“Objective” Journalism?

I figure if Ed Brayton can pull up a story from last November in order to write about a topic he cares about deeply, then I should be able to resurrect a dead blog to call attention to said issue, right?  That’s what I thought.

So over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed reminds us all of the CNN reporter who ended up an ex-CNN reporter after including her personal opinion in a tweet.

https://twitter.com/eliselabottcnn/status/667425269347704832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

 

Ed writes a bit about that story, and then more on the larger issue of journalistic “objectivity,” which is something I feel a lot of people, including many in the news media, do not really understand.  The role of The Press in our system is worthless when it reports the news like competing press releases with no actual journalism involved.  I thought the press was supposed to search for the truth?  To tell the electorate what was really going on in the world, so they were better prepared to evaluate the issues, and see through the spin of politicians to make informed choices at the ballot box?  Or as Ed puts it:

At AINN, we measured our success through what we called “impact stories” — that is, stories that led directly to some kind of change in policy that improved a situation in a measurable way. And Michigan led all of our state news sites in impact stories by a wide margin, due entirely to my two amazing reporters, Todd Heywood and Eartha Melzer. They were tireless and committed to getting to the truth. They held the feet of the powerful to the fire time and time again and got real change.

Let me give you one simple example. At one point, Heywood got a call from a kid at the University of Michigan who believed he might have been exposed to HIV during a sexual encounter. He had gone to a clinic but they had not put him on a course of treatment called n-PEP: non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis. If someone is exposed to HIV, putting them on anti-retroviral drugs like Truvada within the first 72 hours is incredibly effective at preventing the infection as a result of the exposure.

The CDC has issued official recommendations for the use of n-PEP in any situation of exposure to HIV since 2005, but the Michigan Department of Community Health had not issued any guidance to doctors, hospitals and clinics instructing them that this is the standard for treatment in such situations. Heywood started reporting about this and hounding the MDCH about it. It went on for about three months before the MDCH finally issued the proper guidelines. This is the very definition of an impact story, one that will literally save lives.

We did not report the dodges and rationalizations offered by the MDCH at face value. We didn’t pretend to be “objective” and just report the things they were saying. We pointed out why those statements were wrong and were disingenuous, because they were. Our commitment was not to some ridiculous and fake “balance” but to telling the truth. That’s what real journalists do. That’s what they should do. But major news outlets punish them for doing that, for injecting something more than a mealy-mouthed he said/she said into important conversations.

Donald Trump’s campaign has shaken some reporters and some outlets enough that they are coming dangerously close to questions that real journalists would ask Trump’s spokespeople if given the chance, yet even in this insane cycle you see the horse race narrative fight to come to the forefront, as some in the industry fight to drag HRC down to the level they manage to elevate Trump.  And even the ones that are asking the “tough questions” this year will fall back into “bothsiderism” as soon as Trump is safely defeated.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, sure.  But if it’s not an opinion informed by facts, then you shouldn’t expect anyone to take you opinion seriously or treat it with the least bit of respect, least of all a member of the press. If the claim is that water is indeed wet, do you need to give equal time to the “dry water” holdouts?  If a political candidate flat out denies saying something you have video of them saying, how can you not just instantly confront them with the video evidence?  When did “follow up questions” become a major journalistic sin?

Anyway, go and read the whole piece over at Dispatches.  You’ll know when I post again.

I Kinda Miss the Nigerian Princes.

I get mail:

FROM THE DESK OF MR AWUDU SALLAM
DIRECTOR IN CHARGE OF AUDITING
AND ACCOUNTING SECTION
BANK OF AFRICA (B.O.A)
OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO,
WEST AFRICA.

My Dearest Friend,
 
I am Mr Awudu Sallam, The chief auditor in bank of Africa (boa) Burkina Faso West African, One of our customers, with his entire family was among the victims of plane crash and before his death, he has an account with us valued at $37.5 million u.s dollars(thirty seven million five hundred thousand u.s dollars) in our bank and according to the Burkina Faso law, at the expiration of Thirteen years if nobody applies to claim the funds a grace of one year also will be given before the money will revert to the ownership of the Burkina Faso government.
 
