Archives for category: Media

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post criticizes the New York Times for not allowing its reporters to tell the unvarnished truth. The Times suffers from “both side-ism.” The Times’s pretense of neutrality ends up falsifying the truth and distorting reality. The reality is that the president of the United States is an ignorant and malicious tyrant who endangers our democracy, our future, and the world.

There’s a provision in the New York Times ethics guidelines that limits what a news-side reporter may say during a television interview. “Generally a staff member should not say anything on radio, television or the Internet that could not appear under his or her byline in The Times,” note the guidelines.

Donald G. McNeil Jr. is a science and health reporter at the New York Times. He’s been analyzing the coronavirus story ever since the pandemic started roaring. His latest stop on that tour was an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN, where, well, let’s just say that McNeil said things that could not appear under his Times byline:

“We completely blew it for the first two months of our response. We were in a headless-chicken phase, and yes, it’s the president’s fault, it is not China’s fault. The head of the Chinese CDC was on the phone to Robert Redfield on Jan. 1, again on Jan. 8, and the two agencies were talking on Jan. 19. The Chinese had a test on Jan. 13; the Germans had a test on Jan. 16. We fiddled around for two months, we had a test on March 5 and it didn’t work. We didn’t have 10,000 people tested until March 15. So we lost two months there, and that was because of incompetent leadership at the CDC, I’m sorry to say — it’s a great agency, but it’s incompetently led, and I think Dr. Redfield should resign. And suppression from the top: I mean, the real coverup was the person in this country who was saying, you know, ‘This is not an important virus, the flu is worse, it’s all going to go away, it’s nothing.’ And that encouraged everybody around him to say, ‘It’s nothing, it’s nothing, it’s nothing.’ I had the same problem at the Times — I was trying to convince my editors, ‘This is really bad; this is a pandemic.’ It took a while to get them, it took a while to get anybody to believe this. … Getting rid of Alex Azar was a mistake — he was actually leading a dramatic response and then … in February he was replaced with Mike Pence, who’s a sycophant.”

Later in the interview, McNeil alighted on Trump’s briefing-room riffs about disinfectant and light as treatments for coronavirus. “This is not somebody whose grasp of the science is even third-grade-level,” said McNeil.

Had McNeil attempted to write in a New York Times story that “we blew it,” his editors might have inserted: “As coronavirus wended its way around the world, the Trump administration missed several critical opportunities to blunt its impact in America, according to interviews with 56 experts and current and former administration officials.”

Had McNeil attempted to write that the CDC was “incompetently led,” his editors would have inserted: “Decisions reached by Dr. Redfield over several weeks in January and February have drawn criticism from public health experts, who point to a slow-footed response that resulted in unnecessary deaths across the country.


“

Had McNeil attempted to write that Pence is a “sycophant,” his editors would have inserted: “The White House swapped Azar for Pence, a leader more attuned to the president’s preferences and sensibilities, not to mention his taste for official praise.”


Then again, we don’t necessarily need to resort to make-believe New York Times writing voice. There’s actual news copy from the newspaper on Redfield’s shortcomings. On March 28, the newspaper published an investigation by six bylined reporters on how the administration lost month stumbling over itself in pursuit of a workable coronavirus test. “Dr. Robert R. Redfield, 68, a former military doctor and prominent AIDS researcher who directs the C.D.C., trusted his veteran scientists to create the world’s most precise test for the coronavirus and share it with state laboratories. When flaws in the test became apparent in February, he promised a quick fix, though it took weeks to settle on a solution,” reads the story, which goes on to note Redfield’s consensus approach and “deliberative” temperament.


In a statement to the Erik Wemple Blog, Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said, “In an interview with Christiane Amanpour today, Donald McNeil, Jr. went too far in expressing his personal views. His editors have discussed the issue with him to reiterate that his job is to report the facts and not to offer his own opinions. We are confident that his reporting on science and medicine for The Times has been scrupulously fair and accurate.”


