John Oliver's new season kicked off with a spectacular episode on a dismal subject: whether or not there is such a thing as truth, why Donald Trump seems so poorly acquainted with it, and how it is that so many people have been dragged into the unfactual universe with him.
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Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black boy lynched after a Mississippi woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, claimed he made "advances" on her. His killers were acquitted of kidnapping and murder by an all-white, all-male jury. Then, free of further legal jeopardy, they admitted to it. Their casual indifference and impunity helped catalyze the civil rights movement.
Last week, we learned Donham admitted she lied.
In a new book, The Blood of Emmett Till (Simon & Schuster), Timothy Tyson, a Duke University senior research scholar, reveals that Carolyn—in 2007, at age 72—confessed that she had fabricated the most sensational part of her testimony. “That part’s not true,” she told Tyson, about her claim that Till had made verbal and physical advances on her. As for the rest of what happened that evening in the country store, she said she couldn’t remember. (Carolyn is now 82, and her current whereabouts have been kept secret by her family.)
The New York Times adds that "As a matter of narrow justice, it makes little difference; true or not, her claims did not justify any serious penalty, much less death."
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... among thousands of lynchings of black people, this one looms large in the country’s tortured racial history, taught in history classes to schoolchildren, and often cited as one of the catalysts for the civil rights movement.
Photographs in Jet Magazine of Emmett’s gruesomely mutilated body — at a funeral that his mother insisted have an open coffin, to show the world what his killers had done — had a galvanizing effect on black America.
On this weekend's Meet the Press, WSJ editor in chief Gerard Baker said that even when he was clear that Trump had uttered a falsehood, his paper would not call that falsehood a lie, because to do so would ascribe "moral intent" to Trump; instead, the WSJ will call Trump's lies "challengeable" and "questionable."
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Yesterday, Donald Trump claimed to have gotten Sprint to bring 5,000 jobs back to America. This claim is false; the jobs have been coming for months. But a lot of media instantly published Trump's claim, many with Trump as the sole source and no reporting or fact-checking whatosever.
Trump and Sprint simply put out PR and everyone rewrote it. Sprint ignored inquiries from reporters who figured it out, only admitting that the jobs were "previously announced" after the company became the story and things started getting hot.
When I reached out to a Sprint spokeswoman asking if the announcement was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal, she copy and pasted the press release I'd sent along with my first email. I responded saying I already had the press release and asked again if this was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal in place. I tagged Sprint in a tweet about the situation, and it wasn't until after that started getting retweeted that the spokesperson responded.
"This is part of the 50,000 jobs that Masa previously announced," she said. "This total will be a combination of newly created jobs and bringing some existing jobs back to the U.S."
This is how it's going to be: he lies, and reporters instantly launder the statement into impartial-sounding headlines in the rush to be first. The excuse will be that stenography is journalism.
Get used to this sort of thing:
The New York Times:
Trump Takes Credit for Sprint Plan to Add 5,000 Jobs in U.S. Read the rest
Two years ago, the NoPhone launched to rave reviews as the most minimalist yet secure handset on the market. The NoPhone Selfie is the long-awaited follow-up, adding the ability to picture the user themselves without adding significantly to the unit's price.
At $18, the NoPhone Selfie remains among the cheaper options. Mine has a problem, though: the display seems to be stuck on a hideous morph between Chucky the Killer Doll and Brad Dourif, the actor who voices him.
About the Product
• The NoPhone is a fake phone for people addicted to real phones
• It has no data plan, no camera, no battery and no Wi-Fi but is completely toilet-bowl resistant
• It's the perfect phone for someone who uses their phone too much
The NoPhone Selfie [Amazon] Read the rest
Boeing stocks tumbled Tuesday after president-elect Donald Trump tweeted about canceling a $4bn Air Force One order. But it was a typical Trumpism: the number is plucked out of nowhere, and Boeing was forced to publicize the fact it's only got the U.S. Government on the hook for $170m, and that the two planes, if ordered, would be $850m each.
“The plane is totally out of control. It’s going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program and I think it’s ridiculous," he said. "I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”
The president-elect's most recent financial disclosure form, filed in May and detailing his 2015 holdings, showed that the Manhattan billionaire owned between $50,001 and $100,000 worth of stock in Boeing, a purchase he announced on Twitter in 2013. Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, said Tuesday morning that Trump sold all of his stocks last June.
Miller added that the exact details of Trump's desire to cancel the Boeing order would be dealt with after he is inaugurated next month.
Boeing's stocks rebounded later in the morning as it became apparent Trump was saying untrue things.
(Maybe he doesn't want to fly on it. Same as not wanting to live in the White House.) Read the rest
"Elton John is going to be doing our concert on the mall for the inauguration," said Anthony Scaramucci, a member of president-elect Donald Trump's transition team.
"There is no truth in this at all," Elton John's spokeswoman told BBC News. Read the rest
The Denver Guardian
looked enough like a real news site to convince legions of Facebookers that its fake news about Hillary Clinton was worth sharing. The anonymous creator reused an old handle in an early posting there, though, allowing NPR to track him down to the LA suburbs.
Jestin Coler, 40, weasels at first, claiming it's all an attempt to "highlight the extremism" and show "how easily fake news spreads." But he's soon boasting of a business operation that brings in five figures a month from ads.
Coler's company, Disinfomedia, owns many faux news sites — he won't say how many. But he says his is one of the biggest fake-news businesses out there, which makes him a sort of godfather of the industry.
At any given time, Coler says, he has between 20 and 25 writers. And it was one of them who wrote the story in the Denver Guardian that an FBI agent who leaked Clinton emails was killed. Coler says that over 10 days the site got 1.6 million views. He says stories like this work because they fit into existing right-wing conspiracy theories.
"The people wanted to hear this," he says. "So all it took was to write that story. Everything about it was fictional: the town, the people, the sheriff, the FBI guy. And then ... our social media guys kind of go out and do a little dropping it throughout Trump groups and Trump forums and boy it spread like wildfire."
As with other fake news hucksters, Coler says he also targeted liberals and lefties too, but found that they didn't fall for it the way others do. Read the rest
Daniel Dale is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star; for the duration of the campaign, he's been compiling daily lists of Trump's lies: now, with the election days away, the Star has put these together in one gigantic list, with citations refuting each of Trump's whoppers.
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In 1993, Donald Trump won a lawsuit brought by his investors that alleged he had defrauded them by lying in a prospectus; his defense was that his "perfect prospectus" contained lies, but it also contained enough fine-print cautioning investors about the possibility of lies that it was their own fault that he cheated them. Incredibly, the judge (a pre-Supreme Court Samuel Alito!) bought this.
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Last June, the Economist ran this chart: "Lies, Damned Lies, and Directives," which documents decades of flat-out lies about EU regulations that were published in the tabloid press (many invented by the UK's post-Brexit foreign minister and Trumpian hairclown Boris Johnson, whose press colleagues considered him most reckless confabulist on European matters in their ranks).
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By millionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump's standards, the second debate was a success. Hillary Clinton was cagey and tense, leaving him free to blather on incoherently and bicker with the moderators when they told him to stop. Her supporters are left to wonder why she's such a cautious closer. His are left to drown themselves in the joy of bullshit—and hope that it buries a brutal news cycle for their man. Read the rest