Friday, October 12, 2018

Cruising the Web

Becket Adams provides a masterful summary of all the way the media recklessly reported rumors and false stories simply during the Kavanaugh confirmation battle simply so they could further their desired storyline. Seeing all these examples in one place provides a powerful argument that the media abandoned a lot of their supposed standards in order to try to bring Kavanaugh down.
The reckless and grossly irresponsible scramble by the New Yorker, NBC News, the New York Times, and others to make Kavanaugh into a monster produced some of the worst journalism of the Trump era to date – and that's a pretty high bar.

There were plenty of minor fouls, including when the Times assigned a news story on Kavanaugh to a magazine opinion writer who openly opposed his nomination. Others were much greater, including when NBC published an anonymously written letter alleging (with zero corroboration) that Kavanaugh was observed by an anonymous woman in 1998 to have pushed another anonymous woman.

Journalists make mistakes, of course. But had all of the sloppy and often unethical reporting on Kavanaugh been the product of mere negligence or human error, the law of averages suggests that some errors would have been in his favor. None of them were. From great to small, they all tried to prove Kavanaugh unfit to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. It would be hard to blame a viewer or reader who concluded that these newsrooms acted not as the gatekeepers of truth, but as willing agents in the Democratic Party’s 11th-hour effort to destroy the judge’s good name, along with his chances of becoming the swing vote on the Supreme Court....

Once the story of Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, had been made public, all kinds of far less credible accusers were emboldened to come forward with absurd and fantastic stories. Usually, journalists exercise an amount of caution in such cases. But so eager were certain reporters and editors to create a pattern of behavior for Kavanaugh that all caution was thrown to the wind, writing what is easily one of the worst, most humiliating chapters in modern journalism.
Read through all these examples and you'll have a tough time accepting any counter-argument for what the media were trying to do.
Taken separately, a fair-minded person could say the authors of these and still more unfairly anti-Kavanaugh reports were merely ignorant or sloppy. But taken all together – and mind you, this doesn't even include the commentaries – it paints a far more damaging picture for some of the nation’s most prestigious and vaunted newsrooms.

From the smaller errors to the more egregious ones (like NBC's decision to air the Swetnick interview), there’s only one thing that ties all the awful reporting together. Every single story worked against Kavanaugh, as if with a unity of purpose intended to ensure that he would never be given a fair chance to clear his good name and reach the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh has a lifetime appointment now, which may or may not be worth what he had to put up with to get it. But the clear victim here is the credibility of the news media itself, which has suffered far more damage than any number of attacks President Trump could inflict upon it.

No one forced the New Yorker to publish allegations that its reporting had effectively refuted, or to treat second-hand gossip as genuine news. No one forced NBC to air an interview with a mentally disturbed woman who couldn't keep straight her story about Kavanaugh orchestrating gang-rapes at age 15. No one forced USA Today to refer to non-contemporaneous witness testimony as “corroborating” evidence.

Not long ago, only 32 percent of the public said they viewed the news media as trustworthy. Don’t be surprised if you see those numbers fall again in the coming months.
It's almost as if the media have collectively decided that Trump is such a danger to the country that they can throw all their standards aside. But I think they demonstrated that ability even before Trump became president in the ways that they covered Obama in his run for the presidency, ignoring any counter-evidence to his brilliant biography and then ignored any scandal that cropped up during his presidency. Add in the way that they served as his willing handmaidens in pushing his (and their) preferred policy objectives.

We have the New Yorker's Jane Mayer's own acknowledgement
that she and Ronan Farrow reported on Deborah Ramirez's allegations that Kavanaugh had waved his wing-wang in her face at a drunken party simply because they were trying to establish a pattern of behavior.
New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer suggested in a new interview that she and Ronan Farrow reported on Deborah Ramirez's uncorroborated accusation of misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh out of eagerness to show a "pattern" of such behavior.

The veteran journalist told Elle her recollections of the Clarence Thomas hearings, the treatment of Anita Hill by the Senate, and the public informed her judgment regarding Kavanaugh.

"So having watched this before, I knew that key issues would be whether the judge had a pattern of similar behavior, since that helps establish who is telling the truth when there is a standoff, and whether there were credible corroborators on either side," she said. "Knowing this is why Ronan Farrow and I were so alert to the significance of other accusers, such as Deborah Ramirez. Her allegation showed that, if true, yes, there was a pattern of misconduct, and likely another side of the judge."
There you have it - her own confession that she ran with what we now know was a totally uncorroborated story simply because they wanted to help the Democrats establish a pattern of behavior by Kavanaugh to strengthen the Blasey Ford allegations. That isn't journalism, but activism.

