Intelligence leaks are why the U.S. media knew more about the Manchester attack than their British counterparts

Britain's Home Secretary is "irritated" that U.S. intelligence officials leaked "confidential" information about the Manchester terror attack to American media, allowing them to reveal key details before U.K. media were cleared to do so. The attacker's name, the high death toll, and the fact that it was a suicide bombing were among the facts finding their way to CBS and NBC before being disclosed to local outlets.

Amber Rudd said US conduct had been "irritating" and said she had made clear to her American counterparts that such leaks "shouldn't happen again".

The episode comes just a week after US president Donald Trump defended his right to leak classified intelligence to other countries' leaders. Mr Trump has also criticised leaking from the US intelligence establishment.

Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the US leaks, Ms Rudd said: "The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise.

"So it is irritating when it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again."

There are so many interesting prongs here: echelons of the U.S. security apparatus that don't care about intelligence partners, sources in the White House and elsewhere leaking whatever they get their hands on, the futility of trying to manage what the media knows in the presence of all this, the presumed inability of America's intelligence partners (such as the UK) to extricate themselves... Read the rest

Roger Ailes dead at 77

Roger Ailes, the disgraced former Fox News chief and accused sexual harasser, is dead at 77. His wife, Elizabeth Ailes, released a short statement, as published by The Washington Post:

“I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many,”

Ailes founded the network in 1996, steering it to supremacy over cable TV rivals and providing conservative viewers with a sympathetic source of news and opinion. He was forced to leave last year amid the organization's still-roiling sexual abuse scandal, which has also claimed the jobs of his successor, Bill Shine, and star anchor Bill O'Reilly.

Update: Aaron Stewart-Ahn found a flattering photo of Ailes to remember him by. Read the rest

Remember ebola? Media-inflamed health scares, quantified

Just how overblown was the media panic over ebola? This interactive chart compares media coverage of a dozen health scares, from mad cow disease to zika. Read the rest

The Alt Right's journey from message-board to mass-media

Read Max Read's sharp précis of what happened to the internet over the last few years: the slow drifting of message-boards to the right as their inhabitants grew from sad kids to angry adults, then the sudden explosion of that pattern across social networks run by corporations with only an ambivalent interest in stopping it.

This was the core value of message-board political consciousness: sovereignty, a concept similarly important to the politics of the far right. Posters and trolls wanted to reserve for themselves on the internet the power and freedom they couldn’t find off it. And as the online and offline spheres slowly merged over the course of the 2010s, that sovereignty expressed itself as an abject refusal to resocialize — the reservation of a sacred right to be cruel. The puckish left-libertarianism that had characterized the early message-board political activity of groups like Anonymous transformed into a revanchism, seemingly intended to protect “Kekistan” — the joking name, from the LOL-like word Kek, for the safe spaces of the frustrated men of the internet.

This was the sensibility galvanized in 2014 by — what else? — a depressed and frustrated man’s rambling, 9,000-word post falsely accusing his game-developer ex-girlfriend Zoë Quinn of exchanging sex for video-game reviews

Tim O'Brien's painting of Pepe is fantastic: a poisoned meme made creepily, grossly real.

One of the interesting oddities about the Alt Right is a "geek fallacies" thing: loyalty to parasitic luminaries, even though they're crudely exploitative, too weird to be on television, and all seem to hate one another. Read the rest

Why the NYT hired a science denier

The New York Times' new columnist, Bret Stephens, is an everyday conservative: he thinks institutional racism is imaginary, that campus rape is a big lie, and that the "Arab Mind" is "diseased". But these are just opinions, and common ones on the right. It is his anti-science positions, on display in his first fact-mangled column about climate change, that has galvanized disgust.

Much has been said about him, but it is the Times itself that has committed a "jaw-dropping error" and whose warped motives promise that it will be repeated.

Ryan Cooper in The Week directs particular ire at the Times' claim about wanting a diversity of voices, where the agreement of millions is enough to justify a hire. This allows so many possibilities that it betrays the excuse.

If the Times were really committed to ideological diversity in its op-ed page, it would at a minimum hire a conservative who actually supports President Trump, and perhaps even more importantly hire someone with Bernie Sanders-style politics. (Sanders is the most popular politician in the country, yet there are more supporters of torture among columnists of our two major national newspapers than supporters of the senator.)

