How Spin Works

The shortage of baby formula is no joke for young parents. The fact that pallets of formula are showing up at the southern border for illegal immigrants is an indication of how much those in Washington care about the welfare of average Americans. However, one interesting aspect of this crisis is the media’s attempt to keep the blame away from the Biden administration. On Saturday, John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line Blog detailing the media spin.

The article reports:

You can tell the Biden administration has badly bungled the infant formula situation when the best their shills at the Associated Press can do is play the “Republicans pounce” card: “GOP’s new midterm attack: Blaming Biden for formula shortage.”

Republicans aiming to retake control of Congress have already sharpened a message centering around blaming Democrats for high inflation, expensive gas, migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and violent crime in some cities.

But GOP leaders landed on an issue this week that it hopes could prove even more potent: tying President Joe Biden to a shortage in baby formula.
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Asked if his administration had responded as quickly as it should have, Biden said, ”If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could’ve. But we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent.”

But the defense by the White House illustrates how finger-pointing at the Biden administration has already spread far and wide among Republicans in Washington, on television and on social media. It’s a new issue for the GOP to hammer at and a way to address families at a time when Democrats believe outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court possibly ending the right to an abortion could galvanize women and other key voters, and thwart or at least lessen a Republican wave in November.

The AP takes up the cudgels for Joe Biden, describing the now-famous photo and video of stacks of formula containers at an illegal immigrant facility at the border:

The AP has not independently verified the photo’s authenticity or when exactly it was captured. Some conservative pundits and news outlets have since spun even greater tall tales from the photo…

“Spun even greater tall tales.” Remember that this is not an opinion piece, it purports to be news reporting.

…with some claiming that they show Biden is shipping “thousands” of pallets of baby formula to the border while parents in the U.S. struggle to find formula.

So how many pallets are there? The AP has no idea.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Border Patrol is “following the law” that requires the government to provide adequate food, specifically formula for children under the age of one, who are detained at the border.

GOP political consultants nonetheless call it a ready-made issue that resonates with voters.

Somehow I don’t think the spin is going to work on young American mothers trying to find formula for their babies.

Funding Our Enemies

On Saturday, The Associated Press reported:

President Joe Biden signed an order Friday to free $7 billion in Afghan assets now frozen in the U.S., splitting the money between humanitarian aid for poverty-stricken Afghanistan and a fund for Sept. 11 victims still seeking relief for the terror attacks that killed thousands and shocked the world.

No money would immediately be released. But Biden’s order calls for banks to provide $3.5 billion of the frozen amount to a trust fund for distribution through humanitarian groups for Afghan relief and basic needs. The other $3.5 billion would stay in the U.S. to finance payments from lawsuits by U.S. victims of terrorism that are still working their way through the courts.

International funding to Afghanistan was suspended and billions of dollars of the country’s assets abroad, mostly in the United States, were frozen after the Taliban took control of the country in August as the U.S. military withdrew.

The article concludes:

The United Nations last month issued an appeal for nearly $5 billion, its largest ever appeal for one country, estimating that nearly 90% of the country’s 38 million people were surviving below the poverty level of $1.90 a day. The U.N. also warned that upward of 1 million children risked starvation.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday night that it is “encouraged” by Biden’s executive order.

“”It’s also important to reiterate that humanitarian assistance alone will be insufficient to meet the tremendous needs of Afghan women and men and children over the long term, and it is critical that the Afghan economy is able to restart in order for these needs of the Afghan people to be met with a sustainable and meaningful manner,” Dujarric said.

David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, on Wednesday urged release of the funds to prevent famine.

“The humanitarian community did not choose the government, but that is no excuse to punish the people, and there is a middle course — to help the Afghan people without embracing the new government,” Miliband said at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the matter.

I hate to be cynical (but I’m good at it), but does anyone think that the money given to the Taliban will be used to improve the living conditions of the people living in Afghanistan? We only need to look at the Gaza Strip to see how humanitarian aid can be misused to buy weapons and build military infrastructure. All of that money should go to the victims of 9/11 and their families. Why are we funding terrorism?