Jim Treacher explains what the media truly think about "angry mobs." They can only exist if they're made up of Republicans.
I'm old enough to remember when the Tea Party arose in opposition to Obama's policies, way back in the old days when disagreeing with the president was racist. And back then, the people speaking truth to power were invariably depicted as an angry mob by our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters in the media. Tea Partiers weren't just wrong. They were dangerous.

Ten years later, it's completely different. Siding with the president is now racist, and #Resisting by any means necessary isn't dangerous at all. On the contrary, it's to be applauded. And anyone who criticizes these brave freedom fighters will have to deal with the likes of Don Lemon. He won't stand by idly while his comrades are referred to as an "angry mob."
He then links to a video of CNN's Don Lemon chastising Matt Lewis for daring to call anti-Kavanaugh and anti-Republican protesters an "angry mob."
I'm with Matt on this one, mostly. Chanting "Lock her up" at a rally is dumb, and I wish Trump voters wouldn't do it. It's also wrong for Trump to tell the crowd to attack protesters. (He hasn't done that in a while, and I hope he doesn't do it again.) But following people around in public and berating them is worse than chanting stupid crap at a rally.

Also worse: Doxing senators who don't vote the way you'd prefer.

Also worse: Following around TV pundits in public and trying to whip up a mob against them.

Also worse: Plotting to blow yourself on the National Mall on Nov. 6.

Also worse: While all these things are going on, saying things like, "When they go low, we kick them" and "You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for."

Also worse: An enraged mob pounding and clawing on the bronze doors of the Supreme Court like extras in a zombie movie.

What a perfect encapsulation of the #Resistance: Screaming like lunatics while flailing away at the bronze doors depicting victories for justice throughout history. These people tried to perpetrate an injustice against Brett Kavanaugh, and when it didn't work, they lashed out like wounded animals.

If they were this enraged about a mild-mannered, impeccably qualified Supreme Court nominee who drank too much in college, what will they do when it's something serious?

That's an angry mob, whether Don Lemon likes it or not.
Now watch this video.

Jim Geraghty makes a plea for people trying to resolve their differences at the ballot box instead of following the advice of some on the left that it's better to get in your opponents' faces and make their lives miserable.
We don’t run into trouble when American political leaders urge their supporters to go out and beat — er, defeat — the other party. Elections matter. The stakes are real. There’s nothing wrong with firing up your supporters. But we get into trouble when American political leaders tell their supporters that the voters on the other side are the enemy. That’s why Barack Obama expressed regret after using the phrase “punish our enemies” while trying to get out the vote among Latinos.

Rich Lowry argues that civility shouldn't be for suckers, but be for everyone. If only Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would learn that lesson.
Civility is a rather fundamental thing to throw under the bus. It isn’t knowing that you really shouldn’t stick your pinky in the air when drinking a cup of tea, or how to tell the difference between a soup spoon and a teaspoon.

Derived from the Latin word civilis, relating to public or political life, civility is the basis of our life together, assuring that disagreements are settled within certain bounds and don’t escalate into blood feuds.

This doesn’t mean that there can’t be intense arguments, harsh condemnations, passionate controversies and partisan donnybrooks. These are all endemic to a free society and very healthy things. It does mean that there are certain widely accepted guardrails.

This is now thought to be a sucker’s game, though, from the attorney-provocateur Michael Avenatti to former attorney general Eric Holder to the opinion outlets of the center-left. Vox ran a piece that argued, “Civility is not an end on its own if the practices and beliefs it upholds are unjust.”

In the Brett Kavanaugh debate, the normal pressure points of the democratic process, rallies and demonstrations, phone calls to congressional offices, online, print and TV advocacy and the like were deemed insufficient — senators had to be berated in the hallways, chased out of restaurants and harassed at their homes.

By the way, none of the people treated this way were Trump, whose rhetoric at rallies and on Twitter is routinely crude and inflammatory. The targets were elected officeholders who serve in what is still the most distinguished legislative body in the nation, and routinely call each other “friend” and “colleague.”

Asked on CNN if the actions against her fellow senators went too far, Mazie Hirono stood by the harassment. “I think it just means that there are a lot of people who are very, very much motivated about what’s going on.” Asked again, she replied, “This is what happens because when you look at white supremacists and all that, this is what’s coming forth in our country.”

There has even been resistance on the left and in the media to calling these groups of activists by their proper name, “mobs,” because it is considered too pejorative.

