Posted tagged ‘Media and Trump’

News, Fake News, Very Fake News: A Primer

February 27, 2017

News, Fake News, Very Fake News: A Primer, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, February 27, 2017

spiceynewsconfWhite House Press secretary Sean Spicer takes questions from the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The motor of fake news is not inaccuracy. It’s malice.

I had an insight into this important truth a couple weeks back when I was at a swank New York club for an evening event. The establishment in question is overwhelmingly conventional, i.e., leftish in that smug “We’re-all-beautiful-people-who-are-you?” sort of way that publications like The New Yorker and the New York Times, along with such media outlets as CNN and MSNBC, exude like the cloying aroma of paperwhites.

I ran into an acquaintance, a female journalist I hadn’t seen in years. I knew that her politics were echt conventional in the above sense, but I had also found her an amusing and lively person. We were chatting with a couple of other people about this and that when someone she knew from the Times joined in. I then overheard him explain to her that she had to be careful about what she posted on Facebook, Twitter, etc., because anything too explicitly anti-Trump could be used against her when that glorious day came and “they” — the conventional fraternity of groupthink scribblers — finally took down that horrible, despicable man.

“We’ve got dozens of people working on it all the time,” he explained, adding that it was only a matter of time before they got the goods on Trump and destroyed him.

There in a nutshell, I thought, is the existential imperative that has been so gloriously productive of fake news and its exacerbated allotrope, first delineated by Donald Trump in his famous media-bashing presser on February 16, “very fake news.”

News is the reporting of facts. Someone says “this happened on such-and-such a day in such-and-such a way,” and independent, publicly available sources confirm that, yes, what was alleged happened at just that time and in just that fashion.

Fake news insinuates a skein of innuendo and a boatload of shared presumption floating on an ocean of fantastic desire into the mix. Repetition, like Rumor in the Iliad, whips this unstable congeries into an intoxicating frenzy:

Trump’s transition is in chaos, pass it on.”

Trump is a puppet of Putin, pass it on.”

Trump is Steve Bannon’s puppet, pass it on.”

Trump, like Steve Bannon, is a white supremacist/racist/homophobic/woman-hating xenophobe, really pass that one along.”

Every one of these fantasies is not only untrue, but ostentatiously, extravagantly untrue. Liberals of sound mind understand this.

Thus the British journalist Piers Morgan, than whom a more reliably left-liberal figure is hard to imagine, noted to Tucker Carlson that the Left’s hatred of Donald Trump has blinded them to reality. Godwin’s law, which states that the longer an online exchange proceeds, the more likely it is that Adolf Hitler will be dragged into the conversation, has been exacerbated in the case of Trump. It is true that every Republican since at least Ronald Reagan has been compared to Hitler, but in the case of Trump the comparisons have taken on an especially surreal tone. This, too, is something that Piers Morgan, in another interview with Tucker Carlson, noted with a sense of exasperated amazement.

In fact, Donald Trump’s first 30-odd days have been extraordinarily successful. That’s the news.

As Charlotte Allen noted in a column for USA Today, to date Trump has been even more successful than was Reagan in beginning to fulfill his campaign promises. All of his cabinet nominees have been confirmed (Trump withdrew his nominee for Labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, after it became clear that the two differed on immigration). He has moved quickly to get the ball rolling on tax cuts, repealing Obamacare, strengthening the military, enforcing the country’s immigration laws, and cutting the jungle of business-sapping regulation down to size. He has, as Allen observes, “already taken steps … to fulfill at least a dozen of his campaign promises.”

But listen to the New York Times or any of the other conventional (see above) “news” sources, and you would think Trump is a malevolent and incompetent monster who, despite his supreme incompetence, is somehow tipping the country into moral Armageddon.

Harken, for example, to Andrew Sullivan, who in a column for New York called “The Madness of King Donald,” tells his readers:

This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional.

Sullivan’s evidence?

There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.

Hmm. The dogs are barking, but the caravan keeps moving along, Andrew.

So there’s news (well, there was news) and then there is fake news. Here’s one bit of news: the stock market has risen by nearly 3000 points since Trump’s election.

Here’s another bit of news: while Trump’s personal popularity remains low for a new president, the mood of the country as a whole has exploded with optimism, whereas towards the end of Barack Obama’s reign, 70% of those polled said that the country was moving in the wrong direction.

But what about “Very Fake News”? One could investigate the Left’s truly bizarre Russian fantasy to get a glimpse of the phantasmagoric nature of very fake news. Memo to CNN: Donald Trump was correct when he said the whole Russian gambit was “a ruse.” One of my favorite lines from the English essayist William Hazlitt is: “Those who lack delicacy hold us in their power.” It is ironical, to say the least, to find the very same people who decried Republicans for “red scare” tactics and the like now turn around and pretend that a man who is actively rebuilding America’s military, encouraging native energy production, and taking steps to unleash economic growth is somehow playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands.

That whole Russia narrative is deserving of the epithets served up by Andrew Sullivan: “deranged,” “delusional,” and smack dab in the middle of an alternate universe.

But Very Fake News is really more an attitude, an exfoliation of a moral atmosphere, than a putatively factual account. An exquisite specimen of the genre was vouchsafed us by the New York Times back in July, when the anti-George W. Bush historian Bruce Bartlett revealed that the Republican Party had become … the “party of hate.”

How did that terrible thing happen? Apparently, by a process akin to alchemical transformation.

Bartlett knows that the Democratic Party was the party of slavery in the 19th century, the party of segregation and Jim Crow in the early 20th century, and the party of identity politics, i.e., neo-segregation, now. He also knows, though he doesn’t come right out and say, that the Civil Rights Act was orchestrated overwhelmingly by Republicans over concerted Democratic opposition.

But then afterwards, somehow, Republicans became Democrats, or at least they became Southerners, i.e. the epitome of all that is racist, intolerant, homophobic, etc.

