Townhall's daily VIP feature with coverage on the deeply flawed aspects of journalism in the nation. We'll look to bring accountability to the mishaps, malaprops, misdeeds, manipulations, malpractice, and manufactured narratives in mainstream media.
Low Octane Gas Lighting – CNN
- We are going to need you to provide proof of this demand.
CNN announced today that they will be rolling out a new subscription service, cleverly dubbed "CNN+." This new upmarket offering will be online in the Q1 of 2022. One quibble. Their promotional tweet describes the arrival of this service as generating significant excitement.
CNN+, the much-anticipated streaming subscription service from CNN, will debut in Q1 2022.@CNNPlus will feature original, live, on demand & interactive programming. Learn more at https://t.co/1UKZbjqviZ and sign up for exclusive updates. Release: https://t.co/tHxbhQhcSX— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) July 19, 2021
It seems unclear how this could be the case, considering that viewership numbers for the network have not just dipped, they have cratered. In the last quarter, the highest-rated program for CNN landed at #22 among the news networks. Think that through; between Fox and MSNBC, they both had 21 programs ranking higher than CNN's best-performing broadcast. But they feel there is a pent-up demand for this new variant.
Wait a tic, I'm sorry -- exactly WHO anticipates this?!— Brad Slager - In Trouble More Than Pres. Biden (@MartiniShark) July 19, 2021
Viewers are fleeing the network across all quadrants, but they are on the edge of their seats for the arrival of a PREMIUM service, from the network they will not watch for free. https://t.co/G0bsbe9nDb
News Avoidance Syndrome – WASHINGTON POST
- Well, maybe we can at least give them credit for at least covering the Hunter Biden scam art show...kind of...maybe...?
Everything about the announced art exhibit for Hunter Biden's...artwork...sounds crooked. From the neophyte artist getting an exhibit with barely any experience to the inflated pricing for the unproven talent, and then including the White House announcing that all of the buyers will remain anonymous. It sounds more like a grift than artistic expression, but the press has shown very little curiosity about this sham.
But now the Washington Post has covered the exhibit – in a way. The paper's op-ed section has a satirical sneak preview of the exhibition. Corruption; it's just so danged funny these days!
Wash Post op-ed page pulls no punches with biting and funny “exhibition” of Hunter Biden’s art via Meghan Kruger pic.twitter.com/nj6Pd11fYz— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) July 19, 2021
First Amendment Strike Force – NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO
At NPR, they decided now was as good a time to go after Ben Shapiro's outlet The Daily Wire. The site is performing rather well on Facebook these days, and that upsets the elevated thinkers at NPR – but that is not the only thing. In a strong dose of irony, the deeply slanted hit piece first complains because the site actually admits they have a conservative slant to their reporting.
It goes on, claiming – of course – that the ill-educated readers cannot grasp it is a conservative site, because "The Daily Wire's content looks no different in Facebook's newsfeed than an article from a local newspaper, making it potentially difficult to distinguish between more and less reliable or biased information sources." So, there is no actual problem with the coverage, just that NPR does not approve of who is doing the coverage.
The clear intent here is to build a case to justifiably have The Daily Wire suppressed on Facebook. Note this strained attempt at othering the site as a valid outlet. "They tend to not provide very much context for the information that they are providing. If you've stripped enough context away, any piece of truth can become a piece of misinformation."
Translation: "Though the site might be accurate, they still should be labeled as disinformation and then suppressed – even if we could not come up with any valid examples of our claim.’"
While other media publications have seen their engagement numbers on Facebook fall off this year, conservative site The Daily Wire has stayed fairly constant, according to NPR's analysis.— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) July 19, 2021
A closer look at the data: https://t.co/LcHeyY3Zlt
Pounce Of Prevention – THE NEW YORK TIMES
As things on the border continue to get worse, the administration continues to ignore it. But The New York Times has recognized there is a problem, albeit not specifically on the border. In a piece entitled "Biden Faces New Pressure On Immigration," the paper has found the real challenge. Is Biden facing this pressure from his party? Er, no. Are members of the media pressuring him to do something? (A moment please, until the chortling subsidies.) No, the REAL problem is, of course, that those dastardly Republicans dare to notice there is a problem!
