Category Archives: media

Russian bear or Washington weasel?

laufendes Wiesel

Wikipedia: “Wikipedia: In English-speaking areas, weasel can be a disparaging term, noun or verb, for someone regarded as sneaky, conniving or untrustworthy. Similarly, weasel words is a critical term for words or phrasing that are vague, misleading or equivocal.” [Image from Fotolia – https://us.fotolia.com/id/48296139#%5D

Vladimir Putin and cyberwarfare loom like threatening Russian bears, at least in media depiction and public imagination. While cyberwarfare is a threat, the newest weasel in Washington and his plans to install billionaire buddies in positions of power and dismantle hard-won social safety nets and public education pose an even bigger threat. Continue reading

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What’s wrong with the “Russian election hacking” meme

 

boris-and-natash

Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale, and Fearless Leader were cartoon representations of Russian spies in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon (1959-1964). Any resemblance between comic cartoons and current political rhetoric is purely intentional.

On December 29, the New York Times headlined, Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking. As news consumers, what questions do we need to ask about that story?

Question #1: What is this “election hacking?” Continue reading

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Confirmation bias: I really wanted to believe

wordcloud-confirmation-bias

The Guardian article about Julian Assange, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin was one I wanted to believe.

I read The Guardian, and rely on this British publication for accurate, wide-ranging reporting on world news, including U.S. news, since we are part of the world. I also read and rely on The Intercept, a publication edited by Glenn Greenwald, Betsy Reed, and Jeremy Scahill, and funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. So when The Intercept said an article in The Guardian was “completely false,” they got my attention. Continue reading

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Saving jobs or “Lying his ass off:” What you need to know

Post Factual concept

Fotolia File: #127542982 | Author: hafakot

“Carrier, Trump Reach Deal to Keep Manufacturing Jobs in U.S.” trumpeted the post-Thanksgiving headlines. Then, as any media-savvy observer should expect by now, the story began to unravel. Continue reading

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Fake news exposé brings real threats

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Communications prof Melissa Zindars posted an exposé of fake news, complete with a list of “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical ‘News’ Sources.” Then, reports the Los Angeles Times, she took down the list, as  “a safety measure in response to threats and harassment she and her students and colleagues had received.” That’s the power, and the peril, of good reporting in a time when fake news wins elections and earns big bucks. Continue reading

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Mainstream media FAIL: He said, she said and the biggest liar contest

pants-on-fire

PolitiFact is a fact-checking website run by the Tampa Bay Times that focuses on political actors and statements. Politifact classifies statements as True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, and Pants on Fire.

The Star Tribune published a commentary piece October 28 featuring “The Top 10 whoppers of both leading presidential candidates” as identified by Politifact.com. What’s wrong with that? Plenty.

The clear implication is that both candidates are equally liars. That’s wrong. Even worse, the “everybody is a liar” meme increases cynicism not only about the candidates but about the political system, voting, and the possibility of meaningful choice. Continue reading

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Watching history, live from Standing Rock

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UPDATE,  10 a.m. October 28: More than 100 people were arrested on October 27. Police fired beanbag rounds and teargas. Meanwhile, an Oregon jury  said that the armed white men who forcibly occupied federal offices for 41 days are not guilty of anything. For more reports on October 27, see: 

When I tune in to the live Facebook feed, less than an hour after  it begins, some 4,000 people are watching police move in on protesters – water protectors – who have barricaded Highway 1806 in North Dakota. They are trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, trying to protect the waters of the Missouri River from the oil pipeline that is planned to run under the river, trying to protect sacred sites of the Dakota Sioux people. This is the frontline camp, the north camp. Less than an hour later, the number is up to 16,000 people and climbing.

A young Native American man, E’esha Hoferer broadcasts live from the site, saying he is reporting for One Nation TV. We hear the police telling protesters to move south, to take their tents with them. We see people carrying straw bales and American flags. We hear the police broadcast loud, ululating noise to disrupt communications or to warn people to move back. We see the lines of law enforcement, like wings extending in both directions from their vehicles on the road. Continue reading

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Filed under environment, human rights, media, race, religion

Lies, damn lies and Facebook lies: Update on phony news

Invasion of fake news

Some rights reserved by Free Press Pics

My dad liked to say that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. A Buzzfeed investigative report shows something a little different: lies, damn lies and Facebook’s phony news sites. Buzzfeed analyzed the Facebook pages of three left-wing, three right-wing and three mainstream news sites. They found lies in almost 20 percent of the left-wing pages’ posts and 38 percent of the right-wing pages’ posts. Even worse, they found that “the least accurate pages generated some of the highest numbers of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook — far more than the three large mainstream political news pages analyzed for comparison.” Continue reading

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Dakota Pipeline Part 5: Jailing journalists and paying sock puppets

sacred-stone-camp-tony-webster

Photo of Sacred Stone Camp by Tony Webster, published under Creative Commons license.

As thousands of Native Americans gather in North Dakota to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), local law enforcement has pushed back by arresting journalists covering the protests and the Sacred Stone Camp and by outright lies about the protests and protesters. In addition, misinformation and propaganda is flooding social media, posted through sock puppets and other sources. Continue reading

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Not really science and not really health

Does chocolate really help weight loss? Does aspartame cause seizures? Did an Italian doctor discover a simple operation to cure multiple sclerosis? Do dryer sheets cause cancer? The answer to all these claims is a resounding NO. So why do these, and hundreds of other phony health stories, continue to circulate? And how can you sort good health and science information from utter crap? Continue reading

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