That mild brushback seems appropriate in this case, though a specific mention of McNeil’s call for Redfield’s resignation might have been worthwhile. Such activism, after all, is extreme even for a veteran newsman exercising his analytical muscles in a freewheeling cable-news interview.


The mainstream media’s stated goal of neutral and officious-sounding analysis from reporters has been challenged repeatedly under President Trump. That’s because when it comes to Trump, sheer recitations of fact often double as condemnations.

“Good morning, presidential candidate Donald Trump last night told CNN that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever,” a news anchor might have told her audience in August 2015.




The same dynamic emerges in a famous 2016 letter that the New York Times wrote after then-candidate Trump threatened a lawsuit against the paper for its coverage of Trump’s treatment of women. The letter from New York Times lawyer David McCraw read, in part:


“Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”


Facts, all of them — though they’re such terrible facts that they sound like biased denunciations.
Such is the coronavirus backdrop — unfathomable pronouncements of incompetence, indifference and cluelessness from the president in public appearance after public appearance. What’s an experienced health reporter to say?

A new study reported in VOX contends that viewers of the Sean Hannity program on FOX News were likely to spread the coronavirus because of his assurances that it was not dangerous.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, media critics have warned that the decision from leading Fox News hosts to downplay the outbreak could cost lives. A new study provides statistical evidence that, in the case of Sean Hannity, that’s exactly what happened.

The paper — from economists Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott — focused on Fox news programming in February and early March.

At the time, Hannity’s show was downplaying or ignoring the virus, while fellow Fox host Tucker Carlson was warning viewers about the disease’s risks.

Using both a poll of Fox News viewers over age 55 and publicly available data on television-watching patterns, they calculate that Fox viewers who watched Hannity rather than Carlson were less likely to adhere to social distancing rules, and that areas where more people watched Hannity relative to Carlson had higher local rates of infection and death.

“Greater exposure to Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight leads to a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths,” they write. “A one-standard deviation increase in relative viewership of Hannity relative to Carlson is associated with approximately 30 percent more COVID-19 cases on March 14, and 21 percent more COVID-19 deaths on March 28.”

This is a working paper; it hasn’t been peer reviewed or accepted for publication at a journal. However, it’s consistent with a wide body of research finding that media consumption in general, and Fox News viewership in particular, can have a pretty powerful effect on individual behavior.

A spokesperson for FOX News disputed the story and claimed it relied on “cherrypicking.”

Patrick O’Donnell is one of the best education journalists in the nation. He has covered charter and cyber charter scandals in Cleveland and in Ohio without fear or favor. Ohio, as you may have noticed, is awash in charter corruption.

O’Donnell worked for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer until last weekend, when the newspaper pushed out its leading journalists and told them they could cover far-flung areas if they want to stay employed. The order from on high essentially fired union journalists and gutted the newspaper’s coverage of Cleveland.

The Plain-Dealer is part of Advance Publications, which is owned by the billionaire Newhouse family. Advance is engaged in cost-cutting that will destroy local journalism. It’s all about the Almighty Dollar.

The Hechinger Report invited two eminent scholars to write about how public schools might respond if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the Espinoza v. Montana case. In this case, rightwing libertarians seek to eliminate Montana’s constitutional prohibition on spending public money for tuition in religious schools. In effect, they want to eliminate the line separating church and state. The Trump-enhanced Supreme Court has already ruled that it is permissible to discriminate on religious grounds against same-sex couples in a Colorado case where a baker refused to bake a cake for two men. Homophobia is okay if it is based on deep religious convictions.

The Hehinger Report asked Bruce Baker of Rutgers, an expert on school finance, Preston Green III of the University of Connecticut, a constitutional lawyer, to consider the ramifications of this case if the Court favors the plaintiffs.

They wrote the article, then discovered that Corey DeAngelis of the libertarian Reason Foundation and the CATO Foundation (founded by the Koch brothers) objected to their views, basing his objection on an entry in Wikipedia. He insisted that an earlier Supreme Court decision forbade private schools from discriminating on the basis of race. Professor Green said DeAngelis was wrong.