When The Fact Checkers Are Not Paying Attention

Generally speaking, The New York Times has been immune from the fact checkers. Somehow they are willing to overlook the misinformation and ‘leaked from anonymous sources’ misinformation that The New York Times routinely prints. The latest example of this is a claim by the times that “there had been a “longstanding American policy treating the settlements as illegal” prior to Secretary of State Pompeo’s 2019 reversal of that purported policy. (“Mixed Signals on Israeli Annexation Reflect Split Among Officials,” June 22, 2020, David Halbfinger and Michael Crowley.) That is simply not true.

CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis) notes the following:

• Note that although President Carter took the position that settlements are illegal, this was quickly reversed by the Reagan administration, which held that settlements are “not illegal.” Subsequent administrations either reiterated Reagan’s view or refrained from taking a position on legality.

• Note that the New York Times itself repeatedly reported on Reagan’s view that settlements aren’t illegal, and in the past several years has twice published corrections after wrongly suggesting the U.S. had consistently viewed settlements as illegal.

• Just as those corrections were appropriate, so too is it necessary to correct last week’s piece by Halbfinger and Crowley.

• Note that memos by past legal advisors in the State Department archive are advisory, and do not set policy or bind subsequent U.S. presidents. While Carter administration legal advisor Herbert Hansell believed settlements were illegal, the Reagan administration rejected that view.

CAMERA further notes:

To be fair, the Times isn’t the first to make this mistake. In October 2016, the Washington Post corrected its claim that the U.S. regarded settlements as illegal. A month later, the Associated Press corrected the same claim. The following month, The Times (UK) corrected, as did ABC News and the Times of Israel. In 2018, the Times of Israel corrected again. The Financial Times corrected this same error in November 2019. And two days later the Economist ran a correction of its own.

Even the New York Times itself has, in the past, corrected this false claim. After a March 2017 editorial asserted that the U.S. “has consistently held that settlement building in the occupied territories is illegal,” a correction clarified, “An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated the United States’ position on settlement building in the occupied territories. It has been highly critical of the activity, but has not consistent [sic] held it to be illegal.”

From the news side, an August 8, 2013 correction in the NY Times likewise acknowledged that “the United States has taken no formal position in the last several years on whether [settlements] are legal or illegal.”

Unless those corrections were themselves in error, last week’s claim about a “longstanding” policy that settlements are illegal (and a similar claim last November by the same reporter, David Halbfinger) can’t be true.

This sort of reporting by The New York Times might help explain why much of the Jewish vote (generally readers of The New York Times) is misinformed on America’s policy toward Israel and the value of Israel in the world community.

I Question The Wisdom Of This Decision

Yesterday The Gateway Pundit reported that Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak (D) issued an emergency order barring the use of anti-malaria drugs such as chloroquine for Coronavirus patients. This seems very odd to me as those drugs have had some success in curing the disease.

The article includes information from the Associated Press (with emphasis added by The Gateway Pundit):

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s governor on Tuesday night issued an emergency order banning gatherings of more than 10 people in the state indoors or outdoors, a more aggressive move to try to stop the spread of the coronavrius.

Sisolak said the order does not apply to private homes or the homeless, but includes places like social clubs, parks, libraries and sports fields.

Sisolak signed an emergency order earlier Tuesday barring the use of anti-malaria drugs for someone who has the coronavirus. The order restricting chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine came after President Donald Trump touted the medication as a treatment and falsely stated that the Food and Drug Administration had just approved the use of chloroquine to treat patients infected with coronavirus. Sisolak said in a statement that there’s no consensus among experts or Nevada doctors that the drugs can treat people with COVID-19.

I believe President Trump said that the drug had been previously approved for use as a malaria treatment and was showing promise as a treatment for coronavirus (when combined with azithromycin). We may actually have some test results on the use of these drugs by the end of this week. So far there is valid anecdotal evidence that the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin will slow the progression of the coronavirus and shorten the time a person has the virus.

I think if I contracted the virus in Nevada, I would leave the state quickly in case the virus got worse–I would want to have all options available to me in case I got really ill.

The Problem With Red Flag Laws

Yesterday Hot Air posted an article about Florida’s Red Flag Law. Please follow the link to read the entire article. Based on what has happened since the law was passed, some of Florida’s counties were awash with crazy people and other counties had a totally sane population. I doubt either is entirely true.

The article reports:

Florida enacted its red flag law in the spring of 2018 and they didn’t lose any time in putting it to use. And I mean a lot of use. But as this report from the Associated Press indicates, use of the law is not consistent from county to county and there are serious questions remaining as to how fairly it’s being applied.

