What's driving the narrative? Is it fake news, PR stunts, real legal arguments?


Responses to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony is heated from the Right-Wing Media and others. Lots of take-downs…


Mocking…T is mocking Dr. Ford.

He’s rallying his base, he’s spouting misogynist themes…and all armored as President of the United States



Regarding the term ‘mocking.’ and what it means with regard to what T’s demeanor tonight.


Ari Fleischer Retweeted NBC News

He didn’t mock Professor Ford. He pointed out many of the inconsistencies in her account - something the MSM won’t do, because they’re too invested in attacking Brett Kavanaugh. If the press were balanced, they would have raised the same issues Pres. Trump raised here.

All things Kavanaugh - updates and background

Crafting messages which are impersonating the Iranian president - What is the new norm or threshold for false advertising?



Seeing headlines AND Photos like the one (top) from Breitbart’s Drudge Report, showing a really hostile population at each other’s throats over the political debate is alarming.

The article it is referencing from Axios (it’s photo has one person in Red and one in Blue) has to do with how much more explosive and radical (extreme right or left thinking) our nation has become from the split media fronts (MSM vs Fox), from social media, and from the amount of protesting going on.

The word RADICAL is indeed divisive…it is meant to be. We are learning that nothing has invigorated the Right more than with the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. The left is holding ‘kegger confirmation’ parties in front of McConnell’s office, knocking on the Supreme Courts doors. Protest is not any more or less RADICAL, but it does show that people are very angry and are taking to the streets to demonstrate this.

I realize Breitbart’s DRUDGE report is one of the useful tools that the Right uses to ingnite’s their base’s anger. It means to stir people up, and it will. So will words like ‘socialized medicine,’ aka ACA-Obamacare, and ‘entitlement programs.’

But this is a country deeply divided…and stirring up crazy imagery and finding ways to be angry is not a solid solution to reaching any sort of sense of consensus.

I am using this as an example of plotting one side against the other…

At the bottom, I am also including Doris Kearns Goodwin’s (Historian/writer) take on other times in history where we have been deeply divided as a country. It is worth watching to understand how we have weathered other deeply despairing moments in our history.

It’s going to get worse. Virtually every major American institution is being radicalized — or being reshaped by the radicalization of our public lives.

You see this most vividly in politics, where the White House and Congress are often the cause and effect of the radicalization. You now see it in the courts and the Supreme Court, in particular, where a narrow, party-line vote made Brett Kavanaugh the next justice after a nasty, personal political brawl. Already, lawyer Michael Avenatti is calling for a new Democratic litmus test: increasing the size of the court to 11 from nine.

Thanks to the Kavanaugh fight and the Merrick Garland shenanigans before it, there are three new fair-game realities: 1) The parties feel free to delay nominations a year-plus if necessary. 2) High school actions are “fair game.” 3) Partisan-line votes for the Supreme Court are fine.
Watch for court fights to surpass congressional races in terms of partisanship.

You see this in the traditional media, where the cable news networks are racking up record ratings around the sideshow of politics. Reporters, who previously kept their personal views private, suddenly pick sides on Twitter.

Since the president’s election, reporters on both sides of the political aisle, and from markets big and small, have shown less restraint on social media when it comes to their personal political viewpoints.
Just this past week, a Minnesota journalist was fired from a local NBC station for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat while covering Trump rally. A longtime Palm Springs anchor was forced to resign after defending Kavanaugh from sexual assault allegations. The New York Times conceded it made a mistake when the news story about a Kavanaugh bar fight at Yale was co-bylined by a writer who had tweeted her disapproval of the nomination.
Since Trump was elected, by our colleague Sara Fischer’s count, nearly a dozen reporters have either been fired or lost their jobs for incendiary social media posts, mostly all of them over politically-charged subjects.

You see this on social media, especially Facebook, where the algorithm pumps endless partisan, emotional garbage into our faces all day, every day. People then jump to Twitter to duke it out.

Sara has the data: A new study of hyper-partisan publishers, from social media analytics company NewsWhip, finds that the top Facebook Pages for mainstream political content were Fox News and Occupy Democrats, by a considerable distance. Both publishers have driven nearly 100 million engagements on their Facebook-native content for 2018 so far.
On Facebook, the N.Y. Times’ Kevin Roose points out, many of the most engaged with posts on Facebook around Kavanaugh come from fringe, alt-right websites.
On Twitter, a new study out last week found that more than 80% of accounts that were exposed as fake in 2016 are still active on the platform. (Twitter says the data the authors retrieved may not have reflected what the users actually see.)