Note the logic: the GOP ushered in the Civil Rights and and the Voting Rights Act, but — pay attention now:

… in the process, Republicans absorbed the traditions of racism, bigotry, populism and rule by plutocrats called “Bourbons” that defined the politics of the South after the Civil War. They also inherited an obsession with self-defense, allegiance to evangelical Christianity, chauvinism, xenophobia and other cultural characteristics long cultivated in the South.

What do you think of that?

You should, I submit, think badly of it, on logical, moral, and historical grounds. Whence this alleged “process” of “absorption”? Is there any justification, any, for the deployment of those negative epithets racism, bigotry, populism? (And how did that last one sneak in?)

Bartlett’s dog’s breakfast of accusation is nothing more than a bagful of insults, utterly without content. He continues the disreputable campaign in the next paragraph:

The Southern states have long followed what are now doctrinaire Republican policies: minuscule taxes, no unions, aggressive pro-business policies, privatized public services and strong police forces that kept minorities in their place. Yet the South is and always has been our poorest region and shows no sign of converging with the Northeast, which has long followed progressive policies opposite those in the South and been the wealthiest region as well.

Personally, I am in favor of “minuscule taxes,” but, alas, the Republicans don’t favor them, at least not the ones writing the laws. Unions? There’s a place for unions in the private sector. But public sector unions, as even FDR understood, are a prescription for corruption. Privatized public services?  Why not? What’s better: FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service? Then there’s “pro-business policies.” I like them, the more  “aggressive” the better. Successful businesses make money, ergo they employ people and add to the country’s material well-being. It is true that Democrats favor the opposite strategy, but is that something to brag about?

As for the police, “strong police forces,” as Heather Mac Donald has shown (and Donald Trump has echoed) are valuable not only because they keep crime low but because they protect minorities, especially those in inner cities.

As for the relative prosperity of North and South, Bartlett is stuck in the 1850s. For more than a decade now, the South has outpaced the North in economic growth if not, thank God, in “progressive,” i.e., leftwing, anti-prosperity attitudes.

Bartlett’s scurrilous essay is one of those productions that, merely contemptible in itself, is nonetheless worth noting as a symptom. It exemplifies, even as it contributes to, that surreal atmosphere of groundless accusation and intimidation that has made the conventional (again, see above) reception of Donald Trump such a carnival of malignancy and groundless apocalyptic self-dramatization.

Steve Bannon was right to brand the media the “opposition party.”

To an extent marvelous to behold, it has become a factory for the production of fake and very fake news: not just the dissemination of lies, half-truths, and unsubstantiated fantasies, but also the perpetuation of that echo-chamber in which political paranoia feeds upon the bitter lees of its impotent irrelevance. As I say, that old adage about the barking dogs and the moving caravan is deeply pertinent to our situation. If Donald Trump is at all successful in his efforts to help the country, we will look back on the behavior of the media and its enablers circa 2017 with a mixture of horror and contempt.

Good Riddance

February 27, 2017

Good Riddance, Front Page MagazineRobert Spencer, February 27, 2017

hijabmodel

The establishment media has found a new heroine: Rumana Ahmed, a hijab-wearing Muslim woman who worked at the National Security Council during the Obama administration and for eight days into the Trump administration, at which point she quit. 

Ahmed explained: “I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim.” That’s enough to send the media into self-righteous ululations of anti-Trump fury, but as always, there is more to this story than what the media is telling you, and a good deal about Rumana Ahmed that they would prefer you did not know.

In her piece in The Atlantic explaining why she left the Trump NSC (and it is important to note that she wasn’t fired by her supposedly “Islamophobic” new bosses; she quit), Ahmed sounds themes of post-9/11 Muslim victimhood that have become familiar tropes among Leftists: after recounting her idyllic life “living the American dream,” she says: “After 9/11, everything would change. On top of my shock, horror, and heartbreak, I had to deal with the fear some kids suddenly felt towards me. I was glared at, cursed at, and spat at in public and in school. People called me a ‘terrorist’ and told me, ‘go back to your country.’”

Not surprisingly, Ahmed made no mention of the fact that this Muslim victimhood narrative has been sullied, if not vitiated entirely, by the high number of “anti-Muslim hate crimes” that turn out to have been faked by Muslims. The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Muslims have on many occasions not hesitated to stoop even to fabricating “hate crimes,” including attacks on mosques and even murders: a New Jersey Muslim was found guilty of murder that he tried to portray as an “Islamophobic” attack, and in 2014 in California, a Muslim was found guilty of killing his wife, after first blaming her murder on “Islamophobia.”

Ahmed blamed yet another murder on “Islamophobia”: “A harsher world began to reemerge in 2015,” she wrote in The Atlantic. “In February, three young American Muslim students were killed in their Chapel Hill home by an Islamophobe. Both the media and administration were slow to address the attack, as if the dead had to be vetted before they could be mourned. It was emotionally devastating.”

In reality, there is no evidence that the Chapel Hill murders were committed by an “Islamophobe.” U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand declared the day after the murders: “The events of yesterday are not part of a targeting campaign against Muslims in North Carolina.” Rand said that there was “no information this is part of an organized event against Muslims.” Nor has any emerged since then, although that fact has not stopped Islamic advocacy groups from routinely treating these murders as evidence of a wave of anti-Muslim hatred in the U.S. Ruhana Ahmed in The Atlantic abets this cynical and disingenuous agenda.

In the same vein, Ahmed claims: “When Trump first called for a Muslim ban, reports of hate crimes against Muslims spiked.” In reality, as MRC Newsbusters noted in late November, “A number of these incidents have been debunked already, though the scant details on the majority of stories would be near impossible to disprove (or prove!).”