That is the problem with Red Flag Laws–they deny a citizen due process and they are arbitrary in the sense that an unhappy neighbor can file a complaint without a truly good reason.

The article continues:

The first thing I would point out here is that the AP article was edited to have a rather disingenuous title. It reads “In 2 years, Florida ‘red flag’ law removes hundreds of guns.” While that’s technically true, the actual number is more than 3,500, so “thousands of guns” would have been a more accurate description.

The article concludes:

Here’s one other hole in the state’s red flag law that has many people concerned. These red flag hearings are not considered criminal proceedings so you aren’t entitled to a lawyer assigned by the court. If you’re too poor to afford a good attorney, your chances of prevailing at the hearing go way down. With all that in mind, how many of these “success” stories about gun confiscations were actually brought by people with an ax to grind against their neighbor or angry ex-wives and girlfriends? Once the judge makes the decision to confiscate your weapons, that’s pretty much it. You’re allowed to appeal, but again, if you don’t have a good lawyer what chance do you have?

I’ve been on the fence about these red flag laws since they first started cropping up. In extreme cases like the ones I mentioned at the top, I can definitely see firearms removal as being justifiable. But the system is also open to abuse and there appear to be few safeguards in place for the wrongly accused.

How Do You Reconcile This?

The Associated Press posted an article today about a recent fund raiser held by Kamala Harris. The fund raiser was hosted by was hosted by six partners of the law firm Kirkland and Ellis.

The article reports:

Kamala Harris bemoaned the influence of the powerful and connected elite last Tuesday when she called on top Justice Department officials to recuse themselves from any matter related to Jeffrey Epstein. She said their former law firm’s work on behalf of the financier accused of sexual abuse “calls into question the integrity of our legal system.”

Yet the same day, Harris’ husband headlined a Chicago fundraiser for her presidential campaign that was hosted by six partners of that firm — Kirkland and Ellis, according to an invitation obtained by The Associated Press.

…”If any connection with Kirkland and Ellis is a stain on (senior Justice Department officials), why isn’t a connection with the law firm for the receipt of campaign contributions a stain on her own campaign?” said Paul S. Ryan, an attorney for the good-government group Common Cause.

Ian Sams, a Harris spokesman, said there wasn’t a problem with accepting the campaign contributions because the firm is big and the partners who hosted the fundraiser didn’t work on Epstein’s plea agreement.

“The people involved in that case have not supported her campaign, and she wouldn’t want that support anyway,” Sams said.

This explanation represents some of the best doublespeak I have heard recently.

July 4th On The Mall

The Associated Press posted this picture of the Independence Day celebration in Washington, D.C., yesterday. I want to give them credit for the picture. The article was the usual biased junk from the mainstream media.

I watched the President’s speech. It was inspiring. Our military deserves to be saluted every day of every year. Their courage and steadfastness is what has allowed this country to remain strong. The event was played on C-SPAN last night. Hopefully they will air it again.

The Appropriate Response And The Slanting Of The Story

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line Blog about the warfare of the future. In the article Mr. Hinderaker mentions that according to The New York Times, Russia and China are working on the technology of hypersonic weapons. These weapons would render our missile defense systems useless.

The article also mentions President Trump’s response to the Iranian attacks on oil tankers:

Cyber warfare is almost old hat by comparison. The Associated Press (AP) says that President Trump ordered cyber attacks on Iran in place of actual bombings:

U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.

The article then illustrates how the Associated Press can spin a story by quoting the AP’s reporting on the President’s response:

“This is not a remote war (anymore),” said Sergio Caltagirone, vice president of threat intelligence at Dragos Inc. “This is one where Iranians could quote unquote bring the war home to the United States.”

Caltagirone said as nations increase their abilities to engage offensively in cyberspace, the ability of the United States to pick a fight internationally and have that fight stay out of the United States physically is increasingly reduced.

Note that the AP accuses the United States of picking a fight internationally.

The article concludes:

Did the U.S. pick a fight here? I thought Iran did that, by bombing tankers in international waters and shooting down an American drone. But for the AP, like many other American liberals, anything other than Obama-style supine acquiescence constitutes picking a fight.

Well said, sir.

Failed Parenting

One of the most important things a parent can do is lead by example. Any time a parent does something that is not above board, it is a pretty good bet that their child will learn that it is okay to take shortcuts that may not be entirely honest. Unfortunately there seems to be a group of parents that despite their success has not yet figured this out.