Tragedy is quickly radicalized:

Traumatic school shootings reignite a red-hot gun control debate.
Deadly fires and storms stir emotion at first, then spark climate-change arguments.

Even normal, trivial, pass-the-popcorn stuff gets radicalized:

TV shows (“Roseanne”), sports (kneeling at NFL games), award shows (Robert De Niro’s “F—- Trump” intro at the Tony Awards), eating out (Republican officials heckled in D.C. restaurants).

Be smart … All the incentives on social media and in politics favor the radical: If you want clicks, viewers, donors, followers, retweets or votes, there’s no market for moderation or the middle.

Radical rules.
You might not have started the fire, but you’re surely living in it.


Incendiary messaging in order to Radicalize the right.


You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law - not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!

And Rep Adam Schiff’s response


You attack prosecutors at DOJ.

Fire your FBI Director and threaten your own Attorney General.

Call an investigation that has led to the conviction of five of your associates a “witch hunt.” Repeatedly.

And now you claim to believe in the rule of law.

Nobody buys it. https://t.co/x7c5dxapNZ

News Feed FYI: Helping Ensure News on Facebook Is From Trusted Sources

From Axios - Check out where you can go for more trusted areas of journalism, checks on facts on Social Media etc… I have included some direct links to the top ones mentioned, but there are links to them within the article listed below.

Dozens of new initiatives have launched over the past few years to address fake news and the erosion of faith in the media, creating a measurement problem of its own.

Why it matters: So many new efforts are launching simultaneously to solve the same problem that it’s become difficult to track which ones do what and which ones are partnering with each other.

To name a few:

The Trust Project, which is made up of dozens of global news companies, announced this morning that the number of journalism organizations using the global network’s “Trust Indicators” now totals 200, making it one of the larger global initiatives to combat fake news. Some of these groups (like NewsGuard) work with Trust Project and are a part of it.


News Integrity Initiative (Facebook, Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Ford Foundation, Democracy Fund, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Tow Foundation, AppNexus, Mozilla and Betaworks)

NewsGuard (Longtime journalists and media entrepreneurs Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz)


The Journalism Trust Initiative (Reporters Without Borders, and Agence France Presse, the European Broadcasting Union and the Global Editors Network)

**Internews** (Longtime international non-profit)

Accountability Journalism Program (American Press Institute)


Trusting News (Reynolds Journalism Institute)

Media Manipulation Initiative (Data & Society)

Deepnews.ai (Frédéric Filloux)

Trust & News Initiative (Knight Foundation, Facebook and Craig Newmark in. affiliation with Duke University)

Our.News (Independently run)

WikiTribune (Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales)

There are also dozens of fact-checking efforts being championed by different third-parties, as well as efforts being built around blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Between the lines: Most of these efforts include some sort of mechanism for allowing readers to physically discern real journalism from fake news via some sort of badge or watermark, but that presents problems as well.

Attempts to flag or call out news as being real and valid have in the past been rejected even further by those who wish to discredit vetted media.

For example, Facebook said in December that it will no longer use “Disputed Flags” — red flags next to fake news articles — to identify fake news for users, because it found that “putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs – the opposite effect to what we intended.”

The big picture: Data from Gallup shows that confidence in media as an institution is at an all-time low, and both the media and the current political climate are probably to blame.

Some reporters have become less objective at their jobs. By my count, nearly a dozen journalists have lost their jobs over bad social media posts, most politically charged.

On the other hand, undermining the credibility of the media has been a long-term political strategy for President Trump and the far right.
From Axios

The erosion in trust in the media mimics the erosion of trust in most other American institutions — like the Catholic Church, Supreme Court and public schools.

The bottom line: These efforts are valiant, and are most certainly helping to hold the ecosystem accountable for transparent journalism. But the field is so crowded right now it’s hard to see who is making progress.


Comments coming from the press about how the President’s rallies haven’t been carried live by the press of late, but when Kayne comes in, a lot of live coverage.

Wow…lots of ranting.


At a rally on Wednesday night, President Trump accused Hillary Clinton of conspiring with Russia to try to swing the 2016 election. “There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats, and Russia,” Trump said, adding that there was “a lot” of such “collusion.” As always, the crowd chanted: “Lock her up!”

