Yes, you read that right. The President of the United States threatened a Time magazine photographer with prison for apparently taking a picture of a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. During an interview in the Oval Office on Monday, Trump said, “Here’s a letter, OK, now I’m going to show you this letter. So this was written by Kim Jong-un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand.” After being asked a later question about imprisoned aides, Trump responded, “Well, you can go to prison instead…if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you confidentially.”
“[T]he president’s rhetorical attacks continue to foster a climate in which trust in journalists is eroding and violence against them is growing. More than a quarter of Americans—and a plurality of Republicans—now agree that ‘the news media is the enemy of the American people’ and ‘the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.’ A worldwide surge of attacks has made this the most dangerous year for journalists on record. This is particularly true in parts of the world where pursuing the truth already carries great risks, as news reporters and editors experience rising levels of censorship, harassment, imprisonment, and murder.”
A former Republican operative who founded a nativist political club with white nationalist Richard Spencer has established himself as an opinion writer for several national publications, using a thinly veiled pen name. Marcus Epstein, writing as “Mark Epstein,” has contributed more than a dozen opinion pieces to The Journal, The Hill, Forbes, US News and World Report, and National Review over the past two years. The publication of Epstein’s pieces, mainly focused on regulation of the technology industry, is an example of how a far-right, hyper-nationalist fringe has become part of mainstream conservatism over the last decade.
Heshmat Alavi, an Iranian commentator, has been portrayed as a courageous dissident with a broad constituency and rare insight into the inner workings of the Iranian theocracy. His columns have been printed in Forbes, The Diplomat, The Federalist, Voice of America, The Daily Caller, and The Hill. And his analysis, such as his assertion that former President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran pumped money into the mullahs’ military budget, has been cited by the White House to justify leaving the agreement. But what if…he doesn’t actually exist?
“While serving Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied openly, flagrantly and repeatedly to the American people. She has shown no remorse, remarking on Thursday that she has no regrets. Consistent to the end, she’s still lying: ‘I still contend that we are the most accessible White House.’ Sanders had a front row seat to what Trump was doing and she did nothing to stop him. She allowed herself to become an instrument of propaganda and an amplifier of extremism. That is her legacy.”
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos spent 30 hours with Donald Trump over two days for a 20/20 interview that aired on Sunday. No surprise, it was filled with alarmingly dictatorial statements. “There’s never been a time in the history of our country where somebody was so mistreated as I have been,” he said—a point with which the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln or the slaves he freed might disagree. “I run the country,” Trump responded, when asked if the president can obstruct justice.
James Holzhauer, who cemented his name as one of the best “Jeopardy!” players ever, lost in his 33rd game after amassing more than $2.462 million in prize earnings. Had he won his final game, he likely would have beaten Ken Jennings’ earning record of more than $2.5 million.
China was watching closely as its anchor Liu Xin, of China Global Television Network, went onto Fox Business to debate with Trish Regan. The highly anticipated debate ended up being quite calm with few comebacks or one-liners.
President Trump has a new right-wing media darling, and its extremely positive coverage of the White House is now attracting both attention and affection from Trump. “The overt flattery seems to be paying off. Fox News is still the president’s favorite media behemoth. But One America News Network’s team has been catching his eye.”
Back in January, BuzzFeed News reported that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had told prosecutors the president directed him to lie, and that a group of lawyers crafted his false testimony to Congress. Shortly after, the special counsel’s office issued a rare public statement that said unspecified elements of the story were “not accurate.” Now, newly released transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee appear to support BuzzFeed’s earlier reporting.
Fox News isn’t just Donald Trump’s favorite news network, it’s apparently an unofficial policy adviser as well. Over the weekend, reports indicated that the president is preparing to pardon several U.S. servicemen involved in high-profile cases of gunning down civilians or killing detainees. Turns out, the decision comes as a result of a months-long lobbying campaign by “Fox & Friends” co-host Pete Hegseth.