The Associated Press is reporting today that federal authorities have charged a number of wealthy and famous people with falsifying information to make sure their children got into their schools of choice. I understand the desire of any parent to provide the best education possible for their children, but this scheme definitely stepped over the line.

The article reports:

Fifty people, including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation’s most elite schools.

Federal authorities called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, with the parents accused of paying an estimated $25 million in bribes.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the results of an investigation code-named Operation Varsity Blues.

…At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance or business, were among those charged. Dozens, including Huffman, were arrested by midday.

The coaches worked at such schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. A former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.

The article continues:

The bribes allegedly were dispensed through an admissions consulting company in Newport Beach, California. Authorities said parents paid William Singer, the founder of the Edge College & Career Network, the bribe money to get their children into college.

Prosecutors said Singer was scheduled to plead guilty in Boston Tuesday to charges including racketeering conspiracy. John Vandemoer, the former head sailing coach at Stanford, was also expected to plead guilty.

Colleges moved quickly to discipline the coaches accused. Stanford fired Vandemoer, UCLA suspended its soccer coach, and Wake Forest did the same with its volleyball coach.

Several schools, including USC and Yale, said they were victims themselves of the scam. USC also said it is reviewing its admissions process to prevent further such abuses.

This is a sad commentary on where we are as a society. Obviously some parents want to take the guess work out of college admissions. What is the lesson they are teaching their children? I wonder exactly how much of these scheme the children involved were aware of. Certainly if a child is recruited for a sport he has no knowledge of, he might notice that something is amiss. I hope the penalties for the parents are severe. As much as I can sympathize with the stress of getting children into good colleges (all three of my daughters are college graduates, two have advanced degrees), what these parents did is inexcusable–first of all because it is patently dishonest and second of all because of the example it sets for the students.

Manipulated By The Department Of Justice And The Press

Little by little emails are being released that reveal how the government used its power to interfere in the 2016 election to make sure that Hillary Clinton won. I guess that is another example of the basic effectiveness of our government agencies. However, the actions taken by the government were illegal. Those actions have somehow escaped the investigative skills of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Yesterday Sara Carter posted an article about some recently discovered emails that provide further insight into what was going on during the Presidential campaign.

The article reports:

Newly released text messages and documents obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reveal that senior members of the FBI and Department of Justice led a coordinated effort to leak unverified information to the press regarding alleged collusion with Russia to damage President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a letter sent by the committee to the DOJ Monday.

The review of the documents suggests that the FBI and DOJ coordinated efforts to get information to the press that would potentially be “harmful to President Trump’s administration.” Those leaks pertained to information regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant used to spy on short-term campaign volunteer Carter Page.

The letter lists several examples:

  • April 10, 2017: (former FBI Special Agent) Peter Strzok contacts (former FBI Attorney) Lisa Page to discuss a “media leak strategy.” Specifically, the text says: “I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about media leak strategy with DOJ before you go.”
  • April 12, 2017: Peter Strzok congratulates Lisa Page on a job well done while referring to two derogatory articles about Carter Page. In the text, Strzok warns Page two articles are coming out, one which is “worse” than the other about Lisa’s “namesake”.” Strzok added: “Well done, Page.”

The letter notes the troubling nature of the text messages. Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions after a scathing report from the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation charging McCabe with lying to investigators and leaking to the press. Last week, the DOJ announced that McCabe is currently under a grand jury investigation.

The article concludes:

In March this news outlet also revealed that Weissmann, a top prosecutor on the Mueller team, had met with reporters from the Associated Press in April 2017 just one day before their explosive story on Paul Manafort’s dealings with Ukraine officials.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, the reporters had promised to share documents and other information gleaned from their own investigation with the Justice Department.

AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton told this news outlet, “we refrain from discussing our sources.”

“Associated Press journalists meet with a range of people in the course of reporting stories, and we refrain from discussing relationships with sources. However, the suggestion that AP would voluntarily serve as the source of information for a government agency is categorically untrue,” added Easton.

At the time of the meeting, Weissmann was head of the Justice Department’s fraud division. He was the most senior member of the Justice Department to join the special counsel in May.

