Category Archives: Journalism

Timeline of Benghazi victim #5: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California (Sept 15, 2012)
Okay, I’m the first to admit that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is a fairly unattractive victim. He has a long history of run-ins with the law, primarily on fraud charges, including bank fraud, check-kiting, and operating businesses under various aliases.

Oh, and of course, he’s still alive, unlike Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, the four Americans killed during the Benghazi, Libya, attack. But as he sits in jail, denied bail, Nakoula’s a victim of the Obama Administration’s refusal to admit that what happened in Benghazi had nothing to do with Nakoula’s film, Innocence of Muslims, and everything to do with a planned terrorist attack aimed at the United States, specifically on 9/11.

So in order to keep up the administration’s Potemkin façade of riot and death by video (and only video), Nakoula currently remains in jail (since September 27) on charges of violating his probation, including using the Internet without permission from his parole officer.

Before I go into the timeline, there is this bit of legal perspective from Ken from Popehat (h/t Patterico):

Based on 6 years as a federal prosecutor and 12 as a federal defense lawyer, let me say this: minor use of a computer — like uploading a video to YouTube — is not something that I would usually expect to result in arrest and a revocation proceeding; I think a warning would be more likely unless the defendant had already had warnings or the probation officer was a hardass. But if I had a client with a serious fraud conviction, and his fraud involved aliases, and he had the standard term forbidding him from using aliases during supervised release, and his probation officer found out that he was running a business, producing a movie, soliciting money, and interacting with others using an alias, I would absolutely expect him to be arrested immediately, whatever the content of the movie. Seriously. Nakoula pled guilty to using alias to scam money. Now he’s apparently been producing a film under an alias, dealing with the finances of the film under the alias, and (if his “Sam Bacile” persona is to be believed) soliciting financing under an alias. I would expect him to run into a world of hurt for that even if he were producing a “Coexist” video involving kittens.

And Patterico’s comment on that is right on the money:

The problem we have here is that the head of the federal executive has criticized this guy repeatedly. His administration pressured Google to take down his movie; his Cairo embassy called it an “abuse” of free speech; and his State Department apologized for it in a country (Pakistan) where a public official offered money for the filmmaker to be killed.

So even if the line guys are doing their jobs the way they would otherwise, the President has made them look like political hacks. Which is unfortunate on several levels.

So, now to the timeline:

  • July 1-2 – You­Tube user “sam ba­cile” up­loads a 14-minute trail­er for a movie titled Innocence of Muslims, con­sist­ing of video clips that mock the Is­lam­ic proph­et Muhammad. (Los Angeles Times)
  • September 4 – An Arabic-dubbed version of the trailer is uploaded to YouTube.
  • September 8 – The Egyptian religious television channel Al Nas airs the video and condemns it.
  • September 11 – Four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, are killed when militants attack and burn the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In Egypt, protesters scale the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tear down an American flag. Emails from the State Department Operations Center linking terrorists (not protestors) to the Libyan attack are sent to a number of government and intelligence agencies (including the White House Situation Room, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI) two hours after the attack begins. (CBS News, Sharyl Attkisson)
  • September 12President Barack Obama, in an interview with Steve Kroft of CBS 60 Minutes, says: “You’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt, and my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.” This part of the interview is not aired or reported by CBS until posted online on October 19. (Breitbart.com)
  • September 12 – President Obama condemns the film and any violence that has resulted from it. (USA Today)
  • September 12/September 13 – The U.S. government identifies and provides the media with the name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian in southern California who is on probation after his conviction for financial crimes as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Mideast. It is not immediately clear whether Nakoula is the target of a criminal investigation or part of a broader investigation into the deaths of the four Americans in Libya. (AP, Stephen Braun) Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are called to Nakoula’s Cerritos home after reports of a large group of news media gathered outside.
  • September 13 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns Nakoula’s film while meeting with Moroccan officials. (TPM)
  • September 13– The U.S. apologizes for free speech in an online statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Cairo:

    The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. … Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