Instead of inviting DeAngelis to write a letter to the editor or post a dissenting comment, which is customary, the Hechinger Report inserted an editor’s note inside the article.

This is the paragraph with the editor’s note responding DeAngelis’ complaint. By the time you read this, the “editor’s note” may have been deleted. I was informed by an editor that the publication had decided to delete it.

Let’s assume that there exist state legislatures that would prefer not to have taxpayer dollars used to support religious schooling. Perhaps they are concerned with supporting schools that might discriminate in admissions or other treatment on the basis of sexual orientation of children or parents, or even race. (Editor’s note: Current Federal law does not permit private schools to discriminate on the basis of race.)

Preston Greene III wrote the following response as a warning to others: The Hechinger Report puts Wikipedia on the same level as scholarship. (DeAngelis received a Ph.D. in education policy from the Walton-funded Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, which holds a single point of view on school choice, and he regularly trolls anyone who disagrees with choice ideology on Twitter).

My own note: Fred Hechinger, for whom the Hechinger Report was named, was born in Germany and came to New York in 1936 at the age of 16. He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City and the City College of New York, at that time a free public college. He and his wife Grace were personal friends of mine. He opposed public funding of religious schools. He supported free and universal public schools. This is how the Hechinger Report describes the man whose name it bears: “Fred M. Hechinger was education editor of The New York Times, an author of several books and an advocate for public education. The Hechinger Report continues his efforts to produce and promote high-quality education coverage.”

Preston C. Green III

I am writing this post to alert my fellow professors about a situation I recently encountered after publishing a piece with the Hechinger Institute. This organization approached Bruce Baker and me to write an op-ed explaining the possible consequences of the Espinoza v. Montana State Department of Revenue case. In this case, the Supreme Court is considering whether states can prohibit parochial schools from participating in a tax-credit scholarship program. It is generally expected that the Court will hold that states cannot act in this manner.

In this op-ed, we explained that states might respond to this potential decision by placing curricular restrictions on participating schools or even refusing to fund private education altogether. We even posited that states might respond to the Court’s expected decision by dramatically reducing their investment in charter schools.

We did not get much pushback for these points in the op-ed. However, Corey DeAngelis, adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and the Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation, claimed on Twitter that we were wrong to suggest that parochial school participants in school voucher programs might even consider discrimination on the basis of race. He supported this assertion by citing a Supreme Court case, Runyon v. McCrary. DeAngelis posted a screenshot of the purported holding, which he got from Wikipedia. According to this summation, Runyon held that “[f]ederal law prohibits private schools from discriminating on the basis of race.” On the basis of this “evidence,” DeAngelis demanded that Hechinger correct this alleged error.

I responded on Twitter by posting a screenshot of the pertinent part of the actual case, which included the following statement (italics added):

It is worth noting at the outset some of the questions that these cases do not present. They do not present any question of the right of a private social organization to limit its membership on racial or any other grounds. They do not present any question of the right of a private school to limit its student body to boys, to girls, or to adherents of a particular religious faith, since 42 U.S.C. § 1981 is in no way addressed to such categories of selectivity. They do not even present the application of § 1981 to private sectarian schools that practice Racial Exclusion on religious grounds. Rather, these cases present only two basic questions: whether § 1981 prohibits private, commercially operated, nonsectarian schools from denying admission to prospective students because they are Negroes, and, if so, whether that federal law is constitutional as so applied.

The italicized section clearly established that the Court in Runyon did not address the question of whether § 1981 prohibited sectarian schools from racially discriminating on the basis of religious belief.

DeAngelis insisted that a retraction was in order reposting the Wikipedia screenshot and claiming that parochial schools would never discriminate because they might lose their tax-exempt status. Other people joined in on Twitter claiming that we were fearmongering because no school would ever consider discriminating on the basis of race for religious reasons – the stakes were too high.

Although I would like to believe we are past the time that schools would not overtly try to discriminate on the basis of race, I do not share this rosy view. My parents received part of their education in racially segregated public schools in Virginia. And although I did not attend a racially segregated school, I also experienced several incidents of overt discrimination.

