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"Riffed from the Headlines" is Townhall's daily VIP feature with coverage of 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.


Stealth Story Evolution – NBC NEWS

In the wake of the Brittney Griner release, there has been rampant speculation about why the long-held Marine Paul Whelan was not included in the prisoner exchange, as well as whether or not the Biden administration negotiated in good faith. NBC News had a stirring report that added to the drama, stating that based on an inside source, they learned that Whelan being held as a spy elevated his stature in the eyes of the Russians so that they stipulated President Biden had an either-or choice to make on the exchange.

After the report, however, the official word came from the White House that Russia had only offered Griner as a trade. NBC brought out the digital erasers and altered the piece without any notice. It was not until they had been called out by a number of outlets that they got around to some proper journalism practices.

Low Octane Gas Lighting – TWITTER / CNN

  • Content aging like vintage sour cream.

With Elon Musk throwing the media into a fit of distemper by releasing internal documents from Twitter headquarters, there was fun to be had when it was shown that there was, in fact, an organized effort to shadow-ban accounts and otherwise diminish the reach of postings on the platform.

This, of course, flies in direct opposition to the years we have had Twitter executives and sycophants in the press insisting that this practice NEVER was taking place. There may be no better way to typify this than with a combined effort. Here is a cut of Jack Dorsey insisting that Twitter would never stoop to such dastardly behavior and former media titan Brian Stelter listening intently and never once considering offering up a challenging question.

Pre-Written Field Reports – WASHINGTON POST

At least it was a refreshing shift from declaring the US as a hateful entity. In looking at World Cup rosters, it was noted that there was a dearth of black players suiting up for Argentina. To explain how racist this allegedly is, the Post gave an op-ed to Dr. Erika Denise Edwards, associate professor on Latin American History, who has written a book on blacks in Argentina. One might expect such an august educator to maybe grasp why so many blacks are seen on Argentina's roster, but WaPo had to issue a correction on her column, one that basically explains the severe lack of representation.

- "CORRECTION Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this piece noted that roughly one percent of the Argentinian population was Black according to a 2010 government released census. While the number of Black people cited was accurate, the percentage was actually far less than one percent and the piece has been amended to state that."

Reporting on the Mirror – AXIOS / THE BLOCK

The bizarre case of Sam Bankman-Fried and the implosion of his FTX cryptocurrency exchange continues. Bizarre not because a case of fraud costing investors billions is novel (these upstart companies with unreal valuations and then exposed as shams are becoming frequent), but because the press is noticeably unbothered by it all. Note the lack of screeching and calls for the government to step in and rectify things. Where are the think pieces about the 1% profiting off of the backs of innocent middle-class investors?

What is becoming obvious is that SBF invested heavily in numerous media companies, making critical reporting on his fraud a bit problematic. The latest revelation was that SBF had been secretly funding a crypto publication – The Block – seemingly with little of this exposed to the editorial team.

- "The payments, which employees of The Block were previously unaware of, could undermine the news company's credibility and cast doubt on its coverage of Bankman-Fried, the now-bankrupt FTX and Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried's trading firm."

Pounce of Prevention – FORBES

The deeply odd case of Energy Department Official Sam Brinton (wording I'm sure makes me now intolerant) continues unwinding. Twice now, the nuclear expert and cross-dressing gender-fluid administration figure hailed in the press has been found to have been stealing luggage from airport baggage claim areas. 

Though Brinton is facing both felony and grand larceny charges, Forbes picked up on what the real social transgression has been – conservatives are noticing Brinton's crimes. In one section of the article, Forbes has to go into excessive detail about how intolerant Republicans are toward the trans community.

- "Key Background - Brinton, who identifies with they/them pronouns, is the first openly gender fluid employee in the federal government. According to multiple polls over the past five years, Americans have been divided along partisan and age lines over their acceptance of people who identify as transgender or gender fluid, with Republicans tending to favor more traditional gender-based definitions."

Matching Media Memorandum – VARIOUS OUTLETS

There are a few tiresome complaints we are seeing from the media complex regarding the Elon Musk takeover of Twitter. He is making the platform unsafe! (Because words are dangerous.) We are seeing more instances of hate-speech on the platform! (It would help if you stopped entering those terms in the search window.) He's allowing the spread of misinformation! (The amusement being that the press makes it sound like this is their exclusive job.)

One other common bleating refrain from the press has been how they will be leaving for other social platforms. Mastodon, among others, is frequently cited as the new landing spot, but there is a slight issue with these boisterous claims: They are not actually quitting.

At New Scientist, they looked into a large number of people who have declared they will be migrating to the alternate site and discovered that the number of those following through with their emotional departures is a small number of people.


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