My proposals is that i will like you as a foreigner to stand in as the next of kin or distant cousin for us to claim this money, so that the fruits of this old man’s labour will not get into the hands of some corrupt government officials who will later use the money to sponsor war in Africa and kill innocent citizens in the search for political power.
 
As a foreign partner which this money will be transfer into your account, you are entitle to 40% of the total money while 55% will be for me as the moderator of this transaction and 5% will be mapped out for any expenditure that may be incur during the course of this transaction. Please note that there will be no
problem as my bank has made all effort through to reach for any of his relation but all was fruitless.
 
My position as the chief auditor in this bank guarantees the successful execution of this (deal) transaction. Please send the following: Reply To This E-mail Address  awudusallam@gmail.com
 
1)your full name…..
2) sex…..
3) age…..
4) country…..
5)passport or photo…..
6)occupation…..
7) personal Mobile number…..
8) Personal fax number…..
9) Home & office address…..
 
Thanks.
 
Mr Awudu Sallam.
I reply to mail, because I am that bored.  (Also, because Trump is possibly going to be President and I need to find humor where I can.)

Dear Mr Awudu Sallam,

 

I am greatly saddened to hear of the passing of such a highly respected man, along with his entire family, in a plane crash.  While they say God has a plan, it is at times like this that one has to wonder how a loving God could reach down from Heaven and cruelly snuff out the life of such a great man.  While you do not mention the man’s name, no doubt because of privacy concerns, if it is indeed who I believe you are speaking of, this is a tragedy that God himself will have to answer for.  To take one such as him. in the prime of his life while he still had so much more to give to not only the fine country of Burkina Faso, but to the rest of West Africa, and indeed, to the whole of the African continent.  To die in a plane crash, along side his wife, pregnant with the couples fifth child, their twin sons, the apple of their fathers eyes, only 7 years young, and both of his daughters, lovely Ebele, only 3 years old, and stunning 17 year old Adannaya is enough to cause one to question their faith.  Knowing that the only reason they were even on that plane was to travel to Adannaya’s wedding just makes it all the worse.  What pain must have filled their minds as they realized the plane was going down?  Did they take comfort in being together, or did the knowledge that the whole family would soon die just make it that much worse?

 

I am so sorry, I know you must be very busy, and here I am yammering on pointlessly.  I completely understand your request.  I as well do not want to see this great man’s money stolen by the corrupt government and used to spill the blood of West Africans.  I will be honored to stand in as this great man’s next of kin and save his fortune from the Vultures of Horror.  In fact, I have such great respect for this man and his family that I would feel dirty taking 40% of his fortune.  Rather, in exchange for the solemn promise that you will donate 10% of the money to Médecins Sans Frontières, I will only ask for 10%.  The extra 20% can be done with as you please.

Here is the requested information.

1) Michael Sean Benioff

2) Male

3) 34 years young

4) United States of America
5)……

Upon further reflection, I have decided to only provide you with the rest of the information if you prove yourself legitimate.  While I would never insult you by comparing you to these people, one does remember the classic Nigerian Royalty scam that was so highly effective for so many years.  You of course are not claiming to be a member of a royal family or anything else ridiculous like that, so I am inclined to believe you fully.  That being said, as someone connected with such a respectable man, I know you will not have a problem providing me with a bit more information.  Here is what I require.

1)  A hand written pledge to donate 10% of the money to Médecins Sans Frontières.  It does not need to be notarized or anything, as long as I can see your signature.

2)  Your astrological sign.  Call me crazy, but there are certain signs of the zodiac that I refuse to have financial dealings with under any circumstances.  Let me know your birth date so I can have my astrologer confirm the stars are in the proper alignment for this transaction.

3)  A picture.  Not of you though.  Of your wife or girlfriend.  No, it doesn’t have to be sexy or anything, I’m not a sicko.

4)  One more picture, this time of a hand written note from your mother or father stating that you are trustworthy. If your parents are no longer on this earth, I am very sorry for your loss, and you can substitute a note from either your religious leader or your employer.

I hope that is not too much to ask of you.  I will expect your response shortly and anticipate being able to move on at that time and get this transaction taken care of.  I have my bank account information at the ready to send to you, along with the rest of the information you need, as soon as you provide the reassurances I require.

