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

The Columbia Journalism Review is an interesting publication, it gives an interesting perspective on professional journalism today and how the T administration is impacting it.

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Shafer: Trump can reliably win the battle if it’s fought with words. But against images and descriptions of distraught and traumatized children and parents,

T’s superpower I believe is to say ‘squirrel’…look over here. Interesting article.


Actions to obfuscate certain relationships within the T campaign and Felix Sater, Michael Cohen, Trump Organization and Trump Moscow…are underway with use of rearranging search engines, and dumbing down the news. We are in a world of information messaging…and manipulation at it’s best. Sigh.

Inside the Online Campaign to Whitewash the History of Donald Trump’s Russian Business Associates

A mystery client has been paying bloggers in India and Indonesia to write articles distancing President Donald Trump from the legal travails of a mob-linked former business associate.

Spokespeople for online reputation management companies in the two countries confirmed that they had been paid to write articles attempting to whitewash Trump’s ties to Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman who, with former Russian trade minister Tevfik Arif, collaborated with the Trump Organization on numerous real estate deals from New York to the former Soviet Union.

The campaign appears designed to influence Google search results pertaining to Trump’s relationship with Sater, Arif, and the Bayrock Group, a New York real estate firm that collaborated with Trump on a series of real estate deals, and recruited Russian investors for potential Trump deals in Moscow.

Sater—who once had an office at New York’s Trump Tower, Trump Organization business cards, and claims to have worked as a senior adviser to Trump—has recently emerged as a key figure in the federal investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

In the lead-up to the election, Sater worked extensively with Trump attorney Michael Cohen in a failed effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with the aid of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, which Sater said would help Trump win the presidency. According to statements made by Cohen last year, T

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Looked up what’s being done by US on shoring up disinformation campaigns. It seems like it should be up to those who are running FB, Instagram, Twitter etc. Do we think that anything much is really being done?

But knowing that our data is being harnessed by groups like Cambridge Analytica and it’s iterations, the ease of use of harvested data is now our new normal.

The State Dept is ambivalent about what can be done about disinformation. THere was some funding made in March 2018 but it was not dispersed in a timely way.

“We’re still a ways off,” Mr. Mitchell said.

The delays have infuriated some members of Congress, which approved the funding transfer with bipartisan support.

It is well past time that the State Department’s Global Engagement Center gets the resources Congress intended for it to effectively fight Kremlin-sponsored disinformation and other foreign propaganda operations,” Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday.

Adele Ruppe, the center’s chief of staff, defended the administration’s broader efforts to counter Russian propaganda, pointing out that the State Department had provided $1.3 billion in assistance in 2017 to strengthen European resilience to Russian meddling. But that money was largely obligated during the Obama administration, and the Trump administration has proposed slashing that assistance by more than half for the coming year, to $527 million, and to $491 million for the next year.

The consequences of watching stories or assuming it is true, when in fact it is a created disinformation campaign…is a profoundly important.

Let’s assume that not much is really being done…we need to be our own fact checkers…

Check out this France24 segment on ‘You’re fake news’: Propaganda and disinformation in the digital age" - pretty interesting ways to interpret what to watch for and being defensive about sources.

YouTube lead me to this next one…

Sharyl Attkisson - (From Wiki) is an American author and host of the weekly Sunday public affairs program Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, which airs on television stations operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Not a long video - but a recap.
She critiques the origins of the words “Fake News…” says it was embedded in our culture, via Supermarket Rags…but countless examples of it. In 1996, media falsely blamed Richard Jewel in bombing at Atlanta’s Olympics. But if it has a global following, like a crises that social media blew up over, like Sandy Hook and news comes out saying it was false…and doubting whether it was actually not true.

During the 2016 election a new blog emerged, Conservative Daily Post - which had Anti Hillary posts…and imposters wrote it. (check it’s authenticity)

Check with Politifact

Bottom LIne - check your facts.

When Non Profit - “First Draft” began 9.13.16 - it wanted to tackle conspiracies and run down the story. But Obama thought someone needed to curate information, but suddenly. But realized that it was run by Google, and Eric Schmidt…who was a Hillary supporter.

Advised by a media watcher “Nearly every scene or image is put there for a reason - someone paid to put it there.”

And follow the money…who’s profiting from it.