The Hechinger editor asked Bruce Baker and me over email about the Twitter avalanche from DeAngelis and his supporters. I explained that DeAngelis’s understanding of Runyon was incorrect. The Court’s decision expressly did not address the legality of parochial schools claiming racial discrimination on the basis of religious belief. I even cited cases in which parochial schools attempted to exploit this loophole in Runyon (the courts rejected this assertion on the ground that the discrimination was not based on sincere religious belief).

Two days later, our editor emailed Bruce Baker and me again, explaining that her superiors wanted to place a note after the offending sentence to the effect that racial discrimination violated federal law. We responded by explaining that this statement was overly broad. It was true that parochial schools that discriminated on the basis of race ran the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. It was also true that a parochial school that discriminated on the basis of race ran the risk of losing its federal funding (if it received such aid). However, it was false to assert that federal law explicitly prohibited parochial schools from racially discriminating in their admissions. To summarize our position: While it was unlikely that a parochial school would discriminate on the basis of race in its admissions policy, federal law did not explicitly prohibit it.

Our editor then responded by suggesting an editors’ note that federal law made it unlikely for a parochial school to discriminate on the basis of race. I agreed to that parenthetical statement.

To our surprise, the following day, we received an email from the editor telling us that her superiors had overruled her. The overly broad editors’ note was back in. We were also told that there was nothing we could do about it. We have yet to hear any convincing explanation why Hechinger rejected our reasoning regarding this legal issue.

I am disappointed and, frankly, outraged, that Hechinger acted in this manner. When DeAngelis challenged our assertions, we cogently explained why we believed he was wrong. Yet Hechinger did not support the well-reasoned legal opinion of two scholars in the field it had specifically asked to research this issue. Instead, it bowed to online pressure even after we had spent more time providing additional background and case law. Other professors should consider our experience if Hechinger approaches them for an op-ed.

A few people in Los Angeles who think a great deal about education issues decided to launch a new website. They are real people who are not funded by billionaires Eli Broad, Reed Hastings, the Waltons, Bill Bloomfield, Michael Bloomberg, or Bull Gates. Imagine that!

Blogger Sara Roos writes an introduction:

Dears:

With this I am announcing the launch of the Los Angeles Education Examiner, a site for news about things-educational in LA and beyond.

Included on my blog, RedQueenInLA.com are two of LAEdEx’s first two new postings, attempting to stake out the reaches of our coverage. I am embarking on this effort with friend, neighbor and colleague Damien Newton of StreetsBlogLA.comfame. LA EdEx will be a non-profit, online news website covering the education beat in and around Los Angeles.

So please look here or at la-edex.org at these introductory pieces as we start exploring what it means to educate kids in LA, how their world is at once insular and intensely important within one’s own little family, while also being politically critical in a very big sense, a microscosm of all the whirlings of money, power, and social interactions beyond.

Thanks for your support by reading, forwarding and maybe even considering – gasp – contributing!

-Sara.

http://redqueeninla.com/2020/02/12/rqila-passes-a-marker-launching-the-los-angeles-education-examiner/
http://redqueeninla.com/2020/02/12/schools-reach-beyond-the-classroom/

http://la-edex.org/welcome-to-and-from-the-los-angeles-education-examiner/
http://la-edex.org/schools-reach-beyond-the-classroom/

 

 

This is the most curious news story of the week, written by the GoLocalProv News Team.”*

It says that the fate of the reform of the Providence public schools lies in the hands of the Providence Teachers Union, led by Maribeth Calabro; she, the story warns, may be able to veto the new state commissioner’s  plans to transform the Providence public schools. It does not mention that the state commissioner taught for two years in New York City as a fast-tracked Teach for America teacher, has no prior experience as either a school principal or superintendent and has kept her plans to transform the district a deep secret.

But here is where the article goes strange.

In 2011, newly-elected Providence Mayor Angel Taveras fired all the teachers in Providence — it was a big and bold decision, and it was reversed within days.

Not too many politicians, especially Democrats. will take on teachers unions in this country and especially in the heavily union-based Rhode Island.

