Monday evening, just three days after causing an uproar by reporting that "Russian hackers penetrated (the) U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont," the Washington Post is now saying that "Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation." In other words (cue the late Glida Radner's famous Saturday Night Live character Emily Litella): "We told you we had a story, but we really never did. So ... Never mind."
Tom Blumer has written for several national online publications primarily on business, economics, politics and media bias. He has had his own blog, BizzyBlog.com, since 2005, and has been with NewsBusters since December 2005. Along the way, he's had a decades-long career in accounting, finance, training and development.
UPDATE, January 3: "WashPost on Russian Connection to Vermont Utility Hack: Never Mind"
A not very funny thing happened to the Washington Post after its Juliet Eilperin and Adam Entous posted a story on Friday (now time-stamped as if it was Saturday) claiming in its headline that "Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont." The claim, according to the utility involved, is false. As a result, the paper, in an "Editor's Note," told readers that "The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid."
On Christmas evening, appearing in print on Sunday, December 26, Jeremy Peters at the New York Times pretended that the term "fake news" has only gained common currency very recently during the social media era. He also effectively contended that the establishment press holds ownership rights over the term, claiming that "conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. (Donald) Trump himself ... have appropriated" it.
Peters, who graduated from the University of Michigan in 2002 and arguably knows better, could not be more wrong. Center-right media critics, pundits and personalities have used the term "fake news" to describe establishment press reporting for at least a decade, usually with total justification. It's the press which is "appropriating" the "fake news" term in the name of marginalizing and silencing non-"mainstream" news sources.
In a column posted at NewsBusters on December 29, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. relayed personal anecdotal evidence indicating that "This Christmas Season Was Different." Based on his interactions and observations, Tyrrell believes that 2016 marked a change in "the way we talk about what is a major holy day for the majority of the American people." In his experience, people this year were far more inclined to wish friends, neighbors and even strangers "Merry Christmas" instead of falling back on the safe but unsatisfying "Happy Holidays."
Tyrrell may have his finger on the beginnings of a broader trend.
The purveyors of what the establishment press likes to describe as "fake news" have nothing on the fake news the establishment press itself generates at the Obama administration's behest.
For example, the Associated Press, in a very late paragraph in just one of its three reports on the topic Thursday, admitted that "Though the FBI and Homeland Security Department issued a joint report on 'Russian malicious cyber activity' - replete with examples of malware code used by the Russians - it still has not released a broader report Obama has promised detailing Russia's efforts to interfere with U.S. elections." In other words, there is no — zero, zilch, nada — published evidence, let alone proof, other than the statements of anonymous Obama apparatchiks on a conference call, that Russia successfully "interfere(d) with U.S. elections." But that hasn't stopped AP or others from taking it as gospel that Russia "hacked the elections."
Here's an update from the “fake news” front: The Associated Press published an unbylined “Fact Check” of what anyone with an ounce of sense could see is a satirical article published almost 15 months ago.
That’s only the start. PolitiFact also “fact-checked” a December 23, 2016 version it knew was of that same 15 month-old item and gave it a “Pants on Fire" rating. What in the name of Mark Zuckerberg is going on?
In an item published on Tuesday, Matt Sedensky at the Associated Press reported on what he observed in a graduate "Faith and Politics" class at Emory University immediately after and during the weeks following this year's presidential election.
Class members' immature reactions to the election's result and the reporter's injected commentary are both disturbing, but very useful. That's because one of the most under-reported stories of the past two years, in terms of general visibility to the casual news consumer, is how so many college campuses have devolved into places where so-called "safe spaces," "trigger warnings" delivered before supposedly disturbing viewpoints are presented, out-of-nowhere outrage at alleged "microagressions," and intense hostility to non-conforming opinions have all proliferated.
On December 22, roughly eight hours before Anis Amri was killed by Italian police, Bouazza Ben Bouazza at the Associated Press published an item portraying the Berlin truck massacre attacker who killed at least 12 and injured almost 50 others as a "troubled" man who came to Europe "in hopes of a better life," but "fell into crime instead."
Later text completely refutes those opening claims, and the AP reporter provided no explanation as to why such obvious contradictions are present.
Steve McMahon, a Democratic Party member described as a media consultant, apparently either hasn't followed the news sufficiently since the presidential election, or is determined to rewrite history. My vote is with the latter. McMahon appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday. Before criticizing President-Elect Donald Trump's victory rallies as "incendiary, he outrageously claimed that Hillary Clinton has "been very gracious since the election," and that she "didn’t contest the election results" or "ask for recounts."
Evidence that leftist bias has deeply infected local and regional news coverage arrived in the form of the "Top Stories of 2016" poll results at the Associated Press last week. In an exercise performed since 1936, the AP's "annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors" asked participants to identify the top 10 stories of 2016. "Black Men Killed by Police," referring to the controversial killings of two black men by non-black cops, made it to Number 3. "Attacks on Police" (note: not "Murders of Police"), which took "at least 20 lives," only got to Number 6. Rising crime in the U.S., including an increase exceeding 50 percent in homicides in Chicago, didn't make the list, and appears not to have even been a close runner-up.