And who co-oped the word Fake News - DJT.

And who’s trying to manipulate your opinion? And which media groups are saying the same thing (see Sinclair Broadcasting)

Don’t believe in Media Literacy - which would be put into schools…and serving someone’s agenda.

Just more information here to determine what kinds of news bias you are getting on a daily basis, and what agendas are being pushed.


Avenatti is avenging the basis for his client’s arrest. A quest for the truth…but done by social media, by incentivizing the public to dig for it.

Read about how the attacks by Russia in sort of sleeper “papers” evolved - many have been shuttered, but there is a definite foothold into our viewership.

Russia’s information attack against the United States during the 2016 election cycle sought to take advantage of the greater trust that Americans tend to place in local news.

The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details.

They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans’ hometown headlines.

NPR has reviewed information connected with the investigation and found 48 such accounts. They have names such as @ElPasoTopNews, @MilwaukeeVoice, @CamdenCityNews and @Seattle_Post.

“A not-insignificant amount of those had some sort of variation on what appeared to be a homegrown local news site,” said Bret Schafer, a social media analyst for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which tracks Russian influence operations and first noticed this trend.

Another example: The Internet Research Agency created an account that looks like it is the Chicago Daily News. That newspaper shuttered in 1978.

The Internet Research Agency-linked account was created in May 2014, and for years, it just posted local headlines, accumulating some 19,000 followers by July 2016.
Another twist: These accounts apparently never spread misinformation. In fact, they posted real local news, serving as sleeper accounts building trust and readership for some future, unforeseen effort.

“They set them up for a reason. And if at any given moment, they wanted to operationalize this network of what seemed to be local American news handles, they can significantly influence the narrative on a breaking news story,” Schafer told NPR. “But now instead of just showing up online and flooding it with news sites, they have these accounts with two years of credible history.”

Twitter caught these Internet Research Agency accounts in the act and suspended them.

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Example of how Friday’s DOJ indictments of Russians are affecting Twitter. There has been no self-policing on Twitter’s part.

@jimrutenberg New York Times

FLASH: Twitter suspended accounts of Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks today, post indictment.
11:49 AM - 14 Jul 2018

Looking at who’s a big controller of the narrative - Fox News

Joyce Alene (former prosecutor) responding to Fox Reporter - Brit Hume


Because Trump is unable to see past himself, he sees the Russia meddling investigation as only about him and the collusion claim, and thus calls it a witch hunt. But the investigations are much more about what Russia did, as the House and Senate reports long since established.

When Kaitlin Collins, CNN reporter was banned from a WH event because she ‘shouted’ a question, it was another attempt to bypass unfavorable press, and create a punitive environment. Bill Shine’s presence as an ex-Fox executive and his loyalist stance creates a new level of directing the narrative.

Fortunately, there was a lot of pushback, including Fox press to criticize this move.

Until this week, the officials said, Trump’s senior aides have resisted carrying out his directives. They convinced him that moves to restrict media access could backfire and further strain the White House’s fraught relationship with the press corps, whose members the president routinely derides as “fake news” and “dishonest people.”

On Wednesday, however, newly installed Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took action against CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins, telling her she could not attend Trump’s open-media event in the Rose Garden because they objected to her questioning of the president earlier in the day.

The move revealed a fresh willingness inside the West Wing to execute the president’s wishes to punish reporters. It immediately drew a chorus of protest throughout the media, including from Fox News Channel, Trump’s favorite network and Shine’s former employer.

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NYT’s publisher A.G.Sulzberger had a meeting with T imploring him to not refer to the press as “Enemy of the People,” a term which is politically charged and potent statement.

“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times. Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.” Sad!” Trump wrote.

Sulzberger, who succeeded his father as publisher on Jan. 1, said his main purpose for accepting the meeting was to “raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”

“I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous” he said.

Sulzberger said he told Trump that while the phrase “fake news” is untrue and harmful, “I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people.’ I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

Sulzberger, who attended the meeting with James Bennet, the Times’ editorial page editor, said he stressed that leaders outside the U.S. are already using Trump’s rhetoric to justify cracking down on journalists.

I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press,” the publisher said.

Sulzberger added that he made clear that he was not asking Trump to soften his attacks against the Times if he thinks the newspaper’s coverage is unfair. “Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country,” he said.

