Fake News

This week CNN has been documented by James O’keefe in released videos that reveal the network appeared to know there was nothing factual about the Trump Russia collusion story and yet continued to report on it to the public.

For months now, President Trump has been calling out certain media outlets as, in his words, fake news. Evidence seems to indicate he is correct.

There are two possibilities behind this. The most pessimistic view is that CNN wants to take down the Trump presidency. A more reasonable opinion, however, is that the decision makers at CNN are caught up in a push for ratings, and money, and as a result have sacrificed their commitment to reporting the truth.

This makes it an issue of journalistic ethics. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics includes four principles:

Seek Truth

Minimize Harm

Act Independently

Be Accountable and Transparent

If these videos are true, CNN is knowingly violating at least three out of four.

It’s more important than ever that, as Americans, we engage. Follow current events. Check facts. Stand for truth. Test everything. Hold on to truth and prioritize it above party and political persuasion.

Nobody is going to do it for us.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Twitter

I’ve indicated before in this space that President Trump should not be on Twitter. This is why.

In a combination of Tweets this morning, President Trump said the following:

“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came……to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

Totally unbecoming of Presidential behavior. No dignity. No class.

A President’s words have a global impact. As the leader of the free world, President Trump’s words should be chosen carefully. This isn’t happening.

Words like these coming from a President are an embarrassment to the United States of America.

Words like these coming from a President are disrespectful to a fellow citizen of the United States.

Words like these coming from a President take away from legitimate criticisms of the way the media has covered his administration.

Words like these coming from a President are completely counterproductive to accomplishing a legislative agenda.

Words like these coming from a President are a distraction from the news of the day.

As the millennials say, I can’t even. That’s correct. I have lost my ability to even.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

The Cause of Truth

“A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.”

Does this sound like us?

These are the words of Alexander Hamilton as written in Federalist Paper No. 1. Mr. Hamilton is speaking of the Constitution and the divisiveness the arguments for and against its adoption might bring.

Heated political discourse is not new to this country. We’re living in a time of great political division, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not something to be worried about, but it is necessary to affirm a few key principles.

The utmost being that our founding documents, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, should guide our discussions. Our policy discussions should occur within this framework.

The second being that when possible, we look for and adhere to our founders’ intent when disagreements arise over legislative details. A great source for this are the Federalist Papers.

Hamilton writes: “My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.”

If our arguments are offered in a spirit that won’t disgrace the cause of truth, we have nothing to fear.

That’s my goal in this space: daily fact based analysis of the day’s happenings. Others may be louder or more bitter. We should focus on truth, civility, and persuasion.

This is the greatest country on the planet, this great experiment in self governance. Be proud to be an American.

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

ABC News

So I decided to try an experiment.

After reading several seemingly big news stories yesterday, I decided to watch a broadcast network evening newscast to see what actually is being covered.

First, the stories:

Circa.com ran a story this morning with the headline “Declassified memos show FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties”.

Sounds serious, doesn’t it?  

The story reads that under the Obama Administration, the FBI violated constitutional privacy protections hundreds of times and shared raw intelligence with unauthorized third parties.

These violations of the law also contradict then FBI Director James Comey’s Congressional testimony in which he explicitly stated such violations did not occur.

Circa reports: “The most serious involved the NSA searching for American data it was forbidden to search. But the FBI also was forced to admit its agents and analysts shared espionage data with prohibited third parties, ranging from a federal contractor to a private entity that did not have the legal right to see the intelligence.”

This report comes just two days after news that the NSA also violated intelligence gathering protocol and was reprimanded by a FISA court.

Headline: “Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years”.

In addition to these abuses of power, a third story seemingly worthy of evening news coverage was yet another attack on Christians in Egypt in which twenty-nine were killed.

(Where is the outrage?)

I was curious as to whether any of these stories are being reported, and I wanted to see what Americans are being told.

A quick google search revealed the highest rated broadcast newscast is currently ABC, so at 5:30 p.m. CDT, I tuned in…

…and was utterly disappointed.

