U.S.- New York Magazine

Detroit Mother Dies in Iraq After Trump Ban Blocked Her from Returning for Medical Treatment – Democracy Now!

Report: Woman dies day after being kicked off flight due to Trump Ban – MLive.com

Detroit Green Card-Holder Dies After She’s Stopped In Trump Travel Ban – Patch.com

Detroit-area woman dies after being turned away by Trump travel ban – Detroit Metro Times

This Immigrant’s Family Was Destroyed After Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban – Bustle

This is just shocking, horrifying, unbelievable.

A former American serviceman who served in Iraq, where he was born, says his sick mother died a day after being turned away from the U.S. as a result of President Donald Trump’s executive order abruptly banning entry to travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“I was just shocked. I had to put my mom back on the wheelchair and take her back and call the ambulance and she was very, very upset,” Hager told Fox 2 Detroit, recalling the moment they were pried apart at the terminal. “She knew right there if we send her back to the hospital she’s going to pass away — she’s not going to make it.”

Hager and his family reportedly fled Iraq during the Gulf War. After spending four years in a refugee camp, they were resettled in the U.S., Fox 2 reports. A few years later, he decided to return to his home country as an American serviceman, working with the U.S. Special Forces as an interpreter and adviser.

Did I mention unbelievable?

The leader of a mosque in Dearborn has confirmed to FOX 2 that a man who claimed his mother died in Iraq after being barred from returning to the United States under a ban instituted by President Trump this weekend, lied to FOX 2 about when her death occurred.

Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, leader of the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn, says Mike Hager’s mom did not pass away this weekend after being barred from traveling to the United States. The Imam confirms that Hager’s mother died before the ban was put in place.

After the story aired on FOX 2 and was posted on FOX2Detroit.com, we received many questions about the validity of Hager’s claims that his mother died waiting to be approved to come home. FOX 2 has confirmed that his mother died five days earlier.

According to Al-Hussainy, Hager’s mother had kidney disease and was receiving treatment in Michigan – where she lived – before traveling to Iraq to visit family. The Imam said she passed away on January 22, 2017, five days before President Trump instituted the travel ban.

Don’t worry, Snopes and FactCheck will rate it mostly true. Dan Rather will explain that it’s the idea of the story that matters not the minor question of when the woman actually died. Brian Williams will claim that he personally tried to ferry her out of Iraq on a helicopter.

But if Facebook really wants to fight fake news, maybe it can start with the media. The media is the main engine of Fake News.