• Ali Watkins, NYTimes’ ace reporter

    “A New York Times journalist at the center of questions about media ethics and how information leaked from intelligence services reached new heights Monday after a report from the paper shows the reporter had dated more than one member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

    According to a Times spokesperson,

    Ms. Watkins erred in taking too literally the hoary newsroom adage that “you simply ‘got to f**king cross-check your anonymous sources.’ Also, she seems to have misunderstood ‘undercover reporting’ and ‘hoary.’

    The Times regrets any misunderstanding.

  • US quits virulently anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council. The WaPo says the Council has “perceived bias.” That’s rich.

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    Amb. Nikki Haley called the UN Human Rights Council a “cesspool of political bias.” She is correct, of course.

    The Washington Post’s own article cites plenty of corroborating evidence, none of simply “perceived.”

    Apparently the WaPo headline writer missed it. Here’s what the article itself says:

    Since 2006, the Human Rights Council has passed more than 70 resolutions critical of Israel, 10 times as often as it has criticized Iran.

    On one day alone in March, the council passed five resolutions condemning Israel.

    The council’s current membership includes 14 countries ranked as “not free” by Freedom House:
    Afghanistan,
    Angola,
    Burundi,
    China,
    Cuba,
    Congo,
    Egypt,
    Ethiopia,
    Iraq,
    Qatar,
    Rwanda,
    Saudi Arabia,
    the United Arab Emirates and
    Venezuela.

    Haley said many countries agree with U.S. accusations of anti-Israel bias on the council and hypocrisy by abusers but would not openly challenge the status quo. –Washington Post

    (Link to article here; behind paywall)

    What I perceive is that the Washington Post writes misleading headlines.

  • Journalism Ethics: Yesterday and Today at the NY Times

    Michael Goodwin, who writes opinion pieces for the NY Post, just published a column called “New York Times reporter broke the biggest rule in journalism (link here)”

    It is about the Times reporter, Ali Watkins, who previously worked for other papers and who slept with her source, the head of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    Good source.

    He apparently shared classified information with her as well as his Precious Bodily Fluids. He has now been indicted.

    Goodwin contrasts her lenient treatment with the standards of the legendary (and now departed) NYT editor, Abe Rosenthal.

    Soon after a woman who had covered politics in Philadelphia was hired by the Times, a story from Philly said she had a secret affair with a politician she covered and accepted expensive gifts from him.

    Rosenthal asked the woman if the story was true and, when she replied yes, immediately told her to clean out her desk and said she would never work for the paper again.

    Word of the incident spread quickly through the newsroom, and several female reporters complained to Rosenthal. They argued that the woman was treated unfairly, at which point Abe raised his finger for silence and said something to this effect:

    “I don’t care if you f–k an elephant on your personal time, but then you can’t cover the circus for the paper.” 

    –Michael Goodwin on Abe Rosenthal

    Comment:

    Today’s New York Times editors:

    “Say, Ali, would you like to meet Jim Comey?”

  • The Stench at Obama’s DOJ and FBI. My latest at Real Clear Politics.

    My latest at Real Clear Politics (link here)
    Here’s a synopsis:

    The Stench at Obama’s DOJ and FBI

    January 24, 2018

    The investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not the only major investigation in progress.

    There are now three major Congressional probes of the Obama-era FBI, Department of Justice, and intelligence agencies. They are slowly peeling away layers of political bias, unequal application of the law, and, perhaps even felonies by senior officials who may have leaked classified documents, obstructed justice, and violated Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.

    These Congressional probes are not mere diversions, as Democrats charge. They have serious, legitimate intentions and raise troubling questions.

    • Why did former FBI Director James Comey and his team pre-judge and soft-soap the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unsecured private server and her classified emails?
    • Why did they decide to clear her before completing key interviews with Mrs. Clinton and her aides?
    • Why did DOJ grant immunity so freely to obtain evidence that could have been easily subpoenaed by a grand jury?
    • Why did the government itself then destroy that evidence, so no one could do a real investigation later?
    • For that matter, why didn’t they convene a grand jury in the first place, as Mueller did almost immediately?
    • What involvement did the FBI counter-intelligence division have with the FusionGPS, Christopher Steele “Russian dossier,” financed by the Clinton campaign?
    • Was the dossier used, in part, to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump associates and, if so, was the FISA court completely informed about the dossier’s financing, provenance, and lack of verification?
    • And what the hell happened to months of text messages among key anti-Trump investigators at the FBI and DOJ?