Ahmed is not only dishonest; she’s connected. Before she went to work for the Obama administration, she was an officer of George Mason University’s Muslim Students Association (MSA). According to Discover the Networks, the “was established mainly by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in January 1963 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Nyack College theologian Larry A. Poston writes that ‘many of the founding members of this agency [MSA] were members of, or had connections to,’ the Muslim Brotherhood or Jamaat-i-Islami.” The MSA is “a radical political force and a key lobbying organization for the Wahhabi sect of Islam, telling students that America is an imperialist power and Israel an oppressor nation. MSA speakers routinely spew anti-Semitic libels and justify the genocide against the Jews which is promoted by Islamic terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah and by the government of Iran.”

What’s more, “a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood internal document — titled ‘An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America’ — which named MSA as one of the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded ‘organizations of our friends’ that shared the common goal of destroying America and turning it into a Muslim nation. These ‘friends’ were identified by the Brotherhood as groups that could help teach Muslims ‘that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands … so that … God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.’”

It is hard to imagine how someone who had served as an officer in an organization dedicated to “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within” would so quickly be appointed to the National Security Council, but that was Barack Obama’s America. The Trump administration is indeed setting a strikingly different tone, one that Rumana Ahmed finds unacceptable. Her dissatisfaction and departure from the NSC are good reason for every patriotic American to applaud.

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

trumpparties

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.

 

partytweet

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.

 

Off Topic | Wayne Barrett, Donald Trump, and the Death of the American Press

February 23, 2017

Wayne Barrett, Donald Trump, and the Death of the American Press, Tablet MagazineLee Smith, February 23, 2017

(Please see also, Off Topic:  A Purblind Press, Unable To Admit Error, Boycotts the President. — DM)

How did we get from ‘Village Voice’ reporters digging up everything there is to know about a flashy New York real estate salesman to not knowing anything about the President of the United States and his ties to Russia?

So when does the other shoe drop? Who’s going to break the story proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the president of the United States is so deeply connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the White House has become a Muscovite colony in all but name?

Time to use some common sense—it’s not going to happen, there is no story. The narrative that Donald Trump is effectively Putin’s prison wife is an information operation orchestrated by Democratic hands, many of whom served in the Obama administration, sectors of the intelligence community, and much of the American press. The purpose of the campaign is to delegitimize Trump’s presidency by continuing to hit on themes drawn from the narrative that Russia “hacked” the election and stole it away from Clinton.

The narrative is contorted because it’s not journalism. It’s a story that could only make sense in a profoundly corrupted public sphere, one in which, for instance, Graydon Carter is celebrated for speaking truth to power with an editor’s letter critical of Trump in a magazine that has no other ontological ground in the universe except to celebrate power.

Oh, sure, there are regular hints that there’s still more to come on Trump and his staff’s ties to Russia—the big one is about to hit. But the steady sound of drip-drip-drip is the telltale sign of a political campaign, where items are leaked bit by bit to paralyze the target. Journalists, on the other hand, have to get their story out there as quickly, and as fully, as possible because they’re always worried the competition is going to beat them to it.

No, if Trump really was in bed with the Russians, the story would already be out there, and I’m pretty sure it would have had a Wayne Barrett byline.

When I worked at the Village Voice in the mid-1990s, my office was right around the corner from Barrett’s and his bullpen of interns, a team that kept the heat on local politicians like Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, and others. Barrett was the first journalist who wrote at length about Trump, starting in the mid-1970s. His biography, Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, was published in 1992, and reissued in 2016 as Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention.

When Trump won the nomination and the pace of Trump stories picked up, Barrett became something of an official archivist, with reporters visiting his Brooklyn house to go through his files in the basement. Anyone who wanted to know what Trump’s deal with Russia was, for instance, would want to talk to Barrett because either he or his team of interns, 40 years’ worth, would have it. After all, New York City is the world capital for information on Russians, even better than Israel—because even though the city got a smaller number of post-Cold War immigrants, New York got a higher percentage of mobsters.

Let’s compare the institution of Wayne Barrett, a subset of the institution of journalism, to the so-called Russia dossier, the document placing Trump in a shady underworld governed by Putin and other Russian thugs. The former includes not only Barrett’s body of work over nearly half a century, but that of the hundreds of journalists he trained, and many thousands of sources whose information is, therefore, able to be cross-checked.

The latter, a congeries of preadolescent pornographic fantasy and spy tales, was authored by a British intelligence officer who has gone to ground since the dossier was made public. The dossier started as work made for hire, first paid for by Republican opponents of Trump and then the Clinton camp, and is sourced to Russian “contacts” who are clearly using the document as an opportunity to proliferate an information operation for perhaps various and as yet unknown purposes. The former is journalism. The latter, part oppo research and part intelligence dump, is garbage. Clearly, it is also the new standard in the field, which is why journalists on both sides of the political spectrum are boasting about their willingness to let their bylines be used as bulletin boards for spy services and call it a “scoop.”

Barrett had Trump on a whole variety of issues, but check the records yourself—up until the day of his death, the day before Trump’s inauguration, there’s nothing on Trump and Putin. Does this mean Trump is totally clean? Who knows? But the journalists now clamoring like maniacs about Trump’s ties sure aren’t going to find it. They’re thin-skinned hacks outraged that Trump dared violate the inherent dignity of that most important of American political institutions, the presidential press conference. And as we all know, this is the apex of real journalism, where esteemed members of the press sit side by side with other masters of the craft to see who gets their question televised.

Does Trump really believe the media are “an enemy of the people”? Please. Let’s remember how he rode his wave to fame on the back of the New York Post’s Page Six (and Graydon Carter’s Spy magazine). He still speaks regularly to the head of CNN (aka “Fake News”), Jeff Zucker, who put him on The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice at NBC, where Trump sat atop the Nielsens for 13 years. Trump uses his Twitter feed to boost his replacement Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings because the president still has a credit as executive producer. No, Trump, doesn’t hate the media. Like Howard Stern, he sees himself as the king of all media. What he’s doing here is playing gladiator in front of an audience that wants to see the lions slain.

Maybe Trump deserves the heat with the fake Russia stories. He backed the Obama birth certificate story, and what goes around comes around. But the American public sure doesn’t deserve a press like this.