This claim is based on an absurd and convoluted theory about the genesis of the Russia investigation that has been flatly debunked as a massive lie. But here is how NBC News’s Twitter feed treated it:


Incredibly, even though Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading statements as president, major news organizations’ social media feeds continue to inject his unadulterated lies into the political bloodstream without clearly informing readers that they are just that — lies.

Yes, NBC’s story on this new lie did say it’s “evidence free.” But the fact that the social media feeds themselves are regularly awash in Trumpian falsehoods represents a serious institutional failing. As Brian Beutler notes, this “should be the easiest problem in the world to solve,” but instead, we’re getting “abject professional failure after abject professional failure.”


Disturbing trend here in our very polarized and gullible country.

NYTimes: Made and Distributed in the U.S.A.: Online Disinformation

SAN FRANCISCO — When Christine Blasey Ford testified before Congress last month about Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault, a website called Right Wing News sprang into action on Facebook.

The conservative site, run by the blogger John Hawkins, had created a series of Facebook pages and accounts over the last year under many names, according to Facebook.

After Dr. Blasey testified, Right Wing News posted several false stories about her — including the suggestion that her lawyers were being bribed by Democrats — and then used the network of Facebook pages and accounts to share the pieces so that they proliferated online quickly, social media researchers said.

The result was a real-time spreading of disinformation started by Americans, for Americans.



Making projections via polls who may or may not be leading in the various Senate/House and Gubernatorial races from a NYT’s poll.

You of course have to consider if trolls are involved in any of these numbers…but perhaps these numbers do reflect some trends.

Check out the charts…see if these ring true.

Who’s Winning the Social Media Midterms?


After President Trump’s popularity on social media helped propel him to an upset victory in 2016, Democrats vowed to catch up.

Two years later, their efforts appear to be paying off.

A New York Times analysis of data from the Facebook and Instagram accounts of hundreds of candidates in next month’s midterm elections reveals that Democrats — and especially Democrats running for House seats — enjoy a sizable national lead in engagement on the two influential platforms.

But the analysis of the engagement data, which includes all non-advertising content, also shows that Republicans in many closely contested races for Senate and governor are faring better on Facebook than their Democratic challengers.

The data, collected from more than 53,000 posts by more than 1,100 accounts, reflects a month’s worth of social media activity by nearly all of the Republican and Democratic candidates running for House, Senate or governor this year. The data, which covers 30 days ending Oct. 15, was gathered using a Facebook-owned tool called CrowdTangle. The tool counts the number of times users comment on, react to or share a user’s posts, a measure of popularity known as “total interactions.”

The National Story: A Democratic Boom

At the national level, Democrats on Facebook and Instagram appear to be winning the battle for social media supremacy in a landslide.

The Democrats’ Superstar Problem

Democrats’ national success on social media may not translate to the “blue wave” many liberals are hoping for in November.

That’s because much of the left’s firepower is concentrated among a few of its high-profile candidates — namely, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and the Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who has more than 600,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter and more than 250,000 on Instagram.

** In Close Races, Some Republicans**
Are Surging on Facebook

Of course, not all midterm races matter equally.

The social media activity in races rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report, an independent election analyst, mirrors many recent polls, which show a slight edge for Republicans in the Senate and an edge for Democrats in the House.

In five of the nine toss-up Senate races, Republicans received more interactions on Facebook than Democrats.

What’s a “Like” Worth?

Political strategists disagree about the importance of social media popularity. Some think it amounts to a kind of real-time voter sentiment index, while others play it down as, at most, one piece of a successful campaign.

“Retweets don’t vote,” Mr. Strauss of Swing Left said. “All of this social engagement is really just a proxy for the results that matter, which is what happens at the polls on Nov. 6.”

For Republicans who are worried about a wave of progressive enthusiasm sweeping Democrats to victory, though, the data from swing district social media accounts may be comforting.

“The Democrats are constantly saying, ‘Oh, there’s this huge sea of angry Democratic voters and they’re ready to erupt,’” said Rory McShane, a Republican digital strategist. “There’s just as much, if not more, enthusiasm on the Republican side, and that’s seen by how much these people are doing online.”


From CNN’s Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Media” newsletter

Thanks, Rush!