But when you angrily confront someone, especially as part of a group, it carries an inescapable whiff of physical intimidation. When you shout Ted and Heidi Cruz out of a Washington restaurant, you aren’t trying to convince them of anything, you are merely abusing them. When you yell at Senate hearings and floor votes, you aren’t influencing the process, but disrupting it.

In short, seeking to make it impossible for our elected representatives to do their business isn’t an expression of democracy but a transgression against it.

David French responds
to the media message that any alarm about mob behavior on the left is simply a Republican talking point to refute the legitimate protests against Trump, Kavanaugh, and all Republicans.
What happens when you combine the classic “Republicans pounce” media narrative with a healthy dose of whataboutism? You get the sad spectacle of the last few days, in which the media has rationalized and minimized genuinely menacing, troubling left-wing mob action — because, after all, there can be only one villain on the national stage.

First, let’s begin with the easy distinctions. There is a yawning legal and moral gap between First Amendment–protected activity, no matter how angry and boisterous, and a true mob. Screaming protesters picketing on a sidewalk are in a fundamentally different position from screaming protesters who invade private property to chase a senator from his meal. Angry demonstrators chanting in front of the Supreme Court are different from people who break police cordons and pound on its doors. Handmaids silently mourning the birth of Gilead are not the same as men and women who disrupt Senate hearings and votes.

Legally protected protest is safe. It’s consistent with the best traditions of American dissent. It’s truly what “democracy looks like.” Mob action, by contrast, is dangerous. It creates imminent risk of personal harm. It’s designed to frighten and intimidate. There is no place for the mob in a constitutional republic.

So why are leading Democrats stoking mob action, and why are members of the media attacking Republicans who raise the alarm?
He cites the Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon examples. But they're not the only members of the media pushing this counter-attack.
NPR, in an article that included descriptions of death threats against Republican senators, framed the story this way: “Republicans Seize On ‘Angry Mob’ Mantra To Keep Their Midterm Base Fired Up.”

Then there’s the whataboutism. Dear media, there is no comparison between a “lock her up” chant at a controlled-entry rally and the kinds of direct, in-your-face actions we’ve seen from #Resistance protesters or the Antifa street takeovers we’ve seen in Portland and elsewhere. Now, if that same Trump crowd surged out of the arena, broke through police barriers, and pounded on the doors of government buildings, we’d have a mob.

It is a simple fact that prominent Democratic politicians and left-wing activists are making dangerous calls for direct action, and it’s a simple fact that #Resistance protesters are crossing dangerous lines.
There quite a few examples from prominent Democrats and leftist writers encouraging mob behavior. If we don't want more violence against politicians, leaders need to follow Michelle Obama's advice and reject such fear-mongering threats.
It’s time for Democrats — and members of the media — to dial back the rhetoric. It’s time to stop excusing, rationalizing, and minimizing behavior that is dangerous, menacing, and threatening. When public disorder threatens, and when we’re one wayward shove or impulsive shot from a truly ugly moment, it’s imperative for the people who aspire to lead to shed their preferred narratives and unite behind a single, common idea: Dissent, yes. Mobs, no.

Rand Paul reveals a detail about the shooting at last year's Republican baseball practice that somehow never made it into the media coverage of this mass attempted murder.
Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul revealed on Wednesday that the media largely ignored a key detail from the attempted mass murder of Republican lawmakers last year at a baseball field in Virginia.

Appearing on Fox News' "FOX & Friends," Paul condemned the violent rhetoric of the political Left and the Democratic Party and warned that someone is going to end up getting killed if the inflammatory rhetoric doesn't stop.

"I was there at the ball field when Steven Scalise almost died from a very, very angry violent man who was incited really by rhetoric on the left,” Paul said.

"And this hasn’t been reported enough, when he came on the field with a semi-automatic weapon firing probably close to 200 shots at us, shooting five people and almost killing Steve Scalise, he was yelling 'this is for healthcare!" Paul said. "He also had a list of conservative legislators, Republicans, in his pocket that he was willing to kill."

"So what happens is that when Democrats say 'get up in their face,' they need to realize that there are a lot of unstable people out there," Paul continued. "There are people with anger issues, there are people who are prone to violence."

