Category Archives: MSM

A remarkable interview with a great journalist


If any single journalist embodies the finest traditions of American reportage, it’s Seymour Hersh, the son of East European immigrants who rose to the heights of his calling and continues to break major stories at the age of 79.

His latest book, The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, exposes the lies of the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used to conceal the reality of the extrajudicial murder of Pakistani political prisoner Osama bin Laden.

In this wide-ranging interview by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, Hersch answers questions not only about the killing of America’s most wanted man, but also about the dark side of America’s war on Syria, the duplicity of American politicians, covert operations, and the nature of journalism itself.

It’s the finest interview of Hersch we’ve even seen, and it’s well worth your time.

From TYT Interviews:

Seymour Hersh Interview With The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur

Program notes:

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks interviews the premier investigative journalist of his generation, Seymour Hersh. Seymour Hersh is the author of ten books, including his latest, titled “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden.” Read some of Seymour Hersh’s work http://www.newyorker.com/contributors…

In this TYT interview Seymour Hersh and Cenk Uygur cover a range of topics, including:

  • Why did the Osama bin Laden operation go down the way it did? Why not take him alive? Should the perpetrators – from Seal Team 6 to Obama himself-be prosecuted for murder?
  • The politics around the death of Osama bin Laden.
  • Why were Osama bin Laden’s wives never questioned by US interrogators?
  • Oil’s impact on foreign policy, in particular Turkey and ISIS.
  • Conspiracy theories and the U.S. government spying on the public.
  • How he became an investigative reporter and developed his style and approach.
  • His thoughts on the state of investigative journalism today.
  • What benefit does the US get from our alliance with Saudi Arabia? What about Israel?
  • What do you think was Saudi Arabia’s involvement in planning and funding the 9/11 attacks?
  • What is the US objective in Syria? Do we have any hope of accomplishing it?

Follow Seymour Hersh on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SeymourHersh
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CenkUygur

Threatened whites spur Donald Trump’s rise


If Donald Trump’s campaign staff are looking for a hook to hang their hopes on, it’s White Power — or rather the perceived loss of privileged status by a segment of the white population that feels threatened as their numbers threaten to dwindle to less than half the population.

An elegant demonstration conducted by Stanford University sociologist Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Toronto, and Rachel Wetts, a graduate student in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, proves the point.

Simply darken a photo of Barack Obama and and show it to white folks and they become more likely to say they support the Tea Party, the nucleus of Trump’s supporters.

From the research paper:

Participants were shown pictures of Jay Leno, William Shatner, and an official picture of President Barack Obama. To make more or less salient his African-American heritage, participants were randomly assigned to see a version of the picture in which Obama’s skin was either artificially lightened or darkened. Participants were next given a short survey of political attitudes including a “yes/no” item asking participants “Do you consider yourself a supporter of the Tea Party?

White participants shown the darkened photo were more likely to say they supported the Tea Party (22 percent) relative to a group shown a lightened photo of Obama (12 percent), according to the research.

The result:

White participants in the Dark Obama Prime condition were significantly more likely to report that they supported the Tea Party (22%) than white participants assigned to the Light Obama Prime condition (12%).

The darkening of a black person’s skin as been done before, most notoriously when Fox News darkened a photograph of Trayvon Martin, playing to an audience base that was only 1.38 percent African American, as NewsCorpse noted at the time:

BLOG Fox tweakers

The Fox fakery came at a time when the network was relentlessly pushing the Tea Party and its inherently racist agenda.

And now back to the latest study, with a report from Stanford University:

Threats to racial status among white Americans have driven support for the Tea Party political movement and may also help explain the rise of Donald Trump, a Stanford sociologist said.

Since the Tea Party’s rise in 2009, academic experts have offered different explanations for its growth. The latest evidence from Stanford researchers shows that a perception of a “decline of whiteness” among some white Americans may be a key reason.

For example, white people who were shown an artificially darkened picture of President Barack Obama were more likely to report they supported the Tea Party than if they were shown an artificially lightened version.

Robb Willer, a Stanford professor of sociology, writes in a new research paper [open access — esnl] that the election of Obama as the first non-white president converged with other economic and demographic trends around 2008 to spark the rise of the Tea Party. In short, these factors were perceived as threatening the relative “racial standing” of whites in the United States.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

Continue reading

Panama Leaks: When a rose ≠ a rose ≠ a rose


Sometimes an interesting name pops up when you’re a journalist investigating things other folks want kept secret.