The AP meeting arranged by Weissmann came to light in a letter sent to Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, late last year, requesting specific FBI and DOJ documentation related to the controversial Fusion GPS dossier that alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

That meeting with the AP was attended by three different litigating offices. Two employees from the U.S. Justice Department and the other representative was from the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to the sources. FBI agents also attended the meeting, law enforcement sources confirmed.

According to sources, the FBI agents in attendance filed a complaint about Weissmann and the meeting with the DOJ fearing his arrangement of such a meeting would hurt the investigation.

Laws were broken, government agencies were involved in politics, and people need to be held accountable. It’s time for justice to replace the clown show that is Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

A Lie Goes Halfway Around The World Before The Truth Gets His Boots On

This is a story about how the media got it wrong. I don’t believe that they intentionally got it wrong, I think they were just in a hurry to be first with a story. That can be risky.

On February 16th, Politico posted an article about the history of the claim that Nikolas Cruz was associated with white supremacist groups. Since the charge of racism or white supremacy is very popular now, I suppose it’s not a surprise that this charge was levied against this deeply troubled young man. It’s easier to blame racism than it is to blame the Promise Program (article here) which prevented the gun shop owner from knowing Nikolas Cruz should never have been allowed to buy a gun. I don’t know if Nikolas Cruz would have been able to get a gun illegally or not, but at least if his information had been included in a background check, it would have slowed him down a little. At any rate, the media decided he was a white supremacist.

The article explains how that happened:

On Thursday afternoon, the Anti-Defamation League reported that a white supremacist group claimed ties with Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to the shooting spree that killed at least 17 people, including many high-school students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) told the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, February 15, that Nikolas Cruz [….] was associated with his group,” the ADL reported. The ADL quoted a man named Jordan Jereb, who runs the small group, which is based in Tallahassee.

“Jereb added that ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting,” the ADL wrote in a blog post that was quickly picked up by ABC News and The Associated Press, and later percolated through dozens of other media outlets. Even The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, picked up the claim.

…But a few hours later, after law enforcement agencies said they had no evidence linking Cruz to ROF, Jereb said his identification of Cruz was a “misunderstanding” and that he, too, had been the subject of a “prank.” On online forums and Twitter, trolls and white nationalists gloated at the disinformation they had sowed.

“All of our evidence seems to point to the ADL getting this wrong,” said Joan Donovan, a researcher who tracks online misinformation campaigns for Data & Society, a think tank in New York City.

The ADL subsequently revised its report, as did many news outlets.

The saga continues:

In posts to Gab, a social-networking site used by many in the alt-right, early Friday morning, one user said the Discord group “spent around 18 hours orchestrating, contacting ABC, being interviewed by reporters, etc.”

Members swapped links to articles that identified Cruz as a member of ROF, celebrating each story and keeping a tally of media interview attempts.

“ABC messaged me. Asked to use my name in this article,” wrote one user.

“This is spreading like wildfire,” wrote another user, “Renegade,” after someone in the chat shared a link to the ADL blog post.

“All it takes is a single article,” the first user wrote back. “And everyone else picks up the story.”

ABC News reported that its reporters spoke with three “former schoolmates” of Cruz, but did not indicate whether these communications were over social media. A spokesperson for ABC News declined to comment on how its reporters vetted the identities of these purported acquaintances.

For its part, an AP spokesperson said, “AP spoke with the leader of Republic of Florida, who said Cruz was a member of his group and had participated in exercises in Tallahassee. In the course of continued reporting, police and other groups were not able to confirm Cruz’s association with the white nationalist militia, and that is what is reflected on the wire.”

Others in the Discord chat said they were contacted by a reporter from The New York Times.

At some point, the trolls started a “confessional” 4chan thread dedicated to convincing readers that Cruz had been a member of ROF. The ADL confirmed this 4chan post was the one that led to their blog post.

The people behind the disinformation campaign were very proud of themselves. The article reports:

By Thursday evening, 4chan users were celebrating their efforts, posting screenshots of their communications with reporters and faux posts pretending to be ROF members.

“[T]hey are so hungry for a story that they’ll just believe anything as long as its corroborated by a few people and seems legit,” wrote the creator of one 4chan thread.

Donovan, the disinformation researcher, said reporters need to be more vigilant against these kinds of campaigns, which are going to get only more common and more sophisticated.

“We have to start thinking of these white nationalist groups as what some of them describe themselves — ‘media militias,’” said Donovan. “They think of media as adversarial territory.”

The internet can be a dangerous place for truth.