Around ten days ago — and without warning — Breitbart reported that a Reddit moderator lost his post for declaring his support for Donald Trump.

It is interesting that Jeffrey Minter, known on Reddit under the username /u/Kwiztas, had previously supported Hillary Clinton’s rival in the primaries:

I feel I was blindsided. This came out of nowhere. No one cared what I said when I supported Bernie. No one had issues with my activity then.

Officially, the Reddit moderating team said he had not been moderating his assigned subreddit actively enough. They also criticised this posting of his:

They don’t seem to mind that I support Trump… Now I might be in the minority so my say isn’t always listened to when rules are made.

And this one:

I try my hardest to make /r/Politics MAGA

MAGA is the acronym for Trump’s slogan Make America Great Again.

Another reason Reddit moderators gave was Minter’s earlier interview to Breitbart, which was beyond the pale:

It’s long been suspected that /r/Politics looks upon Breitbart in an unfavourable way but this is the first time a connection with Breitbart has been used as a direct reason for demodding a user.

Minter’s girlfriend gave Breitbart a list of moderators involved in his ban. Some are clearly anti-GOP. One moderator, StrictScrunity told:

conservative users in /r/News to “shut the [censored] up” and that they “needed therapy”.

Another moderator, Qu1nlan, describes himself as a:

socialist, SJW [censored]

Breitbart points out the double standard between Minter’s accusers and Qu1nlan’s own postings, among them:

He posted to the anti-Trump subforum /r/EnoughTrumpSpam specifically speaking “as an /r/Politics mod” – a phrase that Minter was reprimanded for – while discussing “shills” i.e, people paid to post in favour of a particular presidential candidate.

Breitbart rightly calls this censorship:

The only difference between Minter’s actions and the other moderators is that he is a quiet supporter of Trump, while the rest support Clinton or third party candidates such as Jill Stein. There have been many claims of politically-motivated censorship in Reddit’s subforums which Breitbart has reported on previously. This is just the latest. 

Qu1nlan denied allegations of censorship, saying:

All decisions we make, including adding and removing moderators, have nothing to do with any moderator’s political beliefs.

Censorship is alive and well, friends. It operates from the left-of-centre. If Hillary Clinton is elected, you can be sure it will be here to stay and get worse.

Yesterday’s post discussed the growing influence of Breitbart and the allied non-profit Government Accountability Institute (GAI).

The two entities have one thing in common: Steve Bannon, who became the CEO of Donald Trump’s campaign on Wednesday, August 17.

It would be easy to paint Bannon as a conservative news site sensationalist, the way many young adults see his current boss as an outrageous reality show star.

The truth is very different, however. Bannon had a number of personal epiphanies which took him through the Navy, Democrat affinity and Goldman Sachs to considered conservativism, running his own media company and succeeding Andrew Breitbart.

Joshua Green’s article, ‘This Man Is The Most Dangerous Political Operative In America’ — referring to Bannon — is a must-read. Citations and summaries below come from his eye-opener.

Navy a natural choice

Bannon grew up in a pro-Democrat, pro-union, pro-Kennedy working class household in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Bannons could see the local naval base from their house. Therefore, it was a natural choice for Bannon to finish college then sign up for a tour in the Navy in the 1970s.

Over the course of the next four years, he served at sea on a destroyer, as an auxiliary engineer in the Pacific then in the north Arabian Sea as a navigator during the Iran Hostage Crisis, Jimmy Carter’s diplomatic and political debacle which saw his resounding defeat to Ronald Reagan in 1980:

By the time he arrived in the Persian Gulf in 1979, the U.S. was preparing its ill-fated assault on Tehran, and Bannon’s faith in his commander in chief had dimmed: “You could tell it was going to be a [disaster].” His battle group rotated out just before Carter’s Desert One debacle.

After his tour of duty, Bannon worked at the Pentagon as special assistant to the chief of Naval operations. At night, he attended Georgetown University where he earned a master’s degree in national security studies.

By then, Ronald Reagan was in his first term of office. The atmosphere in the United States was changing.

The lure of Wall Street

Stephen Bannon is a few years older than I.

I graduated from university when Reagan won his first election. There was a real step change in mood among my classmates between the moment we left for Christmas break in 1979 and our return in January 1980.

Suddenly, my classmates turned from being fun-loving and curious to serious and closed minded. Tolerance for different points of view died out. Men spoke of Reagan and the necessity for conservatism. Women listened to them intently. One told me, ‘I’m educating myself. They say Reagan will be the head of the most important movement this century.’

As someone who wanted Jimmy Carter to win re-election, I was completely bemused, to say the least. At a drinks party before graduation, one male classmate told me in all seriousness to get on the ‘right side’ of things or be ‘left behind’. It was sickening.

Money also became a popular topic of conversation. Once the milk round arrived, formerly laid-back partiers turned humourless and intense, especially those who were picked up by accounting and consulting firms. They could speak only of new cars and their future lifestyle, which always included cable television. One New Yorker told me, ‘I’ll soon be able to get 100+ channels. I can’t wait’.

I describe my own experience to set the backdrop for Bannon’s change of course, which was similar to that of my classmates:

The siren of Reagan-era Wall Street capitalism drained the military life of its luster, so he resolved to make the leap. “Somebody told me,” he says, “if you want to go to Wall Street, you have to go to Harvard Business School.” HBS accepted him, and Bannon, at 29, matriculated in 1983.

Well, Bannon and all my classmates were right. The 1980s belonged to the likes of Gordon Gekko and his imitators in a variety of industry sectors. It was the decade when a proper lunch break went out the window.

For arts majors like me, it was an eternal turn-off.

However, Bannon was assessing his future. Despite his hard work at Harvard Business School which propelled him into first-year honours, he was having problems finding a summer associateship. His more successful classmates told him his age and naval service went against him. Even worse, they told him he hadn’t gone to the right schools.

He received an invitation to a Goldman Sachs recruiting event on campus. Entering a tent teeming with several hundred fellow students did not fill him with confidence. He stood on the sidelines, had a drink and started talking with the two men standing next to him:

We have the greatest conversation about baseball, and I find out after half an hour it was John Weinberg Jr., whose dad runs the firm, and a guy named Rob Kaplan, who became a senior partner.

That night the Goldman Sachs people gathered to discuss potential hires:

“They said, ‘Well, Bannon, I guess we’re gonna reject him. He’s too old for a summer job,’ ” Bannon says. “And these guys say, ‘Oh no, we talked to him. He’s terrific.’ Literally, a complete [gamble]. But I got a job.”

The Goldman Sachs years

Bannon started working at Goldman Sachs in the second half of the 1980s.

By then, Americans were divided about Wall Street. They either loved it or hated it. Regardless of what side they took, corporate raider and ‘junk bond king’ Michael Milken was a household name. He later served time in prison for securities and reporting violations. Since his release, he has devoted his efforts full time to philanthropy.

Bannon told Bloomberg’s Joshua Green:

“Everything in the Midwest was being raided by Milken,” he says. “It was like a firestorm.”

Goldman Sachs wanted no direct involvement in hostile corporate acquisitions. Instead, the firm defended targets of hostile acquisitions.

The other thing they did was never to lead, but to follow other companies into a particular market segment. That way, they avoided the flak from other Wall Street firms and the general public.

Bannon was in his element at Goldman, even though the only day off he took was Christmas. He told Green:

The camaraderie was amazing. It was like being in the Navy, in the wardroom of a ship.

And:

Goldman in the ’80s was like a priesthood, a monastic experience where you worked all the time but were incredibly dedicated to client services, to building and growing companies.

He later went into leveraged buyouts, one of which involved Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.

By the end of the decade, global scope began to shape world markets and:

size suddenly mattered. Everyone realized that the firm, then a private partnership, would have to go public. Bankers also could see that the Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial and investment banking was going to fall, setting off a flurry of acquisitions. Specialists would command a premium.

With a speciality in mind, Bannon represented the firm in Los Angeles. He went into the media and entertainment, a new sector which brought in companies one normally did not connect with those fields. General Electric and Westinghouse come to mind:

“A lot of people were coming from outside buying media companies,” he says. “There was huge consolidation.”

Eventually, with the change in Goldman’s ethos and the acquisitions market [added link and emphases mine]:

He underwent a conversion like the one Michael Lewis has described, watching with horror as staid private partnerships such as Goldman Sachs became highly leveraged, publicly traded companies operating like casinos. “I turned on Wall Street for the same reason everybody else did: The American taxpayer was forced to cut mook deals to bail out guys who didn’t deserve it.”

Bannon & Co. and Seinfeld

Bannon and a few of his Goldman colleagues left to set up Bannon & Co., a boutique investment bank which specialised in media and entertainment.

This involved not only media company acquisition but the new and risky valuation of assets such as film libraries:

At the time, investors preferred hard assets—manufacturing companies, real estate—and avoided things like movie studios and film libraries, which were harder to price. Bannon’s group, drawing on data such as VHS cassette sales and TV ratings, devised a model to value intellectual property in the same way as tangible assets. “We got a ton of business,” he says.

They were so successful that MGM and Polygram Records were among their clients. When Crédit Lyonnais, a major financier of independent Hollywood studios, was in danger of going bankrupt, Bannon & Co. began lending to media companies.

The firm’s sale of Castle Rock Entertainment in the mid-1990s was a turning point for Stephen Bannon.

If you are a student of title and credit sequences, Castle Rock Entertainment should jump out at you. It was the production company behind a number of successful films and television series, from Billy Crystal to Seinfeld.

