"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.
Body Checking the Fact-Checkers – USA TODAY
At USA Today, they decided to correct the record following the news that Greta Thunberg ran into trouble with authorities while protesting at a coal mine in Germany. After the initial breathless reports, many began to point out a few problems with the story, beginning with the photos showing her smiling throughout the "ordeal."
When people began posting how this was a staged arrest, this needed to be addressed since, apparently, Thunberg is above being criticized.
Despite a video of police stopping to pose for photographers as they held Greta's arms, USA Today declared the accusation this was a staged arrest event to be FALSE – even as the outlet gives this report from the officials:
- "A German police spokesperson told USA TODAY the agency's interaction with Thunberg was not staged. And Thunberg was detained but was not officially arrested. Thunberg was not arrested during the incident in question, but she was detained by German police on Jan. 17 at the open-pit coal mine of Garzweiler 2 while protesting."
Yes, the Greta Thunberg arrest was staged for the establishment media.— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 17, 2023
Glossary Over Things – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
With the announcement of the 2023 nominees for the Academy Awards, we have to be subjected to the annual practice of insisting on how important it is when an individual is described as being the first person to represent some subclass demographic. (He is the first left-handed, vegan, un-binary POC nominated for Best Makeup!)
Today, we learned that Michele Yeoh, receiving a nomination for Best Actress, is declared "The first person who identifies as Asian to be nominated for best actress at the Oscars." Identifies? To further muddle this designation, Rebecca Sun goes through the trouble of explaining this odd description and frankly manages to make this sound even less special.
- "Until today, not a single woman who identifies as Asian…has been recognized as Best Actress by the Academy Awards. Technicalities exist: Some recordkeepers consider Merle Oberon (1936, The Dark Angel) to be the first Asian best actress nominee, but she hid her ancestry…and passed for white. Likewise for double Oscar winner Vivien Leigh, who was born in British-colonized India and whose mother might have had partial western Asian ancestry. And although past nominee Salma Hayek and winners Cher and Natalie Portman all have claims to some western Asian heritage (Lebanon, Armenia and Israel/Russia, respectively), none has identified as Asian."
DNC PR Firm – WASHINGTON POST
- We fondly recall when such suggestions were deemed to be a threat to our democracy.
Do we recall for the past year or two how so much seen out of D.C. has been declared an inherent risk to our constitution and/or the very foundations of our nation? Things like questioning voting practices or even just voting for the wrong party have been declared a threat – if it involves Republicans.
Now, we have none other than WaPo's resident expert in things involving facts, Glenn Kessler, theorizing how President Biden could get away with outright lawbreaking. In looking ahead at the looming debt ceiling crisis, Glenn pontificates what would actually happen if Jose Biden were to, you know, just not care and go forward with unfettered spending in violation of the national budget. And, as a small side component, also violating federal laws.
Serious question: What if the Biden administration ignored the debt ceiling and just kept paying bills if it's not raised? That's presumably a violation of the law, but what are the consequences? A lawsuit by House Republicans that takes years to litigate? Something else?— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) January 24, 2023
Artisanally-Crafted Narratives – AXIOS
- Some rapacious CEOs are nicer than other rapacious CEOs.
It explains quite a bit when after seeing the press rage about Elon Musk laying off employees a couple of months ago and now seeing massive layoffs from many platforms that eclipse his dismissals, we do not hear nearly the same level of caterwauling.
Recall in November when Elon Musk laying off people was the most dire news anyone had heard???— Brad Slager: CNN+ Lifetime Subscriber (@MartiniShark) January 21, 2023
His cuts have been dwarfed by multiple corporations since, and not nearly the amount of squealing from the press. pic.twitter.com/SPiL7JHDWS
Taking this to a curious place was Sara Fischer of Axios. With a growing number of companies laying off huge amounts of workers, she declared that there were some businesses that almost should be praised in the manner that they were killing off the careers of their former workers.
(Sara seemed to glean she had been a bit off the target, as she soon shut off the replies to her comment.)
Media leaders & CEOs, if you want to know how to communicate layoffs effectively, Jim Bankoff is good example— Sara Fischer (@sarafischer) January 20, 2023
-He has always been transparent w staff & public about the # of roles impacted, which depts, & why
-Vox never does drip, drip, drip cuts
-Employees always told first https://t.co/YYJV1AGMvJ
Pulitzer Prize Nomination – VICE NEWS
- The first entrant of the year in the "Photo Journalism" category.
In a lengthy report on – and from – the compound of Ovidio Guzman, the son of famed drug lord El Chapo, Vice gives us a series of gripping images. Guzman was targeted in a raid on his residence by the Mexican military, bringing him in for charges, and one picture, in particular, stands out, not for its drama, but its idiocy.
The piece features numerous photos taken at the scene, but one taken by Jose Betanzos stands out, as it shows one of the alleged bullets still nestled in a hole in one of the gates on the property. Small matter that it depicts an unfired piece of ammunition. The bullet supposedly resting in the hole it created is still somehow in its metal jacket.
At @Vice they have this photo accompanying its piece on the attack on the compound of El Chapo's son, Ovidio Guzman.— Brad Slager: CNN+ Lifetime Subscriber (@MartiniShark) January 24, 2023
Apparently, they somehow shot at him with unfired bullets. This should be embarrassing for a news outlet, but they are beyond that emotion.https://t.co/JjXYUMON3J pic.twitter.com/AtQ3QWUO9r