POTUS’ White House Media Blackout Has Reporters Talking Mutiny – SCOTT BIXBY 06.19.17 8:15 PM ET

After Sean Spicer banned live broadcasts of press briefings, many long-suffering White House correspondents are openly wondering whether it’s worth the hassle anymore.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

Nearly every president in office, at one time or another, is confronted with a near-impossible decision.

Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus. Truman relieving General MacArthur. Kennedy’s blockade of Cuba during the missile crisis. And now, the great question of President Donald Trump’s era: does he care more about his image? Or about his ratings?

The president’s unquenchable thirst for the attention of “the crooked media” and his ravenous hunger to punish them is the pushmi-pullyu of the Trump era—the political equivalent of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. But as Trump’s faith in his press shop reportedly wears thinner with every briefing gone awry, the White House communications team appears ready to make the president’s choice for him.

On Monday, reporters were barred from broadcasting live video or audio during the afternoon White House press briefing, the second briefing at which journalists were explicitly banned from making audio broadcasts since the previous Thursday. Press secretary Sean Spicer, flanked by counselor Kellyanne Conway and former Apprentice agitator-turned-communications liaison Omarosa Manigault, explained that the president’s appearance earlier with the president of Panama was enough for the whole class to share.

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So the FCC Head Says the Media Isn’t the Enemy. In 2017, That’s News – KLINT FINLEY 03.20.17 6:59 PM.

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times/Redux

Earlier this month, senators asked Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai whether he agreed with President Trump that the media is the enemy of the American people. Pai demurred, saying he didn’t want to wade into political debates.

Thirteen days later, he finally answered the question. No, he doesn’t think the media is the enemy. “A free media is vital to our democracy,” he wrote in a letter to Senate Democrats who continued to press the issue.

It’s through the FCC that the federal government could perhaps do the most damage to the media.

It’s a remarkable thing for any civil servant to have to say. But in the Trump era, it needed saying. Trump once said he has a “running war with the media.” He has promised to “open up” libel laws to expose journalists to more lawsuits (something he probably can’t constitutionally do). He threatened to sue the New York Times for reporting allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him. He has barred news organizations that have run unflattering stories about him from press briefings. Meanwhile, he has expanded access for outlets that cover him favorably.

But it’s through the FCC that the federal government could perhaps do the most damage to the media.

The agency could, in theory, deny broadcasting licenses for organizations that are critical of Trump or fast-track applications for groups that are less critical. And it could change media ownership rules to favor the White House’s preferred media brands. The public needs reassurance, in unequivocal terms, that the FCC chair wouldn’t be a party to such shenanigans.

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Obama Blames the Political Press for the Rise of Fake News. Is He Right? By Will Oremus

Obama may have a future as a media critic. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Obama may have a future as a media critic. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There was a plenty of blame to go around in Barack Obama’s melancholy final press conference of the year on Friday.* But he reserved some of his most trenchant criticism for the American political press. Whether or not the media is the villain most deserving of his public contempt right now, Obama’s critique was insightful—and largely valid.

Speaking on the same day the Washington Post reported that the FBI had joined the CIA in concluding that Russian state-sponsored hackers worked to help elect Donald Trump, Obama suggested that the U.S. media were at least as much to blame as the Russians themselves.

The leaks of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, Obama said, became in the media’s hands “an obsession that dominated the news.” He suggested that major media outlets’ newfound outrage at the latest charges of Russian meddling was disingenuous, because they had reported all along that there was evidence Russia was behind the hacks—but continued to gleefully dissect and distribute their content on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Obama argued, the groundwork for the success of the political hoaxes that have come to be called “fake news” was laid by hyperpartisan conspiracy-mongers on the U.S. media’s fringes, especially the rightward fringe. He said:

If fake news that’s being released by some foreign government is almost identical to reports that are being issued through partisan [U.S.] news venues, then it’s not surprising that foreign propaganda will have a greater effect. It doesn’t seem that far-fetched compared to some other stuff folks are hearing from domestic propagandists.

To the extent that our political dialogue is such that everybody’s under suspicion, everybody’s corrupt, everybody’s doing things for partisan reasons, and all our institutions are full of malevolent actors—if that’s the storyline that’s being put out there by whatever party’s out of power, then when a foreign government introduces that same argument with facts that are made up, voters who’ve been listening to that stuff for years, who’ve been given that stuff every day from talk radio or other venues, they’re going to believe it.

If we want to really reduce foreign influence on our elections, then we better think about how to make sure that our political process, our political dialogue, is stronger than it’s been.

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Progressive fundamentalism: how Hollywood and the media fortify the bubbles we all live in – Updated by Todd VanDerWerff Nov 14, 2016, 11:00am EST

The left can win over rural America without compromising its values. But it will take time and building relationships.

When I go home to South Dakota to visit my family, I speak two languages.

One is the language of my new home in California, of my job in the national media, a freewheeling speech that blends irony and academia and weird jokes. You’re probably familiar with this language if you read a lot of left-leaning internet sites.

The other is the language of my youth, and its hallmark is a sincere, aching tone that longs for salvation and worries everything is about to crumble. We talked a lot about the end of things when I was growing up, about the last trumpet and Armageddon. But when I sit and talk with family, it sounds almost as if the apocalypse came and went in the form of government regulation.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images












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China’s New Media – By Maria Repnikova and Kecheng Fang October 12, 2016


The Chinese media scene appears to be an increasingly hostile environment for a working journalist. Recent reports document how the Chinese state is slowly squeezing out foreign reporters, banning liberal Hong Kong media outlets from the mainland, and reducing Chinese journalists to party scribes.

This irredeemably bleak picture, however, underestimates the dynamism of Chinese media. Despite the political restraints, a new wave of media entrepreneurship is emerging, surviving, and redefining China. These enterprising initiatives vary in terms of agency and media products. Some are sanctioned and initiated by the state, some are created by groups of media professionals, while others represent “one-man acts” or solo performances on social media.

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Should the Media Downplay the New Murder Spike? – By Leon Neyfakh

Depending on your politics, the FBI’s new stats can look scary or meaningless. Here’s a more honest reading.

On Monday, the FBI released crime statistics for 2015. The results were not unexpected but newsworthy nonetheless: In the context of a presidential campaign in which one candidate has painted a picture of a nation being torn apart by violence and positioned himself as a champion of “law and order,” any new data on crime rates—what’s actually going on, underneath all the rhetoric—is valuable.

The FBI’s numbers do not prove Donald Trump right. But they also resist easy interpretation, inspiring a rather bitter tug of war between people with differing opinions about how the data should be understood. In covering the new stats, some news outlets led with the FBI’s finding that the total number of murders in America went up 10.8 percent last year—from a little over 14,000 killings in 2014 to just under 15,700 in 2015. Others sought to put that change in historical context, noting that the murder spike had followed a long, steep decline in violent crime that began more than 20 years ago.

Where different people placed the emphasis depended on their beliefs about crime and punishment. Those who think scary year-on-year crime statistics drum up misplaced support for overly aggressive law enforcement policies played down the murder surge. (In the Huffington Post, Ryan Reilly published a pointed story under the headline “2015 Was One of the Safest Years in The Past 2 Decades, According to FBI Crime Stats” and described the national homicide rate as having grown only “slightly.”) Those who see folly in focusing on good news when thousands of people are being killed highlighted all the ways in which crime has gotten worse. (Peter Moskos, a sociologist and ex-cop from Baltimore, wrote on his blog that while “the accepted liberal reaction to this increase seems to be ‘it’s not a big deal’ and ‘Don’t freak out’ … What matters, or at least should matter, is that more American are being murdered.”)

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