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PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:41 pm    Post subject: US TV-News is obsessed with Trump-Russia Probe Reply with quote

Study: TV News Is Obsessed With Trump-Russia Probe
By Rich Noyes | June 27, 2017 8:50 AM EDT

How much has the media’s obsession with the ongoing Russia investigation smothered the rest of the Trump policy agenda? A Media Research Center study of every broadcast network evening newscast in the five weeks since the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller on May 17 found a whopping 353 minutes of airtime devoted to the Russia probe, or 55 percent of all coverage of the Trump presidency during those weeks.

The networks’ relentless coverage of Russia meant little airtime was spent on important policy topics, as the investigation garnered 20 times more attention than the new health care bill, 100 times more attention than the administration’s push to improve the nation’s infrastructure, and a stunning 450 times more coverage than the push for comprehensive tax reform.

The study also found one-third (34%) of the networks’ Russia coverage was based on anonymous sources, some of which later proved erroneous.[....]

]The Russia investigation was by far the dominant topic in these stories, totaling 353 minutes of airtime, or more than half of all Trump coverage during this period. [...]

ABC’s World News Tonight was the most enraptured by the Russia story, devoting 134 minutes to the investigation, or nearly two-thirds (63%) of all of its Trump news during this period. The CBS Evening News churned out 124 minutes of Russia news (54% of its Trump coverage), while NBC Nightly News spent a total of 95 minutes talking about the investigation (48% of its overall Trump coverage).

In contrast, the top policy issue during these five weeks — the debate about the President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty — drew just 47 minutes of coverage. Top legislative items were almost completely lost during these weeks, with just 17 minutes spent on competing bills to repeal and replace ObamaCare, five minutes on efforts to boost the economy and create more jobs, and a meager 47 seconds on tax reform
[emphasis added]

Without question, the President’s own comments about the Russia investigation, including his ubiquitous tweets, supplied the networks with a rationale for some of this coverage, but it’s not as if reporters felt compelled to cover all of Trump’s utterances. On the subject of infrastructure improvements, for example, the President spoke on camera at a variety of public events in early June, but the networks offered a mere three minutes of airtime — 1/100th as much as they spent on the investigation.

Our analysts found that one-third of all of the Russia/Comey stories (58 out of 171) relied at least in part on unnamed, anonymous sources for crucial information. Of course, these sources are only anonymous to viewers, not the reporters who talk to them. But their anonymity means viewers can’t weigh the information against any agenda — partisan or otherwise — that may contribute to the source’s motive in secretly talking to journalists. And in cases where the information turned out to be false, the anonymous source remains happily hidden from public view, sharing none of the blame for misleading the audience.

So what did TV viewers learn from the networks’ secret sources? CBS correspondent Jeff Pegues on May 17 offered nothing more than speculation about why then-Trump transition advisor Michael Flynn talked in December to Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak: “CBS News has learned that investigators believe Flynn may have been acting on orders from someone else.” (Italics added for emphasis.)

All of the networks used anonymous leaks to make it sound gravely important when word came that there would be questions posed to the President’s son-in-law, as NBC’s Peter Alexander did May 25: “Multiple U.S. officials tell NBC News tonight that Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law, one of his closest advisors, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation....”

On June 8, NBC’s Pete Williams used anonymous sources to briefly float a guilty-sounding tidbit about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which he promptly dismissed: “Investigators tell NBC News the FBI was looking at whether Sessions had a meeting he didn’t disclose last year with Russia’s ambassador at a Washington, D.C. hotel. Justice Department officials have since said there was no such meeting.”

Sometimes, the anonymous sources were flat-out wrong. On June 6 ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir teased “exclusive reporting, what ABC News has learned — what the fired FBI director plans to tell Congress.”

Moments later, correspondent Jon Karl made the reveal: “Tonight, a source familiar with Comey’s thinking tells ABC News that the former FBI director will directly contradict what the President wrote in the letter telling him he was fired: ‘I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I’m not under investigation.’...According to our source, Comey will dispute that.”

An on-screen headline reinforced the point: “Sources: Comey Will Dispute Some Trump Claims.”

The next day, a transcript of Comey’s testimony was released showing the exact opposite, that Comey would support Trump’s statement. Without any reference to their misreporting from the previous evening, anchor David Muir on June 7 told viewers Comey “will acknowledge that he did tell the President that he was not under investigation, personally, on multiple occasions.”

Correspondent Jon Karl also made no reference to the earlier, faulty report, as he read the response from Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz: “Kasowitz says the President feels completely and totally vindicated.”

TV’s obsession with the Russia investigation flies in the race of what the public says it actually cares about. According to a Harvard-Harris poll released late last week, “a majority of voters believe the Russia investigations are damaging to the country and are eager to see Congress shift its focus to healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs.”

Given the disconnect, it should be no surprise that half of all voters see the media as biased against Trump, compared to only four percent who think the media are pro-Trump, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, with two-thirds of Republican respondents (68%) saying media coverage of the President is “poor.”

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Media will do anything to bash Trump - and now they're hurting

Michael Goodwin

First posted: Thursday, June 29, 2017 07:40 AM EDT | Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017 07:50 AM EDT

It was many years ago, but the memory lingers of the first time I was embarrassed to be a journalist. It was a steamy summer afternoon and reporters and photographers were shoehorned into a small Manhattan apartment for a civic group’s announcement.

