We Read the Bills and Follow
Weyerhaeuser, Netflix and CenturyLink…
they don’t pay income taxes the way you and I do.
Congress says it can’t fund a Zika response,
but has found millions of dollars to reward CEO compensation.
Source: The Nation
"The press has become obsessed with gossip rather than governance; it prefers to employ titulation rather than scrutiny, as a result, its political coverage produces trivialization, rather than enlightenment. And the dynamic mechanism propelling and demonstrating this decline in news standards is the "feeding frenzy." (p. 6)
- Professor Larry Sabato, from his book "FEEDING FENZY, How attack journalism has transformed Americzn politics," (1991).
Update from the FG NewsTimes: August 31, 2016
by Adam Davis
It isn’t until after Labor Day that most voters engage in the election. Through the primaries, the conventions and the rest of the…
The role of a presidential candidate is not to make headline news for the "boys & girls on the bus" but to demonstrate to the voters they have the capacity and wisdom to govern.
As the dog days of August have descended on us, the media - aka the "boys & girls on the bus" are doing what they do at this time of the campaign cycle when news is slow - they make non-issues into issues (Clinton e-mails and The Clinton Foundation), they frame the campaign by focusing on the personal attacks by both campaigns (Trump is a racist, Hillary is a liar) and then the staple of the media comes into view - the so-called "horse race" (Hillary moving up and Trump spiraling down)
Data dumping from Wikileaks, Hillary's e-mail and meeting logs as Secretary of State from public records searches morph into the politics of innuendo, presumed informed gossip. This "Woodstein" affect positions the media as partisans not neutral gatekeepers. If one reads all the article not just a headline you find this is a murky business with no clear "there, there."
As I've said on my Face Book page - this devolution of campaign coverage increasingly focuses on scandal mongering, the politics of personality, conflict, media feeding frenzies and gotcha journalism. Sadly what's being lost is a civil discourse about the real issues we face as a nation - problems of war and peace, the issue of income inequality, the role of police in American society, immigration policy and issues which get even scanter attention - climate change, education, urban/rural infrastructure needs, trade and farm policy.
The latest absurd example is the media foaming at the mouth that Hillary hasn't had a press conference in months. For the record Trump has never had one - he simply puts the media down except his buddies at Fox News. But the question that needs to be asked why should a candidate be judged on whether or not they have press conferences? Does the national press corps have a divine right for such "special" access when we have televised debates, two conventions and a myriad of campaign events they already cover?
Presidents hold press conferences not candidates for office and it's at their call not the call of the White House press corps - aka the "beast!" The fact is Hillary has been far more accessible than Trump unless one includes his penchant for tweeting endlessly and incoherently while on the campaign trail. The media has no right to special access. But it has a responsibility to analyze the candidates positions on the issues. But the media has lost the narrative here.
The other question the media should be digging into but isn't covering are evidence of leadership capacity and the depth of understanding of the issues likely to be faced by a new president. What would a Clinton or Trump presidency be like? Who would be their confidants and cabinet? What do their biographies tell us about their capacity to work with Congress and foreign leaders? Given their campaigns can they gain the trust of the American people after the election or will they be damaged goods at the end of the election?
Most fundamentally which of the two candidates has the intellectual capacity to deal with the unexpected and which has the emotional maturity to respond to the challenges we face as a nation in a complex economy and world? On the eve of the 1960 election, Richard Neustadt, a highly regarded scholar of the presidency, framed this rhetorical question - how will the next president use his "power stakes" when dealing with a president's audiences - the public, the Congress, the bureaucracy, the media and foreign governments?
The media's penchant for the low hanging fruit is a species of political journalists being generalists not beat reporters with expertise on a policy issue.
The flaws of this approach in non-campaign reporting was evident in The Oregonian's recent special on forest fires. One of the reporters is an excellent journalist who has covered education and homeless beats in Washington County. But she has no expertise on federal or state forest policy. But with pictures of burning trees and graphics what essentially was a "feature" article became front page news.
There was considerable op ed blow back from those with expertise. But few readers take the time to dig deeper. So we are left as in political reporting with "first impressions" from it's got to bleed to lead, gotcha, sensation based journalism.
When the candidates come to your state - they will stick to their pre-digested talking points vetted in focus groups by pollsters, consultants and media gurus. Don't expect them to discuss the issues of forestry management in the West, how to stop gentrification in the inner cities, how to end rural poverty in places like Appalachia, the rural South or Indian country or how to craft a national energy policy to mitigate global warming and environmental degradation.
If you're looking for answers to these questions from the media class - you'll find little information on this from what Bill Safire coined as the "nattering nabobs of negativism." And in an age where few read a daily newspaper, fewer watch TV news and weekly news magazines have virtually disappeared we are left with the float some and jet some of the net, social media and shock jock radio or TV. We are saddled with Newton Minnow's media "wasteland." This is a perilous condition by which to decide who will be the next POTUS.
So we're on our own in election 2016. Don't expect much from the media - they are part of the circus of "sound bite" journalism that brought Donald Trump to victory and which is trying to make a likely Hillary Clinton landslide into a close election so they have a simplistic easy to digest story line to work with in the fall - "Trump the bigot" versus "Hillary the liar." It's all about Trump's x-rated language and Hillary's e-mail. Forget about who is really competent to be POTUS - hell we survived Dubya didn't we!
Only the brain dead would say YES to the Dubya reference above. "Good luck, good night America!" One hopes the adults wake up before it's too late!
The Washington Post reports that access to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may have been influenced by donations to the Clinton Foundation when she was secretary of state.
