Trump threatens network licenses over “fake news”

False news is bad and fake news is ever worse.

But, in this case, Pres. Trump’s counterpunch against NBC crosses a line.

It’s a line we need to uphold to ensure powerful state actors squelch a free press.


Why is Pres. Trump’s tweet so objectionable?

Because it threatens to use the state’s vast powers against his political opponents.

That threat is the antithesis of constitutional, democratic governance.

That was the essence of the charge against the IRS during the Obama years: weaponize the IRS.

That’s the essence of the charges against the Deep State.

And that is what Trump is doing now (Fox News)

It is perfectly fine for him to say the news report about his wanting more nuclear weapons is completely wrong. (Link to NBC story here.)

  • The story certainly appears to be false. Gen. Mattis has backed up the President on that point. Mattis’ word is good enough for me.
  • By Wednesday evening, NBC News had not corrected or withdrawn its “exclusive report.”

It is fine for the President to call this report and others “fake news,” although his repeated use of the term and his broad brush raise troubling questions, both about Trump and about the media.

But, unless there is direct evidence that the media have knowingly falsified news reports to damage their political foes, the President should never threaten them with loss of their license.

That’s an abuse of executive power.

Threats like that from the powerful perch of the Oval Office should be called out for what they are: threats to an open, democratic, constitutional government of laws.


ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, October 4

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Pres. Trump heads to Las Vegas. If he’s wise, he’s stick to one role, that of “head of state.” This should be a journey of grief and remembrance, not politics.

At times, the President is asked to speak for all his countrymen, to express our grief. Pres. Reagan set the standard with his speech after the Challenger Disaster. Actually, he did it twice, once from the Oval Office that night (the speech where he said the astronauts had waved goodbye to us this morning and “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God”) and then several days later, with a sad, powerful elegy at their memorial service (below).

For a wonderful memory of that speech, here’s Peggy Noonan talking about it–and being asked by Reagan to write it. (Washington Post)

Comment: Of course, there was nothing controversial about that event, as there is after each mass shooting.

Each shooting raises important political issues, always about guns and sometimes about mental health, racism, and other issues.

But, for the sake of the country, put aside the controversies for one more day, Mr. President.

And do the same, Mr. Schumer, Ms. Clinton, and Ms. Pelosi.

Then return to the fray.

We know the Las Vegas killer planned meticulously, but we still don’t know his motive (Washington Post)

Comment: The absence of a clearly-stated motive raises questions. The most important is whether there is anything to ISIS’ repeated statements that it was behind the shooting. Most experts discount that claim, but they also note it is unusual for ISIS to repeat its claims, as it has in this case.

Today in hypocrisy:  Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), popular with pro-life movement, urged abortion in affair, texts suggest (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The congressman has been lauded by the Family Research Council, for his stance on abortion, as well as for family values, generally. He also has been endorsed by LifePAC, which opposes abortion rights, and is a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, an affiliation that is often cited by his office. –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The FCC is considering Net Neutrality Again and asked for comments. They got plenty . . . from robots (Vice/Motherboard)

The Trump administration and its embattled FCC commissioner are on a mission to roll back the pro-net neutrality rules approved during the Obama years, despite the fact that most Americans support those safeguards.

But there is a large number of entities that do not: telecom companies, their lobbyists, and hordes of bots.

Of all the more than 22 million comments submitted to the FCC website and through the agency’s API found that only 3,863,929 comments were “unique,” according to a new analysis by Gravwell, a data analytics company. The rest? A bunch of copy-pasted comments, most of them likely by automated astroturfing bots, almost all of them—curiously—against net neutrality.

That means 80% Of all “Net Neutrality” comments were sent by bots, all on one side.

 Today in Islamist terror: France passes a tough, new counter-terrorism law

  • Anti-terror law described here at BBC. One feature: easier to search homes and jail individuals without judge’s approval
  • Terrorists tried and failed to detonate gasoline bombs in a wealthy Paris neighborhood; they were captured. According to The Telegraph:

Judicial sources said the explosive device included two gas canisters inside the building in the affluent 16th arrondissement of western Paris and two outside, some of them doused with petrol and wired to connect to a mobile phone. It appears there were several unsuccessful attempts to detonate the canisters.

The five arrested over the Paris bomb, men in their thirties, are known to authorities and one is on an intelligence services list of “radicalised” people, which includes the names of potential Islamist militants. –Telegraph


Hat Tip to

Michael Lipson for the net-neutrality bots story

ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, May 21

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 My quick take on Trump’s Trip:

There are two key elements to Trump’s trip, in my opinion.

The first is to reorient US policy in the Middle East after what most of the region considers the disastrous Obama years.

Pres. Trump is saying “we are back and we oppose Iran.”

In return, Trump wants (and expects) local partners to start cutting off terror funding from their locals and participate in the larger battles against Iran and terrorism.

This stage of the trip, now completed, went very well and included a full-throated speech by Trump that touched the right issues without stepping on toes. It ended, significantly, with “God Bless America,” a phrase seldom uttered in the Land of the Two Holy Places.

The speech was far-better received than Obama’s famous speech in Cairo, which was a prolonged apology for American policy and included ample references to the Koran. Those were overshadowed by his weak stance toward friends, even weaker stance toward enemies, and refusal to give the speech unless the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood could sit among the dignitaries–another of his disastrous miscalculations, as the region quickly came to see it.

Trump’s second goal is to reestablish strong ties with NATO, while still pressing the Europeans for more payments.

His visit to Israel does not have such clear objectives; we’ll know more soon.

The Vatican trip is simply for show.

◆ Further comments: Dan Pipes calls the Saudi speech “pretty good”.

Pipes is not an easy grader, so that’s a high mark. His praise is related to Trump’s reorientation of US policy toward Iran and Islam more generally.

