(UPDATE, 11:40 a.m.: AmberAlert.gov is working again.)
In yet another news story which has bubbled up through social media and the blogosphere and which will test the establishment press's willingness to ignore obvious news, the Obama adminstration's Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder has taken AmberAlert.gov offline.
To the extent that it interrupts what DOJ has identified as one of the three components of its national AMBER strategy for "a Coordinated AMBER Network," the move could make locating and saving missing and exploited children more difficult. Meanwhile, the 83% of the government which isn't shut down includes the following:
Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day. MSNBC social media editors marked the occasion with a Facebook post inquiring, "Have you registered to vote yet?"
But for the stock image to accompany the post, editors chose to show a clipboard with an Organizing for America flier which reads, "Register to Vote Here" and bears the O-shaped Obama logo in the top left-hand corner [see screen capture below page break]. It must be an old stock photo as Organizing for America is now Organizing for Action, but the group's mission is the same: pushing President Obama's liberal agenda.
Reporting on the latest unemployment reports by the U.S. government, ABCNews's Facebook page curiously left out the most newsworthy statistic: 63.2 percent. That's where the labor force participation rate stands right now. [see screen capture below the page break] It's the lowest it's been since 1978.
But here's how ABCNews's social media editors teased Facebook visitors:
MSNBC hosts are skeptical if not downright opposed in principle to President Obama's push to bomb Syria, but the MSNBC.com Facebook page is doing its level best to present President Obama in a favorable light, complete with photo memes of the president adorned with quotes related to his Syria policy. [see screen captures below page break]
On September 1, the day after President Obama announced he was going to seek congressional approval, MSNBC Facebook page editors posted a photo of the president emblazoned with the following quote:
Strange enough to see a photograph of a Kennedy firing a rifle, one with a telescopic sight no less, as the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination approaches.
Stranger still to learn that the Kennedy firing the rifle, a 14-year-old granddaughter of late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is killing seal pups in Canada, according a caption for the photo written by her father.
Scott Pelley deserves grudging credit for recognizing something obvious at a Friday luncheon in New York. Readers tempted to go beyond that point would be advised to visit the archive of Pelley-related posts at NewsBusters on his brand of so-called journalism, a few of which will be identified later in this post.
At said luncheon, Pelley received the 20th annual Fred Friendly First Amendment Award from the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University. In his acceptance speech (full YouTube; excerpt here; HT Weekly Standard), Pelley spoke of journalistic failures during the past few months. He wants to believe that the past few months have been extraordinarily bad to a supposedly unprecedented extent.
Jim Avila may not be a household name, but he has become one of the most prominent news correspondents on television – averaging 130 reports a year since 1997. But he’s done much more than just report the news, Avila has become an activist.
He made that name for himself and sullied the term “lean beef” early in 2012 with a series of stories repeatedly calling the beef “pink slime.” On Sept. 13, Beef Products Inc. filed a 1.2 billion lawsuit against ABC for the coverage of “pink slime.” Avila is specifically named in this lawsuit for his part in the anti-meat attacks. “Avila knowingly or recklessly made multiple false and disparaging statements regarding BPI and LFTB during ABC broadcasts, in ABC online reports and social media postings,” read the lawsuit. That was just one of four separate anti-meat topics Avila has pursued in 2012 alone.
Following a report on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News about the dropping value of Facebook's initial public stock offering and possible investigations into what went wrong, anchor Brian Williams saw an opportunity to adopt the talking points of the left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement: "Is this a case of the rich get richer, another advantage to the 1%...?"
Williams posed that question to New York Times reporter and CNBC host Andrew Ross Sorkin, who enthusiastically added to the class warfare rhetoric: "Boy does it feel that way, Brian. This is that and probably a lot more. And it couldn't come at a worse time given the enormous distrust that the public has of Wall Street. And it goes to this sense of fairness. This is the ultimate 1% versus 99% all over again."
We've written before critically about Twitter, including posts about how the micro-blogging site's was slow in removing a "Kill Zimmerman" account that encouraged violence -- in violation of Twitter's terms of service agreement by the way -- against alleged 2nd-degree murderer George Zimmerman. But today, we have to offer a hearty kudos to the folks at Twitter for refusing to cooperate with a censorship effort in Pakistan to silence "Everybody Draw Muhammad" tweets.