What we see here is that the neurotic upper-class liberal need for civil debate over important issues stops the moment we reach territory they actually care about. ... A rich, glib, dumb, anti-Trump conservative, on the other hand, can give Upper East Side cocktail parties that frisson of intellectual disputation while conveniently avoiding most of the actually important questions.

Read the rest

1993 New York City recorded in high-definition DVHS format

This remarkably clear VHS footage of Clinton-era yuppies who are now retirement age will either take you back to a more innocent time, or give you a good glimpse of what yuppie scum looked like back in the day. Read the rest

Cool animated overview of how media manufactures consent

Manufacturing Consent feels like a must-read all over again lately, and this excellent primer by animator Pierangelo Pirak lays out the five filters of the mass media machine. Read the rest

RIP Popular Photography, 1937-2017

Eighty years after its founding as one of the first prosumer publications for the then-expensive hobby of photography, Popular Photography is ceasing both print and online operations following the next issue. Read the rest

Tabloid tale of man crushed by porn collection was fake

Gareth Davies' viral yarn about a Japanese man crushed to death by his porn collection has been proven false. Gizmodo's Matt Novak reports that it's about time Americans—and especially American media—realized that a lot of what the Daily Mail publishes is fabricated.

But almost nothing about that headline is correct. The Daily Mail seems to have taken a sad story of a man’s death in Japan and added a few lies to make it more sensational. And from there it went viral, getting picked up by the likes of The Mirror, The Toronto Sun, CBS Philly, and Sky News Australia, among a host of others.

So what really happened? Recently a Japanese man was found dead in his apartment. The man lived alone and had been dead for a month before he was discovered. The coroner ruled that he’d died of a heart attack. How do we know the real story? It was reported in Nikkan Spa in Japan on February 28, 2017. The Daily Mail story was published on March 3, 2017.

Read the rest

New York Times, CNN and other media barred from White House press event

The New York Times reports that it and at least two other media outlets, CNN and Politico, were barred today from a White House press event. Also locked out were the LA Times and Buzzfeed, writes Politico's Dan Diamond.

Journalists from The New York Times and two other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.

Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer allowed in reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed to attend.

It's OK, though: Breitbart got in! Read the rest

How Kellyanne Conway stymies reporters

Carlos Maza has a great breakdown of how Kellyanne Conway is so adept at deflecting questions. It's basically a form of journalistic jiu-jitsu that exploits journalistic civility and pivots by using their own words against them. Read the rest

“Crooked Hillary will die in jail!” and other tabloid stunners

You pays your money and you takes your choice with this week's tabloids.

"Crooked Hillary Will Die in Jail!" screams the 'Globe' cover, with a two-page exclusive inside predicting "Hillary's Prison Death Sentence!" You have to admire the Photoshopped picture of an ashen-faced Hillary, dark bags around her eyes, care-worn face furrowed with wrinkles, clad in an orange jumpsuit behind  grey metal prison bars. It's harder to be impressed by the "new evidence that will put her away!" which supposedly will be supplied by former president Bill Clinton when he testifies before the Eastern District of New York grand jury investigating the Clinton Foundation -- testimony which he may never give. And that "death sentence"? That's simply the 'Globe' anticipating that "Bill's testimony sends her away for 20 years," and with her "killer medical ailments, even a 10-year stretch would be a death sentence."

But if you believe the 'National Enquirer' -- and who wouldn't? -- the future looks rosy for Hillary Clinton, who it forecasts could be the next Mayor of New York City. It "Could Happen" assures the 'Enquirer,' which calls her mayoral election "easy pickings."

Singer George Michael "turned to booze and drugs" after his voice was "destroyed" by pneumonia in 2011, leading to his tragic demise, reports the 'Globe.'

Or you can believe the 'Enquirer,' which insists: "Blackmail Demands Drove George To Suicide!" Supposedly Michael was "driven to suicide by sinister blackmail threats from a train of male lovers in his life." It's a typically homophobic allegation that makes little sense for a man who was openly and proudly gay, and had little to fear from exposure. Read the rest

How to fake George Michael’s death, and other tabloid lies

How is “fake news” constructed? This week's ‘National Enquirer’ gives us a shining example of how it’s done.