Thank you for reaching out to me, and thank you for caring about the fortune of such a great man and his family.  I know he would be as proud of you as he was of Adannaya.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Michael Sean Benioff.

Let’s see how desperate scammers in Burkina Faso are right now.  Anyone think I’ll get a response?  Any suggestions of what to ask for in case I do get a response?
I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, I would commit voter fraud for Awudu Sallam before I’d vote for Donald Trump.
Toying with song ideas to post if he wins immediately after the race is called.  So far I’m thinking of “Black and White” by the Subhumans:

which includes these perfect lyrics:

Inquiries, but no solutions
Faceless, empty illusions
Reasons are always pushed aside
Remember the day the country died

or maybe just Black Market Baby’s classic “Potential Suicide” to put everyone’s thoughts into song.

 

And that’s all you get today.  I spent the day with the dogs in the local state park.  It was much too nice to sit in front of a PC all day.

pupsatwater

 

 

It Wasn’t Really Funny Last Time, Just Ironic. This is Just Sad.

Remember the last time a kid shot his mother from the back seat while she was driving?  Sure you do.  It really isn’t funny when a 4 year old ends up holding a loaded gun in the back seat of a vehicle, and someone actually getting shot is rarely amusing, but there was irony involved, since the mother who allowed her 4 year old a free shot at mommy happened to be a vocal gun activist, and besides, she only took minor damage so no harm, no foul.  We pointed.  We laughed.  We found out she would face charges for her less than responsible gun handling, we nodded in satisfaction, and we promptly forgot all about it.

This one isn’t funny at all.

A woman died late Tuesday morning after being accidentally shot by her 2-year-old son who found a gun in the backseat of the vehicle and fired it, the woman’s father said.

How do I make a joke out of this?

A single bullet went into 26-year-old woman’s back, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office said. The woman stopped the vehicle on Wisconsin Highway 175 near West Vliet Street.

Andre Price said his daughter, Patrice Price, was a hard-working mother who had three children.

He said his daughter was driving her boyfriend’s car. He is a security guard and left his gun in the vehicle.

The boy was able to reach it and accidentally shot his mom in the back, killing her.

“Now I don’t have her no more. My chest has been hurting,” Andre Price said. “I have a knot in my chest. They won’t even let me see my daughter. I wanted to hold my daughter for one last time.”

It wasn’t her gun that ended her life.  She isn’t the one who endangered her child.  Who can I point and laugh at?  The boyfriend who’s “responsible gun ownership” just resulted in a lifetime of guilt in addition to the loss of his partner?  The father who can never hold his daughter again?

How much worse could this have been?

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office says witness accounts indicate a child in the back seat of a vehicle in the southbound lanes of Highway 175 on Tuesday morning, April 26th, got hold of a gun and discharged the firearm. That sent a single bullet into the driver’s back.

Is this here the big punchline?

“People were panicking and you could tell people were generally trying to help,” said Kourtney Blevins. “They pulled a, looks like a young lady out, and they started to resuscitate her on the ground. I heard something about a shooting, and a gun went off. I know there’s some little boys down there which they put in a police car. It was two little boys it looked like, so some kids were involved unfortunately. I just kind of stayed back and prayed about it.”

What, is this a monthly occurrence now?  Is it really that difficult to keep handguns out of the hands of toddlers?  How the fuck is this even a thing?

I have no snark for this.  I have no humor for this, no easy joke to lighten the mood.  Nothing can lighten a two year old boy killing his mother while driving down the highway except it not happening.

I’m not using this to argue for new gun regulations.  I’m not saying universal background checks or a ban on armor piercing ammunition would have stopped this tragedy.  This has nothing to do with gun laws, or the Second Amendment, or “right to carry,” or any of it.

This is about gun owners treating their firearms with the respect they deserve.  Whether you use them for protection, hunting, target shooting, or you’re just compensating for something fucking remember that a firearm is a tool designed to kill, full stop.

I’ve stated countless times on this blog; I am not anti-gun.  My father was a hunter.  I used to target shoot.  My niece is in the military.  But come on people, let’s see this “responsible gun ownership” I keep hearing about.

Yeah, I Just Canceled HBO.