In an effort to keep foreign information out and to revamp its propaganda arm, North Korea has redesigned the presentation of its propaganda on TV. Instead of scripts and outdated dress, North Korea is opting for trendily dressed presenters and modern sets to cast an element of legitimacy over its news.
Is Vladimir Putin succeeding? Polls show that Americans are losing faith in our electoral system and in the media that reports on our elections. “This is Vladimir Putin’s game plan — sow distrust, discord, disillusionment, and division,” says Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “There’s a real danger to such distrust in the integrity of our election system that has lasting damage,” he warns.
“The White House eliminated most briefings and severely restricted access to official events. And this week came the coup de grace: After covering four presidents, I received an email informing me that Trump’s press office had revoked my White House credential. I’m not the only one. I was part of a mass purge of ‘hard pass’ holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all six of The Post’s White House correspondents. White House officials then chose which journalists would be granted ‘exceptions.’ It did this over objections from news organizations and the White House Correspondents’ Association.”
In an attempt to pressure the drug industry to lower prices, the Trump administration has moved to require that prescription drug ads on TV will need to feature the price of the drug if the cost is greater than $35 for a month’s supply.
Major media outlets failed to rebut President Donald Trump’s misinformation 65% of the time in their tweets about his false or misleading comments, according to a Media Matters review. That means the outlets amplified Trump’s misinformation more than 400 times over the three-week period of the study — a rate of 19 per day.
The Maduro regime has taken BBC and CNN off air in Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro has also began restricting local radio stations as well. By cutting off foreign news outlets, Maduro is trying to control a situation which is quickly becoming untenable.
After the Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lanka placed a ban on all social media, including messaging apps like WhatsApp. The ban, which has now been lifted, caused widespread confusion as many Sri Lankans only use social media to communicate with family and friends.
“For Twitter to see the core underpinnings of democracy through the lens of ‘fake news’ is truly frightening and reminds us that it either doesn’t take its role in democracy seriously or that it takes it so seriously that it is afraid of reminding society how much power it truly wields over the future of the nation itself. In the end, as the Washington Post’s motto reminds us, ‘democracy dies in darkness.’ It is time for us to shed far more light on social media’s impact on democracy.”
In short, because it means the company would have to ban some Republican politicians. A company official said when the platform aggressively enforces against content, it can also flag innocent accounts, and society generally accepts the benefit of banning, say, ISIS for inconveniencing others. But with white supremacy, Republican politicians could get swept up by the algorithms, and banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted as a fair trade-off. So it looks like we’re stuck with @realdonaldtrump.
“Conducting daily briefings was once a core function of the press secretary. The White House put its spin on the news of the day; reporters pushed for more information or clarification. Somewhere in all the give-and-take, the public interest was served. Under President Trump, such sessions have all but vanished.”
“The dead in Sri Lanka — both churchgoers and tourists — are victims of a heinous crime, and the churchgoers have been attacked because of their faith. The ‘Easter worshippers’ grievance-mongers, on the other hand, are part of a conservative version of victim culture. … [T]he story behind the nontroversy is not about a T-shirt or about a politician’s rating. It’s about hundreds of people who died. Using their deaths to score points is especially disgraceful.”
It’s not Tim Apple…it’s Jack Twitter! Actually Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, who met with Donald Trump at the White House today, just hours after Trump accused the social media company of “discriminatory” behavior toward conservative users. After the meeting, Trump tweeted, “Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!”
The entire Trump administration, including all staff, is boycotting the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. President Trump had already intended on missing the dinner.
The Easter terror attacks which killed over 200 in Sri Lanka created a flood of fake news and false claims online. To stop the flow of fake news, Sri Lankan authorities blocked access to social media sites. While authorities say the ban is temporary, residents of Sri Lanka have no idea when they will be able to access social media sites.
Facebook is continuing to make odd choices in a year of full of them. The company’s controversial fact-checking program is partnering with the Daily Caller, a right-wing website co-founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which has pushed misinformation and is known for pro-Trump content.