Consider the case of journalists from reporters for the Sacramento Bee and its Sacramento-based parent company, McClatchy Newspapers looking into those infamous Panama Leaks.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The name of one of the principal newspapers owned by The McClatchy Co. has turned up in the Panama Papers – and it was a corporate hijacking of sorts.

On Dec. 2 last year, employees of the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca registered an offshore company calling itself The Sacramento Bee Ltd in the British Virgin Islands.

The Sacramento Bee, the flagship of 29 newspapers belonging to the McClatchy Co., is published in the California city where the news and digital company is headquartered.

But, like many names in the Panama Papers, the offshore has no connection to the more familiar institution. The Sacramento Bee Ltd. has nothing to do with McClatchy.

Quote of the day: World’s greatest sportscaster


Vin Scully is finally calling it quits after 67 years as the announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Literate, witty, and blessed with a tone that never condescends to his listeners, Scully is always a pleasure to hear.

When he drops the mic at the end of this year’s season, both the Dodgers and baseball will the poor for it.

From a valedictory retrospective Sports Illustrated profile of Scully by  baseball writer Tom Verducci:

At age 88, in preparing for his 67th home opener, Scully notices a player on the opposing Diamondbacks’ roster with the name Socrates Brito. The minute he sees the name, Scully thinks, Oh, I can’t let that go! Socrates Brito! Inspired in the way of a rookie broadcaster, Scully dives into his research. So when Brito comes to the plate, Scully tells the story of the imprisonment and death by hemlock of Socrates, the Greek philosopher. Good stuff, but eloquentia perfecta asks more:

“But what in the heck is hemlock?” Scully tells his listeners. “For those of you that care at all, it’s of the parsley family, and the juice from that little flower, that poisonous plant, that’s what took Socrates away.”

It’s a perfect example of a device Scully uses to inform without being pedantic. He engages listeners personally and politely with conditionals such as For those of you that care … and In case you were wondering…. Immediately you do care and you do wonder.

Scully isn’t done with Socrates. In the ninth inning, Brito drives in a run with a triple to put Arizona ahead 3–1.

“Socrates Brito feeds the Dodgers the hemlock.”

Here’s what happens when editors are laid off


From the current-as-we-write homepage of the East Bay Times, whose investment bankster owners have just laid off most of their editors:

BLOG Typo

And, yes, that’s supposed to be “My Word,” the title of op-eds from readers [the essay is here].

Long sad fall of Los Angeles Times continues


Tribune Publishing, named for its flagship, the Chicago Tribune, is up for sale, but there’s only one notable offer on the table, a bid one shareholder last week asked fellow shareholders to seriously consider.

For folks in the West, the corporation’s most notable property is the Los Angeles Times, which at one point boasted a larger circulation that any other seven-day-a-week newspaper in the United States, including the New York Times.

But the glory days of the Times, when the paper sold 1.2 million copies a day, ended in 1980 with the retirement of publisher Otis Chandler, who had grown tired of disputes with other members of the board, who were also members of his own extended family.

Unlike Otis Chandler, who believed good profits first demanded good journalism, the family was more interested in profits that Pulitzers, and brought in professional managers.

By 2000, the glow was gone and the family saw the writing on the wall, selling out to Tribune Publishing, and circulation has dropped to half its peak during the Chandler era.

Tribune itself was briefly bought out by Chicago real estate developer Sam Zell [the largest landlord in Berkeley today], who managed within months to drive the company into bankruptcy, leaving the ownership to a collection of venture capitalists and investment funds.

Now the nation’s leading newspaper publisher, the Gannett Company, wants Tribune Publishing.

Gannett publishes USA Today, the largest-selling general interest newspaper in the country, along with 106 other papers in the US and 160 in the United Kingdom.

From the Poynter Institute, a plea from a shareholder to seriously consider Gannett’s bid:

Oaktree Capital, which owns nearly 15 percent of Tribune Publishing, is urging the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times to negotiate with Gannett on a possible sale of the company.

In an SEC filing dated May 4, the Los Angeles-based investment firm said exploring a sale of the company “would be in the best interests of (Tribune Publishing) and its stockholders,” noting that Oaktree “expect(s) to communicate (with) other third parties about their respective views regarding (Tribune Publishing).”

The filing confirms a report from Reuters earlier this week, attributed to multiple anonymous sources, that Oaktree was lobbying for the company to negotiate.