On Wednesday’s “Rush Limbaugh Show,” Rush re-aired part of my Sunday monologue about Trump being “the country’s biggest promoter of misinformation.” I said that access to POTUS is valuable, but “with Trump, the downside of that access is that he’s saying so much stuff that’s untrue that it sows confusion and division.” Rush proceeded to call me “little Brian,” but hey, hopefully I got through to some of his listeners…

The point remains the same: By saturating the airwaves and filling up reporters’ notebooks, Trump is spreading a whole lot of B.S. "He has polluted our information ecosystem," David Zurawik said on Sunday’s show. "Trump can go on TV and say something incredibly stupid, something that’s horrible in terms of foreign relations, and it almost does not matter, because he is on to the next thing talking about it, and we are always chasing him."

FLASHBACK: Gary Kasparov tweeted in December 2016: "The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth."



Q & A with Jill Abramson, former editor/NYT and Jane Mayer, writer New Yorker answer a wide range of questions covering the press, Kavanaugh hearings, dark money, impact of social media filters…interesting read.

GAZETTE: At the same time, you say it’s a golden age for investigative journalism. Jill, what are you telling your students about where the press is at right now?

abramson: I explain to them the whole concept of filter bubbles and how Facebook has become such a dominant source of news for people and the algorithm has intensified polarization, so you no longer have a common base of accepted information. You have a big, right-wing architecture of media on one side and the unfortunate thing is, because the legitimate, fact-based, truth-based news media hasn’t stood up for itself forcefully enough, we’ve been caricatured as the left-wing opposite, which we are not.

GAZETTE: You’ve both written extensively about money in politics. Jane’s 2016 book, “Dark Money,” was a deep look at the Koch brothers and how they’ve used their fortune to build a network of right-wing influence that touches every aspect of conservative politics. The reporting on the Mueller investigation, especially the prosecutions of Paul Manafort and deputy Rick Gates, has revealed how many others follow the Koch template. Has it gotten worse since you started reporting on this or is the public just starting to learn how common this practice is?

mayer: I think it’s gotten much worse and much more pervasive. There’s just been an absolute explosion of dark money and phony philanthropies that are really political operations masquerading as philanthropy. There’s so many ways now to hide money and so many tricks and so little enforcement, either from the FEC [Federal Election Commission] or the IRS. It’s a plague in politics right now.

abramson: It’s grown and it’s grown dramatically since the Citizens United decision. So the public is now denied knowing who’s giving the really big money, and there are more of these highly partisan interest groups working now than ever before. Some of the Kavanaugh supporters complained about anti-Kavanaugh ads, but what I mostly saw were ads galore from a group called the Judicial Crisis Network, and we don’t know whose money is behind that. That’s unhealthy for democracy.

GAZETTE: Is it more prevalent on the right or the left?

mayer: It’s hard to know because it’s hard to get enough hard data about where dark money is because it’s basically designed not to be able to be followed. But political corruption and dark money is a bipartisan problem. It exists on both sides, for sure. One difference is the Democratic party, at least, has tried to clamp down on it and tried to pass legislation that would make campaign spending more transparent and tried to limit the amount of money in politics, and the Republican Party has taken the opposite position.

abramson: What cable TV and TV news are feasting off of, in terms of getting advertising and big ratings, is partisan political argument and fighting. That’s unfortunately what seems to be addicting viewers. And the Kavanaugh storyline fit into that beautifully. [The Times story] got some of the attention, but the fact that none of the Sunday shows focused on it is disappointing. It was fabulous work.


More from Brian Stelter, “Reliable Media” CNN - a newsletter with all sorts of reporting on the challenges of finding truth in all media.

Is Silicon Valley becoming more transparent with reporters?

Donie O’Sullivan emails with a hopeful note: A CNN investigation found a network of fake Facebook pages targeting Women’s March activists. CNN story link The pages were run from Bangladesh.

Often when reporters bring evidence of abuse on social media platforms to the companies’ attention, the company removes the accounts and won’t tell us why.

But this time Facebook kept us up to date on their internal investigation – which had some Facebook staffers work long hours over the weekend

Twitter releases an archive of troll tweets

More from Donie: Twitter just released 300 gigabytes of tweets Twitter link page sent by the Russian government-linked trolls that caused chaos online in the run-up to the 2016 election.