Here is how the newscast broke down.

The lead story was about the Trump sons meeting with the FBI about hackers trying to infiltrate Trump tower as well as coverage on Jared Kushner and his alleged contacts with Russia. (three minutes)

Next came Trump’s foreign trip. (two minutes)

Then it was Hillary Clinton’s commencement address at Wellesley where she criticized President Trump. (two minutes)

The Hillary Clinton coverage was followed by nearly three minutes on travel conditions during the upcoming holiday weekend. 

Then a minute about a serial killer in Georgia.

Coverage of Ariana Grande’s decision to do a Manchester benefit concert. (two minutes)

Followed by a collection of miscellaneous stories:

Missing sailors near the Bahamas

A city bus hits a warehouse 

Police chase on airport tarmac

Controversy about John Glenn’s remains

A hot dog recall

And a story on their person of the week

And that’s it.

Not even a mention of any of the three stories above.

Your government spied on you for years and shared your information with unauthorized third parties, and a recall on hot dogs got more coverage on the country’s highest rated evening news broadcast.

The information isn’t even alleged. It didn’t come from anonymous sources. It came from declassified memos, and a police chase on an airport tarmac got more coverage.

Media bias is sometimes more apparent not in what is actually covered on the news but in what is left out.  In this case, Americans, at least those watching ABC, are not being told the whole story.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

Sean Hannity

A decision on whether to accept the validity of a story should be based on available facts, not on the number of individuals who believe the story or even the trust one places in certain individuals or media outlets who do not believe the story.

Additionally, all Americans should be free to discuss ideas openly without fear of consequences.  The manner in which we find truth is through the exchange and evaluation of ideas.

We’re losing this.

Sean Hannity is one of the last media members to discuss the Seth Rich story.  (Fox News has retracted its report, and a thorough review of the known facts can be  found here.)

Because of his stated desire for a truthful solution to the unsolved murder of the DNC staffer, Media Matters has called for a boycott of Hannity’s advertisers.

This is wrong.

I get it.  The insinuations are extremely serious, and a matter like this doesn’t need to be investigated in the media, but calling for a boycott because you don’t like the political position a host is taking on an opinion-based show violates the intellectual freedom that is such an important part of a democratic society.

Look at what happened to Ann Coulter a few weeks ago with UC Berkley. Invited to speak by a conservative group on campus, her speech was cancelled following the threat of violence by students opposed to her political views. 

The idea that it is somehow acceptable to silence a person because you don’t agree with them goes against the very foundations of our country.  

Most of our founding fathers adhered to the views expressed by the French philosopher, Voltaire. Evelyn Hall, as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs, wrote the following words in his biography, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death  your right to say it.”

One of the tenets of Fascism is the forcible suppression of opposition.  It’s ironic, is it not, that those advocating for the suppression of speech today mistakenly think they are doing so in the name of democracy?

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

Saudi Arabia

Today was a good day for the United States of America. Our President kicked off his first foreign trip with a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, based on the Fox News coverage, the country welcomed his visit. Billboards of our President with the Saudi king aligned his routes of travel. A reception was held in his honor.

In a subtle display of our human rights values, Mrs. Trump and Ivanka chose not to wear the headscarves worn by Saudi women. Years earlier, Mrs. Obama also chose not to do so and was criticized by Mr. Trump. Nevertheless, this was an important symbolic decision.

Shortly upon his arrival, President Trump announced and signed an agreement for $110 billion in arms sales to the Saudi country. The deal includes a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system for regional missile defense against threats from Iran. This is significant for American job creation and will make both the United States and Saudi Arabia safer as a result.

And that’s key.

But meanwhile…

MSNBC’s coverage of the day focused on the “scandals,” about which nothing more was known today than yesterday. It was less coverage of the events of the day and more discussion of previous days’ news, even though the facts have not changed. When Saudi Arabia was covered, the topics of discussion centered around Mr. Trump’s tweets from the campaign and prior and the hypocrisy of how they differ from his views today.