Trump adviser Steve Bannon calls the media the opposition party, but that’s misleading. Everyone knows that the press typically tilts left, and no one is surprised, for instance, that The New York Times has not endorsed a Republican candidate since 1956. But that’s not what we’re seeing now—rather, the media has become an instrument in a campaign of political warfare. What was once an American political institution and a central part of the public sphere became something more like state-owned media used to advance the ruling party’s agenda and bully the opposition into silence. Russia’s RT network, the emir of Qatar’s Al Jazeera network—indeed, all of the Arab press—and media typically furnished by Third World regimes became the American press’ new paradigm; not journalism, but information operation.

How did this happen? It’s not about a few journalists, many of whom still do honor to the profession, or a few papers or networks. It’s a structural issue. Much of it is because of the wounds the media inflicted on itself, but it was also partly due to something like a natural catastrophe that no one could have predicted, or controlled.

***

I was at the Voice when the meteor hit. Like many papers back then, dailies and weeklies, the Voice made its money on classified advertising. The New York Times, for instance, had three important classifieds sections—employment, automotive, and housing—but if New Yorkers really wanted to find a great apartment, they’d line up at the newsstand on 42nd Street to get a copy of the Voice hot off the press.

And then the internet came along, and it was all there in one place—for free. The press panicked. The Voice’s publisher at the time, David Schneiderman, announced to the staff that the paper was going free. It made no sense, he argued, to keep charging $1 for what consumers could get on the internet for nothing.

Here’s how the staff heard it: Who would want to pay $1 a week to read Nat Hentoff on civil liberties, Robert Christgau on music, Michael Musto on New York nightlife—or Wayne Barrett on the follies of real-estate mogul Donald Trump? That is, who would want to pay $1 a week to feel themselves a part of what the Village Voice had made them feel part of for decades? But at the time, devaluing content was in fashion—which meant, as few saw back then, the profession was digging its own grave.

The American press’ new paradigm: not journalism, but information operation.

In midtown, Tina Brown had taken The New Yorker, a notoriously sleepy rag that entry-level assistants stacked in a corner of their studio apartments to spend a rainy Saturday with a 10,000-word Ved Mehta article, and turned it into a hot book that everyone from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Harvey and Bob Weinstein was talking about. “Buzz” was Tina’s catchword, and she made her writers stars. But something else was happening on the business side that wasn’t good for the content providers.

Before Brown, The New Yorker made its money by selling the magazine to readers who wanted to feel like a part of the world only The New Yorker made available, a cozy world reflected by the modest, but very profitable, number of subscriptions, which hovered around 340,000. Advertising was an afterthought. It may have been the only magazine in history at which the business side held ads because there wasn’t space for them, or because, well, Mr. Shawn might not like them.

Condé Nast owner Si Newhouse, who bought The New Yorker in 1985, and publisher Steve Florio turned the business model on its head when Brown came on in 1992. Forget about making readers pay for content; instead, bill advertisers for access to your readers—charge them for eyeballs. They slashed the subscription price dramatically and readership swelled by many hundreds of thousands. This enabled the sales team to bump up ad rates to levels on par with other Condé Nast glossies, essentially fashion catalogs, that enjoyed much larger readerships, like Vogue, GQ, and Glamour.

The paradox was that The New Yorker lost money because each of the new subscriptions was costly. Paper, printing, and postage are expensive, and even the new ad rates couldn’t cover the costs now that circulation had grown to something like 800,000—not monthly like Vogue, but weekly.

Instead of paying for the cost of high-level reporting and editing, subscribers now cost The New Yorker money. In Brown’s last year at the magazine, The New Yorker lost $10 million—a giant black hole that her successor would endeavor mightily to fill while retaining the magazine’s new subscribers, who had little knowledge of or attachment to the magazine’s prior mix of literary reporting and sophisticated whimsy. If the subscribers didn’t feel interested and flattered, the magazine was sunk.

With a new media model that devalued content, no one had a very clear picture of the problems ahead. The future was further obscured by what seemed to be an astonishing reflorescence of the press, with tiny internet startups throwing lavish parties in Manhattan bistros and paying writers Condé Nast-level fees. The internet was the messiah, everything was great—until the IT bubble burst and media giants like TimeWarner stopped throwing money at a platform they didn’t understand. So now who was going to pay?

For the next decade, the media couldn’t decide which slogan of the moment carried more weight—“content is king” or “information wants to be free.” Sure, you can give away “information,” but someone has to find some way to cover expenses, and yet no one had figured out how to make internet advertising work. Maybe you really could charge for content. Of course you could—The New Yorker had done it for decades.

Even if you bring your own glass to a lemonade stand, there is no 8-year-old entrepreneur who is not going to charge you for his product. Why didn’t media grandees get it? When they saw their ad-based business model collapse, why didn’t they do the logical thing and raise the price on consumers? Sure, they’d lose some readers and have to cut some staff and departments, but they’d have established a fundamental defense of the product, the industry, and the institution itself—news is worth paying for.

As the old Chinese saying has it, the first generation builds the business, the second generation expands it, and the third spends it all on Italian shoes, houses in the Hamptons, and divorces. For the most part, the people inheriting these media properties didn’t know what they were doing. It took The New York Times more than a decade to settle on billing consumers for its product—after giving it away, charging for it, giving it away again, then billing for “premium content,” etc. By then, it was too late. Entire papers went under, and even at places that survived, the costliest enterprises, like foreign bureaus and investigative teams, were cut. An entire generation’s worth of expertise, experience, and journalistic ethics evaporated into thin air.

In January, Bannon told the Times that the press doesn’t “understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.” But the Times had already acknowledged its blunder in a letter to its readers after the election. However, neither Bannon nor the Times seemed to grasp the logistical reasons for the failure—it wasn’t because the paper of record slants left, or because it was too caught up in its own narrative. It’s in large part because it had long ago cut the regional bureaus in the South, the Midwest, etc., that would’ve forced reporters to speak to Americans outside the urban bubble and thereby explain to readers what the world looks like once you wander off the F train.