I stuck with it as long as I could.

Even after whatever the fuck last season was, I stuck around for the first episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones.

I was even planning on keeping HBO even if I stopped watching Game of Thrones completely.  After all, John Oliver.

After seeing the Dornish story line in the first episode, I’ve decided I can not give HBO another cent of my money.

I have no illusion that my cancellation means a damn thing.  I’m not that self-important.  The customer service rep at Direct TV joked with me when I canceled that I must not watch Game of Thrones.  She was a bit taken aback upon finding out that I am a huge ASOIAF nerd and Game of Thrones was the only reason I had HBO in the first place.  I am just one against the flood of people coming back to HBO with the start of the new season.  I gave her the 30 second run down on why I was done with the show, which got the amusing reply of “well I guess a five dollar discount isn’t going to keep you then, is it.”

Come on people, they pissed in your glass and you keep praising the vintage.  The AV Club gave that train wreck a B fucking plus.

I would pay so much for five off the record minutes with George R. R. Martin, a writer who is notoriously hostile to fan fiction, to hear his uncensored thoughts on what D&D have done to his characters.

*deep breath*

That’s it.  Not turning this into a 1000 word rant.  I’ve said what I logged on to say.

I’ll close by promoting Fandom Following, GoTgifsandmusings, and theculturalvacuum.

Fuck,….Prince?

As someone who identified with the punk rock/hardcore music scene from 1989 until I entered my thirties in the 2000’s, and as someone who can still be found screaming every word at a Streetlight Manifesto show, or blasting Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables or How to Clean Everything on my car stereo, it would probably come as a shock to most of those who know me how varied my early musical influences actually were.  While I will admit that there are some embarrassing metal bands on that list (how did I actually like Motley Crue?), the two that will stand out in my mind as the soundtrack of my pre-punk life are Madonna and Prince.

I was 10 when I saw Purple Rain for the first time.  Yes, it is a horrible movie.  But that music.  Damn.

It is late (for me, I work third again), but this piece from The Rude Pundit is incredible, and beautifully explains the effect his music had on so many.  Go read it.

I’ll be back tomorrow to make fun of the school board member at my old school who thinks the new Sociology book is “liberal propaganda,” and give Altoona’s rep in the state House the old side-eye over his opinion of why young people flee this area like it is plague-ridden, along with a few other possibilities.

A Cat of a Different Coat or a Whole Separate Animal?

From an interview with Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy in HBO’s Game of Thrones, on season six action:

And we’re running through and we come to a river and Sansa is just too scared basically to get into the river. So I get in. Don’t believe the press shots! It looks like she’s trying to get me out of the river, when I’m actually trying to be the strong one and get her in the river.

*reads the interview calmly*  *re-reads the above line*  *face palms*  *slams head off desk several times*  *longs for the halcyon days of season three when I thought Game of Thrones was the best possible adaptation A Song of Ice and Fire could ever get.*  *cancels HBO*

If there are any English majors around, may I ask a question?  While I am aware that nothing (excepting an example of visual irony I believe) in Alanis Morissette’s hit song “Ironic” is actual ironic, how’s this for an example?

George R. R. Martin, an author who is an outspoken critic of fan fiction, signs off on a adaptation of his masterpiece, the epic series A Song of Ice and Fire, to be adapted for the small screen by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for HBO, only to see it change from a fairly faithful adaptation to pure, “chaos is a ladder” fan fiction that ignores more of his themes and characterizations than it acknowledges?

Is that ironic?

*sigh*  And yet I am sure it will set viewing records for HBO this season as well.

(And just to cut off an argument I get much too often, no, they are not going their own way apart from the books because they ran out of material.  They spent 2 seasons (3 and 4) adapting the third book in the series, A Storm of Swords.  Then, instead of adapting the next two huge novels in the series, they instead changed every single plot line significantly for no reason other than they wanted to.  I wonder what the reaction would have been if halfway through the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson killed off Legolas, had Gimli start molesting hobbits, made Aragorn rape Éowyn, and changed the ending to have Frodo kill Smeagol after Gollum kills Sam, and then throw the ring into Mount Doom himself in order to make him look more heroic to the viewers?)