Farewell, Shepard Smith

This was the shocking farewell sign-off by Shepard Smith last Friday at the end of his “Shepard Smith Reporting” program. As a news host at the Right-wing Trump-lackey FOX News network, he dared to go against the grain. Though a sensationalist in journalistic style, he did speak truth to power, or as close to it as it gets in the mainstream media. He was the only one at FOX who ever put Donald Trump’s lies on trial. For example, as taken from the NYT story covering Smith’s departure:

A member of the network’s founding staff in 1996, Mr. Smith became increasingly conspicuous at Fox News for his skepticism on President Trump. “Why is it lie after lie after lie?” Mr. Smith asked during a 2017 newscast; this summer, he deemed the president’s attacks on minority female lawmakers as “misleading and xenophobic.”

In a separate article in the Times, they covered in-fighting between personalities at the self-proclaimed”fair and balanced”news outlet. Smith had even been clashing with FOX talking head Tucker Carlson on air (And now this only leaves poor Juan Williams, best known for his presence on “The Five”, straying from the lock-step behind Trump and his revolting march towards infamy).

Do not get me wrong, there are absolutely no real mainstream Left-wing news outlets here in the U.S. But in the battle that joins liberals and far-leftists together against FOX News, we lost an ally.

Cartoon Offensive Or On The Mark?

IsraelOnce again, the Jewish/Israeli leaders cannot take any criticism regarding their treatment of the plighted Palestinian, from anywhere, without screaming anti-Semitism or blood-libel. This is just as bad as Muslim riots when a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed appears in a political cartoon and raises outrage in the Middle East.

Read Here.

Accountability and the Pursuit of Truth in Modern Media

Katrina vanden Heuvel writes a great editorial in the Washington Post regarding the downfall of mainstream newspapers in the digital age and how accountability journalism and the pursuit of truth is so important to the media’s health.

Read Here. 

Cameron Braces for Testimony in News Corp Phone Hacking Scandal

David Cameron, U.K. prime minister, is bracing for testimony from the now defunct News of the World editors that will reveal the indicated tight relationship between the P.M. and News Corp. publications.

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Rupert Murdoch is Ideological. His Money is Bipartisan.

ABC News reported some of the political donations of Rupert Murdoch and his media organizations and the recipients of those donations included some names that may surprise some.  Names like Pelosi, Schumer, and even Obama.  Names that have the (D) by them when they run for office.  Names that also regularly get attacked by the Murdoch-owned pundits at Fox News.

This should really surprise no one paying attention to the media scandal in Britain.  Murdoch has been shown to wine-and-dine prime ministers of different ideological schools of thought on his private yachts so the reality that he donates to both parties in the U.S. is logical and should be expected.  Murdoch is simply an opportunist.  Tighter campaign laws in the UK force him to use one type of tactic to buy influence there.  Loose campaign finance laws allow him to more openly buy his influence here.  He uses the tools (money) at his disposal to get his way.

Remember that these methods of gaining influence are not the illegal actions Murdoch’s organizations are under scrutiny for using.  That he gives money to different political parties is no surprise as many corporations and wealthy donors do the same in the U.S.  The fact that these donations are not illegal is what should concern people.

It is amazing we do not legislate campaign donations in a much tougher way in the United States.  Let’s face it.  When someone donates a large amount of money to many different people on separate sides of the ideological spectrum, it is not a donation because those recipients reflect the ideological philosophy of the donor.  It is a donation to make sure legislation tilts in the interest of the donor.  We have a word for that.  It’s called a bribe.

Any rational and truly democratic society would call it what it is and make sure the laws would not allow this buying of influence to occur.  The likelihood of corruption is obvious and the fact it has happened many times in the U.S. is no secret.  In a democracy with an objective media, there would be an uproar calling for change.  In a democracy where the biased-media is the one performing the corruption, the silence is deafening.

Murdoch Questioning This Week Has Murdoch and Politicians Worried

A good article from the NYT on how nerve-wracking the questioning of Rupert Murdoch by the U.K. government should fray the nerves of not only Murdoch but the politicians who have curried his favor, too.

Read Here.

Times of London Sued in News Corp. Hacking Scandal

Mark Lewis, the attorney filing many of the lawsuits against News Corp. subsidiaries during this hacking scandal, is now suing the Times of London for hacking into the e-mail account of a popular blogger in the U.K.

This scandal just gets bigger and bigger. How will it end for News Corp. and Mr. Murdoch’s media empire?

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News Corp/Murdoch Hacking Scandal Will Hit U.S.

A British lawyer by the name of Mark Lewis plans to file 3 lawsuits for 3 clients in America over the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct News of the World.

This thing is so huge (4000 victims of phone hacking) that it had to cross the Atlantic at some point. I would just like an investigation of FOX News and The Wall Street Journal for this culture of corruption at the News of the World and BSkyB may be fostered in these other institutions also.

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Vigilante Journalists? Probably Not a Good Idea

As the hacking scandal of the Murdoch-owned media unfolds, Sky News now claims it was hacking only in the interest of the public good.  They even describe an example that is hard to argue against since it is one of the rare instances where we might not be too appalled at the thought of Sky breaking a particular case (a man faking his death to collect insurance money and Sky finding him through email).  But where is the line drawn and would Sky even draw a line in the interest of a good leading story?

We know that journalist can do great investigative reporting such as Watergate and can contribute to the public good.  But this is (at least to our knowledge) done within the legal limits of the law.  When journalist and news organizations begin accusing people of crimes based on their own amateur criminal investigation it runs the risk of ruining the lives of innocent people.  And when the story is a bombshell-type that will draw a ton of reaction from the public, editors will be too tempted to ignore it in the interest of selling more papers and gaining more advertising revenue.

Let’s face facts.  The U.S. criminal justice system has been wrong at least a portion of the time and has put innocent people in prison and unfortunately executed some.  This is a system filled with experienced people trained to do the jobs they perform and they still get it wrong some of the time.  What happens when we have people not properly trained to do this work but have the power to tell the world about their investigations?  We get accusations that prove to be wrong at a higher rate than the justice system but still take a huge toll on the innocent people involved.

The results of this case will seemingly have a massive impact on the world of journalism and, in particular, the ethics of chasing stories in the future.  Whether the eventual penalty will be hard enough to stop this invasion of privacy of all people (public official, celebrity, accused criminal, or family of a fallen soldier) remains to be seen.  We can really only hope enough can be done to stop this type of illegal vigilante journalism before more people get their lives negatively affected by false and unfair accusations.

James Murdoch Steps Down from BskyB

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, is stepping down from BSkyB (a British satellite broadcaster partially owned by the Murdoch family) to protect it from any accusations in phone hacking scandal.

For background information on this story please view the Frontline episode linked here from yesterday’s post.

Read Here