Oaktree’s filing lends weight to Gannett’s $815 million gambit to buy Tribune Publishing, which was made public in late April. Michael Ferro, who controls about 16 percent of Tribune Publishing, has repeatedly and publicly rebuffed Gannett’s offer, calling it a play to “steal the company.”

But the plea fell on deaf ears, as the Associated Press reported today:

In an attempt to fend off a takeover by USA Today owner Gannett Co., Tribune Publishing Co. says it adopted a one-year shareholder rights plan.

Known as a poison pill, these types of plans are used to fight off hostile takeovers.

Last month, Gannett offered to buy Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, for more than $388 million. Chicago-based Tribune Publishing rejected the deal last week, saying that Gannett’s offer was not enough.

Tribune Publishing’s plan, announced Monday, allows existing shareholders to buy preferred stock if a person or group acquires at least 20% of its stock.

Shortly after the offer was originally announced, the folks at Wyatt Investment Research examined the two companies and found some notable differences, despite one common trait — both had spun off their broadcasting properties and retained their core newspaper businesses, both print and online:

Gannett was separated from the television properties of Tegna (NYSE: TGNA). Likewise, Tribune Publishing was spun off from the television assets of Tribune Media (NYSE: TRCO).

The difference is that Tribune Publishing, despite its focus on content, has fallen about 60% since the separation. Gannett stock has gained about 5.5% since its separation.

But Gannett is only the best house in a bad neighborhood. The traditional newspaper business is struggling in this new digital age. Total U.S. daily newspaper circulation fell to 41 million in 2015 from 44 million in 2009.

The trend is even worse as far as revenues go.

The analysts concluded that Tribune Publishing’s suitor is, in fact, the only bright spot in a publishing industry spiraling into deep and possibly terminal decline.

Jack Ohman: Trump’s grassy knoll. . .


From the editorial cartoonist of the Sacramento Bee:

BLOG Ohman

Way back last year, a friend who covers politics for a local MSM outfit asked us who we thought would be the GOP presidential nominee.

“Donald Trump,” we said.

“Oh, come on now,” was the response.

Earlier this year he repeated the question. “It’s Trump’s to lose,” we said.

“Really?”

We nodded.

Our colleague, almost three decades younger than esnl, had grown up in a different era.

We’re older enough [70 in a few more months] to remember a time when homes had no televisions, most houses had a second telephone [black], no messaging capability, and kids played outdoors after school in all but the worst weather.

We can remember watching as the dramatic impact of television on the American family unfolded. We also witnessed the loosening of censorship, and the remarkable day when we were in the seventh grade and the protagonist on an “adult Western” on prime time television actually uttered the shocking words, “You can go to hell!”

But the unleashing of censorship brought a shocking realization that much of what we had believed about the world was a carefully crafted illusion, readily susceptible to the corrosive action of satire and a sense of the absurd.

We read Sarte and Joseph Heller, for the latter, and cherished Terry Southern, Peter Sellers, and Lenny Bruce for the former.

One truly seminal document was Southern’s The Magic Christian, a 1959 satire that captures the essence of the Donald Trump phenomenon.

Southern, a Texan, attended the Sorbonne on the GI Bill, where he got to know Jean Paul Sartre, James Baldwin, Mordecai Richler. George Plimpton, and — well, you get the idea.

In The Magic Christian, Southern’s protagonist, Guy Grand, is a jaded billionaire out for shits and giggles, which he gets by playing hugely expensive practical jokes, enlisting unwitting participants to debase themselves.

In other words, Reality TV before there was Reality TV.

So when Trump, a billionaire I had already dubbed the Magic Christian, announced his presidential run, I knew he had it in the bag.

Just like Guy Grand, he’d found a way to capitalize on human weakness. But unlike Grand, who lost money on his stunts, Trump had found a run them at a profit.

In other words, he knew his marks, and he knew them better than anyone else, and he’d do whatever it took to accomplish his aim, and that was to win the Republican nomination.

One thing Trump has that Guy Grand didn’t is a media scraped shaped by Republican political strategists, and the “reforms” of the Clintons and Bushes.

After Bill Clinton’s FCC in 1997 abolished the Fairness Doctrine requiring broadcasters to give fair presentation of opposing public views a year after Republican media guru Roger Ailes teamed with the Dirty Digger, Rupert Murdoch, to reshape television news, all pretense of objectivity had flown out the window, and the political was left to the loudest, most abrasive voice.

And nobody’s louder or more abrasive than The Magic Christian, The Trumpster.

So a lot of guns are aimed in that Grassy Knoll of Ohman’s cartoon, both Republican and Democratic.