The action in 2011 drew national attention. In a statement, the American Federation of Teachers national President Randi Weingarten called the decision “stunning,” especially given that the union and city “have been working collaboratively on a groundbreaking, nationally recognized school transformation model.”

“We looked up ‘flexibility’ in the dictionary, and it does not mean destabilizing education for all students in Providence or taking away workers’ voice or rights,” said Weingarten, whose organization includes 1.5 million teachers and staff. “Mass firings, whether in one school or an entire district, are not fiscally or educationally sound.”

Well, the teachers union claim that Providence Schools were a ‘transformational model’ did not prove to be correct. Providence Schools are considered to be among the worst in America.

Infante-Green has said she believes she has the power to “break contracts.” 

The News Team seems to believe that firing all the teachers in the district is a “big and bold” idea that is worth a try. The mayor wanted to do it in 2011, but the union got in his way.

Apparently the News Team wants the state commissioner to fire all the teachers now and is egging her on to do so.

Exactly how will that improve the district?

Exactly how will that affect morale?

Who will want to teach in a district where teachers are disposable, like tissues?

Will Teach for America supply the new teachers after the existing workforce has been fired? Will they agree to stay longer than two years?

Where is the evidence that firing all the teachers is good for students?

*The original version of this post misattributed the article to the Providence Journal, which is owned by Gatehouse Media.

 

John Merrow has good news for you! 

You have been selected as a winner by his crack marketing team to do a good deed!.

Since he has selected the Network for Public Education as one of his honorees, I urge you to open his link.

The charter industry has lobbied for years to promote the idea that public schools and their teachers and teachers unions are uniquely responsible for denying educational opportunity to children of color. Ever since the propaganda film “Waiting for Superman,” produced by billionaire charter supporter (and rightwing evangelical zealot Philip Anschutz), the charter industry has promoted the claim that supporters of public schools are hostile to children of color while they—funded by billionaires like the Waltons, the Sacklers, the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, and every Republican governor—claim to be champions of civil rights.

”Malarkey!” says FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).

FAIR offers a “close reading” of media bias against public schools and demonstrates how the charter industry has deceptively labeled any opposition to charters as the work of teachers’ unions, never admitting that supporters of public schools include parents, grandparents, and graduates of public schools, as well as members of the public who understand the importance of public education in a democracy.

After thirty years of charter advocacy, only 6% of American students are enrolled in them.  In the only city that is all-charter, New Orleans, the only choice that is forbidden is a public school. This decision was not the result of a vote by the citizens of New Orleans, but a decision imposed by the white Republicans who control the State Legislature. Southern white Republicans are not typically perceived as concerned about the well-being of children of color.

Campbell Brown was a CNN anchor. Then she became the new face of the Education Disruption movement after the disappearance of Michelle Rhee. Brown advocated for charters and vouchers and she opposed teachers’ unions and teacher tenure. She claimed in various articles in the New York City press that the schools were overrun by teachers who were sexual predators, protected by the union. She created a news site called “The 74” to express her views; it was funded by the usual cast of billionaires (Walton, Bloomberg, Gates, Broad, etc.). She is anti-public school, anti-union, anti-tenure and pro-privatization. When Betsy DeVos was chosen as Secretary of Education, Campbell Brown acknowledged that she was a personal friend and that Betsy funded “The 74,” while Brown served on the board of Betsy’s pro-voucher American Federation for Children.

Those with a longish memory might recall that Brown started the “Partnership for Educational Justice” to file court cases in several states in an effort to destroy teacher tenure–a copycat of the Vergara lawsuit in California, which was eventually tossed out by the state’s highest court. Thus far, all of the PEJ lawsuits have also been thrown out by state judges who said that teacher tenure was unrelated to test scores. (There are probably more tenured teachers in affluent districts than in low-performing, high-poverty districts.)

Then Campbell Brown was chosen by Mark Zuckerberg to be in charge of media relations for Facebook.

Popular Information revealed the multiple roles that Campbell Brown is now playing.