At that time Westinghouse Electric owned the production company. They wanted to sell it in 1992, when Seinfeld was in its third season. The ‘show about nothing’ was still a cult classic, even though it aired during prime time on NBC.

Westinghouse asked Bannon’s company to find them a buyer for Castle Rock. Bannon approached Ted Turner:

“Turner was going to build this huge studio,” he says, “so we were negotiating the deal at the St. Regis hotel in New York.

Everything was going well until:

when it came time to actually close the deal, Ted was short of cash. … Westinghouse just wanted out. We told them, ‘You ought to take this deal. It’s a great deal.’ And they go, ‘If this is such a great deal, why don’t you defer some of your cash fee and keep an ownership stake in a package of TV rights?’ 

After working through the present and anticipated future numbers, Bannon accepted:

a stake in five shows, including one in its third season regarded as the runt of the litter: Seinfeld. “We calculated what it would get us if it made it to syndication,” says Bannon. “We were wrong by a factor of five.”

Financial independence followed a few years later when Société Générale bought Bannon & Co. in 1998.

Not having to work led Bannon to pursue what he really wanted to do: finance films and make them.

Hollywood

Although he had been living in Los Angeles for several years, Bannon was now able to live the Hollywood life in terms of how he spent his time.

In 1999, he was executive producer of Titus, an Oscar-nominated film starring Anthony Hopkins.

He also made the acquaintance of Jeff Kwatinetz, a talent agent who had just launched his own company called the Firm. Kwatinetz invited Bannon to become a partner.

The Firm’s biggest achievement was the acquisition of former Disney chief Michael Ovitz’s company, Artists Management Group. Ovitz, a household name in Hollywood, had visions of creating a media monolith with his company. Unfortunately, he was losing money hand over fist. Selling Artists Management Group to the Firm in 2002 was a sad necessity:

as Vanity Fair recounted, Bannon was dispatched to Ovitz’s Beverly Hills mansion to deliver the final humiliation in person, an offer for AMG of $5 million, less than the value of Ovitz’s home.

Ovitz went on to become a private investor, advisor to film luminaries and a philanthropist. Although he is still married to his wife Judy, in 2015, he became engaged to Tamara Mellon, the co-founder of shoe company Jimmy Choo and ex-wife of Matthew Mellon, of the banking family. Mellon describes her fiancé’s marital situation as ‘complicated’.

9/11, politics and Breitbart

Although he had always admired Ronald Reagan, the events of September 11, 2001 shifted Bannon’s interest from entertainment to politics.

Since 2004, he has made 15 socio-political documentaries on various subjects, including Reagan, border control, the Tea Party and America’s future.

His first film, In the Face of Evil, was modelled on a book called Reagan’s War. The author of the book was none other than Peter Schweizer, a Cold War expert. Bannon went on to found the non-profit Government Accountability Institute (GAI), of which Schweizer is president. As I explained yesterday, the GAI’s research feeds into Breitbart, which Bannon heads, although he has taken a leave of absence to work on Donald Trump’s campaign.

When In the Face of Evil was screened in 2004, one audience member became quite excitable:

“We screened the film at a festival in Beverly Hills,” Bannon recalls, “and out of the crowd comes this, like, bear who’s squeezing me like my head’s going to blow up and saying how we’ve gotta take back the culture.”

That ‘bear’ was none other than Andrew Breitbart.

Breitbart also lived in Los Angeles. Interested in new media, he had worked for Matt Drudge before helping Arianna Huffington launch her Huffington Post. When he and Bannon met, he was in the process of launching his own eponymous site.

When Breitbart was working on the Drudge Report, he developed a feel for the news cycle: anticipating big stories, breaking them and following them. When you read Matt Drudge, you are looking at Breitbart’s legacy.

Bannon found this fascinating. He gave Breitbart financial advice and found him office space.

It was the beginning of a faithful friendship and involvement in Breitbart:

“Our vision—Andrew’s vision—was always to build a global, center-right, populist, anti-establishment news site.” With this in mind, he set out to line up investors.

Bannon continued making his not-so-subtle documentaries:

big, crashing, opinionated films with Wagner scores and arresting imagery … In the Bannon repertoire, no metaphor is too direct. His films are peppered with footage of lions attacking helpless gazelles, seedlings bursting from the ground into glorious bloom

Sarah Palin loves them, especially one about her, The Undefeated:

Palin, for one, ate it up and traveled to Iowa, trailed by hundreds of reporters, to appear with him at a 2011 screening in Pella that the press thought might signal her entrance into the 2012 presidential race. (No such luck.) Breitbart came along as promoter and ringmaster. When I spoke with him afterward, he described Bannon, with sincere admiration, as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement.

In 2010, Bannon was instrumental in financing Breitbart‘s relaunch. Unfortunately, he had problems as one of their big stories had gone very wrong:

The site published video, furnished by a conservative activist, of a speech to the NAACP by a Department of Agriculture official named Shirley Sherrod, in which she appeared to advocate anti-white racism. Within hours, she was fired, as the story blanketed cable news. It soon became clear that the Breitbart News video was misleadingly edited—that Sherrod’s point was the opposite of what was portrayed Fox News, which aggressively promoted the video, banned Andrew Breitbart as an on-air guest.

However, as Breitbart, Bannon and the other employees know, it isn’t long before redemption comes. And Breitbart’s came in the form of Huma Abedin’s husband and then-congressman, Anthony Weiner, with his salacious selfies. Breitbart wasted no time in publishing the sorry story in 2011 and, with that, he was allowed back on Fox News.

Breitbart was due to relaunch in March 2012. Breitbart was ebullient. Then, he collapsed during a walk in his Brentwood neighbourhood on March 1, dying shortly afterwards of heart failure at the age of 43. Many still find this suspicious.

Bannon became executive chairman and went ahead with the website’s relaunch.

By then, he fully understood Breitbart’s take on the news. People want to understand it as a series of ongoing stories, whether drama or farce, with names, faces, events, climaxes and pivots.

Alex Marlow, the site’s editor-in-chief, told Bloomberg’s Green:

Our whole mindset is looking for these rolling narratives.” He rattles off the most popular ones, which Breitbart News covers intensively from a posture of aggrieved persecution. “The big ones won’t surprise you,” he says. “Immigration, ISIS, race riots, and what we call ‘the collapse of traditional values.’ But I’d say Hillary Clinton is tops.

And, adopting the Goldman Sachs dictum of never leading, only following, Bannon brings in their big, investigative exposés from the GAI. Clinton Cash is one of them.

Breitbart News gets 21m unique hits every month. Big Media, in the US and abroad, are paying attention. This fits into Bannon’s strategy of making these stories irresistible to Fox News and The New York Times, among others.

Politicians, in turn, have to read it, too:

“They have an incredible eye for an important story, particular ones that are important to conservatives and Republicans,” says Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican. “They’ve become extraordinarily influential. Radio talk show hosts are reading Breitbart every day. You can feel it when they interview you.”

Breitbart is promoting Donald Trump. During his leave of absence, Bannon is beavering away in Trump Tower for the GOP candidate.

It will be fascinating to see what results their efforts will produce on Tuesday, November 8.

On Wednesday, August 17, Donald Trump hired Stephen Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, as his campaign’s chief executive.

On Friday, August 19, Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign manager until last week, stood down. Manafort, a Republican presidential campaign veteran from the 1970s to the 1990s, was a tremendous asset in helping Trump obtain the GOP nomination.

Long-time Trump and Manafort friend Roger Stone explained that Manafort did the right thing by bowing out quietly. Stone said that Manafort is guilty of no wrongdoing with regard to Ukraine — to accuse him of that is ‘actionable’ — and that the campaign is moving into a new phase. Stone also said that verbal attacks from Hillary’s people and the media would have made Manafort’s staying on untenable.

Kellyanne Conway, a former pollster for Mike Pence, becomes Trump’s campaign manager and will be flying around the country with him to rallies and other public appearances. Conway can definitely hold her own, as seen in this Hardball clip with Chris Matthews:

With only 80 or so days to go until the election takes place on Tuesday, November 8, this move could work either way.

Manafort’s previous ten-year assignment which took him to Ukraine is thought to have been raising eyebrows.

My analysis is that, rightly or wrongly, Trump chops and changes where necessary. Corey Lewandowski energetically propelled him into all sorts of speaking engagements and rallies during primary season. He was a powerful, unpredictable personality that probably had to go once the Sisyphean task of reaching the magic delegate minimum came up. Therefore, Paul Manafort stepped in to surpass expectations.

After Labor Day, the election campaign will be in full throttle. Trump is looking for someone who thinks as asymetrically as he does, hence, Stephen Bannon.

Tomorrow’s post will feature a profile of Bannon. He is more than ‘just Breitbart‘. He had an incredible career with several business and political epiphanies which brought him where he is today. Again, more on that later.

For now, let’s examine the rise of Breitbart and Bannon’s Government Accountability Institute (GAI).

I am not Breitbart‘s biggest fan. Until several weeks ago, accessing the site caused my PC to stall. Going into archive articles dated as late as May 2016 produces the same problem. The layout is hideous and the readers’ comments even worse.

However, for those who read it — and millions more are — it continues to follow in the footsteps of its founder, the late Andrew Breitbart with exposés at home and abroad.

The work of the GAI has helped to propel Breitbart to the forefront of what is called alt-right media.