It’s hard to believe certain media outlets are not driving a political narrative rather than honestly covering the news and facts of the day when one watches coverage like this.

And on such a great day for the country nonetheless!

-John Anchor
@JohnAnchorBLOG

Journalistic Ethics

Is it plausible that people out to destroy the Trump presidency would plant false information under the protection of anonymity? 

If the answer is yes, think about the possibilities in terms of today’s news.

Is it plausible that members of the media ideologically opposed to the President might let this impact their decision making in regard to which stories to cover? 

About which sources are valid?

Or which stories to debunk?

It’s an issue of journalistic ethics.

It’s an issue of the truth.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand completely the need to protect confidential sources. 

That’s what makes it an issue of ethics. Journalists must also ensure their sources are providing them with truth.  The public trusts them to do so.

That has not happened this week.

On Tuesday, The New York Times ran a story based entirely on anonymous sources who claimed President Trump had attempted to influence the Michael Flynn investigation by “encouraging” FBI Director Comey to put an end to it.

This, however, contradicts Mr. Comey’s own testimony under oath to Congress in which he specifically stated no such activity had occurred.

What happened?

The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics includes four principles:

Seek Truth

Minimize Harm

Act Independently

Be Accountable and Transparent

We are living in an interesting era when it is as important as ever for journalists to adhere to these principles.  The reason is because there appears to be “sources” within the government who are doing the exact opposite of these four principles to “resist” the President’s agenda. 

In fact, it’s worse than that: They want impeachment. They are willing to lie to get it. They’re using the media to achieve their ends, and they’re doing it under the cloak of anonymity.

And they are getting away with it.

It’s more important than ever that, as Americans, we engage.  Follow current events.  Check facts. Stand for truth.  Test everything.

Hold on to truth and prioritize it above party and political persuasion.

Facts matter.

And it’s the right thing to do.

-John Anchor

@JohnAnchorBLOG

An Example of Fake News

This week, President Trump approaches the completion of his first hundred days in office.  Of course, the importance of this day is mostly negligible in terms of legislative accomplishments over the course of a four year term. The hundred day mark should mean more to political pundits than to the administration, something akin to sports commentators comparing football teams from different eras. 

The Media Research Center recently released a study comparing press coverage of the Trump Administration between January 20th and April 9th. Of 1,687 statements about the Trump Administration from non-partisan sources appearing on the ABC, CBS, or NBC evening news over this span, 1,501 were negative. That calculates to 89%. 

Newsbusters writes: “The networks largely ignored important national priorities such as jobs and the fight against ISIS, in favor of a news agenda that has been dominated by anti-Trump controversies…”

Then, this happens.

ABC ran story over the weekend with poll numbers about Trump’s first hundred days in which they said: “Majorities say Trump lacks the judgment and the temperament it takes to serve effectively. Six in 10 doubt his honesty and trustworthiness, see him as out of touch and don’t think he understands the problems of people like them. Fifty-six percent say he hasn’t accomplished much in his first 100 days. And 55 percent say he doesn’t follow a consistent set of principles in setting policy…All told, 42 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance as president, while 53 percent disapprove.”

Imagine that!  89% of what the American people have been told about President Trump’s job performance is negative. Should it surprise anyone that a majority of people polled disapprove of that same job performance?

President Trump has made a habit of labeling certain headlines “fake news”.  He has been criticized for this, but this is a case where it’s true. This is an example of the media creating the story they are purporting to cover. 

The collective media has the power to drive public discourse in America simply based on what they choose to cover – or what not to cover. These decisions should be grounded in more fact and a lot less rhetoric.  It’s the right thing to do. 

-John Anchor

Follow us on Twitter @JohnAnchorBLOG

References:

Media Coverage

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/rich-noyes/2017/04/18/honeymoon-hell-liberal-media-vs-president-trump

ABC Poll

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trump-100-days-honeymoon-regrets-poll/story?id=46943338