Trump reads the Times and gives interviews to its reporters. But the president — who, like all politicians, is concerned about his image — also regularly derides the newspaper as the “failing New York Times.” However, the Times’ ownership company in May reported a 3.8 percent increase in first-quarter revenue compared to the same period in 2017.

The president, who lashes out over media coverage of him and the administration that he deems unfair, has broadly labeled the news media the “enemy of the people” and regularly accuses reporters of spreading “fake news” — the term he often uses for stories he dislikes.

Last week, Trump told hundreds of people attending the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City, Missouri: “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” as he gestured toward journalists at the back of the room and the crowd erupted.

He also told them to remember “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Sulzberger said he accepted the meeting because Times publishers have a history of meeting with presidential administrations and other public figures who have concerns with the publication’s coverage of them.

After Sulzberger took charge, Trump tweeted that his ascension gave the paper a “last chance” to fulfill its founder’s vision of impartiality.

In the tweet, Trump urged the new publisher to “Get impartial journalists of a much higher standard, lose all of your phony and non-existent ‘sources,’ and treat the President of the United States FAIRLY, so that the next time I (and the people) win, you won’t have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done!”

Trump’s tweet about his meeting with Sulzberger highlighted tensions that exist between the administration and the news media.

That issue was put on display last week after the White House told one of CNN’s White House reporters she could not attend a Rose Garden event that was open to all credentialed media.

The correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, said she was barred because she asked Trump questions he did not like at a press event in the Oval Office earlier that day. The White House said Collins was barred because she refused to leave the Oval Office after being repeatedly asked to do so. Other journalists who were in the room at the time disputed the White House account.

Anthony Scaramucci, who spent 11 days as White House communications director before he was fired over an obscenity-laced tirade against other staffers in an interview, said he disagreed with the decision to put Collins in the “penalty box.”

Scaramucci told CNN’s “State of the Union” the order likely came from Trump because “he likes to be respected.” But Scaramucci, who said after he joined the White House last year that he wanted to improve relations with the media, added: “Having a war declaration or having that level of antagonism with the press does not help the president, does not serve his interests going into the midterms or the re-election.”

Vice President Mike Pence, in a separate interview, said the administration believes in freedom of the press.

“But maintaining the decorum that is due at the White House I think is an issue that we’ll continue to work for,” he said in a taped interview broadcast Sunday on Fox Business Network.

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Rebuttal from AG Sulzberger to T’s response to their meeting, and gives the President fair warning about his incendiary language.

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Trump and the publisher of The New York Times, A. G. Sulzberger, engaged in a fierce public clash on Sunday over Mr. Trump’s threats against journalism, after Mr. Sulzberger said the president misrepresented a private meeting and Mr. Trump accused The Times and other papers of putting lives at risk with irresponsible reporting.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he and Mr. Sulzberger had discussed “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”

In a five-paragraph statement issued two hours after the tweet, Mr. Sulzberger said he had accepted Mr. Trump’s invitation for the July 20 meeting mainly to raise his concerns about his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”

I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” said Mr. Sulzberger, who became publisher of The Times on Jan. 1.

I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,’” Mr. Sulzberger continued. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

Giuliani is floundering with defense concepts…not collusion, but yes on conspiracy. Giuliani’s role is to muddy the waters, but he sounds very confused and unable to keep his facts straight.

Some pundits are saying Giuliani is trying to get out ahead on the pre-meetings info because they expect Rick Gates testimony (notes given to the defense) will reveal a few pre-June 6th 2016 planning meetings where Cohen, maybe T were present.

Narrative is shaky at best. Muddy for sure.

President Donald Trump echoed his lawyer’s questionable assertion that “collusion is not a crime” on Tuesday morning, officially ushering in a new line of defense against the special counsel investigation into his campaign and its links to Russian nationals and officials.

For good measure, Trump continued to maintain that he did not collude with the Russians.

Legal experts, however, argue the “collusion is not a crime” defense is tenuous at best, as it’s likely investigators are looking to see if the campaign is guilty of federal crimes of conspiracy, violations of campaign finance law, or other relevant statutes.

And from Vox

First, Giuliani fleshed out a report from last week that said Cohen is willing to tell prosecutors that Trump himself knew about the meeting in advance — something Trump has denied.