Bannon co-founded the GAI and serves as executive chairman.

The GAI’s president is Peter Schweizer, who wrote Breitbart’s promotional book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich and has also written a recent e-book, Bush Bucks, as well as an exposé of the establishment called Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison.

In 2015, Bloomberg landed in-depth interviews with both Bannon and Schweitzer. Joshua Green’s article, ‘This Man Is The Most Dangerous Political Operative In America’ — referring to Bannon — is a must-read.

Schweizer worked for several years at the Hoover Institution. There he learned the fine art of investigative research, beginning with Soviet archives. By 2004, he took a closer look at American politics. That year, he co-authored The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty which was well-received. Far from being a compilation of journalistic efforts, he was able to interview many Bush family members personally.

All his digging caused him to be disillusioned with Washington. He told Bloomberg’s Green that he saw the establishment as being similar to professional wrestling. The oppositional rhetoric, just like wrestlers’ violence, is merely for public consumption. Ultimately, he said:

I eventually realized they’re actually business partners.

In 2011, he published the aforementioned Throw Them All Out, which made 60 Minutes. The segment concerned congressional insider dealing.

Disillusioned, he left Washington for Tallahassee, Florida, where he established GAI. The Institute is in a quiet area of ante-bellum style buildings. Green describes it as:

… a sleepy cul de sac of two-story brick buildings that looks like what you’d get if Scarlett O’Hara designed an office park. The unmarked entrance is framed by palmetto trees and sits beneath a large, second-story veranda with sweeping overhead fans, where the (mostly male) staff gathers every afternoon to smoke cigars and brainstorm.

Note that they smoke. This can only help their work. Smoking aids conviviality, conversation and concentration.

Schweizer is friendly and easy to talk to. One could almost say that he and Bannon have a good cop-bad cop thing going on:

Bannon nurses this regular-Joe appeal by forbidding him from wearing a tie when he’s on TV.

Clinton Cash is the book of the 2016 campaign season. It was carefully conceived to avoid the usual left-wing — Democrats included — accusation of ‘conspiracy theory’.

Bannon told Bloomberg’s Green:

We have a mantra. Facts get shares, opinions get shrugs.

As the Clinton back catalogue, which stretches back to the 1980s, is too extensive to cover in any one book, Bannon advised ‘periodicity’, or exploring one recent aspect of their dubious dealings:

So they’d focus only on the last decade, the least familiar period, and especially on the millions of dollars flowing into the Clinton Foundation.

GAI researchers got to work digging into the Deep Web — not the dark net with drugs and porn but the far reaches of the Internet:

GAI researchers plumbed tax filings, flight logs, and foreign government documents to turn up what the foundation withheld. Their most effective method was mining the so-called Deep Web, the 97 percent or so of information on the Internet that isn’t indexed for search engines such as Google and therefore is difficult to find.

Tony, GAI’s data scientist, spoke with Green and explained that he wrote software protocols to make searching less onerous:

Since this requires heavy computing power, Tony struck a deal to use the services of a large European provider during off-peak hours. “We’ve got $1.3 billion of equipment I’m using at almost full capacity,” he says.

The results were astounding (emphases mine):

This effort yielded a slew of unreported foundation donors who appear to have benefited financially from their relationship with the Clintons, including the uranium mining executives cited by the New York Times (who showed up on an unindexed Canadian government website). These donations illustrate a pattern of commingling private money and government policy that disturbed even many Democrats.

All the information had to be put forward into a readable book that would engage people, especially the media.

So, a young writer, GAI’s Wynton Hall, set out to work on a storyboard and approach that would make Clinton Cash irresistible:

Hall’s job is to transform dry think-tank research into vivid, viral-ready political dramas that can be unleashed on a set schedule, like summer blockbusters. “We work very long and hard to build a narrative, storyboarding it out months in advance,” he says. “I’m big on this: We’re not going public until we have something so tantalizing that any editor at a serious publication would be an idiot to pass it up and give a competitor the scoop.”

Wynton’s team are used to hearing him say:

ABBN — always be breaking news

and

Depth beats speed.

The approach works because journalists love receiving fact-filled material rather than fluffy pieces such as press releases. Furthermore, Big Media don’t have the money to employ their own investigative journalists:

“The modern economics of the newsroom don’t support big investigative reporting staffs,” says Bannon. “You wouldn’t get a Watergate, a Pentagon Papers today, because nobody can afford to let a reporter spend seven months on a story. We can. We’re working as a support function.”

This ‘support function’ allows this conservative outfit to get entry to The New York Times and other bastions of left-of-centre media. Wynton Hall describes it as:

Anchor left, pivot right … weaponizing

a story into Big Media.

It would be easier for him to propel these exposés into the small-time conservative online media bubble. Using the ‘anchor left, pivot right’ strategy enables him to go much further. Hall explained:

We live and die by the media. Every time we’re launching a book, I’ll build a battle map that literally breaks down by category every headline we’re going to place, every op-ed Peter’s going to publish. Some of it is a wish list. But it usually gets done.

Consequently:

Once that work has permeated the mainstream—once it’s found “a host body,” in David Brock’s phrase—then comes the “pivot.”

This is why Breitbart is increasingly quoted in Big Media stories this year:

“With Clinton Cash, we never really broke a story,” says Bannon, “but you go [to Breitbart.com] and we’ve got 20 things, we’re linking to everybody else’s stuff, we’re aggregating, we’ll pull stuff from the Left. It’s a rolling phenomenon. Huge traffic. Everybody’s invested.”

Even veteran Democrats are impressed with this new kind of conservative media. One told Bloomberg’s Green:

They’ve adapted into a higher species.

Ultimately, however, most senior Democrats think that Breitbart will go overboard and damage their own cause.

Bannon disagrees and says the GAI efforts are showing that:

the donors highlighted in Clinton Cash violated many of the principles liberals hold dear: “You look at what they’ve done in the Colombian rain forest, look at the arms merchants, the warlords, the human trafficking—if you take anything that the Left professes to be a cornerstone value, the Clintons have basically played them for fools. They’ve enriched themselves while playing up the worst cast of characters in the world.”

Agreed, but will the Left read the information?

Bannon said he is also taking older Clinton scandals to a new generation:

There’s a whole generation of people who love the news but were 7 or 8 years old when this happened and have no earthly idea about the Clinton sex stuff,” he says.

That is so true, and that is why the Democrats are probably right in banking on ignorance. Talk about low-information voters. You couldn’t get much lower.

We are now into the sunset of the 2016 presidential campaign. Bannon could — and should — try to target Sanders voters within the remaining weeks. They would be the best target market for his anti-Clinton information.

Whilst I do not believe the skewed polling going on since the Democratic National Convention — Reuters have significantly altered their methods — I also don’t believe those who say Trump is strongly ahead.

That said, it would be something if the LA Times polls showing a one to two point difference end up being the most accurate. It’s interesting that the latest Los Angeles Times poll dated August 20 shows that he is half a point ahead of Clinton.

We’ll see what sort of magic Bannon can work for Trump between Labor Day and Hallowe’en.

Tomorrow: why Trump (probably) chose Bannon

Bible ancient-futurenetThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 21:12-13

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12 And Jesus entered the temple[a] and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

———————————————————————————

We are now reading about the events of Jesus’s final Passover, which many Christians commemorate during Holy Week.

Matthew 21:1-11 records His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which we remember as Palm Sunday. It is important to remember that the crowds hailed him as a temporal king, not the spiritual Messiah.

Once in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple, which, being Passover, was teeming with faithful Jews anxious to offer the proper animal sacrifice.

My past posts have discussed the temple in more detail. The history of the temples is detailed here and here. The structure of the temple of Jesus’s era, the one that the Romans destroyed in 70 AD, is here.

That last post is well worth reading before contemplating today’s verses as it also includes how suitable home bred animals were often rejected and the faithful were forced to buy their sacrifices from the temple.

Then there was the question of temple tax, due during this time. The Jews had to pay it with a special coin in order to be allowed into the Temple during Passover. The moneychangers would charge an exhorbitant rate to exchange everyday money for this coin.

There was a real racket going on. No wonder Jesus was filled with righteous anger.

Some readers might be confused about this cleansing of the temple. After all, isn’t it recorded early on in John’s Gospel? John 2:13-17 says:

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

That cleansing was at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. John MacArthur explains:

So, when He started His ministry, He started it at the temple and when He ends it, He ends it at the temple.

These two cleansings bookend His earthly ministry.

They are important in that, through them, He establishes his Messianic credentials. He is cleaning His Father’s house (verse 12).

In some manuscripts, such as the King James Version, verse 12 begins (emphases mine):

And Jesus went into the temple of God

Jesus drove out these crooked, greedy men. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those selling pigeons. Pigeons were the poor man’s sacrifice. The impoverished faithful were charged exhorbitant prices.

One can imagine the scene. Carefully counted coins scattered everywhere. Pigeons flew away, perhaps not to be seen again.

All this had the permission of the high priest, Annas. He and the other priests were in on the racket. MacArthur explains:

Annas being the high priest, a corrupt and vile man who saw the temple as a way to get power and wealth…had a great idea. He and his priests sold concessions. In other words, you could buy space in the Court of the Gentiles. And there you could come and sell sheep, lambs, doves, pigeons, make money exchanges, sell oil, wine, salt and other requisites that go along with sacrifices.