As we waited, a photographer wearing a “Press” card in his battered fedora picked up a bud vase from a table, pulled out the rose and drank the water in one gulp.

The hostess was horrified and shrieked, “What are you doing?” He looked at her as if she were nuts and said simply, “It’s hot in here and I’m thirsty.”

I laugh now at the outlandishness of the photographer’s behaviour, but at the time I cringed and wondered: Do I really want to be a journalist and end up like that?

America should be so lucky now. Bad manners are the least of it.

In the sixth month of Donald Trump’s presidency, we are witnessing an unprecedented meltdown of much of the media. Standards have been tossed overboard in a frenzy to bring down the president.

Trump, like all presidents, deserves coverage that is skeptical and tough, but also fair. That’s not what he’s getting.

What started as bias against him has become a cancer that is consuming the best and brightest. In rough biblical justice, media attempts to destroy the president are boomeranging and leaving their reputations in tatters.

He accuses them of publishing fake news, and they respond with such blind hatred that they end up publishing fake news. That’ll show him.

CNN is suffering an especially bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, even trying to make a virtue of its hostility to the president. In doing so, executives conveniently confuse animus with professional skepticism, and cite growing audiences as proof of their good judgment.

The bottom line matters, and there is certainly an audience for hating Trump all the time. But facts and fairness separate major news organizations from any other business looking to make a buck, and a commitment to them creates credibility and public trust.

That’s how CNN sold itself for years — boring but trustworthy. Now it’s boring and untrustworthy.

For all its bravado, the network might be having doubts about its course. Its apology for and retraction of a story connecting a Trump associate to a Russia investment fund, and the resignation of three journalists involved, suggest the network fears it has lost control of its own agenda. It also issued a special edict barring all Russia coverage without approval from top bosses.

That’s hardly a solution to a problem that starts at the top. The secret recording of a CNN producer by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas catches the producer saying that CEO Jeff Zucker relentlessly pushes stories on Trump’s ties to Russia even though, the producer says, the subject is “mostly bulls--t.”

Russia, Russia, Russia is a fixation for all the networks, with a new study by the Media Research Center showing 55% of Trump coverage on nightly broadcasts was related to the Russia investigation.

That adds up to 353 minutes of airtime since May 17, compared to 47 minutes on Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate pact, 29 minutes on the fight against terrorism and 17 minutes on the efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare, according to the Daily Caller’s summary of the study. It said tax reform got a mere 47 seconds of coverage.

Too much coverage is far from the only problem with Russia reporting. Writing for The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald shows how reckless CNN, the Washington Post and others have been, and makes two key points.

First, that mistakes are “always in the direction of exaggerating the threat and/or inventing incriminating links between” Russia and Trump. Second, that all the false stories “involved evidence-free assertions from anonymous sources that these media outlets uncritically treated as fact.”

He’s right, and I would add another dimension: For all the focus on Russia, the media totally missed a key point. To wit, the Obama administration did nothing about Vladimir Putin’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election even though the White House knew about it for months.

Of course, most media organizations spent eight years cheerleading everything Obama did, and it’s no secret that members of his administration, along with career Democrats, are the anonymous sources feeding the anti-Trump narrative.

Still, it is remarkable that, if it weren’t for the unproven allegations of Trump collusion, the media would have no interest in the Russia story at all. This despite the fact that leading officials, including both Democrats and Republicans, have called the interference an “act of war.”

But it’s a strange war — one that is important only to the extent Trump can be linked to it. Otherwise, who cares?

A similar selective outrage is happening with daily White House press briefings. Tired of being the mouse in a cat-and-mouse game of torture, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, has kept the briefings basically intact but ordered live cameras and audio equipment turned off.

Predictably, the press corps has reacted as though Trump has shredded the Constitution, burned the Declaration of Independence and peed in their beer. Reporters are complaining bitterly and some murmur about a boycott, which would be like gouging out their last eye.

The White House Correspondents’ Association weighed in, saying, reasonably, that the briefings are important sources of information. But then it went off the rails, with its president, Jeff Mason of Reuters, saying televising them is “clearly in line with the spirit of the First Amendment” and that “doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the U.S. system, no political figure is above being questioned.”

As Mason’s claims grew more grandiose, I flashed back to that photographer drinking from the bud vase so long ago. He was wrong, but honest and devoid of pretentious self-importance.

On the other hand, there is nothing honest about the claim that letting reporters perform for the camera in the White House keeps faith with the First Amendment. It’s just inflated self-interest hiding behind the Constitution.

And really, really embarrassing to those of us who love journalism.

- Goodwin writes for the New York Post. His column is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Post


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another little insight ... I have been trying to find out just exactly what the Russians are alleged to have done. This seems to be the best explanation I found.


To me, it seems like the Russians were just looking around to see what they could do -- but they didn't actually do anything. American election professionals have worked and shaped the campaign of Boris Yeltsin, for example. They are active in the Ukraine. We know this. The Russians resent this. They probably want to see what they could do if they wanted to, nothing more for the present.

In fact, this happened during the Obama administration.

Secondly, if the Russians were doing this, why on earth would anyone doubt that they were watching Hillary Clinton's rogue server? Was the server, in fact, a 'drop' for documents and information the Clinton's produced as appreciation for a donation? Oh, what wicked thoughts occur ...
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US TV-News is obsessed with Trump-Russia Probe

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