  • September 14Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, says that Nakoula’s federal probation on charges of bank fraud in 2010 is under review, but provides no details of why or when the probation review was initiated, or how long the process would take. (CNN)
  • September 14 – Bodies of the four Americans killed in Libya are returned to the U.S. for burial. At their memorial service at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Charles Woods, father of fallen Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assures him that they are going to “arrest and prosecute” the man that made the scapegoated YouTube video critical of Islam. (Breitbart.com)
  • September 15 – Nakoula is escorted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to an overnight “voluntary interview” with a probation officer, after federal officials say they are reviewing his probation. He is interviewed for about half an hour at the station shortly after 12 a.m. in his hometown of Cerritos, California. Nakoula leaves the local sheriff’s station after the federal officials are done interviewing him. (CNN and the New York Daily News)
  • September 17 – Family members of Nakoula leave their their home early Monday morning to join the filmmaker in hiding. Nakoula has not returned to his home since being interviewed by federal probation officers about his role in the creation of the film, which federal authorities claim have ignited ignited violent anti-American protests across the Muslim world. Shortly before 4 a.m., officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department escorted members of Nakoula’s family, who had their faces covered, out of the house and into police vehicles so they could rejoin Nakoula at an undisclosed location. It is the understanding of Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, that they won’t ever return to their Cerritos house, though that decision is “entirely up to the family.” (ABC News)
  • September 20 – The U.S. government airs an advertisement in Pakistan condemning Nakoula’s film and apologizing, once again, for free speech. The ad, which costs around $70,000 and airs on approximately seven different television markets in Pakistan (according to U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland), is appearing in an attempt to undercut anger against the U.S. The television ad features clips of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton during press appearances in Washington in which they condemn the video. Their words are subtitled in Urdu. “We absolutely reject its content and message,” said Clinton in the advertisement. A caption on the ad reads: “Paid Content.” Obama and Clinton did not film their statements for the ad, instead clips were taken from statements condemning the film each had made earlier. President Obama’s remarks were recorded in Washington, D.C. on September 12 and those of Secretary Clinton were from September 13 in Morocco. The ad ends with the seal of the American Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. In an email, the embassy also sent out a link to video of ordinary Americans condemning the anti-Islam film, which appeared on YouTube. (CBS News and the Jewish Press)
  • September 27 – A hearing on Nakoula’s probation violations results in charges being brought against him and denial of bail. Citing a lengthy pattern of deception, U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal says Nakoula should be held as a flight risk after officials say he violated his probation from a 2010 check fraud conviction. Authorities say he has eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, and he might face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term. Nakoula remains behind bars until another hearing where a judge will rule if he broke the terms of his probation. Under his probation, Nakoula is banned from using computers and the Internet without supervision. Some critics have said the probation-violation probe of Nakoula is a sign that the White House is seeking to appease extremists and weakening U.S. speech freedoms. U.S. law-enforcement officials portray the investigation of Nakoula as a routine response to public information about a potential violation. (Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post)
  • October 10 – Nakoula appears before U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles. He denies he violated his probation that resulted from a bank fraud conviction in 2010. Snyder schedules an evidentiary hearing for November 9, 2012 (after the presidential election). (Wikipedia)

Nakoula currently remains in jail.

From the PJ Tatler

VDH: It was the power, stupid!

Because Victor Davis Hanson is always a good read:

In my dumber days, between 2001-2008, I used to wonder why the Left relentlessly hammered the war on terror (e.g., renditions, tribunals, predators, preventative detention, Patriot Act, intercepts, wiretaps, Guantanamo Bay) when these measures had not only proven quite useful in preventing another 9/11-like attack, but had been sanctioned by both the Congress and the courts. In those ancient times, I was not as cynical as I am now. So I assumed that Harold Koh and MoveOn.org, though mistaken, were worried about civil liberties, or measures that they felt were both illegal and without utility.

But, of course, the Obama (who attacked each and every element of the war on terror as a legislator and senator) Left never had any principled objection at all. Instead, whatever Bush was for, they were in Pavlovian fashion against. I can say that without a charge of cynicism, because after January 2009, Obama embraced or expanded every Bush-Cheney protocol that he inherited. In response, the anti-war Left simply kept silent, or indeed vanished, or went to work extending the anti-terrorism agenda. Guantanamo Bay, in other words, was a national sin until the mid-morning of January 20, 2009….