And you paid dearly for those concessions because here’s how the system worked. Every offering had to be approved by the priests, right? When you finally got into the Court of the Israelites and you brought what you were going to give, it had to be approved. And maybe they had approving stations even before you got that far in. But the priests had to say your sacrifice is okay, and the odds were that if you bought it outside the temple, it was not going to be approved. If you had raised a lamb way out where you lived and brought that little lamb in to be offered, they’d say that lamb is not acceptable, you must have a lamb purchased in the Court of the Gentiles. Go see So-and-so. And so you’d go to buy a lamb from him, only according to Edersheim, the great Jewish historian, you would pay ten times the value of that lamb. So you were extorted, you were fleeced to reverse the picture a little. You were taken by robbers.

Poor people, according to Levitical law, didn’t have to bring a lamb because they couldn’t afford lamb, so they were allowed to have a dove or a pigeon in the place of a lamb. And most historians feel that in today’s currency, a couple of birds might be worth a nickel or a dime. But you would have paid four or five dollars for them there. And if you wanted to exchange your money because you had to have exactly a half shekel so you had to have the right change, and if you came from a foreign country with foreign currency and it had to be changed, you would pay twenty-five percent fee just to make small change.

It is easy for us to say that all this was Jewish practice, nothing to do with us. However, the accounts of these cleansings are warnings about similar corruption in the Church. In pre-Reformation times, this would have meant the selling of indulgences for notional penance for sin or entry into heaven:

In 1392, more than a century before Martin Luther published the 95 Theses, Pope Boniface IX wrote to the Bishop of Ferrara condemning the practice of certain members of religious orders who falsely claimed that they were authorized by the pope to forgive all sorts of sins, and obtained money from the simple-minded faithful by promising them perpetual happiness in this world and eternal glory in the next.[50]

Some of these indulgences were a mandatory purchase and, as with the pigeons of the poor, expensive. The seller — the pardoner — pocketed a percentage of the money and the rest filtered its way to clerics and local rulers. Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales has ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’, featuring a typical story of the Middle Ages:

The Pardoner says to the pilgrims that by these tricks he has acquired a considerable sum of money. He goes on to relate how he stands like a clergy at the pulpit, and preaches against avarice but to gain the congregation’s money; he doesn’t care for the correction of sin or for their souls.[7] Against anyone that offends either him or other pardoners, he will “stynge hym with my tonge smerte”. Although he is guilty of avarice himself, he reiterates that his theme is always Radix malorum … and that he can nonetheless preach so that others turn away from the vice and repent—though his “principal entente” is for personal gain. The Pardoner explains that he then offers many anecdotes to the “lewed [ignorant, unlearned] people”.[8] He scorns the thought of living in poverty while he preaches; he desires “moneie, wolle [wool], chese, and whete”[9] and doesn’t care whether it were from the poorest widow in the village, even should her children starve for famine.

Some indulgences purchased an exemption from spiritual disciplines:

The “Butter Tower” of Rouen Cathedral earned its nickname because the money to build it was raised by the sale of indulgences allowing the use of butter during Lent.[51]

Similar things go on today with televangelists or independent pastors urging their flocks to give generously because, without them, the ministry cannot exist. Then one sees the money going towards lavish mansions, limousines and clothes for the preacher!

Matthew records that Jesus cited Isaiah 56:7 after cleansing the temple (verse 13):

these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”

Matthew Henry tells us:

Tradition says, that his face shone, and beams of light darted from his blessed eyes, which astonished these market-people, and compelled them to yield to his command …

This would indicate the fulfilment of Old Testament Scripture:

if so, the scripture was fulfilled, Proverbs 20:8, A King that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes. He overthrew the tables of the money-changers he did not take the money to himself, but scattered it, threw it to the ground, the fittest place for it. The Jews, in Esther’s time, on the spoil laid not their hand, Esther 9:10.

MacArthur gives us examples from the Old Testament showing the sanctity of the temple, as holy a place as we consider church:

I’m reminded of 1 Samuel 1, Hannah, she went to the temple and Eli the priest sat on a seat by the post of the temple of the Lord. She went there to seek God. She was in bitterness of soul. She prayed to the Lord, she wept bitterly. She vowed a vow. Now that’s what the temple was for. It was for a person to go and find some quiet, the court was where a Jew or a Gentile could go and seek God, a place of silence, a place of meditation, a place to vow a vow to God. And she was there, you remember, and Eli saw her lips moving and she found there the face of God that she sought. God wonderfully heard her prayer and gave her a child.

And you remember when the temple was dedicated in 1 Kings chapter 8 verses 29 and 30 and Solomon offered his prayer to God. And he said, “I pray to God that this place may be a place where Your people can come and confess and find forgiveness, a place of quiet, a place of confession.” And I’m reminded, too, of the psalmist in Psalm 27 who identifies the usefulness of the temple with these words, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” It’s a place where we can see the beauty of the Lord and worship and where we can beseech Him, inquiring of Him there in His holy place. And they had turned it into a crooked bank, a stockyard, a thoroughfare…blasphemous.

What is chilling is Jesus’s comparison of these money-men, priests included, to robbers hiding in a cave awaiting their prey. What a transformation of evil to God’s holy place on earth:

And He says to them in verse 13, “But you have made it a den of thieves,” or a cave of robbers. And that’s another Old Testament quote from Jeremiah 7:11. You have made it…and He borrows the phrase from Jeremiah…a cave of robbers, where robbers hole up. Instead of being a place for true worshipers, it’s a place where people can rob and be protected in doing it. You have made it a cave of robbers. They can come here and they’re safe. Robbers used to hide in the caves. Jeremiah alludes to that in chapter 7 verses 4 to 11 where the robbers were hiding in the caves. And they were safe there, out of the way, unfound, secure. And he says you’ve provided a cave for robbers to hide in in the temple of God. And they can do their robbery right in the place they’re hiding. Such protection of extortioners is blasphemous. Yahweh’s house, God’s house to be a temple to worship and pray and commune with Him, what a prostitution you’ve made of this.

The parallel accounts are Luke 19:45-46, which I covered in November 2014, and Mark 11:15-19, which is in the three-year Lectionary for public worship. Mark’s is fuller than the other two accounts, because of these two verses:

18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they[b] went out of the city.

Henry concludes with these words of wisdom:

When dissembled piety is made the cloak and cover of iniquity, it may be said that the house of prayer is become a den of thieves, in which they lurk, and shelter themselves. Markets are too often dens of thieves, so many are the corrupt and cheating practices in buying and selling but markets in the temple are certainly so, for they rob God of his honour, the worst of thieves, Malachi 3:8. The priests lived, and lived plentifully, upon the altar but, not content with that, they found other ways and means to squeeze money out of the people and therefore Christ here calls them thieves, for they exacted that which did not belong to them.

For us, church should also be a holy place where we can communicate with God, perhaps publicly, perhaps privately. It is not a place for running around, distracting others or engaging in ordinary activity, such as checking one’s phone messages or texting (unless it’s an emergency).

Many today — including clergy — say that church is people, not a building. We see from Holy Scripture that this is not the case. A bit more consideration and reverence on our part would not go amiss.

Those of us over a certain age were told from childhood that church is God’s house. May we be ever mindful of it.

Next time: Matthew 21:14-17

time detroit 09

October 5, 2009 cover, courtesy Dewey from Detroit

On Monday, August 8, 2016, Donald Trump reiterated his economic plan in Detroit, Michigan, before an audience of 1,500 members and guests of the prestigious Economic Club in a ballroom of Cobo Hall.

I say ‘reiterated’, because much of what he said went public last autumn and has been on his website for months. However, he added more specifics.

Detroit then and now

Using Detroit as an introductory backdrop, he compared what Motor City was to what it is now (emphases mine):

Detroit was once the economic envy of the world. The people of Detroit helped power America to its position of global dominance in the 20th century.

When we were governed by an America First policy, Detroit was booming. Engineers, builders, laborers, shippers and countless others went to work each day, provided for their families, and lived out the American Dream.

But for many living in this city, that dream has long ago vanished.

When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit. Our roads and bridges fell into disrepair, yet we found the money to resettle millions of refugees at taxpayer expense.

Today, Detroit has a per capita income of under $15,000 dollars, about half of the national average. 40 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, over two-and-half times the national average. The unemployment rate is more than twice the national average. Half of all Detroit residents do not work.

Detroit tops the list of Most Dangerous Cities in terms of violent crime – these are the silenced victims whose stories are never told by Hillary Clinton, but victims whose suffering is no less real or permanent.

In short, the city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent’s failed economic agenda. Every policy that has failed this city, and so many others, is a policy supported by Hillary Clinton.

Those policies came about once the city’s residents began voting overwhelmingly for Democrats in the 1960s and 1970s.

Democrats’ policies are destructive. In 2013, Dewey from Detroit explained:

the point remains: Detroit has been served exclusively by Democrat leadership since 1962Coincident with that 50 year period the city began a steady state of entropy that culminated in the bankruptcy filing yesterday

This is Dewey; reminding you that if Obama had a city, it would look like Detroit.

Detroit is, for the moment, an outlier. However, other cities are crumbling, poised to follow.

Expect more Detroits if Hillary Clinton gets to the White House in January 2017.

My visits

I’ve been to Detroit four times: thrice in the late 1960s as a child and once in the late 1970s as a university student visiting friends.

My mother knew the city well from previous trips in the 1940s and 1950s. She loved it and could hardly wait to see it again.