By contrast, the Associated Press is reporting that Facebook -- which on Friday became a publicly-traded company -- gladly cooperated with efforts by the Pakistani government to prevent users in Pakistan from accessing pages devoted to Draw Muhammad Day content:
Since ascending to the head of the Democratic Governor’s Association last year, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has been fashioning a national profile for himself as a responsible fiscal steward of Maryland’s finances. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun are dutifully helping O’Malley perpetuate that fiction.
O’Malley released his fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget last month, which includes, among other taxes, an income tax hike for 20 percent of taxpayers to close a $1 billion structural deficit.
ABC, CBS, and NBC spotlighted the Komen foundation's about-face on funding Planned Parenthood on their Friday evening newscasts, and played up the apparent role of social media in getting the charity to reverse its earlier decision. On World News, ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the "dramatic day for people power," while on Nightly News, NBC's Lester Holt concluded, "score one for the power of social media."
The Big Three outlets also covered the 180 by the breast cancer organization on their Saturday morning shows. Altogether, the networks added seven more reports to the 13 from the first 60 hours or so of the controversy, bringing the total to 20 since February 1, versus only three on the face-off between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration since January 20 (the MRC documented and highlighted this imbalance in a report on Friday; ABC and NBC added mentions on their Sunday morning political shows).
NRB conducted a study of "the practices of Apple and its iTunes App Store, Google, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, as well as Internet service providers AT&T, Comcast and Verizon." Its conclusion: with the notable exception of Twitter, "social media websites are actively censoring Christian viewpoints.
In the wake of the largest security breach in U.S. military history, the mainstream media have struggled to report all the facts about Bradley Manning, the Iraq war soldier in the middle of the Wikileaks scandal. In an effort to pursue political correctness over truthful journalism, ABC, CBS and NBC ignored uncomfortable facts about Manning's sexual orientation and history of "emotional fragility," choosing instead to describe him as an "outcast who tried desperately to fit in."
A software upgrade at Facebook has some conservative groups worried that their hard-earned followings might be rendered useless. The upgrade will "archive" all existing Facebook groups, thereby revoking administrators' access to member lists, unless they receive an exemption from Facebook (and the accompanying software).
The company has not revealed how groups are being chosen for these exemptions, but a number of prominent conservative groups recently told the Daily Caller that they had not received one, and feared they wouldn't. Losing access to member lists would remove key functionality, as administrators would no longer be able to contact group members en masse (Facebook "pages" will not be affected).
Facebook insisted in a statement that the company "determined what groups to archive based on a number of factors, including the amount of recent activity."But a quick look at a few of the groups that did and did not get these exemptions demonstrates that neither activity nor group size was the overriding factor. Indeed, plenty of conservative-leaning political groups with active memberships are still waiting on the software given to smaller, far less active liberal-leaning groups.
It wasn't long ago that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was concerned about how he would be portrayed in The Social Network - and with good reason. As John Nolte observed, "there's no doubt that this look at how the creation of a cultural phenomenon left behind a wake of betrayals, broken relationships and billion-dollar lawsuits is an absolutely fascinating one."
Update (12:08 p.m. EST): Brewer just made this her question of the day on her MSNBC Live program.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer injected a bit of liberal commentary to a link she posted Monday morning on her Facebook page.
"You know it's overfunded when even the Pentagon pushes for spending cuts. Why is defense such a sacred cow?" lamented Brewer in a comment posted above a link to a Wall Street Journal article on Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget blueprint.
I don't know, Contessa, maybe because the primary mission of the federal government is defending the nation from foreign enemies?
The Wall Street Journal can't seem to decide whether Sarah Palin is knowledgable on monetary policy or not.
WSJ reporter Sudeep Reddy criticized Palin's "inflation hyperbole" in an article Tuesday, claiming that, contrary to Palin's claims, "Grocery prices haven’t risen all that significantly."
"Do Wall Street Journal reporters read the Wall Street Journal?" Palin shot back in a Facebook post, noting that the Journal itself had raised concerns about grocery prices mere days ago. "An inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America's supermarkets and restaurants," an article claimed on Thursday.
That's why one needs to mix it up, perhaps by suggesting that they're akin to the radical Islamic clerics that inspire terrorism.
Just ask MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
During the "Political Sideshow" segment of his June 1 program, the "Hardball" host compared Sarah Palin's Facebook page posting about author Joe McGinniss renting the house next door to a "fatwa" aimed at "rev[ving] up anger at the author" from amongst her "mob" of followers [MP3 audio available here]:
The government of Pakistan has blocked social networking site Facebook due to a page encouraging users to "Draw Mohammed." The page, and the larger movement, have outraged Muslims, who believe it is blasphemous to physically depict Islam's prophet.