Nate Silver has been the establishment press's designated polling hero since 2008, when he correctly predicted the outcome of that year's presidential contest in 49 of 50 states. He also had a great year in 2012, predicting all 50 states' presidential preference results.
This year's election? Not so much. Donald Trump won, and Silver is not handling it well. In fact, he's violated one of the cardinal rules of far-left media members, which is to never directly betray your fever-swamp biases and the breathtaking ignorance which can be inferred from them until you either retire or migrate to public broadcasting.
The latest media person to fail to think and count to ten before hitting the "Tweet" button is Matthew Dowd. Once a Democrat, Dowd came over to the Republican Party in 1999, and was George W. Bush's chief campaign strategist during the 2004 campaign. He became an independent in 2008 and is currently a Chief Political Analyst at ABC News. He also claims to be Catholic, but clearly has a politically twisted understanding of the first Christmas.
Fox News's Juan Williams apparently had a very bad Thursday morning on Twitter (readers will see why shortly), but out of respect for Kellyanne Conway's wishes seen in the video which follows the jump, I have resisted inspecting the carnage.
Williams reacted to the news that President-Elect Trump has appointed Conway as Counselor to the President by, in Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo's words, "questioning, well, Kellyanne has four kids, how is she going to do it?" Conway's three-pronged response to Bartiromo, with two prongs quite sharpened, neither towards Williams, will be seen in that video.
Fear not for the future of investigative journalism. Rest assured that the folks at the Politico have poured significant journalistic resources into such efforts, delving into many all-important matters relating to Donald Trump and his new administration. Why, on Friday, its Darren Samuelsohn reported that Donald Trump's 2012 driver's license says he's 6'2" inches tall, while The Donald and one of his doctors say that he's 6'3".
The leftist press really wants to disappear the story of the man who, accompanied by his husband, was kicked off of a Jet Blue flight for harassing President-Elect Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka. Having learned more about the ejected pair, I can understand why — but it's not the media's job to try to minimize and suppress the incident's details, which they are clearly doing.
TMZ broke the news early Thursday morning that "an out-of-control passenger on her flight began verbally berating her and 'jeering' at her 3 kids." Luckily, this happened while the plane was still on the ground, and "JetBlue personnel escorted the unruly passenger off the flight." They also ejected his husband. Yahoo News's joke of a headline: "Man kicked off JetBlue flight for questioning why Ivanka Trump was on it."
In the aftermath of Monday's Christmas market attack in Berlin which killed 12 and injured nearly 50, Geir Moulson at the Associated Press seemed to be more worried about Angela Merkel's political future than the dreadful mayhem perpetrated by the truck-driving attacker. This puts the reporter in the same camp as MSNBC's serial fabulist Brian Williams and a host of other establishment press members.
Moulson's feelings about the matter were quite apparent in one over-the-top paragraph found in the Tuesday afternoon dispatch.
In a separate post critiquing Associated Press reporter Stephen Ohlemacher's Monday evening and Tuesday morning dispatches on President-Elect Donald Trump's Electoral College victory, I noted that Ohlemacher gave undue ink and bandwidth to no more than 1,500 to 2,100 protesters in states Trump won who urged Republican electors not to carry out their Constitutional duty. Ohlemacher believed that he could comfortably claim that "thousands" were involved in these protests because he included those in states won by Hillary Clinton. That's bogus, as there were no Republican electors to persuade in those states. Ohlemacher's story also made a seriously deficient claim about the alleged shortcomings of the Electoral College.
As one would expect, there is plenty to criticize in Stephen Ohlemacher's Monday evening coverage of Donald Trump's achievement of an Electoral College majority earlier in the day.
This post will concentrate on Ohlemacher's questionable counting of "protesters." A separate post looks at a very revealing failure in the wire service story's photo collection, in a graphic showing how the structuring of the Electoral College allegedly disfavors high-population states, which are (supposedly) predominantly blue. It doesn't show that at all.
Tuesday, the press focused on whether Mevlut Mert Altintas, who assassinated Andrei Karlov, Russia's ambassador to Turkey on Monday in Ankara, acted alone or was, in the words of Russia's Vladimir Putin, "directed." There will almost certainly be similar speculation over the driver of the "truck that mowed down the crowd on Monday, killing at least 12 people" in Berlin, Germany, if and when he is captured.
News travels slowly into the Kansas City metropolitan area — or at least into the newsroom at the Kansas City Star.
On Friday, the paper's Dave Helling produced a 950-word writeup on Monday's Electoral College voting. With all of the widely published news about Republican electors receiving death threats, all Helling had to report was a rumor: "One spouse of a Missouri elector claimed to know of death threats to electors in other parts of the country." The folks at the Star really need to check the reliability of their Internet connections.