What is going on? Two things, really. One, the media believes that the noble ends justify the tawdry means. So if it is a choice between emphasizing the latest Obama embarrassment by digging into the scary Fast and Furious, the “millions of green jobs” Solyndra insider giveaways, the Secret Service decadence, the GSA buffoonery, and the work while getting food stamps con in Washington OR endangering Obamacare and by extension “the children,” or the war to eliminate autism, or the right to breath clean air–well, why would one ever wish to derail all that by weakening a landmark progressive and his enlightened agenda?

Or for you more cynical readers, why would you wish to enervate the present comfortable culture in Washington in which the press and politics are at last one? Or why undermine the first African-American president, who is a constant reminder of our progressive advancement? Or why weaken our only chance some day to have open borders or gay marriage?

Two, the Left has always operated on the theory of medieval penance. We surely must assume that Warren Buffett has never had problems with the ethics of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. or had a company he controls sued by the IRS for back taxes. Why? Because he has confessed his sins, and accepted the faith and paid his tithe to the Church. Ditto a Bill Gates or a rich celebrity like Sean Penn or Oprah. In the relativism of the left, if the one-percenters will simply confess that their class is greedy and needs to pay their fair share—even if they are entirely cynical in the manner of GE’s Jeffrey Immelt and penance is written off as the cost of doing business—then they become exempt from the wages of them/us warfare and the “you want to kill the children” rhetoric.

There is no difference in the way the Koch brothers or Exxon run their empires and the way that  GM, GE, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Google do. But the former are enemies of the people, while the latter are protectors who have have confessed to their bishops and agreed to mouth doctrine and thereby obtained penance to make as much money as they want and to spend it as they damn well please. Suddenly in America after 2009 there are good and bad cable networks, good and bad celebrities, good and bad CEOs, good and bad sports teams (ask Lovie Smith), good and bad states, good and bad everything—not adjudicated on the actual basis of behavior, but rather on whether some are willing to go to reeducation camp, admit their errors, and join the effort to clean the air and feed the kids….

I have a confession to make that may upset readers. I was neutral in the Republican primaries, but especially interested in one fact: who would take off the gloves and run a “war room” campaign in the fashion of Bill Clinton in 1992 (as opposed to the McCain model of emulating Mike Dukakis in 1988)? Romney did it first and most effectively.

The result is that when we hear that Rush Limbaugh should be taken off the air for his profane misogyny, almost immediately now there are accounts of Bill Maher’s $1 million gift to Obama and his far greater and unapologetic slurs against women. When we hear all those creepy “concerns” about Romney’s great-grandfather as a polygamist in Mexico, suddenly we are reminded that Obama’s father in Kenya was, too. Putting a dog on the car roof is now not quite the same as eating a dog and then matter-of-fact reading one’s account of it on an audiotape. Trivial? Yes. Distractions from the current economic mess, and beneath us all? Perhaps. All Romney’s doing? Of course not.

But at least 2012 won’t be a default campaign. In other words, to quote Obama, Romney will get in “their faces” and “bring a gun to a knife fight.” McCain more graciously and nobly lost by putting all sorts of concerns off the table. I would expect that should Obama keep harping about Romney’s tax returns, Romney will demand Obama’s transcripts and medical records at last to be released. If Obama’s surrogates keep writing about Mormonism, we will learn of new disclosures about Trinity Church….

Read it all.

The politically-inspired food pyramid

Before there was “global warming” and “climate change,” there was the government’s food pyramid:
USDA food pyramid
Too bad there was little scientific evidence to back it up:

During the same period that we cardiologists and the health care community were promoting the low-fat/don’t count calories or sugar diet, the nation experienced its epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Cause and effect? We don’t know. But it’s starting to look as if the public health establishment may be responsible for the greatest episode of epidemiological malpractice ever committed….