My parents and I first saw it in August 1966. It was bustling and busy: traffic and people everywhere. We were just passing through then on our way elsewhere, but saw the automotive and automotive accessory plants, the nearby neighbourhoods as well as the nicer parts, e.g. Henry Ford’s home and other mansions.

The next time was in 1967 or 1968. It might have been early springtime, because it was cold. My mother and I went by train, where we met up with my dad, who was working away from home at the time. It was a weekend for all of us to get together away from home and have fun.

WestinBookCadillac.jpgWe stayed at what was then called the Sheraton Cadillac — now the Westin Book Cadillac. My mother thought it looked a bit down at heel, but I was impressed. I was in primary school at the time. Wikipedia describes the decor:

embodies Neo-Classical elements and building sculpture, incorporating brick and limestone. Among its notable features are the sculptures of notable figures from Detroit’s historyGeneral Anthony Wayne, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, Chief Pontiac, and Robert Navarre along the ornate Michigan Avenue façade and copper-covered roof elements.[2]

The hotel was very busy, and she and I met a celebrity of the day in the lobby, with whom we had a lengthy and friendly exchange.

Before Dad arrived, Mum and I went to Hudson’s Department Store, which my mother spoke of often, particularly in the run-up to our trip. It was just as huge as she had promised. In fact, it was second in size only to Macy’s in New York City.

I loved Hudson’s, especially the toy department, but my mother was disappointed. There were kids running around unsupervised, and she thought the merchandise and layout needed a refresh.

Once my dad arrived, we went to dinner at a gorgeous rooftop restaurant with a view that overlooked the Ambassador Bridge and a stunning Windsor, Ontario. We went to Mass on Sunday in a beautiful church, St Aloysius. A lot of people attended, all in their Sunday best. We had brunch and then we checked out, Dad to return to his work assignment and the two of us to go back home.

The last time I went was in the late 1970s to spend time with friends. By then, the new Renaissance Tower was the talk of the town, and our hosts were eager to make sure we not only saw it but toured the public space and stopped for a drink. The Renaissance Tower was emblematic of new hope for the city, which was in decline and already making national news for that reason.

I noticed when one of my friends was driving us there that there were gaping empty spaces in the downtown area, which hadn’t been there a decade before. Hmm. My friend tried to brush this off as ‘change’ and ‘progress’ which had to take place. Nothing to see here, move along!

We were also told time and time again, ‘Look, we’re going to a night spot which is a 20-minute drive away. Make sure you go to the bathroom before we leave my parents’ house and before we leave the nightclub. It is too dangerous to stop in between the two. Is everybody clear?

Later developments

My friends in Detroit did not wish for me to think anything bad about the place they and generations of their family considered home, so, during the 1980s and 1990s, any negatives were clearly dismissed and the conversation changed quickly.

Their denial didn’t really help when one could see what was happening from the news!

J L Hudson’s flagship store

The aforementioned Hudson’s department store was Detroit’s the Midwest’s jewel in the retail crown.

A fascinating article from 2015 in the Detroit Free Press recaps its history:

For generations, it was as synonymous with Christmas and fashion as it was Detroit.

The Hudson’s department store at Woodward and Gratiot avenues was absolutely massive, evolving with the Motor City until it became the tallest department store in the world. By the time it finished growing, the store’s size almost defied belief.

That’s why they called it the Big Store.

The building was 2,124,316 square feet, making it second in size among department stores to only Macy’s in New York. The store was spread out over 32 floors, and at 410 feet, Hudson’s was the tallest department store in the world. Hudson’s featured more than 200 departments across an incredible 49 acres of floor space, and it featured about 600,000 items from 16,000 vendors. Twelve thousand employees, 100,000 customers came each day at its peak. In 1954, Hudson’s had sales of more than $163 million (an astronomical $1.28 billion today, when adjusted for inflation).

A number of factors contributed to the decline of Hudson’s Big Store: the construction of the massive freeway system in and around Detroit, the move to the suburbs and the rise of malls in those areas. People also felt less safe travelling into the centre of town. And why pay for parking downtown when you could get any variety of spaces for free in the suburban mall?

In 1983, after 90 years of business, Hudson’s closed its flagship store. It still retained offices there for 1,200 company employees working in management and administration.

Hudson’s moved out in 1990. A company from Windsor, Ontario, bought the building. Unfortunately, what was the Big Store lay derelict, attracting trespassers and window-breaking vandals. For whatever reason, various plans for redevelopment were shelved.

On October 24, 1998, a sad event took place. And it even saddens me to watch this, the destruction of the J L Hudson Department Store:

The site has served since then as an underground parking garage.

Discussions are still taking place on renovating the site above ground.

I see the Free Press does not allow readers to see the 34 comments on this article and 9 from the one cited earlier. I bet there were some gems there.

You can get an idea of the store’s iconic status in these historic photos from The Detroit News.

Michigan Central Station

This railway station was a temple of transport — so awe-inspiring, so beautiful. When it opened in 1914, it was the tallest railway station in the world.

Amtrak services stopped serving Michigan Central in 1988 and continued at a nearby platform instead. A new station opened several miles away in Detroit’s New Center in 1994.

Once closed, Michigan Central became an attractive target for vandals and delinquents. A number of photographers have taken pictures of the interior and exterior since closure. A 2013 photo shows all the graffiti marring the majestic waiting room. A series of photos shows the architecturally Beaux Arts classical exterior and all the broken windows.

The best, however, is French-Canadian Jean-Pierre Lavoie’s 360 degree panoramas of the the Michigan Central train station — a must-see. As Dewey from Detroit described it in 2009:

It feels like a nerve unsheathed, it looks like a malignant menace. It is the face of a city waiting for salvation, it’s worthiness unclear.

Societies require care and selfless leadership to survive, let alone thrive. Detroit has had neither for nearly 40 years. I mention this simply as a cautionary tale.

The Mouroun family, local billionaire industrialists, purchased Michigan Central and are slowly refurbishing it. In February 2016, they had replaced all 1,050 of the station’s windows on time and on budget by enlisting the services of a glass and metal company in nearby St Clair Shores. The Mourouns have spent several million dollars on other improvements to electrics and the elevator shaft.

Although the building’s new purpose is unclear at this point, at least this is a move in a positive direction.

Other ruins

Some people look at a decayed city and say, ‘So what? Everything changes.’

An ad man from Britain opined on the planned redevelopment of the Old Port in Marseille and said the same thing to me a few years ago.

Dewey from Detroit has photographs from other former Detroit icons: the Vanity Ballroom where all the Big Bands from the 1940s played, the Lee Plaza Ballroom, the stunning cathedral-like organ screen from the abandoned United Artists theatre and the tragically abandoned Ford River Rouge Plant.

In that 2009 post, he explained what had happened over the years to put Detroit on her deathbed:

Photographers keep showing up and taking pictures that people can emote over for a few minutes, and then they go about their business. But keep ignoring the path our country is on and soon you, too, will have no business to go back to.

here a taste of what the Great Society [Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson, mid-1960s] has wrought on a once prosperous and proud city.

Get up close and take a look into the abyss that 40 years of elite liberal East Coast driven social policies have created.

And spare me the litany of other factors that contributed to Detroit’s decline; they contributed, they didn’t create. Only government policies that suck the souls of its citizens dry of any personal responsibility and self-respect can so effectively kill the motivation, drive and ambition of people. Only multiple generations of people born into the entitlement mentality of government provision and care can kill the soul of the people, and with them their city

Detroit may just be beyond redemption. The rest of the country is still our call.

Too right.

Seven years on and no one really cares, including millions of American citizens carping about the state of the country! Because it’s so much easier to sit at home and complain rather than to start educating ourselves about the reality of the situation then going out to vote for a candidate who can reverse this tragic trend!

I’ve said it here before and I will say it again: 2016 is America’s last chance for survival.

People know what to do, so why don’t they get on with it? I do not know.

Detroit in the 21st century

Today, Detroit is best known for its declining automotive industry and, oddly enough, a huge pawn shop, American Jewelry and Loan, as seen around the world in the television series Hardcore Pawn.

If Hardcore Pawn reflects the reality of today’s residents of Detroit — and, heaven forbid, the rest of the country’s major urban areas — America is doomed.

This show is amazing, and not in a good way. It must be seen to be believed. A more vulgar, incoherent group of customers I have never seen, where ‘going to work’ unabashedly means ‘going to the casino’. Scary.

Back in 2009, the idea was mooted that Detroit be turned into farmland. Detroit has one of the largest square mile urban areas in the United States. The population is now just over 800,000. Dewey has a helpful graphic and puts it into perspective:

Consider an interesting fact about Detroit: it’s huge, even by city standards. 140 square miles. Manhattan, Boston and San Francisco could all fit comfortably within the borders of Detroit and still have room left over.

Outside of the centre, most shops have closed. Huge swathes of open space exist, beautiful houses long gone — burnt to the ground or razed:

On its face the urban farm concept for a city as deeply scarred as Detroit holds a great deal of poetic appeal. After all, the city was built on rich, arable farm land that still lies beneath the structures. The once fertile fields were gradually annexed and filled with housing stock to meet the needs of a growing urban population that congregated around the industries that built America into the most powerful industrial giant the world had ever seen. 

