The Sad State of Affairs at GotNews

Really Chuck, is that all you have left?
Media • Views: 20,484

You may not have realized it, since Chucky has been tweeting up a storm lately, but things have been strangely quiet over at his flagship media enterprise GotNews. His last “BREAKING” story? Posted three days ago:

BREAKING: Here’s A Picture of Ted Cruz With All Of His Trophies #TedCruz Crimes

Therein, one finds a picture of young Ted Cruz standing in front of his many debate team trophies, and a scan of the April 20, 1992 edition of The Daily Princetonian, which features an article about Mr. Cruz’s debating prowess.

Seriously, with everything going on in the world, he can find nothing worth writing about in the past 3 days other than a 22-year old article about the Princeton debate team? He can’t even bring himself to find some hapless victim to dox? Are there no black people in the news for him to smear?

Is it any wonder he’s still begging for money? If you were an investor, would you want to give your money to this sad little blog?

New York Post and UPI Hacked

“World War III has begun”
Media • Views: 21,762

Another hacking incident today, and this time it went beyond a compromised Twitter account; the hackers posted something on the UPI homepage: UPI Website, Twitter Account Hacked.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) — United Press International’s website and Twitter account were hacked Friday afternoon, with someone attempting to publish false stories.

It started on Twitter, where six fake headlines were posted in about 10 minutes, starting about 1:20 p.m. Some of them were about the Federal Reserve; others contained a false report that the USS George Washington had been attacked.

I happened to have one of these tweets open, and grabbed this screenshot because I knew it wouldn’t last long:

At the same time, the New York Post Twitter account was also compromised; here’s a screenshot of what appeared in their timeline:

Why Does the Media Trust the Word of a White Supremacist?

David Duke’s friend says Steve Scalise is cool, so let’s just forget it ever happened
Media • Views: 31,015

It looks like America’s pundit classes have decided it’s no big deal that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise pals around with white supremacists. Here’s a finger-wagging article at the New York Observer berating everyone who thought there was actually an important story here: It’s Time for a Slow Journalism Movement.

Various media outlets, for their part, repeated the story and offered their own editorial spin. But then, a strange thing happened. A few diligent reporters began to check around, make a few calls and do a bit of research, an arcane set of activities collectively known as journalism, and found that the story simply wasn’t true. It turns out that Mr. Scalise is apparently guilty of speaking to a civic association in the Metarie, Louisiana Best Western Hotel, a few hours before the EURO meeting was held in the same spot. One of the organizers of the EURO meeting was also a leader of the civic association, but to fault Mr. Scalise for that is guilt by too many degrees of association.

We’ll just note that the sole “witness” who supposedly debunked this story is long-time David Duke associate and confirmed neo-Nazi Kenny Knight — who also happens to be a friend of Steve Scalise. But this is supposed to be “guilt by too many degrees of association?”

Nobody thinks it’s a little strange that a top Republican politician has neo-Nazi friends?

Knight very obviously has a motive for lying about Scalise’s speech; as a white supremacist, he wants to protect an influential politician who’s sympathetic to their twisted cause.

But this apparently doesn’t occur to people like the author of this piece, who suddenly finds the word of David Duke’s right hand man to be perfectly credible, without a single bit of corroborating evidence.

This is one of those times when it seems like the whole media establishment has lost its freaking mind.

Also see

Rolling Stone Asks Columbia Journalism School to Audit Their UVA Rape Story

Media • Views: 30,831

At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple reports that Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner is seeking the aid of Columbia Journalism School to do an independent audit of their botched story about rape at the University of Virginia: Rolling Stone Farms Out Review of U-Va. Rape Story to Columbia Journalism School.