But let’s not get too excited – independent researchers and the press gathered most of these tweets long before Twitter decided to be transparent…


(M A Croft) #81
The point remains the same: By saturating the airwaves and filling up reporters’ notebooks, Trump is spreading a whole lot of B.S. "He has polluted our information ecosystem," David Zurawik said on Sunday’s show. "Trump can go on TV and say something incredibly stupid, something that’s horrible in terms of foreign relations, and it almost does not matter, because he is on to the next thing talking about it, and we are always chasing him.

It’s called the Gish Gallop form of “argument”
and it seems to be the only form of argument he knows.


Interesting…and exactly right! @macro

Gish Gallop is basically baiting your opponent to refute your argument/deceit. It illustrates how the ideas have to spin back to the proponent of it…and never giving a chance to the opponent to start their own thread.


It’s called the “Gish Gallop” method. Named after biochemist-slash-creationist Duane Gish who mastered it during the evolution debates of the 1980s and 1990s, the Gish Gallop method involves putting your opponent in the awkward position of having to refute everything you say. Otherwise known among expert debaters as “spreading,” the Gallop tactic capitalizes on mankind’s imperfect reasoning abilities by dispersing several false claims, Quartz reports. The responsibility to disprove all of those falsehoods falls on the liar’s opponent, which takes momentum away from their own argument and places all of the focus on upholding facts. Failing to disprove just one of those lies renders the truth-seeker’s argument essentially worthless even if they’ve proven dozens of other claims to be false.

But at its most basic level, the Gish Gallop method comes down to time. For instance, it takes one sentence to claim Trump has no business conflicts, but how much research and thoughtful reporting does it take to prove that he does? By the time you’re done reading a story about his entanglements, Trump has likely already rattled off a dozen other lies that all need disproving. It’s easy to see how reporters and readers alike can get overwhelmed.


The media helps Trump tremendously with its coverage. He knows it and plays them like an instrument.


T’s constant tirades on the media and his ‘gross distortions,’ of the facts has in fact been effective for his base. By keeping on counter-punching, and creating a false narrative that journalists (the MSM Media) are responsible for the violent and political unease is T’s underlying strategy. It brings out the worst in his base.

“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics,” he wrote in a 10:19 a.m. post on Friday.

By referring to likely domestic terrorism as “this ‘Bomb’ stuff” and tying it to the coming midterm elections, Mr. Trump was making the not-so-veiled suggestion that the news media was exaggerating the story because of some political motivation. Even in a national crisis, he was sticking with his anti-media strategy.

The question is, Is it working?

The short answer is yes. Increasingly, the president’s almost daily attacks seem to be delivering the desired effect, despite the many examples of powerful reporting on his presidency. By one measure, a CBS News poll over the summer, 91 percent of “strong Trump supporters” trust him to provide accurate information; 11 percent said the same about the news media.

Mr. Trump was open about the tactic in a 2016 conversation with Lesley Stahl of CBS News, which she shared earlier this year: “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,” she quoted him as saying.

And with the president settling on “fear and falsehoods” as an election strategy, as The Washington Post put it last week, the political information system is awash in more misleading or flatly wrong assertions than reporters can keep up with. It’s as if President Trump has hit the journalism industry with a denial-of-service attack.


Elena Khusyaynova, the alleged financier of a Russian disinformation effort, viav USA Really is yet another cog in this media gone mad scenario. Russian operatives posing as Americans who are setting up negative/false information to sway opinions. How do stop this…? Who polices this…?

But when Elena Khusyaynova, the alleged financier of a sprawling Russian disinformation effort, was indicted last week, one Russian media outlet rushed to associate itself with the St. Petersburg accountant. USA Really, a conspiratorial website run by a Russian media executive and Kremlin policy adviser, quickly boasted on its website that Khusyaynova was the company’s chief financial officer.

It’s not clear what USA Really hoped to gain through the admission. The site is quick to deny that Russia had any involvement in the 2016 election. But its gleeful association with Khusyaynova suggests that USA Really is not the independent, inquisitive news organization that it claims to be, but rather an adjunct of a deep-pocketed propaganda apparatus that federal prosecutors say amounts to a criminal conspiracy against the United States.

In an indictment handed down last week, prosecutors accused Khusyaynova of orchestrating the flows of millions of dollars to various arms of a Russian digital information operation designed to stoke political, cultural, and racial divisions in the United States and Europe. Dubbed Project Lahtka, its goal, prosecutors alleged, was “to undermine faith in our democratic institutions.


Yes I agree they work with his base. The best offensive with T is losing GOP seats in the Congress and state houses.