He has another post, ‘Feral in Detroit’, which shows more tragically spacious lots and abandoned homes. Again, some may say, ‘So what? It was probably not a populated neighbourhood to begin with’.

st cyril detroit 2008There they would be wrong. Dewey gives us an aerial cutting from a 1949 map of the neighbourhood of the now-demolished St Cyril’s Catholic Church and school. The whole area is full of houses, with no vacant space. By 2003, most of those homes were destroyed. There is a lot of vacant space. I am borrowing a picture from his post, taken by Robert Monaghan, to show you what the area around St Cyril’s looks like today.

Mr Monaghan’s photographs of Detroit are well worth looking at and remembering.

The story of Detroit resident Marabel Chanin describes the eeriness of life there. She died alone in a lovely house in 2008. She had outlived her friends. Dewey says:

When Marabel moved into the house on Robinwood Avenue in 1964 it was a beautiful neighborhood of 1920’s era brick bungalows, stately trees and neat gardens. The northwest Detroit neighborhood was adjacent to the exclusive Palmer Park Golf Course and Country Club. A serene, safe and attractive community. Forty five years later, it had turned into a dump.

Robinwood, like countless streets in Detroit, had turned into a block of abandoned carcasses. Burned out, boarded up falling down houses littered the block, and served as gathering places for drug dealers, users and thieves. Marabel lived out her life a prisoner in her own home, fearful of gunshots, burglary and worse.

Conclusion

Detroit might still have a lifeline somewhere at some time.

However, its government has been continually corrupt over the past 50+ years.

Detroit’s newish mayor Mike Duggan might be able to make a difference. I certainly hope so. Even then, the city will never recapture its former grandeur.

As Dewey says, ‘Let this be a cautionary tale’. It can happen to your city or town, too.

Get out and research your local, state and national candidates this year. Instead of complaining, start listening to what the various presidential candidates are saying in full, rather than relying on television or radio soundbites.

On August 23, 2016, America’s NPR — National Public Radio — will no longer open its articles to readers’ comments.

In fact, all past comments will disappear. DCist tells us:

because they are run through Disqus, a third-party moderating system (that DCist also uses).

Reasons for censorship

On August 17, NPR’s Elizabeth Jensen explains that:

1/ The commenters do not represent NPR’s listeners —

In July, NPR.org recorded nearly 33 million unique users, and 491,000 comments. But those comments came from just 19,400 commenters, Montgomery said. That’s 0.06 percent of users who are commenting, a number that has stayed steady through 2016.

2/ A small number of NPR users generated most of the comments —

Just 4,300 users posted about 145 comments apiece, or 67 percent of all NPR.org comments for the two months. More than half of all comments in May, June and July combined came from a mere 2,600 users.

3/ Disqus is too expensive to run, because the more comments, the higher the cost —

The conclusion: NPR’s commenting system — which gets more expensive the more comments that are posted, and in some months has cost NPR twice what was budgeted — is serving a very, very small slice of its overall audience.

I am very pro-comment, because, without readers chiming in on various sites, I never would have found out about rented mules, about which I posted on August 16.

Going further into the NPR rationale, the management apparently did not like the nature of the comments they were receiving:

1/ The commenters do not represent the statistical NPR audience (another perspective) —

They overwhelmingly comment via the desktop (younger users tend to find NPR.org via mobile), and a Google estimate suggested that the commenters were 83 percent male, while overall NPR.org users were just 52 percent male …

2/ NPR received complaints —

When viewed purely from the perspective of whether the comments were fostering constructive conversations, the change should come as no surprise. The number of complaints to NPR about the current comment system has been growing—complaints that comments were censored by the outside moderators, and that commenters were behaving inappropriately and harassing other commenters.

Regulars’ objections

NPR has listeners and readers who, apparently, are sensitive creatures. NPR, therefore, must protect their feelings.

A male regular from Phoenix emailed NPR’s Jensen:

“Have you considered doing away with the comments sections, or tighter moderation?” he wrote. “The comments have devolved into the Punch-and-Judy-Fest of moronic, un-illuminating observations and petty insults I’ve seen on other pretty much every other Internet site that allows comments.” He added, “This is not in keeping with NPR’s take-a-step-back, take-a-deep-breath reporting,” and noted, “Now, thread hijacking and personal insults are becoming the stock in trade. Frequent posters use the forums to duke it out with one another.”

A lady from North Carolina:

wrote to implore: “Remove the comments section from your articles. The rude, hateful, racist, judgmental comments far outweigh those who may want to engage in some intelligent sideline conversation about the actual subject of the article. I am appalled at the amount of ‘free hate’ that is found on a website that represents honest and unbiased reporting such as NPR. What are you really gaining from all of these rabid comments other than proof that a sad slice of humanity that preys on the weak while spreading their hate?”

Censorious readers have two options: a) don’t read the comments or b) filter out trollish users.

NPR now recommends using Facebook for discussion on their articles and programmes.

Facebook. Something I and millions of others will never use and try to avoid visiting where possible.

Why the New York Times can have comments

Jensen explained why other media sites, such as The New York Times, can maintain readers’ comments:

… they use heavy in-house human moderation that costs far more than NPR currently spends on its outsourced system, according to NPR executives who are familiar with the numbers. The Times also opens only 10 percent of its articles for comments (but is working to increase that percentage), and keeps the comment threads open for just one week. NPR currently allows comments on all articles for two weeks.

I, too, operate a limited comments policy: my threads are open for two weeks and that’s it. Last year, an arrogant left-wing drive-by bluntly told me to open the comments on a really old post so that he could vent. I refused. My site, my rules.

When NPR sang a different tune

In 2008, with the Democrats and Obama in the ascendant, life at NPR was so very different. On September 28, Dick Meyer announced:

Starting now, it will be easier for you to talk to us, for us to talk to you and for you all to talk to each other. We are making it possible for anyone who registers with us to comment on a story and to create a profile page where many interesting things can happen. We are providing a forum for infinite conversations on NPR.org. Our hopes are high. We hope the conversations will be smart and generous of spirit. We hope the adventure is exciting, fun, helpful and informative. This is important for the NPR community.

That last phrase — “important for the NPR community” — is not phony baloney corporate rhetoric, I promise.

A few days later, on October 1, Andy Carvin enthused:

As you probably have seen by now, we rolled out several new community tools on the NPR Web site this week, including user profiles and discussion threads for all of our stories. The feedback so far has been very positive …

Fast forward to 2016 and the national dialogue has changed. NPR and their regulars find it upsetting. We don’t like it, so it can’t be said: censorship.

Other sites which have stopped comments

Of course, NPR is not the first nor the only Big Media site to censor readers’ views by stopping their input altogether. Others couldn’t take the reader heat, either.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog on The Atlantic

Although The Atlantic largely allows readers to comment on their articles, Ta-Nehisi Coates closed his blog entries to comments.

He had good intentions from the time he launched his blog in 2008. It was open to comments from the start. In 2010, he reiterated his comments policy to ensure civility.

DCist points out that, by and large, some of his readers’ responses were so good that they spawned careers at the magazine’s online site:

The current Washington bureau chief, Yoni Appelbaum, was discovered by his posts in the section …

In 2008, Appelbaum commented as Cynic. He was a PhD student at Brandeis University at the time. Longreads tells us:

he started commenting during the 2008 election run-up. His comments were unfailingly thorough, thoughtful and respectful, and Coates often flagged his contributions in follow-up posts.

Then, as Appelbaum recalls it, Coates contacted him “because he had deduced that I was a historian,” and he had some questions that related to his own historical work. They began to keep in touch outside the comment section, and in June 2010, Coates asked Appelbaum to turn a long comment he’d posted about Ulysses S. Grant into a standalone blog post. That one post was followed by a guest-blogging stint for Appelbaum—still identified only as “Cynic.” Not too long after that, Appelbaum was recruited right out of the comment section, and given a steady role—and a proper byline—as an online contributor to The Atlantic.

“In March 2011, my phone rang. And it was Bob Cohn of The Atlantic,” Appelbaum says. “That’s not a phone call you can really turn away. So I started contributing regularly then.”

Coates’ regular commenters were known at The Horde. He enjoyed what they had to say and even started special threads for them covering Mad Men, books and readers’ plights, such as the death of a pet dog.

By 2014, Coates’s moderator, Sandy Young, was torn about banning comment from those who opposed the blogger’s views. He told Longreads:

I don’t want to be that guy who tries to fix the Internet, but people I know and care about are going to see this and be insulted or hurt by it. What should I do? I have this power—should I use it or not?

That year, Coates cut back on his Atlantic blogging. When he did blog long pieces on black Americans’ concerns, he attracted extra-Horde comments. By the time Longreads interviewed him in February 2015, he said:

To be honest, I can’t say how long this will go on for.

In September 2015, he stopped comments on his blog. However, he did pay tribute to The Horde.

The Telegraph

Earlier this year — 2016 — the Telegraph stopped readers’ comments.

Private Eye had an article which said that the site’s advertisers were unnerved by the readers’ comments.

At that time, many comments concerned UKIP, migration to the Mediterranean, physical assaults on European women and the EU Referendum — all hot topics.

Since then, according to Private Eye, the Telegraph‘s online reader stats took a dive. The magazine has stopped writing about the Telegraph lately, so it is unclear what the current situation is.

However, vox pops are clearly worrying to online Big Media sites.