By the time two planes brought down the World Trade Center towers in September of 2001, everyone in the industry knew the media was in big trouble. The Iraq War partially hid and then later amplified that fact. The media spent millions it didn’t have for coverage it gave away free of a war that the press first supported and then turned against. If journalists prided themselves on their courageous about-faces, to much of their audience it further discredited a press whose main brief is not to advocate for or against, but to report facts.

This is the media environment that Barack Obama walked into—where Post columnist David Ignatius was no more important a media figure than Zach Galifianakis, on whose precious and often funny internet show Between Two Ferns the president marketed the Affordable Care Act. I suspect the Obama White House was a little sad that the press we’d all grown up with was basically dead. As Ben Rhodes, former national security adviser for strategic communications, told The New York Times Magazine, “I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote. But that’s impossible.”

He was right. What was once known as the prestige media became indistinguishable from the other stuff that Facebook gives away. Was it The New York Times or BuzzFeed that published that video about cats terrorized by cucumbers? Or was it Fake News because, in fact, cats aren’t scared of vegetables? It doesn’t matter where it came from, because there is no longer any hierarchy in the press. The media, as Thomas Friedman might say, is flat.

Obama didn’t kill journalism, but he took advantage of it in its weakness, because he knew the press would do anything to feel relevant again. All those 27-year-olds at the Times, the Washington Post and others hired as bloggers—“who literally know nothing,” as Rhodes told the Times Magazine—when the foreign and national bureaus were closed, they didn’t know it wasn’t OK to be a journalist and a political operative at the same time. They thought it made them more valuable, even patriotic, to put themselves in the service of a historic presidency. And they’d replaced for pennies on the dollar all the adults who could have taught them otherwise.

That’s the raw material out of which the Obama administration built its echo chamber, the purpose of which was to drown out the few remaining vestiges of journalism in order to sell the president’s policies. And there really were real journalists still putting in the hours, still doing the work, but the echo chamber, a relentless, frenzied chorus of incoherent and nearly illiterate prose, shouted them down.

Yes, it would have been nice if the American public had a chance to discuss a policy of vital importance to our national security, like the Iran nuclear deal, but the press congratulated itself for silencing those who dissented from Obama’s signature foreign-policy initiative. These weren’t simply critics or opponents of the White House, they weren’t just wrong; no, they were warmongers, beholden to donors and moneyed interests and lobbies, they were dual loyalists.

But it was all OK for the press to humiliate and threaten Obama’s opponents in accordance with the talking points provided by Obama administration officials—they were helping the president prevent another senseless war. That’s for history to decide. What everyone saw at the time was that the press had put itself in the service of executive power. This was no longer simply tilting left, rather, it was turning an American political institution against the American public.

Now with Trump in the White House, commentators on the right are critical of those angry with the press for calling out Trump on the same stuff that Obama got away with. Let’s be above it, they argue. Just because Obama did it doesn’t make it OK for Trump to do it. Fine, obviously, call out Trump—but this isn’t about playing gotcha. It’s about a self-aggrandizing press corps gaslighting the electorate. The public is astonished and appalled that the media has now returned after an eight-year absence to arrogate to itself the role of conscience of the nation.

It’s not working out very well.

Consider the Washington Post, whose new motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” which presumably was OK’d by owner Jeff Bezos, the man who closed virtually every independent bookstore in America. Here’s a recent story about riots in Sweden:

Just two days after President Trump provoked widespread consternation by seeming to imply, incorrectly, that immigrants had perpetrated a recent spate of violence in Sweden, riots broke out in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in the northern suburbs of the country’s capital, Stockholm.

You’ve probably never seen the phrase “seeming to imply” in the lede of a story in a major American newspaper before—a news story. So did Trump imply, or seem to imply? How are readers supposed to parse “incorrectly” if the story is about the reality of riots in a place where Trump “seemingly” “implied” there was violence? So what’s the point—that Trump is a racist? Or that Trump can see the future?

The press at present is incapable of reconstituting itself because it lacks the muscle memory to do so. Look at the poor New Yorker. During the eight years of the Obama administration, it was best known not for reported stories, but for providing a rostrum for a man to address the class that revered him as a Caesar. Now that the magazine is cut off from the power that made it relevant, is it any wonder that when it surveys the post-Obama landscape it looks like Rome is burning—or is that the Reichstag in flames?

The Russia story is evidence that top reporters are are still feeding from the same trough—political operatives, intelligence agencies, etc.—because they don’t know how to do anything else, and their editors don’t dare let the competition get out ahead. Why would the Post, for instance, let the Times carve out a bigger market share of the anti-Trump resistance? And what’s the alternative? Report the story honestly? Don’t publish questionably sourced innuendo as news?

And still, you ask, how could the Russia story be nonsense? All the major media outlets are on it. Better to cover yourself—maybe it’s true, because the press can’t really be this inept and corrupt, so there’s got to be something to it.

I say this not only out of respect for a late colleague, but in the hope that journalism may once again merit the trust of the American public. Wayne Barrett had this file for 40 years, and if neither he nor the reporters he trained got this story, it’s not a story.

Trump Is Completely Right About the Crisis in Sweden

February 21, 2017

Trump Is Completely Right About the Crisis in Sweden, PJ MediaRobert Spencer, February 21, 2017

(This Pat Condell video from November of 2015 seems appropriate:

Please see also, Welcome to Sweden, Eldorado for Migrants!  The linked copy here at Warsclerotic includes the Fox video to which President Trump referred and which has caused leftist consternation– DM)

riotsinswedenRiots in Stockholm, Sweden – Feb 2017 (Rex Features via AP Images)

President Trump unleashed an international storm of ridicule Saturday when he said:

Here’s the bottom line, we have to keep our country safe. When you look at what’s happening in Germany, when you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers, they’re having problems like they never thought possible.