Leftists across the country have seized on Beto O'Rourke as their great Texan hope to knock off Ted Cruz. As Matthew Walther writes in The Week, the "cult of Beto" defies all sorts of logic.
The Texas congressman is your average 46-year-old liberal failson politico, the grandson of a secretary of the Navy, the son of a judge, a hanger-on in his party who graduated from playing in an amazingly bad hardcore punk band to a seat on the El Paso City Council. After that, he challenged Rep. Silvestre Reyes, an eight-term Democratic incumbent and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, with the help of outside cash and endorsements from both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The two issues of crucial importance to reviving the fortunes of the working class on which O'Rourke fought his campaign were support for same-sex marriage and drug legalization, both of which Reyes, a Catholic, opposed.

Now O'Rourke is the Democratic nominee facing off against Sen. Ted Cruz. This is not some prize that party leadership granted to its favorite son. Defeating a sitting Republican senator in the Lone Star State is the kind of impossible job you give to someone you know slightly but don't much care about, someone minimally competent but ultimately expendable, someone whose particular qualities don't matter all that much because it's a just a slot that needs to be filled and you're just happy someone is bored or desperate enough to fill it — the kind of job you give, in other words, to Beto.

Fair enough. But why does anyone outside of Texas care? Why is a guy who has never led in a poll against the most loathed politician in the most loathed political body in the country already being discussed as a potential presidential candidate, as someone who could win the White House even if or perhaps even because he loses to Cruz in November? Why are people calling him the next Obama? Is it because he's good at raising money?

No single article or tweet could do justice to the brain-destroying tedium of hyperbole, the willful exaggeration, the gushing faddishness, the hipster capitalist complacency, the novelty songwriting contest banality, the experimental filmmaker commercial-directing pseudo-profundity, the sheer late-night TV-level humorlessness of the Beto cult. In a recent column Dana Milbank promised to reveal the ingredients behind "the special sauce that flavors Betomania." Here they are:

-"O'Rourke's cool factor: skateboarding at Whataburger, playing the air drums, doing his laundry on Facebook Live, and scoring appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Colbert ..."

-Fifty thousand people attended a — free — Willie Nelson concert at which he appeared.

-"His partisan jabs are delicate."

-He sometimes says "pendejo."

O'Rourke is not an especially compelling speaker, unlike the young Obama, to whom he is often compared, for reasons that I cannot understand. (A more apropos comparison, in fact, would be with Alan Keyes, the hapless longtime Republican hanger-on who was allowed to serve as Obama's doomed opponent in his 2004 Illinois Senate race.) Nor is Beto representative of the much-vaunted progressive revival in the party. In fact, he is a proud member of the misleadingly named New Democrat Coalition, the center-right organization founded by Bill Clinton that is "new" in the sense that Pavement's first two LPs are. Beto has criticized single-payer health care. He does not support a restoration of Glass Steagall or any of the other populist policies that were a cornerstone of Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign. He is of the opinion that "standing on a stage" with the leader of Russia, something every president since Franklin Roosevelt has done, is an impeachable offense. He sports a 100 percent lifetime record from Planned Parenthood Action and NARAL. He is a typical neoliberal Democrat.
As Walther reminds us, the last time the left was this excited about a Texas Democrat was Wendy Davis who was supposed to ride her pro-abortion rifts straight to the governor's mansion, but ended up losing to Greg Abbott 59-38 percent. If O'Rourke loses to Ted Cruz, one of the most unpopular members of an unpopular institution, perhaps the Democrats will give up on turning Texas blue.

Some Democrats running for the Senate in red states are trying to pretend that they're some new kind of moderate Democrat whose ideologies would fit their states, opposition researchers are coming up with some evidence to the contrary.

For example, here is a video of Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema talking in 2011 about what she really thinks of Arizonans. That's not going to go over well.

As Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton learned, politicians should never discount the possibility that what they say in private campaign appearances will be taped and come back to haunt them.

Guy Benson comments,
The "crazy" lines aren't helpful, especially when she attributes her state's supposed insanity to one factor: "They're called Republicans," eliciting laughter and applause from a leftist crowd. Remember, she's trying to run as a moderate, cross-partisan uniter. Part of her potential victory coalition must include a chunk of Republican voters. But the most brutal line is this one, delivered in an out-of-state speech to liberal activists:
"I want to talk to you about some of the things that I think that you can do to stop your state from becoming Arizona.”
Sinema is asking Arizonans to elect her to represent them. She thinks they're crazy people and that other states should go out of their way to avoid being like her own constituents. And this speech was delivered well after she undertook her ideological makeover project. If Arizona Republican and right-leaning voters are ever going to coalesce around McSally, the Kavanaugh fight should be a clarifying catalyst; both Arizona Senators cast crucial confirmation votes. And now, here's the Democrat in the race insulting both them specifically, and their state generally. Talk about motivating factors.