Check it out, and don’t forget to read Why We Get Fat, and What To Do About It by Gary Taubes.

Beware the Jabberwock: When language loses meaning

A look at how the news media is framing the health care contraceptive debate, from J.E. Dyer at HotAir:

On retrieving my paper copy of the Wall Street Journal this morning, I saw the discouraging headline: Obama Retreats on Contraception

My first thought was, “Surely the Journal knows better than this. Why would they headline this story as if Obama had, in fact, backed off on the mandate? What are they, USA Today?”

The headline doesn’t reflect reality.

…Obama has merely shifted the basis for the mandate.  The insurance companies – I use that term loosely – will be required to provide “free” contraception services to the insured who work for Catholic employers.  This means that the premiums paid by Catholic employers will fund contraception services.  And the overall mandate to purchase the insurance will continue.

If the federal government can step in and arbitrarily require a company to provide things for “free” that were previously elective, premium-based services, then it is no longer an insurance company.  We are not buying insurance from it; we are simply participating in a mandatory government program whose features can be changed at any time, regardless of what we or the “insurers” want.  There is no contract.  There are only the one-sided decisions of bureaucrats and future presidents.

This Obama move is the opposite of a retreat.  It’s a decision to reveal the future to us, and to insist on remaining on course for it….

The president’s people say he has changed his mind on the contraception mandate; in the shallowest of political terms, that can be seen as a “retreat”; and no care is taken to frame the overriding reality that Catholic employers will be required to pay for “insurance” programs that distribute contraception to their employees.

That is not a change of heart, it’s a significant broadening of the state’s control, undertaken at the drop of a hat – and we have a huge mainstream media apparatus that simply does not frame what’s going on in realistic terms.  The clear implications of the Obama decision were widely discussed across the conservative blogosphere yesterday, and even on some MSM opinion pages.  But in their news reporting, the MSM characterized what had happened – falsely – as a retreat by the president.

Are they idiots?  Are they all “in the tank” for Obama?  It may feel good to excoriate them in these terms, but I see it differently in the case of at least some of the MSM….

Read it all.

Washington Free Beacon: A new source for news

Washinton Free Bacon (I mean Beacon)

Okay, when I first saw the name in passing, I thought it said “Washington Free Bacon” – is there nothing bacon can’t do? Check it out anyway.

From Matthew Continetti, editor in chief:

What would happen, though, if a website covered the left in the same way that the left covers the right? What picture of the world would one have in mind if the morning paper read like the New York Times—but with the subjects of the stories and the assumptions built into the text changed to reflect a conservative, not liberal, worldview? What would happen if the media wolf pack suddenly had to worry about an aerial hunting operation?

You are about to find out. The Washington Free Beacon is here to enter the arena of combat journalism. Our talented staff will add to the chorus of enterprising conservative reporters, publishing original stories, seeking out scoops, and focusing on the myriad connections between money and power in the progressive movement and Obama’s Washington. Our research and war room divisions will supplement that reporting with context, additional materials, and breaking video. At the Beacon, you will find the other half of the story, the half that the elite media have taken such pains to ignore: the inside deals, cronyism cloaked in the public interest, and far-out nostrums of contemporary progressivism and the Democratic Party. At the Beacon, all friends of freedom will find an alternative to the hackneyed spin, routine misstatements, paranoid hyperbole, and insipid folderol of Democratic officials and the liberal gasbags on MSNBC and talk radio. At the Beacon, we follow only one commandment: Do unto them.

Ace: Obama to embrace anti-semitic “Occupy” movement

From Ace:

The media worked night and day to make the Tea Party out to be a racist, violent group of astroturfed malcontents without any legitimate goal, an impression the Democrats were happy to abet. This time around, the make-believe media is delighted to look the other way while the Occupiers demonstrate casual anti-Semitism….

Check it out.

Transparency!

From the Daily Caller:

…When a reporter followed up and asked the Attorney General if he knew about the “controversial tactics” employed in Fast and Furious, Holder refused to answer and walked off the stage….