But he has some withering criticisms, too, calling the speech “incoherent” and “neither eloquent nor insightful.”

It’s farcical to announce the opening in Riyadh, the headquarters of Wahhabism, of a “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.” –Daniel Pipes

As always, he is well worth reading.

 Conservative media owner Sinclair is buying the Tribune’s broadcast TV stations. The MSM does not like it.

The NYTimes has already opposed it, vigorously. Now the Washington Post does, too.

Here’s the WaPo headline: Sinclair’s TV deal would be good for Trump. And his new FCC is clearing the way.

When French voters resoundingly elected a centrist president rather than a right-leaning antiglobalist this month, one reason may have been the nation’s news media.

As a French newspaper editor commented: “We don’t have a Fox News in France.”

The United States certainly does have one. Pretty soon, it may have the equivalent of two.

Sinclair Broadcast Group has struck a deal with Tribune Media to buy dozens of local TV stations.

And what Fox News is for cable, Sinclair could become for broadcast: programming with a soupcon — or more — of conservative spin.

Already, Sinclair is the largest owner of local TV stations in the nation. If the $3.9 billion deal gets regulatory approval, Sinclair would have 7 of every 10 Americans in its potential audience.

That’s too much power to repose in one entity,” Michael Copps, who served on the FCC from 2001 to 2012, told me. –Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post media columnist

Comment: There is a real possibility Sinclair will form a national, conservative network to rival Fox, which has struggled recently.

You would expect Fox to be grumpy. Nobody likes competition.

But opposition by the Washington Post and New York Times is different. They don’t oppose Sinclair because it will compete with them for revenue. Their opposition is ideological.They oppose Sinclair because it will compete with them for hearts and minds. 

Still, you have to be amused when the paper owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos trots out anti-trust reasons.

 World Health Organization moves around in style, spending more on travel and upscale hotels than on fighting AIDS  (NY Post)

The UN health agency blows around $200 million a year on travel costs so its honchos can fly business class and stay in five-star hotels — more than what it reserves for battling some of the world’s biggest health crisis, the AP reports. –NY Post

The travel budget was also larger than the amount they spent fighting malaria or TB. They did spend more fighting polio.

Comment: The WHO seems to have adopted Marie Antoinette’s motto. They should remember: it did not work out well for her.

 NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio honors a Marxist-Leninist, Puerto Rican terrorist  (PJ Media)

Ron Radosh lacerates Pres. Obama for releasing the miscreant, de Blasio for honoring him, and the NY Times for papering over the evil:

A few days ago, a New York Times headline informed readers that the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade held in New York City  would honor Oscar Lopez Rivera, a person they described as a “long-jailed militant” and a “nationalist” — certainly  a misleading description of the self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist and terrorist.

If you’re wondering how this could have happened, you should thank President Barack Obama, who paid off any debts he had to the far left by granting Lopez Rivera clemency in the last few days of his administration. –Ron Radosh at PJ Media

 The real story is much hotter than the AP headline: “California Democrats take aim at Trump, GOP Congress  Well, d’uh.

Here’s the real, crude, and disgusting story:

In a sign of the vigor of the party’s distaste for the president, outgoing party Chair John Burton, a longtime Democratic lawmaker and powerbroker known for his blunt and profane manner, extended two middle fingers in the air as the crowd cheered and joined him.

“F— Donald Trump,” he said. –AP

Comment: Read that again to see what bias looks like. This crude, foul treatment of a democratically-elected leader is called “a sign of vigor.”

Ask yourself this, if the Republican convention in Texas or Minnesota had chanted “F**k Obama” and held up middle fingers, do you think the Associated Press would have called it “a sign of vigor”? Not a chance. They would have blasted it with their biggest cannon.

If you treat the same event differently, depending on whose ox is gored, then your reporting is biased.

That’s one reason Trump’s backers are incensed that the MSM, which was somnolent during so many scandals in recent years, has come out of hibernation now that they have found a President they can hate.



zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Tom Elia
for the California Democrats story


ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Saturday, January 21

Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Kudos to Hillary Clinton for attending the inauguration  No visitor’s appearance was more important than that of the defeated candidate. That is always true. Drudge mocked Bill and Hillary as “glum and glummer.” That’s true, but it misses the larger point. They showed up. They were not part of Rep. John Lewis’ boycott of a president who, he thinks, was not legitimately elected. They deserve praise. For Hillary, this must have been the hardest, most painful appearance of her political life. She deserves the standing-ovation Pres. Trump asked the luncheon at the Capitol to give her and the former president.

 Churchill bust back in Oval Office  (CNN)

Comment: Good. It’s a small symbolic step, but it says who our friends are.

 Trump has only two confirmed members of his cabinet; Obama had seven  (CNN)

The seven includes one holdover from the Bush administration, Sec. of Defense Gates.

 CIA chief confirmation delayed amid partisan quarrels (McClatchy)

Comment: The Democrats have been slowing the confirmation process as a political strategy. Politically, it is a mistake. Nationally, it is a danger since key security officials such as the head of CIA and the Director of National Intelligence are not in office. (Mattis and Kelly are the only confirmed members of the Cabinet. Flynn does not need confirmation.)

As soon as Cabinet members have turned in all their paperwork and Senators have had several days to review it, they should be voted up or down so the Executive Branch can function with departmental leadership.

Comment: Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to even shake hands with Betsy DeVos after her hearing was shameful and petty. Vote against her, if you wish, but show some common courtesy.

 China has fewer tools to sustain economic growth, as monetary easing and strong property market “peter out” (Wall Street Journal)

 Net Neutrality, passed by Obama’s FCC, could be reversed  Trump will nominate current FCC commissioner Ajit Pai to head the agency. He opposes many Obama-era policies, including “net neutrality.” (Business Insider)