But once again, those attacking Trump didn’t care to do their homework. The chorus was immediate and shrill. Wrote Vox:

The only problem is that nothing happened the prior night in Sweden.

Asked former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt:

Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?

But those who are cackling today about the idiot Trump and his imaginary terror in Sweden should pause to examine some recent headlines. Trump himself tweeted:

“My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.”

And:

“Give the public a break – The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!”

On Friday night, according to Heat Street:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed documentarian Ami Horowitz about his upcoming film about violence involving migrants in Sweden. Horowitz claims that the Swedish government is downplayingan uptick in violence that followed a wave of refugee migration into the country.

Horowitz’s film shows a country that is deep in denial about a growing problem of migrant violence — including a sharp uptick in rape over the last five years. Horowitz claims that the increase correlates directly to Sweden’s refugee acceptance program; the country has taken in more than 190,000 Muslim immigrants in the same time frame.

The migrant violence is just part of the problem. The UK’s Express reported several weeks ago:

Sweden’s Prime Minister was brutalised in Parliament for allowing Sweden to crumble into a lawless state.

This was not hyperbole:

In February 2016, the National Criminal Investigation Service was forced to admit more than 50 areas in were now labelled as “no-go zones” as sex crimes, attacks on police, drug dealing and children carrying weapons were common occurrences.

Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, has been so hard hit by crime and car fires, the Social Democrats demanded soldiers should be sent in to reestablish law and order.

Malmo is Sweden’s most Muslim-dominated area. On New Year’s Eve, Muslim mobs there fired rockets at crowds and police. The Express reported in November 2016:

[M]igrant sex attacks against children in the Swedish city of Malmö could increase following a spate of incidents in broad daylight, police have warned. The city of Malmö has seen a huge rise in migrant crimein recent months.

Police spokesperson Ewa-Gun Westford explained:

Some cases concern rapes while in other cases it’s sexual molestation, and we think [this situation] could escalate. We do not want to create a rancorous atmosphere among the public but want to tread carefully. The information we have leads in a certain direction, but it is very sensitive and [these are] difficult issues for the vulnerable.

What?

The “sensitive,” “difficult” nature of fighting back against rape? Westford is referring only to the fact that Muslim migrants were perpetrating these crimes — and no one wanted to discuss the implications of that.

Even worse, Malmo is not the only place where this is happening. Last week in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby, which has a high Muslim immigrant population, a gang of thugs attacked and brutalized three police officers on patrol, hitting them, kicking them, and throwing bottles and glass at them. This has been going on for years. In August 2014 in Rinkeby, Muslims lured police in and then ambushed them, with about 200 Muslims stoning the cops and torching cars.

And in January, two Afghan Muslim migrants kidnapped a Swedish woman and streamed their repeated rapes of her live on Facebook.

Peter Springare, a police investigator in Örebro, blamed Muslim migrants for the chaos that was engulfing Sweden:

I’m so f***** tired. What I’m writing here isn’t politically correct. But I don’t care. Our pensioners are on their knees, the schools are a mess, healthcare is an inferno, the police is completely destroyed. Everyone knows why, but no one dares or wants to say why.

When he says “no one,” the chief culprit is the establishment media.

Hard-Left Canadian reporter Doug Saunders claimed that the idea that Sweden was suffering from a rape epidemic “falls apart as soon as you speak to anyone knowledgeable in Sweden.” Saunders admitted that “Sweden does indeed have far more reported cases of sexual assault than any other country.” Then, he asserted:

[I]t’s not because Swedes — of any colour — are very criminal. It’s because they’re very feminist. In 2005, Sweden’s Social Democratic government introduced a new sex-crime law with the world’s most expansive definition of rape.

Saunders quoted Jerzy Sarnecki, whom he identified as “a criminologist at Stockholm University,” as saying:

What we’re hearing is a very, very extreme exaggeration based on a few isolated events, and the claim that it’s related to immigration is more or less not true at all.

We have 50 no-go zones acknowledged by the National Criminal Investigation Service, and a crime wave so severe that Swedish MPs are excoriating the prime minister for “allowing Sweden to crumble into a lawless state.” Because of feminism?

Remember, Trump is supposed to be the idiot.

Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked

February 20, 2017

Highly Classified National Security Information Must Not be Leaked, Dan Miller’s Blog, February 20, 2017

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

Evidence of political corruption should be.

It has been obvious since the early Republican primaries that most media coverage of a Trump presidency would be adverse and presented out of context. Perhaps a recent editorial at The Week Magazine explains why, albeit inadvertently. Or maybe this cartoon better explains the media view:

Trump and Putin as seen by the lamebrain media

Trump and Putin as seen by the lamebrain media

According to The Week Magazineall leaks are equal. However, we approve of those which fit our politics and disapprove of those which don’t.

Live by the leak, die by the leak. When WikiLeaks was releasing a steady stream of embarrassing emails hacked from Democratic officials during the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and her supporters cried foul, and urged the press not to report their contents. Donald Trump applauded every new revelation, saying the leaks provided voters with important information, and gleefully invited the Russians to find and publish emails she had deleted. “Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn’t it?” Trump exulted. Now that it’s Trump who is being tortured by leaks, he’s complaining they’re illegal and “un-American.” Democrats, meanwhile, are welcoming the torrent like a rainstorm after a long drought. (See Main Stories.) When it comes to leaks, everyone is a hypocrite. “Good” leaks are ones that damage our opponents. “Bad” leaks are those that hurt Our Side. [Emphasis added.]

But let’s set partisanship aside for a moment. Is it always in the public interest for government officials to leak, and for the media to publish leaked material? Crusading journalist Glenn Greenwald—who angered the Obama administration by publishing Edward Snowden’s trove of stolen NSA documents—argues in TheIntercept.com this week that all leaks exposing “wrong-doing” are good ones, regardless of the leaker’s motives. “Leaks are illegal and hated by those in power (and their followers),” Greenwald says, “precisely because political officials want to be able to lie to the public with impunity and without detection.” The implication of this argument, of course, is that governments, politicians, and organizations should not keep any secrets—that when people in power conceal documents, emails, or information that could embarrass them, they are by definition deceiving the public. Radical transparency certainly sounds noble—but I suspect it’s a standard no public official, or indeed most of us, could survive. It’s so much more convenient to have a double standard: Transparency for thee, but not for me.