Top Justice Department officials have continually refused to answer questions [on the ATF Fast and Furious program] from press or from Congress except in extreme circumstances. Also, the DOJ’s story — and Holder’s — has changed multiple times throughout the course of the months-long investigation….

Check it out.

Joke or total irony? “One-child policy a surprising boon for China girls”

This has got to be a joke, right?

Absolutely no one could come to this conclusion if she knew all the facts: China’s one-child policy has resulted in the selective abortion of millions of girl babies. Perhaps Alexa missed that memo?

But no, that stat is included in the story, so maybe it’s just not as important to Alexa as letting the girls who are born go to university.

Or maybe I’ll give Alexa the benefit of the doubt and note that reporters rarely title their pieces–that’s usually an editorial decision–and in this case, a very sad and ironic one.

. . . Such gifted young women are increasingly common in China’s cities and make up the most educated generation of women in Chinese history. Never have so many been in college or graduate school, and never has their ratio to male students been more balanced.

To thank for this, experts say, is three decades of steady Chinese economic growth, heavy government spending on education and a third, surprising, factor: the one-child policy. . .

Crediting the one-child policy with improving the lives of women is jarring, given its history and how it’s harmed women in other ways. Facing pressure to stay under population quotas, overzealous family planning officials have resorted to forced sterilizations and late-term abortions, sometimes within weeks of delivery, although such practices are illegal.

The birth limits are also often criticized for encouraging sex-selective abortions in a son-favoring society. Chinese traditionally prefer boys because they carry on the family name and are considered better earners.

With the arrival of sonogram technology in the 1980’s, some families no longer merely hoped for a boy, they were able to engineer a male heir by terminating pregnancies when the fetus was a girl.

“It is gendercide,” said Therese Hesketh, a University College London professor who has studied China’s skewed sex ratio. “I don’t understand why China doesn’t just really penalize people who’ve had sex-selective abortions and the people who do them. The law exists but nobody enforces it.”. . .

Still, 43 million girls have “disappeared” in China due to gender-selective abortion as well as neglect and inadequate access to health care and nutrition, the United Nations estimated in a report last year.

Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF’s representative to China, puts it bluntly: The one-child policy brings many benefits for girls “but they have to be born first.”. . .”

Check it out.

The new “civility” = bashing the tea party

On the “new civility” demanded from the Democrats, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal writes:

. . . Last Wednesday Thomas Friedman described the Tea Party as the GOP’s “Hezbollah faction.” The same day Maureen Dowd approvingly quoted “some Democrats” as describing the Tea Party as “the Republican ‘Taliban wing.’ ” (In fairness we should note that the Times’s Roger Cohen registered a partial dissent: “Hatred of Muslims . . . is a growing political industry. It’s odious, dangerous and racist.”)

And it’s not just the Times. NewsBusters.org quotes liberal Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson: “There’s a nihilist caucus which is, ‘Listen, we want to burn the place down.’ I mean, they’re not, they’ve strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they are immune from it.” NewsBusters also notes a cartoon from David Fitzsimmons of the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star depicting President Obama ordering Navy SEALs to stage a bin Laden-style raid on the House side of the Capitol. . .

Hey, what ever happened to civility?

That’s not a rhetorical question. Back in January, after a madman shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of her constituents, gravely wounding her and killing six, the liberal elite briefly developed an obsession with the supposed dangers of uncivil political rhetoric.

Before a suspect had even been identified, as we noted Jan. 10, Fitzsimmons, the Tucson cartoonist, was on CNN blaming “the right in Arizona” for “stoking the fire of heated anger and rage” and making the attack “inevitable.” Fitzsimmons later apologized, but former Enron adviser Paul Krugman did not.  . .

Then it was February, and the liberal elite lost all interest in policing “the boundaries of public discourse.” The faux goo-goo group Common Cause held a rally where participants urged the lynching of Supreme Court justices. Liberals–including at least one Democratic congressman–employed actual violent rhetoric against Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker, whose state budget reforms stripped government employee unions of many of their expensive privileges.