"Death to Facebook!" shouted protesters in Karachi, demonstrating against a group called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," designed to further the cause of "free expression." The movement was a backlash against recent threats of violence against, among others, the creators of the popular animated show South Park, which showed Mohammed in a bear mascot suit.
The "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page has been taken down -- though Facebook categorically denies any attempt at censorship or involvement in its removal -- and Facebook has been "indefinitely" blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. All in all, it's been a rough couple days for the social network.
There is hardly a more fitting figure to trumpet Old Media's fear of Internet-powered citizen journalism than Helen Thomas. The 89-year-old reporter has covered every president since Jack Kennedy. But when it comes to the inevitable decline of her brand of journalism, her fears are unfounded and misplaced.
"Helen Thomas," reported Lloyd Grove for the Daily Beast, "is worried that all the downsizing at media outlets will result in less-reliable coverage of the president." Thomas went on to lament the rise of new media as a viable alternative to traditional journalism.
With all due respect to Thomas and her distinguished career as a reporter, it is not at all clear that someone with views as liberal as hers -- placing her as they do well outside the mainstream of American political opinion -- is at all preferable an intermediary to a pajama-clad blogger or iPhone photographer.
Not content with simply reporting on threats against lawmakers who voted for ObamaCare, the liberal media has taken it upon itself (with a bit of direction from the Democratic Party) to blame the Tea Party and the GOP.
The coverage stands in stark contrast to the litany of similar instances involving conservatives and Republicans. They were treated as isolated incidents, if discussed at all.
CNN's Rick Sanchez certainly got the memo. On his show yesterday, he accused "crazy talk show hosts" and the Republican Party of inciting violence against lawmakers who voted for ObamaCare. He took to Twitter later that night to ask, "are our fundamentalist zealots different than the ones we fight in afghan and iraq?"
Whatever your feelings about Sarah Palin or her politics, she literally represents the future of conservative messaging. She has shown the nation that a public figure who is absolutely reviled by the mainstream media can not only make a splash, but can dominate the public stage and attract the eyes and ears of the nation in ways almost no other figure can.
For the conservative movement, Palin represents a potential solution to the right's unending problem of a news media that consistently sides with the political opposition. She is the first public figure to utilize (and, in some cases, dominate) multiple media, including traditional (television, books) and new (Facebook, Twitter) media platforms. The sum of her efforts should be the model for conservative politicians and public figures going forward.
Palin reaches more Americans with a Facebook message (just under 1.3 million) than Keith Olbermann reaches during his 8 p.m. broadcast slot on MSNBC (roughly 1 million). Fox News now has plans to build a television studio in her home in Wasilla. Her recent book Going Rogue has spent 11 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list, and has netted her somewhere in the 8-figure range.
The sum of all this says a lot about Palin, but also about the tremendous power of the media platform she has built for herself (with the help of an intelligent and capable staff). She has gone from a political corpse to one of the most prolific and influential persons in the conservative movement in under a year.
Recent problems with the financial system could be used as a reason for regulators to have authority policing social networking sites like Facebook and other types of electronic communication like text messaging. If Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) CEO Richard Ketchum has his way, that's exactly what will happen.
Ketchum appeared on CNBC's Oct. 27 "Closing Bell" in an interview with the network's NYSE floor reporter Bob Pisani from the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) annual meeting in New York City. Ketchum explained how the Internet and text messaging are unconventional means of communication that pose problems for regulators.
"With all of our kids, they don't talk by phones or certainly directly to each other anymore," Ketchum said. "They talk through the Internet and they talk through text messaging and they talk through Facebook."
The Washington Post's new employee guidelines for the use of online social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have sparked a debate over the proper role of new media for journalists, and the objectivity of major media outlets generally.
The Post's new guidelines, handed down from on high by Senior Editor Milton Coleman, disregard the potential of new media to engage readers in a conversation about the paper's reporting. Rather, the new social media policy attempts to buttress the Post's supposed objectivity, at the expense of journalistic transparency.
The Post's rules forbid employees from "writing, tweeting or posting anything—including photographs or video—that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility" and prohibit "the discussion of internal newsroom issues such as sourcing, reporting of stories, decisions to publish or not to publish, personnel matters and untoward personal or professional matters involving our colleagues."
"I think that the President could have done a better job of really outlining the issues and what's involved in health care reform. I think it's mind-numbingly dull and complicated and a lot of people don't truly understand a) why the system is broken, if it is in fact broken and the proposals - and how these proposals will actually improve the quality of care."