In a measure of predictive reasoning, The Times recognizes that even if the GOP has yet to do so, any moment now they will resort to that tried practice of using an issue politically! Of note here, it was just announced that apprehensions at the border just hit historic highs, but THAT is not the concern of The NY Times.
- "Friday's developments underscored the difficult and often politically fraught choices that Mr. Biden is confronting on immigration. But Republicans are ready to pounce the moment he does that, eager to portray Mr. Biden as an open-borders president who pays too little attention to the crime, health and economic consequences of his immigration policies."
Then, as if this anticipated pouncing is not getting here fast enough, the paper unloaded with all manner of GOP activity.
- "It could also lead to new scenes of crowded, unsafe Border Patrol stations and fuel conservative talking points before the midterm elections in 2022."
- "Republicans have seized on the decision about the Title 42 restrictions to attack the president."
- "The attacks by Republicans are part of a broader effort by the party to use the border to gain an advantage in the midterm elections."
- "They have also blamed Mr. Biden for the increase in migrants trying to get into the country."
- "The Republican attacks are little more than hypocritical rhetoric from politicians."
Man, those Republicans must be in great shape with all of this political cardiovascular activity of late.
Gilded Reframe – KEN BURNS
Recently Brian Williams had on as a guest for his "11th Hour" program Ken Burns. This reality alone is steeped in irony, one of the country's most respected documentarians appearing with the newsman most well known for crafting fictional accounts. Maybe this has seeped in on Burns because in the course of his dramatic discussion, he managed to elide some important history.
He listed off a number of influences he sees in society – Covid, voter suppression, and misinformation among those – and then he hinted at another, in saying, "Then the rewriting of our history, our saying that we're not interested in facts. We're not interested in the truth. We're not interested in the many varied voices that make us up." This is him alluding to the battle of Critical Race Theory, a construct based on the 1619 Project, something that numerous historians have derided as inaccurate history.
As odd as it is for him to lend support to that debased project, he also had this to say:
- "The problem is, is that this is the most fraught time I think, in the history of our republic."
Just as a reminder, this man is the force behind the hailed documentary "The Civil War." You might expect him to retain that landmark event as a framing device for such a comment, but maybe not.
Presentation Paradox – ASSOCIATED PRESS
The always virtue-signaling ice cream company Ben & Jerry's announced that out of disapproval of Israel, and as a means of supporting Palestine, the company will no longer sell its ice cream in the West Bank. It is a reverse boycott, if you will, but there is a bit of confusion behind this decision.
In its released announcement, Ben & Jerry's says it has a licensing agreement in place that will not expire until the end of next year, so its operations, "will stay in Israel through a different arrangement." The only way for the Palestinians to obtain the company's ice cream was through vendors in the West Bank.
So what this amounts to is that the company is critical of Israel and supports Palestine, so it will cease operations, which prevents Palestinians from being able to buy Phish Food, but the company will continue to do business in Israel. I believe the executives had a brain freeze when making this decision.
Prose & Contradiction – CNN
- It sure seems like Covid disinformation…
We know the ratings are bad at CNN, but when their own people do not pay attention, then you have a real problem. Over the weekend, one-time conservative and former sane pundit S.E. Cupp wanted to address the issue of people refusing the Covid vaccine. It went in the direction one might expect.
So, you can get the vaccine, which has 90% immunity, and live to fight for your causes and keep the people who support your cause alive. Or you can refuse, just to own the libs, who you’re ensuring will be around longer, and in office, to do the things you totally oppose. ???????— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) July 17, 2021
You have to wonder, is there any recourse at the network when their on-air personalities do not follow their own reporting? We will repeat a prior entry where we showed CNN citing data that shows the vaccine-hesitant groups are not what many claim them to be.
Okay, it turns out the people who resist getting the COVID vaccine are predominantly Democrat or Democrat-leaning or identify with neither party.https://t.co/olBDRCML91— (((Charlie Martin))) (@chasrmartin) July 12, 2021
Pre-Written Field Reports – CNN
With a flurry (fury?) of Trump-related books being released, one of the authors making the rounds has been noted fabulist Michael Wolff. While making yet another appearance on CNN, he sat in with Brian Stelter on his "Reliable Sources" program, and things did not go according to plan. While understandably Stelter had him on to continue his network's obsession with the man no longer in power, Wolff shifted gears on the host, focusing instead on the network itself.