And now, of course, all of liberaldom is likening the Tea Party to terrorists. But really, that message is entirely consistent with the one in January, and indeed with the message the liberal elite has been propagating since the early days of the Obama administration: that the Tea Party is illegitimate.

“Terrorist,” “racist,” “uncivil,” “insane,” the list goes on–in this context, these words have no real meaning. They are mere epithets. The Obama presidency has reduced the liberal left to an apoplectic rage. His Ivy League credentials, superior attitude, pseudointellectual mien and facile adherence to lefty ideology make him the perfect personification of the liberal elite. Thus far at least, he has been an utter failure both at winning public support and at managing the affairs of the nation. . .

Check it out while also reading the account in the Miami Herald of recent comments by the Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus:

The real enemy is the tea party –- let’s remember that,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, host of the meeting and jobs fair. “The tea party holds Congress hostage…They have one goal in mind, and that’s to make President Obama a one-term president.”

She got energetic applause from the crowd of hundreds at Mt. Hermon AME Church in Miami Gardens. So did Rep. Maxine Waters of California, who recently said the tea party should “Go straight to hell.”

. . . The tea party opposing Obama, [the Rev. Jesse] Jackson said, should be called the “Fort Sumter Tea Party that sought to maintain states’ rights and slavery.” (Apparently he read this article in Salon.)

“The tea party is a new name on an old game,” he said. “Dr. King fought a ‘tea party’ in Alabama…He had no weapons, but he confronted the tea party.”. . .

Check it out, but don’t forget to listen to Rep. Allen West (R-FL), the only GOP member of the Congressional Black Caucus, for his take on the Democrats:

The people on that plantation [the Democratic party] are upset because they’ve been disregarded, disrespected and their concerns are not cared about…I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the underground railroad away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility.

So the upcoming 2012 campaign season should be interesting, if not inflammatory.

Groupthink: It’s a terrible thing to waste

In anticipation of the upcoming–and already starting–2012 campaign season, especially “the tea party as terrorist” motif that has hit recently, my reminder to all of journalism’s tendency towards groupthink (or worse).

Groupthink as sheep

Groupthink: It’s a terrible thing to waste. That seemed to be the view of a group of left-leaning journalists, writers, and pundits from 2007 to June of 2010, when exposure of the private “Journolist” group became more or less public and its organizer, Ezra Klein, now a blogger with the Washington Post, shut it down.

So what was Journolist? A members-only email discussion group of several hundred liberal writers, journalists, professors, and others, including staffers of news organizations from Time, the Baltimore Sun, Politico, the Huffington Post, the New Yorker, the Nation, CNN, the Guardian, Salon, NPR and the New Republic, that commented on the topics of the day “off the record.”

What’s the problem with that? Of course, people in the same fields interested in the same topics want to get together and discuss important events and their thoughts and opinions on those events. So far, so good.

But what if something different ended up happening?

What if, instead of commenting and observing the news, part of the group ended up working to determine what and how certain news stories would be covered? And what if this period of consultation and cooperation just happened to coincide with the run-up to a presidential election? Unfortunately, these are not just hypothetical questions.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives the press the freedom that any representative democracy needs to ensure that there is no governmental interference with reporting information. Yet, the caretakers of this special status, the objective watchmen of our political life, the journalists themselves, decided to run their own interference on how to report events—and that is unfortunate, not only to our republic but to the entire idea of a “free press.”

So you want specifics on Journolist? (I know I would.) Check out the Daily Caller, the website that broke the story in June 2010. Here are just a few:

* As conservatives were criticizing then-Senator Obama for his long-time connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, some Journolist members discussed a counterstrategy. Spencer Ackerman, then with the Washington Independent, wrote in April 2008:

If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction. . .

So apparently lying, not to mention libel, is now a journalistic requirement, as a liberal journalist worked to trash the reputation of conservatives merely because they disagreed with him. Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard executive editor, noted that:

[N]o one on JournoList endorsed the Ackerman plan. But rather than object on ethical grounds, they voiced concern that the strategy would fail or possibly backfire. . . . It was sad to see what journalism, or at least a segment of it, had come to.