The Guardian‘s Stephen Pritchard issued this warning in March:

In January, I wrote about new efforts to keep the party polite online as comment numbers were ballooning up to 65,000 a day. Subjects such as race, immigration and Islam too often attracted toxic commentary, so henceforth they would only have comments open if a moderated, positive debate were deemed possible – one without racism, abuse of vulnerable subjects, author abuse or trolling …

My claim that we were living in an “age of rage” attracted this reaction: “Surely one of the engines for the ‘age of rage’ is the systematic suppression of any comprehensive debate on race, immigration and Islam and it is that or the responses to any questioning of current shibboleths that drives people to extreme points of view” …

The Telegraph is in the process of ending commentary on its site. That’s not being proposed here, but editors need to think harder about when it would be wise to switch off the ability to comment if a subject is likely to attract so much rage that a mature conversation becomes impossible. It devalues our journalism and offends our readers.

Conclusion

Right-of-centre comments are scaring Big Media big time.

Their online site managers are happy when everything is left-of-centre, but once the arguments move to the other side of the spectrum, they perceive a problem.

Expect more reader censorship in time. The excuse might be stated as money-related, as in NPR’s case, but the truth will be somewhat closer to the bone. They just cannot tolerate any opinions that aren’t leftist.

When I lived in the US, I enjoyed watching The McLaughlin Group on PBS.

(Photo credit: The McLaughlin Group on Facebook)

It was a political programme unlike any other: rapid-fire conversation concluding with weekly predictions in soundbites. I watched during the 1980s, when the line up was host Dr John McLaughlin with panellists Morton Kondracke of The New Republic, Jack Germond of The Baltimore Sun and Bob Novak. The show always closed with McLaughlin’s trademark ‘Bye bye’.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was still on the air and that McLaughlin never missed an episode until last weekend, when he was too ill to broadcast. He was 89 years old and, sadly, died on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 of prostate cancer.

Can you imagine hosting a television show, especially one on politics, when you’re 89 years old? I can’t. Americans were blessed to have had John McLaughlin on their television screens for over three decades.

Host versus panellists

I recall episodes of The McLaughlin Group which indicated backstage tension. My mother and I used to discuss the show during our weekend phone calls. She told me I was reading too much into personalities.

However, The New York Times reveals that not all the panellists were happy campers. Bob Novak left the show in 1988 and later hosted his own programme on CNN. During a PBS interview in 2007, the truth came out. Novak said:

He may not be pure evil, but he’s close to it.

Jack Germond, who was rather quiet on occasion although he always added much to the conversation:

called the show “really bad TV,” and said he had stayed on only because he needed the money to pay his daughter’s medical school tuition.

Whatever they say, millions of us loved the show, in large part for McLaughlin’s style of hosting:

Regardless of the panelists’ political persuasions, Mr. McLaughlin, whose own politics leaned decidedly right, would often fire off questions and cut them off, shouting “Wronnnng!”

Then there were the question and answer predictions at the end of each episode. A NYT reader recalls:

he made my favorite prediction on the last 1999 show: “The question of the 21st century will be science vs. religion and the answer is science! Bye-bye!”

Interesting facts

John Joseph McLaughlin was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on March 29, 1927. He was the son of Eva P. (née Turcotte) and Augustus H. McLaughlin, who was a regional salesman for a furniture company.

McLaughlin attended LaSalle Academy in Providence and went to Weston College, a Jesuit seminary in Massachusetts. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1947.

His further education did not stop there, and the young priest went on to earn masters degrees in philosophy and English literature from Boston College before obtaining a doctorate from Columbia University.

McLaughlin taught at the Jesuit-run Fairfield Preparatory School in Connecticut and later moved to New York to edit the Jesuit magazine America. Then came the 1960s and the Vietnam War.

By the end of the decade, a handful of Jesuit priests raised their heads above the parapet and became involved in politics. Daniel Berrigan was one well known antiwar activist. Robert Drinan was another; he was a US congressman for Massachusetts between 1971 and 1981.

The same year that Drinan first ran for election — 1970 — saw John McLaughlin, SJ, throw his hat into the ring. He ran for US Senate in Rhode Island as the Republican candidate against the long-serving politician, the much-loved Democrat John Pastore. Not surprisingly, he was trounced.

Whereas Robert Drinan’s superiors approved of his run for Congress, McLaughlin’s sharply disapproved of his. It would not be the first time the feisty priest ran into trouble with his superiors, including the Bishop of Rhode Island.

McLaughlin resigned his editorship of America and went to Washington, DC, to become a speechwriter for then-president Richard Nixon. A mutual friend, Republican adviser and pundit Pat Buchanan, introduced the two. McLaughlin became known as ‘Nixon’s priest’.

McLaughlin was fiercely loyal to the then-president. The NYT tells us:

At one news conference, he dismissed Nixon’s use of profanity as “emotional drainage.” Less than two weeks before the president resigned, Father McLaughlin warned in a speech at the National Press Club that the nation would face a “parade of horrors” should Nixon be impeached. (On July 31, 1973, Father Drinan became the first congressman to call for impeachment in a House resolution.)

Whereas Drinan lived in plain quarters with other Jesuits in Georgetown, McLaughlin had his residence at the upmarket Watergate complex.

When Nixon resigned in 1974, Nixon’s successor Gerald Ford abolished McLaughlin’s post. His superiors ordered him to leave Washington DC for Boston for a period of ‘reflection’. He refused and left the Jesuits. In order to leave the order, he had to petition Pope Paul VI for permission, which was granted in 1975.

Shortly after leaving the Jesuits, McLaughlin married his 1970 campaign manager Ann Dore, who later served as secretary of labor under Ronald Reagan. The couple set up their own media relations and public affairs consulting firm. They divorced in 1992.

Five years later, McLaughlin married Cristina Vidal, who was the vice president of operations for his production company, Oliver Productions, named after his treasured basset hound from the Nixon era. The couple divorced in 2010.

Media career

McLaughlin was a man who always had something to say. Fortunately, Washington DC’s WRC radio recognised this and gave him a weekend talk programme to host in the early 1980s.

From there, McLaughlin worked at National Review when William F Buckley Jr was at the helm. McLaughlin was the magazine’s Washington editor and a regular columnist from 1981 to 1989.

His friends from the early 1970s helped him set up a television production company in the 1980s (pre-Oliver) through which he was able to sell a new kind of political talk show to WRC-TV. The NYT explains what a departure this was:

At the time, TV round tables of journalists like “Agronsky & Company” and “Washington Week in Review” dissected the week’s developments in a sober, nonpartisan style. Mr. McLaughlin envisioned a more animated, argumentative format including a panel reflecting conservative, moderate and liberal views, with him as moderator.

I can tell you that Agronsky & Company and Washington Week in Review were incredibly boring. With The McLaughlin Group, it was as if someone had thrown open a window in a stuffy room. Agree or disagree, it engaged the viewer — and continues to do so.

You can see episodes from 1998 to the present on McLaughlin’s personal website. The episodes also have a link to YouTube. I would recommend watching them rather than selecting the MP3 option, if you can. N.B.: McLaughlin did not appear in the August 12, 2016 show.

His other television shows were John McLaughlin’s One on One, broadcast on PBS and NBC between 1984 and 2013, and a daily interview show which ran on CNBC between 1989 and 1994.

However, The McLaughlin Group was his most popular. In 1992, the NYT asked the ex-Jesuit if his programme ‘depreciated’ journalism. McLaughlin strongly disagreed and replied:

Journalists can get very pompous, especially in the formalized days of Meet the Press, when they took themselves so damned seriously. This show demythologizes the press, and I think people like that.

They do. One NYT reader had this to say:

The Irish have a way with words and the gift of the gab. John McLaughlin was very intelligent and highly educated. I think this is the reason his show was so successful and ran for so many years. I do not think there is an equal in quality programming today.

Nor will we see his like again.

May John McLaughlin rest in peace. He did a great service to the United States, engaging millions of Americans in politics via television for over 30 years.

We’ve all heard the expression ‘stubborn as a mule’, but are all mules stubborn?

Before motorised vehicles were invented — and became relatively affordable — American farmers used to rent mules to pull heavy items such as tillers and other equipment.

There was only one problem: instructions from previous renters confused the animals, which, in time, refused to do anything. A commenter at Breitbart explains:

… rented mules were handled by umpteen different people with varying degrees of experience working them. That resulted in the animal being totally confused by what was expected of it, bad habits mounted on top of more bad and when one farmer’s way set the mule up to misbehave, the next found it non-responsive to expectations, thus the animal was abused for not performing. Add to that, greedy rent mule owners overworked the animal, as well, not concerned with its well being.

The predicament of the rented mule reminds me of electorates in various Western countries. We notice that we’re overly taxed, yet disdained by the elite, who laugh at us and, even worse, pretend we don’t exist. Never mind that they rely on our money for their salaries. That includes the media.

This the elite are angry that Britons voted for Brexit. They are angry that millions and millions of Americans are likely to vote for Donald Trump in November.

Check out these poll results from rented mules: the American voters. One is from ABC News and the other is from Wikileaks. They might surprise you.

On August 8, 2016, Jim Rutenberg, Mediator — media correspondent — for the New York Times explained his employer’s position on reporting Donald Trump’s candidacy.

Rutenberg sets out his arguments (emphases mine):

If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.

But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?

Covering Mr. Trump as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate is more than just a shock to the journalistic system. It threatens to throw the advantage to his news conference-averse opponent, Hillary Clinton, who should draw plenty more tough-minded coverage herself.