- "You're full of sanctimony. You come on here, and you have a monopoly on truth. You know exactly how things are supposed to be done. You are why, one of the reasons people can't stand the media. And most people don't want to turn to Brian Stelter to tell us what's real. I'm sorry."
By this stage, Stelter was off balance and dismayed, so he shot back with a face-saving charge of a question; the host challenged Wolff on why, if he holds such disdain for the network, he has made repeated visits on air the past week.
"I'm a book salesman," the author wryly responded.
Matching Media Memorandum – VARIOUS OUTLETS
- The disturbance felt after Jen Psaki's comments about banishing social media accounts required a rush to defend her.
Late last week, the administration came forward to announce that it was working with Facebook to root out particular accounts on the platform they deemed to be issuing misinformation about the vaccine rollout. Many found it to be a troubling advancement, with the administration wanting to silence what they consider to be problematic accounts. Making this all the more troubling is the rash of stories over the past year once considered "misinformation," which later were shown to be valid.
But as many people reacted to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki calling to take down these accounts with a backlash, the members of the media rose up with shields. Jake Tapper strove to deflect by taking issue not with what Psaki said but with the questions posed by Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy.
- "At the same briefing, somebody from Fox, which also has a lot of people on who say things about the vaccine that are not true, asked a question premised on a lie, which was that the White House was going through people's Facebook pages and private information to come up with this list. It's not true. But, once again, we see another example of just lies making their way into the airwaves. But, again, that Fox correspondent has every right to lie or be mistaken about this."
So the issue is not that the White House is targeting the accounts of citizens to be silenced; it is that Doocy dared expose this reality. Psaki said they were monitoring accounts, and they were encouraging Facebook to take them down, then tried denying that was her statement. Tapper now wants to call Doocy's questions, rooted on Psaki's own comments the day prior, a "lie."
Aaron Blake followed suit, focusing on Doocy and not the administration's silencing efforts, saying the Fox reporter was embarrassing.
Fox News's embarrassing 'spying' blunder in the White House briefing roomhttps://t.co/oORUMR6GcI— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) July 16, 2021
Joining in was Erik Wemple, who also put the focus on Doocy, properly pointing fingers away from Jen Psaki and her admissions as to what the administration was striving to have enforced.
Via @aaronblake, Fox News WH correspondent Peter Doocy advanced the network's conspiracy fetish by asking @PressSec about 'spying' on Facebook users in a campaign against covid disinformation: https://t.co/tVyaZl1LKp 1/— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) July 17, 2021
These are members of the press, the industry that loves to say their job is to challenge the authority on behalf of the citizens, getting angry that a reporter challenged the administration about targeting citizens.
Anti-Social Media – THE BULWARK
- Bill Kristol shows that not only is research beyond his skill set, but so is using search engines.
Recently, National Review posted an op-ed with the rather sensible position that the best outreach toward those who are vaccine resistant is not through pressure and ridicule but by logical persuasion. What a reactionary concept!
In predictably laughable fashion, avowed never-Trumper Bill Kristol went the knee-jerk route in attempting to slam NRO...over their very pragmatic editorial, because how DARE they make sense, or something.
News Avoidance Syndrome – ASSOCIATED PRESS
In a lengthy study from its London Bureau, The AP lists off a number of places across the globe where they have seen rulers using the pandemic to broaden their control.
- "COVID-19 has absorbed the world's energies and isolated countries from one another, which may have accelerated the creep of authoritarianism and extremism across the globe, some researchers and activists believe."
Notably absent from its study is any mention of the various governors across the United States who took the time to broaden the scope of their power. Gretchen Whitmer alone, with nearly 200 executive orders and counting, would merit inclusion on their list.
Pulitzer Prize Nomination – ONE AMERICAN NEWS
While there has been some outrage about the tendency for libraries to have reading times for children conducted by members of the trans and cross-dressing communities, over in London, they seem to have taken it a step further. It was discovered that one such reading session was held by a lactating male "mother" and a rainbow-hued gorilla sporting an adult pleasure device.
Apparently, Furries Are Fundamental.
In case anyone is wondering, here's what that was and oh my ??https://t.co/kEGtMtSaIQ— Julian Rowlands ???????????????? (@jrbando) July 13, 2021