Filling its cover is a somber photo of the late George Michael in repose, eyes closed, finally at peace.

“George Michael - The Last Photo!” screams the headline, below the shocking revelation: “Pop Icon’s Suicide Note Found."

Those are two great exclusives. If only they were true.

The photo of the singer apparently lying in his casket was actually taken two months before his death. In the original photo he was standing, but the ‘Enquirer’ simply turned the image on its side. George Michael was blinking when the picture was taken - an image that would normally be discarded, but useful in this instance to give the impression that he was at his final rest.

As for his “suicide note,” it doesn’t exist.

“I’m going insane, and I know there’s another way to do this,” the ‘Enquirer’ claims he wrote in his alleged suicide note. “I swear to God it was like I had a curse on me.”

The first line is actually an old quote made by the singer recalling his sadness after the death of his lover Anselmo Feleppa from an Aids-related illness, and then his beloved mother’s demise, between 1994 to 1997.

In the same breath, Michael had said back then: “I’d have to be seriously mentally disturbed to even consider suicide because of what it would do to the people who were already devastated from losing my mother.”

Michael’s quote about feeling that he was laboring under a “curse” came from an interview he gave to ‘The Guardian’ in 2005 - not a suicide note as the ‘Enquirer’ claims. Read the rest

Blue feed, red feed: side-by-side comparisons of social media feeds by politics

One of the most compelling data visualization projects from this year was Wall Street Journal's Blue Feed, Red Feed, which lets readers see exactly how divergent social media feeds have become, depending on someone's media diet. By coincidence, I capped an example that puts Boing Boing in their blue feed column. Read the rest

Every Trump lie will be instantly laundered as headline news

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

Marked for death - and the stars who defy the tabloids.

It’s that time of year when we look back on those we’ve loved and lost in 2016, but for the tabloids, it’s worth remembering those we haven’t lost  -  the stars we were promised had just days to live, yet who refuse to play the game and are still with us.

Nick Nolte, Cher, Jerry Lewis, Valerie Harper  -  all were given just weeks to live, yet defy the highly trained medical reporting teams of America's best tabloids.

For one moment set aside thoughts of David Bowie, Prince, George Michael and Carrie Fisher. Let’s take a break from mourning Zsa Zsa Gabor, the inspiration for celebutantes from Kim Kardashian to Paris Hilton, taken before her prime at the age of 99, with so much left to live for. Instead, let’s spare a moment of compassion for those poor tabloid hacks who wonder why their predictions of celebrity demise have proven so wrong. “Michael Douglas  -  The End!” screamed the ‘National Enquirer’ cover on March 28, 2016. He’s still with us.

“Michael J Fox  -  The End!” yelled the ‘Globe' front page on April 4. Also still with us.

With their expert medical knowledge and years of psychic training, tabloid reporters can often predict to the day how long an ailing celebrity has left.

‘Valerie Harper  -  2 Months To Live!” reported the ‘Globe’ on its cover of February 1. It’s been almost ten months, and she’s still here.

“Michael Douglas Cancer Relapse  -  3 Months To Live!” stated the cover of the ‘Enquirer’ on February 8. Read the rest

How to Destroy Democracy: SF Bay Area event Jan 10 with Masha Gessen and Drew Sullivan

We hope you can join us for this urgent conversation hosted by Institute for the Future, where Mark Frauenfelder and I are researchers:

Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California invites you to join us January 10, 2017 for an eye-opening discussion about global politics, corruption, and our best hope for preserving civic society featuring:

• Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot

• Drew Sullivan, co-founder of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

• plus additional investigative journalists from Russia and Eastern Europe.

Right-wing populist parties and autocratic leaders are gaining power in many countries, from France and Russia to Hungary and Poland. This trend long predates the recent U.S. elections that have added fuel to the fire. How did we get here? What are the real stories behind the headlines? This is a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from journalists who risk their lives analyzing the multi-trillion dollar criminal economy and uncovering corruption around the globe.

This group of journalists, along with other experts from the realms of media, academia, policy, and technology, are in the Bay Area to participate in a private convening hosted by the Institute for the Future in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and OCCRP. The convening, called The Future of Democracy: Preserving A Vibrant Civic Media, will result in a public roadmap of initiatives to preserve an open civic dialogue and strengthen democracy for everyone.

Read the rest

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