Source: Lucas Jackson/Reuters/PRI - The World
Listen to the article podcast - download
The Post's Rosalind Helderman got ahold of the emails after a lawsuit made them public. An excerpt from Helderman's story:
The release of the correspondence follows previous disclosures of internal emails showing a similar pattern of access for foundation contributors, and it comes as Republicans allege that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, used her perch in the Obama administration to trade favors for donations. Clinton and the foundation have vigorously denied the charge.
"What we found was that there is this worldwide network of friends and supporters of the Clintons," Helderman says. "They've been on the world stage for a long time. People who have given them political donations and also people who have persistently given donations to the Clinton Foundation, who did appear from these emails to have a sort of back channel, direct line in to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state."
Essentially, Clinton Foundation staff could get people meetings with the Clintons, specifically the secretary of state.
For example: the crown Prince of Bahrain. Not unusual for a US ally to get a meeting with the secretary of state, but an indicator that someone who donates to or is a "good friend" of the Clinton Foundation could get a meeting more easily than someone who isn't.
However, Helderman notes, a donation to the foundation did not guarantee a meeting with either Clinton.
When checking out the list of media corps, CEOs or journalists who contributed to The Clinton Foundation is there a quid pro quo involved or simply a charitable donation all corporations and the 1% give out of altruism or as a tax write off?
RAD: In listening to the podcast - what is key is that the Clintons given their national and international profile live in "a culture of access" in this case for people who support a foundation that has been instrumental in Africa in collaboration ironically with former President George W. Bush to address the health issues caused by a variety of epidemics there and in other parts of the world including the USA.
As the author of the Post article says "this is the kinda way that Washington works." One could say the same about Paris, Geneva, London, Brussels or Bonn. After many investigations nobody has found a "smoking gun" where access created a clear conflict of interest. What it did was enable people to access the Clintons for their help and that of the foundation which has done philanthropy all over the world.
One doesn't see articles in the Post or on NPR about the Carter foundation. How many high profile people does former President Carter interact with on his many projects including peace keeping and election monitoring? In the age of gotcha journalism and negative politics even doing good has its risks as Hillary and Bill are finding out - when one runs for President - scrutiny is the price but to use a 'Bilism' "this dog won't hunt."
While the media (which you note in NPR's case is caught up in this tangled web) - indulges in a "feeding frenzy" in the dog days of August between the conventions and the start of the 2016 campaign @ Labor Day - our friends in the media need something to do to justify their salaries while they move up the media food chain. I've got an idea for them - check out The Donald's "culture of access" which he has used in the pursuit of his own "charity" - himself...
We lowly Oregonians have no "culture of access" - yeah and I've got a bridge over the Willamette I want to sell you. Attending my first Northwest Political Science Association annual meeting many years ago @ 1975 I remember our host, a distinguished professor of political science from Lewis & Clark said one of the nice things about Oregon is you could get all the movers and shakers in the state in one large class room.
This was not criticism of how things got done in Oregon but quite the contrary - how collegial Oregon politics back then in the McCall, Straub, Hatfield years when good public policy put us on the map. Oregon at its best still has that collegial bi-partisan aura and we have a state which is free from scandal which tarnishes many other states, especially those east of the Mississippi. We don't elect convicted felons - they do in Illinois and Pennsylvania.
On a personal note when I created and produced the Tom McCall Forum for 25 years (1982-2007) we could not have done it without our "culture of access" to corporate boards and philanthropy - that's what a university president and the university relations team do. But nobody, not the president of the university or a trustee ever determined the topic and/or speakers - that was my job with input from my departmental colleagues and students.
I presume that Hillary as Secretary of State had boundaries - something The Donald never has evidenced!
PS: Check out my latest FB posting (hit the link Russ)
The media is using the Clintons as a punching bag in it's usual cheap shot journalism mantra - feeding frenzies and gotcha journalism galore. Having been habituated to Trump's Twitter mania all the media does is react to invented scandals or personal attacks - it doesn't do any serious reporting...
The face of the war in Syria... Whose to blame?
President Assad of Syria and his Russian enabler Vladimir Putin have the most blood on their hands. But the militants on all sides of this brutal multi-front sectarian civil war are also complicit. The Obama administration failed to find a diplomatic solution to this problem despite declaring early on we'd strike a red line to separate the combatants. That promise evaporated early on. So we also share in the blame game.
Why didn't we set up a "no fly" zone as we did in Iraq over Kurdistan? There's been no coherent answer to that question. My assumption has been that once we realized the Russians were involved, to do so would have meant a de facto declaration of war against Mother Russia risking WW III. So children like the "boy of Aleppo" are the collateral damage of geo-political reality with no end in sight of on the ground brutality..
Here's where Donald Trump and the GOP must share part of the blame. They've demonized the victims of terrorism in Syria et al. Only 10,000 Syrian refugees will get to the USA before the end of the Obama administration. By contrast our Canadian neighbors have set their goal as 25,000. But both are far from the goals the Euros established before they lost their nerve and ethnic paranoia set in.
So when you hear The Donald trumpet "keep the Muslims out" - we know who he means - children like Omran! That's not a profile in courage but zenophobia.
But I still come back to the question, we used a no fly zone in the former Yugoslavia under Clinton, one to protect Kuwait under Bush I and one under Bush II to enable the Kurds to create their autonomous region - what makes Syria different? Had we stuck to our red line earlier, Putin wouldn't have dared challenge us any more than he went beyond the Crimea in his annexation of that region from The Ukraine.
There are no easy answers but "something is better than nothing" than sacrificing a generation of innocent children. And with Trump being in bed with Putin you know he'll do nothing if elected to help the children of Syria which at this time is as likely as the Syrian air force not "barrel" bombing Aleppo!