Americans’ favorite magazine to ignore when checking out at the grocery store is being sold. The National Enquirer is being sold to the company Hudson News. The magazine has had a turbulent past 12 months; it has faced blackmail accusations from Jeff Bezos and has been caught up in a federal probe looking at illegal campaign contributions to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
This week, Donald Trump called out Fox News, practically an arm of the president’s communications team, for hosting a town hall with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Apparently, Trump’s been concerned that the conservative network hasn’t been sufficiently subservient to him. He started telling aides, “Keep an eye on it.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is planning to revamp the platform to make it less polarized for the user. He is looking at moving away from following specific people and instead following topics of interest.
American Media Inc. is actively seeking to sell off the National Enquirer. The decision to sell came after the hedge fund manager whose firm controls American Media allegedly became “disgusted” with the tabloid’s reporting tactics. Guess its efforts to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump and blackmail Jeff Bezos were just too much for him.
Despite being the most popular cable news network, Fox News caters to a very small and niche audience. On any given night, 2.4 million people tune in to watch Fox News during prime-time, or 0.7 percent of the US population. While the network certainly has the president’s attention, it can only do so much to sway elections, like it failed to do in the 2018 midterms.
Bernie Sanders has accepted an invitation to participate in a town hall held by Fox News on April 15th. He will be the first candidate to appear in a Fox News town hall event this election season.
“The right-wing populist wave that looked like a fleeting cultural phenomenon a few years ago has turned into the defining political movement of the times, disrupting the world order of the last half-century. The Murdoch empire did not cause this wave. But more than any single media company, it enabled it, promoted it, and profited from it. Across the English-speaking world, the family’s outlets have helped elevate marginal demagogues, mainstream ethnonationalism, and politicize the very notion of truth.”
In a year that has already seen 2,400 media jobs eliminated, Cleveland’s Plain Dealer on Monday laid off 14 newsroom employees, most of them reporters, as part of a staff reduction. The Plain Dealer had a unionized staff of 340 journalists just two decades ago; that soon will be reduced to 33. The cuts were blamed on the continuing decline in advertising revenue that has battered virtually all mass media.
The DOJ and a group of Twitter users faced off in a Manhattan court Tuesday in an appeal of a case over whether President Trump’s blocking of accounts violates the First Amendment. The DOJ argued that although Trump sends tweets in his official capacity, he blocks users as a personal matter. While conceding that Trump had launched the account before he took office, an attorney for an organization blocked by Trump said he “began using it as president as an extension of his office.”
“Perhaps cowed by the criticism — which came from the left as well as the right, most notably from author Matt Taibbi — some news organizations may back down from aggressive coverage of [Donald] Trump. That would be a serious mistake. With some regrettable and damaging exceptions — individual stories that seemingly went too far — reality-based news outlets have done quite well on this story. And it’s far from over. So this is no time to retreat.”
Television producers received an email on Monday from Donald Trump’s campaign director of communications, questioning the credibility of certain guests — nearly all Democratic lawmakers and officials. The email accuses them of “vigorously and repeatedly” making up stories Trump and Russia, and says there “must be introspection from the media who facilitated the reckless statements and a serious evaluation of how such guests are considered and handled in the future.”
A day after the Islamic State’s caliphate was officially defeated, a terrorist bombing in Syria targeted journalists, killing a driver for NBC News. The tragic death of a media team member reminds all of the continued dangers that journalists are placed in.
Twitter has started using an algorithm that shows users tweets from accounts they do not follow, without being paid (as with promoted content) and without consent from users. Its stated goal is to expose users to new accounts and content that they might be interested in. However, some tweets contain extreme political rhetoric and/or advance conspiracy theories, exposing Twitter users to radical content they may otherwise have not encountered.
Lachlan Murdoch is taking over Fox, and Donald Trump could be his first problem. Several Fox News staffers said they are distrustful of Lachlan’s devotion to the cable news channel, and some call Lachlan “Fredo” behind his back, a reference to a weak-willed son of the Godfather. The opinionated, conservative faction of the company that supports Trump is already testing his authority, and how Lachlan handles the pressure remains to be seen.