Specifically, Giuliani said, Cohen is claiming that while he was meeting with Trump in his office, Donald Trump Jr. walked in and told his father about the planned Russian meeting. (Giuliani called this “categorically untrue.”)

Second, and even more intriguingly, Giuliani said Cohen is claiming that before the Russian meeting, several Trump aides met without Trump himself for a pre-meeting to discuss “the strategy of the meeting with the Russians” — and, perhaps crucially, that one of those aides was Rick Gates.

If true, that latter claim would be huge because Gates has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team for months and would presumably have told them about that meeting long ago, meaning this claim wouldn’t hinge on Cohen’s own credibility. (Giuliani called the pre-meeting “a figment of” Cohen’s “imagination, or his lying.”)


T’s tweets and his false comments continue to spin out of control, and Washington Post is keeping track of them. Almost doubling the misinformation from 4.9/day to 7.6/day.


A @WashingtonPost analysis: President Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in 558 days

It turns out that’s when the president decided to turn on the spigots of false and misleading claims. As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. In fact, in June and July, the president averaged 16 claims a day.


Pushing Voter ID at a Florida rally, Trump says you need an ID to buy groceries. His supporters cheer! That pretty much says it all.

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And why do you need an ID to buy groceries? Perhaps wine or spirits or to cash a check but to buy groceries?

Re: the question: What’s driving the narrative? Is it fake news, PR stunts, real legal arguments?

It’s T PR stunts (rallies) and media taunts, he’s pulling strings like the giant manipulator and making fools of his cabinet and the Congress.


You are right in that. Heard this am after news that Jim Acosta CNN walked out of the WH press event, that perhaps only 1 camera/and 1 news person (the Pool) should be used at any of his rallies where T likes to stir up the crowd and as you say “taunt” the press.

T is a piece of work…but a masterful manipulator of media.

T’s ability to repeat the messaging about Fake News is indeed setting up the belief system that the press is the ‘enemy of the people.’ Unless and of course if you are Fox News, in which case…please continue to sing T’s praises.

The absurd notion that what most consider truth based facts, gathered by the 4th estate (the Press) is false or Fake News is another attempt at disruption of our institutions, but of course a pathway to authoritarian rule.

Read about the stats Nate Silver wrote on what percentages R’s now believe is real or fake news.

Trump’s tweet and remarks at the rally made perfectly clear why Sanders refused to respond to Acosta’s prods. She does, indeed, speak for the President. And he does, indeed, regard the majority of the media as “the enemy of the people.” He first used this phrase, which dates to the Jacobin dictatorship of 1793-94, in February, 2017, and he’s never disavowed it. The only qualification he has issued is that it doesn’t apply to those who say nice things about him, such as his supporters at Fox News.

To be sure, what Trump is doing has some antecedents. Years before his Presidential campaign, conservative politicians and commentators were attacking the mainstream media and turning Republican voters against it. On Friday, the polling expert Nate Silver posted a chart showing that, in 2000, roughly forty-five per cent of Republicans expressed a “great deal/fair amount” of trust in the media, but by 2008, the figure had fallen to twenty-six per cent. In Silver’s words, Trump has “significantly accelerated the trend.” By the end of 2017, just fourteen per cent of Republicans said they trusted the media. The figure could now be even lower.

Trump has attempted to delegitimize the entire fact-based press in the eyes of his supporters. “Stick with us,” he said in a speech last week. “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news . . . What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” George Orwell gets quoted too liberally these days, but, as the national security expert David Priess pointed out, these statements were Orwellian in the extreme. (“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”) And, judging by Trump’s steady approval ratings and the large crowds at his rallies, many people are willing to take him at his word.


Obfuscation…powerful R leaders are sculpting the ballot message to the voters.

North Carolina Republicans Flip Out About Voters Knowing What They’re Voting On

GOP lawmakers are trying to strip a bipartisan panel of its power to write captions for constitutional amendments that will appear on the ballot this fall.



The proposed changes to the constitution deal with a range of important subjects that can affect voter access to the polls and impact the trajectory of state courts. This includes adding a voter photo ID requirement and restricting the ability of the state’s Democratic governor to fill vacancies on state courts and appoint people to the state election board.

What?! :woman_facepalming:t2:

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