* When Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain chose Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, there were Journolist discussions on how to mitigate any advantages Palin might bring to the ticket.

Ed Kilgore, managing editor (and not a reporter) of the Democratic Strategist, had his take on how Palin should be presented in the media:

I STRONGLY think the immediate task is to challenge the ‘maverick’ bullsh*t about Palin, which everybody on the tube is echoing. I’ll say it one more time: Palin is a hard-core conservative ideologue in every measurable way.

Time’s Joe Klein wrote a piece for that magazine that reflected parts of the conversations on Journolist. Klein posted on the private listserv:

Here’s my attempt to incorporate the accumulated wisdom of this august list-serve community

—and Klein’s article did contain arguments developed by other Journolisters as he praised Palin personally, but questioned her “militant” ideology.

So, what’s the deal now? I mean, Journolist was disbanded in 2010, right? Well, after President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address, all three broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, described the tone of the speech as being “Reaganesque.” Spontaneous or synchronized? And the following week’s Time Magazine issue had a picture of Presidents Obama and Reagan on the cover. Coincidence or collaboration?

Not sure about that one? What about looking at the media coverage of the undercover videos from Live Action, an anti-abortion group, taken at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country in recent months. In the videos, reporters posed as a pimp and prostitute to see whether the clinics were following underage and child sex-trafficking reporting laws, and often the PP personnel were not. That fact alone is worthy of extensive reporting, since our tax dollars help fund PP and they seem to be willing to overlook sexual exploitation of young girls. Yet, the response from much of the mainstream media so far has been mainly to attack the messenger, Live Action and its founder, Lila Rose. Is this coverage just a reflection of the homogeneous ideological make-up of the newsroom (i.e., groupthink) or a more organized effort to influence news coverage?

Because of the Journolist debacle, I’m not sure—and you shouldn’t be either.

So, as the Roman satirist Juvenal asked: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchmen?)

If we’re smart, we do, each and every one of us.

Lost world: North Korea

From the Independent:

These images come from David Guttenfelder, chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, who has been given unprecedented access to the isolated Stalinist state as part of the agency’s efforts to expand its coverage there. The pictures are among the most candid ever published in Western newspapers.  . .

Amid the stereotyped images of a country seemingly going backwards in history, however, signs of progress. International mobile phones are confiscated but Chinese-made Huawei cell phones proliferate: more than 535,000 people in North Korea now use them. Technology is slowly arriving and with it, perhaps, the chance for greater freedom in a country where people are famously told they have “nothing to envy”.

Check it out.

The meme is the message

(Join the discussion on my article over at Ricochet.)

“If George Bush had done [this] or said [that], do you know how the media would have reported it?”

Well, yes, I do, and you do, too.

But we’re now over two years into the presidency of Barack Obama and I think it’s time to retire this particular meme.

Of course, the media doesn’t play fair—it never has and it never will. Part of Media Criticism 101 that every schoolchild should be taught is that everyone, and I mean everyone, comes to an event with their own worldview, and that worldview affects how they perceive and react to the event. There is an objective Truth—we just each see a very small part of it at any one time (and some of us miss it completely).

U.S. journalists as a whole are predominantly progressive: for whatever reason (and there are several theories out there), that’s a fact.

So, how to handle the frustration when you see the mainstream media once again glossing over something President Obama is supporting, something they pilloried former President Bush for? Remember, the meme is the message. Moderates and conservatives should want the message to be forceful, straight-forward, and effective, not whiny, petulant, or weak.

So, no matter how hard it is, resist the urge to compare and contrast. Concentrate on facts, not feelings, and push back as hard as you can against the media machine. With “kinetic military action” if necessary.

Pink Slipped: the blog

From Susannah Breslin, blogging for Forbes (my emphasis):

That means I am familiar with how to drive traffic to a blog or site. This is what it means to be an online writer today. If you think that is sad, corrupting, or indicates the demise of journalism, I suppose you are a more moral person than I am.

These days, it’s not enough to be a good writer online. You have to be a smart marketer, your own content factory, your own publicist. If you can do it all, you are golden. If you cannot, you are screwed.