Rolling Stone magazine has decided to enlist the Columbia Journalism School to audit its handling of a discredited Nov. 19 story about rape on the campus of the University of Virginia, according to a just-released statement from Editor and Publisher Jann S. Wenner, which reads as follows:

In RS 1223, Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote about a brutal gang rape of a young woman named Jackie at a party in a University of Virginia frat house [“A Rape on Campus”]. Upon its publication, the article generated worldwide attention and praise for shining a light on the way the University of Virginia and many other colleges and universities across the nation have tried to sweep the issue of sexual assault on campus under the rug. Then, two weeks later, The Washington Post and other news outlets began to question Jackie’s account of the evening and the accuracy of Erdely’s reporting. Immediately, we posted a note on our website, disclosing the concerns. We have asked the Columbia Journalism School to conduct an independent review - headed by Dean Steve Coll and Dean of Academic Affairs Sheila Coronel - of the editorial process that led to the publication of this story. As soon as they are finished, we will publish their report.

I noticed our stalker pal Chuck C. Johnson tweeting about this:

OK. I don’t get it. Why is this supposed to be “pathetic?” It sounds like an excellent idea to have an independent review, and who better to do it than a renowned journalism academy? A teaching experience for all involved, if you will.

Seriously, why is this supposed to be a bad thing? It’s usually not difficult to see what wingnuts are getting at when they rant about something, but I’m drawing a blank on this one.

Today’s Rolling Stone Train Wreck

This is bad
Media • Views: 35,064

Today’s depressing item on the state of US journalism is this very odd retraction by Rolling Stone, whose editors now say they can’t back up their recent story about a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house: A Note to Our Readers | Rolling Stone.

What a train wreck. And it’s made even worse by the way RS editor Will Dana “explains” it.

Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie’s story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone’s editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie’s credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie’s account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn’t confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.

In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.

Not to belabor the point, but if this is supposed to be “transparency” it fails miserably. Unspecified “discrepancies?” This statement is amazingly vague for what’s supposed to be a mea culpa.

But worse, this opens the floodgates for gloating right wing misogynists to call into question other accounts of rape and abuse — and it’s already happening in social media. (Soon coming to a right wing news source near you.) The people who’ve been pushing one false story after another for years will now deliver hypocritical lectures about the right way to do journalism.

CNN’s Brian Stelter: Officer Darren Wilson Holding Secret Meetings With Media Bigwigs

You knew this was coming
Media • Views: 26,253


Brian speaks with Inside Edition’s Jim Moret about secret, off-the-record meetings between reporters and Darren Wilson.

John Cook Leaving Greenwald’s “The Intercept” - Another High Profile Bail-Out

Media • Views: 32,854

John CookLess than two weeks after Matt Taibbi’s sudden departure, today we learn of another high-profile bail-out from Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept: John Cook Is Leaving the Intercept to Return to Gawker at the End of the Year.

Greenwald’s post about Cook’s departure is empty by-the-numbers PR-speak, revealing nothing. Which is odd for a company supposed to be dedicated to a new radical kind of transparency. Reading between the lines, though (“my decision to leave was painful… the last year hasn’t been easy…”), it sounds like this was a bit of a nightmare job.

But didn’t John Cook just put his byline on a piece at The Intercept about Taibbi’s resignation, saying all the problems had been worked out and everything was fine?

Greenwald still insists that financier Pierre Omidyar does not want to exert editorial control, of course — but it doesn’t exactly look good when your editor in chief suddenly bails out.

KSTP News Won’t Back Down From #pointergate

The stupid continues
Media • Views: 36,784

KSTP News in Minneapolis has posted another story related to their laughable attempt to frame Mayor Betsy Hodges as supporting gangs. So, do you think they apologized? Said they would fire the reporter and producers responsible? Guess again

Law enforcement agencies say the criticism of the photo of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges making what they call a gang sign with a convicted felon misses the point.

Oh, please, tell us what the point is.

Michael Quinn, who spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, including 25 years with Minneapolis Police, says the photo is not about race, or police being “alarmists.”

Well, except for the part where they freaked out about a black guy pointing, but go on.

Quinn says he does not believe Mayor Hodges endorses gangs and says she “probably didn’t even know what the hand gesture meant.”

It meant, “Hey look, I’m standing next to the Mayor.”

Quinn says the gesture is a “known gang sign of one of the most violent gangs in Minneapolis and they will use this to their advantage.”