I disagree. Leaks of unclassified materials demonstrating corruption of the political process by either party are necessary for an effectively functioning democracy. Leaks of highly classified national security information — particularly in the area of foreign policy — endanger our democracy, are crimes and the perpetrators should be dealt with accordingly. When the media sensationalize leaks of the latter type, they are complicit and must be criticized vigorously.

The press has long served as an objective fail-safe to protect the public from the powers-that-be. That objectivity is now absent and the media’s role in our democratic society is in jeopardy. Rather than self-reflect as to how they got off course, the press have opted to label the man who exposed this derailment as un-American.

What’s un-American is the belief that the press should be unaccountable for its actions. What’s un-American is the belief that any attempt to criticize the press should be viewed as heresy. What’s un-American is the belief that the press is akin to a golden calf that compels Americans, presidents included, to worship the press.

Two very different types of leaks

a. DNC and Podesta e-mails:

The DNC and Podesta e-mails were released as written and posted by DNC officials and Podesta for transmission on unsecured servers easily hacked by modestly competent teenage hackers. I have seen no suggestion that the e-mails were classified. The intelligence community opined that Russian agents had done the hacking, but offered no significant proof beyond that the methods used by the hacker(s) were comparable to those used by Russian hackers in the past.

They found no discrepancies between the original e-mails and those posted by WikiLeaks (which denied that Russia had been the source). The e-mail leaks damaged the Clinton campaign because they portrayed, accurately — and in their own words —  dishonest efforts of high-level DNC and Clinton campaign personnel to skew the Democrat primary process in Ms. Clinton’s favor. They did not involve American foreign policy until Obama — who had previously done nothing of significance to halt Russia’s hacking of highly classified information from our intelligence establishment beyond asking, “pretty please, stop” — decided that Russia must be punished for Hillary’s loss of the general election through sanctions and by the expulsion of thirty-five of its diplomats.

Russian president Vladimir Putin had been expected to respond in kind, with the expulsion of US diplomats from its territory.

However, he later said he would not “stoop” to “irresponsible diplomacy”, but rather attempt to repair relations once Donald Trump takes office.

Mr Trump praised the decision as “very smart.”

b. Flynn telephone conversations:

Neither transcripts nor audio recordings of the Flynn telephone conversations were released. Instead, conclusions of the leakers were released. According to House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes,

“I think there is a lot of innuendo out there that the intelligence agencies have a problem with Donald Trump. The rank and file people that are out doing jobs across the world — very difficult places — they don’t pay attention to what is going on in Washington,” the California representative told CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson.

“What we have is we do have people in the last administration, people who are burrowed in, perhaps all throughout the government, who clearly are leaking to the press,” Nunes added. “And it is against the law. Major laws have been broken. If you believe the Washington Post story that said there were nine people who said this, these are nine people who broke the law.” [Emphasis added.]

Nunes said the FBI and other intelligence agencies ought to investigate who has leaked information to the press because so few people in the administration knew these secrets, that it would have had to have been someone at the “highest levels of the Obama administration” who is an acting official until Trump replaces him or her.

Did the leaker(s) try to present the conversations honestly, or to damage President Trump’s efforts to deal with Russia in matters of foreign policy where American and Russian interests coincide? To disrupt America’s badly needed “reset” with Russia which seemed likely to succeed under President Trump after Clinton’s and Obama’s efforts had failed?

resetbutton

Remember the Obama – Romney debate when Romney characterized Russia as America’s greatest geopolitical threat and Obama responded that the cold war was over and that “the 1980’s are calling and want their foreign policy back”?

The position now asserted by the Democrats and the media seems rather like the position that Obama rejected. If the position(s) of the Democrats and the media are now correct and Russia is again our enemy, might it be due to actions which Obama took or failed to take over the past eight years?

It is unfortunate that there has been a resurgence of Democrat (and some Republican) Russophobia when Russia is reassessing her relationship with Iran and America.

On January 22, 2017, the Russian media outlet Pravda.ru published an analysis on Russia-Iran relations. According to the article’s author, Dmitri Nersesov, Iran is becoming a problem for Russian interests. Nersesov also added that Iran wants Russia to choose between Iran and Washington. “Iran wants Russia to recognize that Teheran holds the key to the regulation of the Syrian crisis. Should Russia decide that the real strategy is built on the cooperation between Moscow and Washington, rather than Moscow and Teheran; the Islamic Republic will be extremely disappointed,” Nersesov wrote. [Emphasis added.]

An American – Russian realignment in areas of mutual concern — which as suggested below had seemed to be progressing well until General Flynn ceased to be involved — would be good, not bad. We have many areas of mutual concern, and Iran is one of them. The war in Syria is another. When were Russians last directed to yell Death to America? Or to refer to America as the “Great Satan?”

c. General Flynn, Russia and Iran

General Flynn had, at President Trump’s request, been dealing with Russia concerning the future roles of Iran, Russia and America in the Syria debacle:

Overlaying US President Donald Trump’s extraordinary, hour-long skirmish with reporters Thursday, Feb. 16, was bitter frustration over the domestic obstacles locking him out from his top security and foreign policy goals. [Emphasis added.]

Even before his inauguration four weeks ago, he had arranged to reach those goals by means of an understanding with President Vladimir Putin for military and intelligence cooperation in Syria, both for the war on the Islamic State and for the removal of Iran and its Lebanese surrogate Hizballah from that country. [Emphasis added.]

But his antagonists, including elements of the US intelligence community, were turning his strategy into a blunderbuss for hitting him on the head, with the help of hostile media.

Thursday, in a highly unconventional meeting with the world media, he tried to hit back, and possibly save his strategy.