    VERY important questions. The public deserves answers.

    That’s why these investigations are at least as important as Mueller’s, and for the same reason. They are both about honest elections and the rule of law, applied equally to insiders and outsiders, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

    It’s about whether our most powerful government agencies are worthy of our trust. If we have lost sight of those values, we’ve lost our Constitutional bearings.

    The complete op-ed is here (link)

     

     

  • How to Insult the Millions of True Fascist Victims, while posing at the Morality Police (CNN edition)

    The Most Trusted Name in News . . . if it is the only TV channel at your airport gate.

    Otherwise, nobody’s watching.

    This, mind you, is an actual CNN article.

    Does it even occur to these moral poseurs that this is a blatant insult to people killed or imprisoned by true fascists?

    Where is Winston Churchill to save us from Thomas the Tank Engine? My guess: he and the RAF are too busy fighting the Paw Patrol, trying to save St. Paul’s Cathedral.

  • Major Errors by Major Networks

    For anyone who cares about accurate reporting, the past week was truly disastrous.

    Since democracy depends on transparency and some measure of justified trust in our basic institutions, these journalistic failures are damaging to the country.

    The misreporting comes on top of well-documented sexual harassment and abuse allegations that led to Matt Lauer’s firing and raise questions about how much his bosses knew and covered up over the years. One, Andrew Lack, is still at NBC. The other, Jeff Zucker, runs CNN.

    We also heard Cokie Roberts, long-time reporter for ABC News, say on the air that female reporters knew not to get into elevators alone with some Congressmen and Senators. She didn’t seem to notice that neither she nor anyone else considered that worthy of investigating or reporting.

    As for last week’s errors, Glenn Greenwald cites chapter and verse here:

    The U.S. Media Suffered Its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened (The Intercept)

    CNN also illustrates how these organizations offered only lame apologies for BIG errors:

    Misreporting the date, which both CNN and ABC did, was not a minor matter. It went to the heart of charges that candidate Trump worked with Russia and Russian-backed organizations to win the election. In fact, the accurate dates were after Trump was elected.

    Some people have attributed the errors to sloppy reporting, others to deliberate efforts (presumably by the leakers) to harm either Trump or the networks that reported.

    There is no doubt the reporting was sloppy, the retractions mealy-mouthed.

    But I have an additional observation, albeit purely speculative. First, note that the leaks came from classified settings, such as the House Intel Committee. Second, we know that the Department of Justice has established a high-priority task force to identify the sources of classified leaks. So, I speculate, could DOJ (working with US intel agencies) given specific people some documents seeded with misinformation to see if that identifiable info was leaked? If it was, then the source would be obvious to DOJ or the CIA.

    That technique is a familiar one. Intelligence agencies sometimes alter each document slightly for each individual recipient. That way, if some portion ends up in the newspaper, it might be possible to identify which recipient leaked it. I wonder if that’s what happened here? The fact that two sources confirmed CNN’s erroneous story makes me wonder if a Congressman or two received a deliberately altered document.

  • The Next Stage in the National Harassment Story? The Executives Who Knew and Did Nothing

    The latest episode, broken by New York Magazine’s The Cut, involves harassment allegations against now-retired NPR personality, John Hockenberry. (Link here)

    What happens next shows the Ghost of Christmas Future.

    There is outrage that Hockenberry’s employer did so little after being told of the initial allegations. She admits knowing of the allegations for months–and NPR contributors are not happy.

    Calls for public radio president Laura Walker to resign after ‘cowardly’ response to sex harassment claims–Fox News

    If, as I expect, the story expands from “who did it” to “who covered it up,” then a lot of executives will be in deep trouble.

    It’s one thing for Hollywood stars and producers to know about Harvey Weinstein and stay silent. That’s morally troubling, but, because they are not his employer, they don’t have an affirmative, legal obligations to act.

    That’s not true for, say, the executives at NBC who employed the immensely-profitable Matt Lauer. They had a responsibility to protect their other employees from his predations and to create a safe workplace. Instead, they allowed the installation of a “lock-the-door” button in his office so he could drop his pants.

    Who is in the line of here? The executives who worked most closely with Lauer over the years. High on that list are NBC’s Andrew Lack and Jeff Zucker, formerly at NBC, now at CNN.