The 74 = has heaped scorn on Elizabeth Warren since she released her K-12 plan, which proposes an end to federal support for new charter schools.

The 74 has (not surprisingly) lavished praise on Betsy DeVos.

Now Brown is in charge of deciding what news gets featured on Facebook.

While Brown served as editor-in-chief of The 74, the site featured at least 11 pieces from Eric Owens, an editor at The Daily Caller. Owens “has a long history of penning racially insensitive, sexist, and transphobic attacks on students and teachers.” 

Owens, for example, wrote in The Daily Caller that white privilege is a “radical and bizarre political theory that white people enjoy a bunch of wonderful privileges while everyone else suffers under the yoke of invisible oppression.” In another Daily Caller column, Owens called college students “delicate, immature wusses who become traumatized, get the vapors and seek professional counseling any time they face adversity.”

Owens is also obsessed with female teachers who sexually assault male students, repeatedly writing exploitative stories about the incidents.

After Brown joined Facebook, The Daily Caller was named an official Facebook fact-checking partner, despite The Daily Caller’s history of inaccurate reporting. 

Brown thinks Breitbart is a “quality” news source

Brown’s role with The 74 raises further questions about the ideological underpinnings of Facebook’s nascent news tab, which has not been rolled out to all users. Brown’s team elected to include Breitbart — an unreliable and noxious right-wing site that was literally caught laundering white nationalist talking points —  among the 200 “quality” sources included in the launch. 

Of course, Mark Zuckerberg hates Elizabeth Warren too, because she has talked about breaking up the big tech monopolies, such as Facebook, and taxing the personal wealth of billionaires.

The county leaders in Citrus County, Florida, rejected the library’s request for a subscription to the New York Times. The Times, they said, was “fake news.” They don’t want the local citizens to hear any point of view that contradicts the Dear Leader.
This is the quintessence of ignorance. Do they also censor every cable news station except FOX?

By Antonia Noori Farzan / The Washington Post

Posted at 11:46 AM

The librarians of Citrus County, Florida, had what seemed like a modest wish: a digital subscription to the New York Times. For about $2,700 annually, they reasoned, they could offer an easy way their roughly 70,000 patrons to research and catch up on the news.

But when their request came before the Citrus County Commission last month, local officials literally laughed out loud. One commissioner, Scott Carnahan, declared the paper to be “fake news.”

“I agree with President Trump,” he said. “I will not be voting for this. I don’t want the New York Times in this county.”

In a move that is now generating intense online backlash, all five members of the commission agreed to reject the library’s request. The discussion took place on Oct. 24, the same day when the Trump administration announced plans to cancel federal agencies’ subscriptions to the Times and The Washington Post. While there’s no apparent connection – the Citrus County meeting began several hours before the Wall Street Journal broke the news of the new edict – the controversy unfolding in central Florida highlights how politicians nationwide are parroting the president’s disparaging rhetoric about the media.

While the Citrus County Commission is technically nonpartisan, the area, located amid the swamps and springs north of Tampa, is deeply conservative. At the Oct. 24 meeting, the proposal to budget several thousand dollars for a Times digital subscription was met with immediate disapproval and suspicion.

“Do we really need to subscribe to the New York Times?” Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. asked.

The other men seated at the dais chuckled.

“I actually was going say that,” Carnahan responded. He had seconded a motion to hear the item only so that they could have a discussion about the Times, he said, volunteering his opinion: “I don’t agree with it, I don’t like ’em, it’s fake news, and I’m voting no.”

Suggesting that a lack of resources wasn’t the problem, Carnahan said that the library could take the thousands of dollars that an institutional subscription to the Times would cost and ″do something else with it.” And community members who really wanted to read the paper could simply sign up for home delivery. “I support Donald Trump,” he concluded.

Flanked by a county flag depicting frolicking manatees, all four commissioners who were present agreed to turn down the request. When a fifth commissioner, Jimmie Smith, returned to his seat and learned what he had missed, he took no issue with denying the library funding.

“Why the heck would we spend money on something like that?” asked Smith, a former Republican state representative.