That won’t be easy. The exit of National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, the prime mover in the US-Russian détente, sent the Kremlin a negative signal. The Russians began unsheathing their claws when they began to suspect that the US president was being forced back from their understanding. The SSV 175 Viktor Leonov spy ship was ordered to move into position opposite Delaware on the East Coast of America; Su-24 warplanes buzzed the USS Porter destroyer in the Black Sea.

Before these events, Washington and Moscow wre moving briskly towards an understandingdebkafile’s intelligence sources disclose that the Kremlin had sent positive messages to the White House on their joint strategy in Syria, clarifying that Moscow was not locked in on Bashar Assad staying on as president. [Emphasis added.]

They also promised to table at the Geneva conference on Syria taking place later this month a demand for the all “foreign forces” to leave Syria. This would apply first and foremost to the pro-Iranian Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan militias brought in by Tehran to fight for Assad under the command of Revolutionary Guards officers, as well as Hizballah. [Emphasis added.]

Deeply troubled by this prospect, Tehran sent Iran’s supreme commander in the Middle East, the Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, to Moscow this week to find out what was going on.

Flynn’s departure put the lid on this progress. Then came the damaging leak to the Wall Street Journal, that quoted an “intelligence official” as saying that his agencies hesitated to reveal to the president the “sources and methods” they use to collect information, due to “possible links between Trump associates and Russia.. Those links, he said “could potentially compromise the security of such classified information.”

A first-year student knows that this claim is nonsense, since no agency ever share its sources and methods with any outsider, however high-placed.

What the leak did reveal was that some Washington insiders were determined at all costs to torpedo the evolving understanding between the American and Russian presidents. The first scapegoat was the strategy the two were developing for working together in Syria. [Emphasis added.]

Defending his policy of warming relations with Moscow, Trump protested that “getting along with Russia is not a bad thing.” He even warned there would be a “nuclear holocaust like no other” if relations between the two superpowers were allowed to deteriorate further.

It is too soon to say whether his Russian policy is finally in shreds or can still be repaired. Trump indicated more than once in his press briefing that he would try and get the relations back on track.

Asked how he would react to Russia’s latest provocative moves, he said: “I’m not going to tell you anything about what responses I do. I don’t talk about military responses. I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea,” he stressed.

At all events, his administration seems to be at a crossroads between whether to try and salvage the partnership with Russia for Syria, or treat it as a write-off. If the latter, then Trump must decide whether to send American troops to the war-torn country to achieve his goals, or revert to Barack Obama’s policy of military non-intervention in the conflict. [Emphasis added.]

Substantially more is generally involved in matters of foreign policy than is facially apparent or than government officials should discuss publicly, particularly while negotiations with foreign powers are underway. Leaks by held-over members of the intelligence community did much to reveal the opinions of the leakers but little to reveal what General Flynn had been doing, while upsetting the chances of better American – Russian relations in areas of mutual concern.

Conclusions — The Administrative State

The Federal Government has grown far too big for its britches, giving the unelected “administrative state” substantially more authority, and hence power, than is consistent with a properly functioning democracy. As they have been demonstrating in recent months, holdovers from one administration can succeed, at least partially, in paralyzing a new and democratically elected president. Holdovers with political appointee status can generally be fired. Few others who should be can be.

Getting rid of the obstructionist “civil servants” who have become our masters should rank very high on President Trump’s “to do” list and should be accomplished before it’s too late. The task may be difficult but is not impossible. Perhaps some particularly obnoxious Federal agencies (or departments within those agencies) can be relocated to places less congenial than Washington. Inner City Chicago comes to mind. So do otherwise pleasant cities in California, where housing prices are much higher than in the Washington, D.C. area. How many Federal employees faced with the choice of relocating or resigning would choose the latter option?

There are likely other and probably better ways to get rid of the fatheads. President Trump’s administration should devise them.

The Silly Sweden Flap

February 20, 2017

The Silly Sweden Flap, Power LineJohn Hinderaker, February 20, 2017

(Please see also, Welcome to Sweden, Eldorado for Migrants! The video to which President Trump apparently referred is provided at the top of that article. — DM)

The liberal media’s war on the Trump administration has become comical in its monomania. The latest skirmish is over this riff from Trump’s triumphant speech in Melbourne, Florida:

Here’s the bottom line. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening. We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world.

Trump said that in Sweden, “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.” He obviously was referring to the large numbers of refugees that Sweden has tried to absorb over the last several years. The passing reference to “what’s happening last night” wasn’t clear, but Trump has explained that he referred to a television news story about the problems Sweden has experienced with its large refugee population:

On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to explain: “My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.” …

The president may be referring to a segment aired Friday night on the Fox News Channel show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that reported Sweden had accepted more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year but that only 500 of the migrants had found jobs in Sweden. The report, which was illustrated with video of broken windows and fires, went on to say that a surge in gun violence and rape had followed the influx of immigrants.

Yes. Or, in other words, “having problems like they never thought possible.” Liberals pretended not to understand Trump’s point, and made believe that Trump was talking about a phantom terrorist attack on Friday night. The Swedish government even joined in the faux mirth. The linked AP story is deeply dishonest. It joins in the absurd misinterpretation of Trump’s remarks, and never even mentions what he actually said about Sweden: “Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.” But dishonesty has become a daily occurrence at the Associated Press.

As happens so often, liberals think they are scoring points against Trump when in fact they are making fools of themselves. As Trump said, Sweden has imported too many refugees, and the results aren’t pretty. Most are living off the government, and some are committing crimes, especially sex crimes. Here are the official Swedish sex crimes numbers from 2006 through 2015, reflecting a 49% increase:

sexoffenses

I suppose liberals think that is pure coincidence. As often happens, Trump has made a valid point that is of great concern to voters. His opponents, meanwhile, refuse to acknowledge his point, and instead pretend to misunderstand him. Then they chuckle to each other over how clever they are. Pathetic.