It’s also a hand gesture common to every human culture on the planet.

Quinn says there is a reason the man posted the photo on his website and he says, “There could be another gang that would take it as a show of disrespect and commit another crime to solve the dispute.”

Or it could be to say to his friends, “Hey, here’s a picture of me standing next to the Mayor”. I mean if he was a white guy, that would be obvious, but he’s black so it may be a gang sign, not that this has anything to do with race.

What the general public does not understand, Quinn says, “is the signs have real meaning on the street and gangs take them seriously and people have died for simply flashing a gang sign. That’s all we are saying. This is serious and can lead to serious consequences.”

No, this is stupid and you need to apologize.

More: Law Enforcement Says Criticism of Mayor Hodges’ Photo Misses the Point

Glenn Greenwald and Pals Throw Matt Taibbi From the Train

An amazing picture of total disarray
Media • Views: 29,403

Wow. This is an extraordinary statement from Greenwald, Poitras, Scahill and Cook, throwing Matt Taibbi under the bus and backing it over him several times: The Inside Story of Matt Taibbi’s Departure From First Look Media - the Intercept.

In June, Taibbi, Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill wrote a joint letter to Omidyar outlining their principal grievances—the lack of clear budgets and repeated and arbitrary restrictions on hiring—and making clear that a failure to resolve them would jeopardize the feasibility of both projects.

That letter led to lengthy and often heated discussions. But they were productive: Most of The Intercept’s problems were eventually resolved. The magazine received a substantial budget, which Cook was free to use as he wished without consultation with First Look, and The Intercept resumed hiring a team of talented reporters, editors, and researchers. The site began producing stories more regularly, morale improved significantly as oversight from First Look diminished, and the team is free to do the reporting it wants to do without interference.

For a time, it appeared that Taibbi’s project had also found the right path. It, too, received its own multi-million-dollar budget, began to hire more reporters, filmmakers, and editors, and set a launch date for September.

But because the site had not yet launched, First Look continued to focus on organizational and corporate issues, and managers actively supervised and at times overruled Taibbi’s management decisions. His relationships with both First Look managers and some Racket employees who reported to him were strained.

Taibbi and First Look disagreed over the functionality of the website, the timing of its launch, which designers and programmers they would use, Racket’s organizational chart—even, at one point, over office seating assignments.

But wait… that’s not all.

These simmering problems came to a head this month when a Racket staffer complained to senior management that Taibbi had been verbally abusive and unprofessionally hostile, and that she felt the conduct may have been motivated, at least in part, by her gender. Temple conducted an investigation, and First Look determined that while none of the alleged conduct rose to the level of legal liability, the grievance bolstered their case that Taibbi should not be the manager of Racket. Among their concerns were the staffer’s claims that Taibbi had been privately criticizing First Look managers, particularly Ching, that Taibbi’s abrasive demeanor was alienating some on his staff, and that Taibbi instructed Racket staff to resolve any grievances directly with him rather than going to upper management.

On October 10, according to Taibbi’s account, Temple and Ching told Taibbi that he would be immediately stripped of all managerial responsibilities pending their investigation. (First Look managers dispute this account, claiming that Taibbi was never stripped of any duties.)

Taibbi was adamant that the complaint had no merit, and rejected any demotion or change in his responsibilities. On the day he was confronted by Temple and Ching, Taibbi left the office and—aside from one staff meeting he attended, after which he was instructed by Omidyar not to come back until they reached agreement on his role—did not return. He repeatedly told First Look that he would resign if it did not reverse the decision to reduce his managerial duties, and was insistent that he would accept no changes that could be construed as an acceptance on his part of the validity of the employee complaint.

Just go read it all; it’s a jaw-dropper. These excerpts only scratch the surface of the dysfunction.

Clearly Greenwald and his comrades knew this story was going to come out soon, so they decided to get out in front of it first and spin it their way. All these months they’ve been playing it like everything was just great, no problems, we’re redefining journalism over here and it’s cool — but behind the scenes it was a nightmare.

This ain’t over yet, folks.

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