Is the NYT providing ‘more tough-minded coverage’? Not that I can see. Speaking of Hillary:

Mrs. Clinton has been around so long that voters can more easily envision what her presidency would look like. And to say she hasn’t been amply scrutinized is to ignore the fact that there are more “gates” affixed to her last name — Travelgate, Whitewatergate, now Emailgate — than there are gates in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Except no media outlet, the NYT included, is talking about them.

Not one has mentioned Travelgate or Whitewater this election cycle. It is important that Clinton’s history come to the fore. A new generation of voters were in nappies and teething when those scandals took place.

No one is talking about Benghazi or even the classified emails on the server. Everyone, especially the NYT, has given Clinton a pass.

Rutenberg received hundreds of comments by way of reply. Most of them are no doubt favourable to his piece. However, there are the following salient ones. One is from a reader in Cincinnati:

So let’s be clear here. The press, by virtue of being one of the very least respected professions in the US, has determined that the American people should have no say in the choosing of a president. They are determined to put into office a person proven to have lied under oath, caused the death of 4 Americans, extorted tens of millions of dollar through influence peddling and who has supported her rapist husband at the expense of his victims rather than allow a candidate they personally feel is not the right kind of person to gain office.

No wonder people hate the press.

A man from Illinois wrote:

… Apparently Mr. Rutenberg learned journalism at NYU differently than I learned in college. It doesn’t matter how you feel or think. If it’s an editorial say what you want. Go at it! But a news story is about the TRUTH. That’s the foundation, anything else is NOT journalism

A reader from Boston said:

The partisan vitriol gushing from the punditocracy on 24/7 cable infotainment outlets hinges on the premise of providing “balance” to the audience. It pretends to inform the public by presenting differing viewpoints on issues of public interest and controversy. Yet, it is neither balanced nor informative. It is organized disinformation, based on false equivalences, delivered with gratuitous antagonism and feigned outrage.

Once upon a time there was a concept of fairness in broadcasting …

A seasoned veteran of journalism, The Guardian‘s Peter Preston, responded to Rutenberg on Sunday, August 14:

It’s that fairness-and-balance dilemma that haunted the BBC through Brexit, posed in extreme terms. And Jim Rutenberg, the media correspondent of the New York Times, wriggles to find a response

Ah! The wriggle room opens into a broader corridor … Fate supposedly supplies a fairness that mere reporters can’t manage.

Well, perhaps. But that’s pretty damned convenient. And it doesn’t quite measure up to the challenge. The New York Times has hardly been full of judicious articles examining the deeper meaning and validity of Trumpism, but it’s been a paragon compared with a Washington Post stuffed day after day with pieces taking a chainsaw to the Donald. “Trump’s shallowness runs deep”; how “the Republican party has lost its soul”; see “the 30-second video that is absolutely devastating for Trump”; why “Donald Trump is suffering from mushroom breath”. And so on and so balefully forth.

Preston goes on to say that he thinks British journalism is more objective. I disagree, and so did a number of readers, whose comments follow.

On the media’s double standard towards Clinton and Trump:

while the press is obsessed with Trump, they have no problem with Clinton putting up a no press barrier. With Trump you’d gush about the fascist demagogue, but with Clinton you seem to have no problem. It’s as if you can only measure the world in sound bites. At the end of the day your angst is rather worthless.

The onus is on the public to discern truth from hype:

The fact that we do have to fact check most everything puts journalism in a poor light, today, the reader is required to be the investigative journalist

To which someone replied:

You’re right, and even fact checking web sites can cherry pick which things they want to fact check. It all depends on the political leanings of the owner of the media device …

I think journalism should be like a religion. When you decide to become a journalist, you should take a vow of poverty and lead a life unobscured by money and material possessions. That way, the corrupting influence of money will not swerve a writer’s opinion one way or the other. They just report on truths, and balance those truths equally amongst the political spectrum.

Journalistic bias can actually work in favour of controversial candidates:

The media does seem to be pretty biased against Trump. It’s a shame that Jeremy Corbyn [embattled Labour Party leader] and Bernie Sanders on the left, and Nigel Farage and Donald Trump on the right, aren’t really given a fair hearing. If anything, it just entrenches support for them.

That said, when a candidate for President has said some of the stuff he’s said, Trump should be scrutinised and his comments shouldn’t simply be shrugged off. It is difficult, but I think journalists have been a bit too biased against Trump, and I say that as someone who loathes him, and loathes the culture which supports him.

Someone else agrees:

has mr preston missed the Guardian’s coverage of Trump over the past few months?!

its hardly been ‘balanced’ … nor has it addressed him in the political and socio-economic context in which American (and other) democracies find themselves in.

the fact of the matter is that the so-called ‘progressive’ sections of the press have been leaders of a lynch mob … its probably done more to reinforce support for Trump than anything else.

One pointed out a recent Guardian headline, which I also saw a week or so ago:

Trump should not be a problem for the media, simply scrutinise what he says to the same level as Hilary Clinton. I think the guardian highlighted last week that he had a slip of the tongue and said it was Friday when in fact it was a Thursday. This was a headline. So long as Clinton is flagged up when she does something similar then this would be objective reporting.

However, there appears to be significant ingrained bias within the majority of the media which makes objectivity on many issues difficult to find …

One man asked simply for the facts:

If Trump is a monster, give me the facts and all sides, and I will see it myself. However, by being so blatantly bias[ed], I as a reader am forced to ask, “Why are they so biased and scared of Trump? Whose interests are they protecting? What are they scared of? What are they hiding and not reporting?” I do not know if these once reputable news agencies realise that their bias[ed] coverage is counter productive, in fact helps Trump, and destroys the trust people once had in them. In future they may report a truth on another issue, but the trust they once enjoyed, they themselves destroyed in their one-sided coverage of a man called Trump.

Another reader is fed up with the media full stop (first emphasis in the original):

… There is no balance in the media. Any of it. The BBC is nothing more than the state’s propaganda arm. It should be shut down …

The press as a whole are a swamp of political bias. Peddling influence over their readership. There is nothing redeeming about any of the mainstream media, including The Guardian.

The light at the end of the tunnel for truth is the Internet …

Good riddance, and may you all end up on the streets begging for your next drink.

Several readers voiced similar opinions, including this one:

More and more we are hearing the media`s bias view of the news and it is becoming increasingly tiring and counter productive and incredibly boring. The level of articles is generally not very informed and one would expect better in the 3rd form [sixth grade].

What we need is the unvarnished news , with no comment please of what you think! We are not in the least interested unless it is completely objective giving us both views and sides for us to ponder and make our own minds up ?

We do not want spend hours poring over the news trying to extract news from fiction and political spin.

Just give us the news !!! Heavens sake !!!

Even worse:

media is more interested in manipulating the public for the reasons of their owners. Whether it be greater profits or to be a mouthpiece favourable to a particular set of political or economic or social interests, it is no longer an institution charged with the sacred task of trying to cut through all the noise and feed readers a brand of unblemished truths, to aide them in their outlooks on a variety of topics.

Now I don’t know where to turn for a dose of reality and it is most frustrating. I feel like I’m constantly being lied to and I have no one to complain to. Or no one will acknowledge that I’m being manipulated or lied to. It makes me have zero faith in the reality that is always presented to me.

Another reader said:

This is the first piece I’ve seen which actually points out how inaccurate and skewed the reporting of this election has been. Trump is loathsome, but I have actually found the hysterical reports in the press more troubling even than him. The media has been largely unabashed in its agenda to get Hillary elected, and surely even her supporters should find that troubling.

Another points out what media outlets have omitted:

What Lazy News Editors NEVER Mention:

Trump’s massive rally numbers are crushing Hillary’s.

Trump is crushing Hillary in social media followers by a huge margin.

-Trump crushes ALL “independent” online polls averaging 87%.

-Trumplicans are crushing CNN’s Twitter site with complaints of bias.

-Trumplicans crushed CNN’s TV ratings to below Home & Garden TV.

REAL progressive liberals are not democrats who defend authority now instead of challenging, doubting and questioning authority as they used to.

REAL progressives never say; “You can’t say that!” or “I don’t like his tone.”

Trumplicans are the new rebels and Dems are the new neocons of corrupt power.

One reader pointed out the sheer lack of media scrutiny of the Democrats:

Many important points in this article! But also, is it fair that the DNC and Clinton gaming of the system to make Hillary the nominee has been totally underreported!
PS. It really is incredible that Hillary now is the champion of ‘women’s rights’ etc. when one thinks of how her husband behaved while POTUS (and when Governor)!

Another voiced a similar opinion:

Because Clinton has told her fair share of lies. For a politician of experience, she has an appalling track record to be running for president. Constant flip-flopping, lying, scandals, etc. There is basically zero coverage of this. It’s all about whatever nonsense Trump has said today. It’s overwhelming the news and choking out any semblance of a fair and unbiased fourth estate. Like it’s supposed to be.

Here’s something for media outlets to investigate — concerning the DNC:

Three DNC staffers have died in two weeks. Natural causes, no suspicious circumstances and no connections to anything else. A bit like Vince Foster really, just bad luck and coincidence.

Gateway Pundit has the storythese deaths are highly mysterious.

In closing, on Friday, August 12, the Boston Herald — right of centre — had an editorial which said that media bias could well play into Trump’s hands. Chris Cassidy looked at the warnings from media pundits in this regard:

… overhyping Trump’s extreme comments may feed into the very narrative Trump is pushing — that the media is out to get him and put Clinton in the White House, 
political operatives said.

It feeds into this system-is-rigged thing really well, that this is all the Washington media,” said New Hampshire Republican strategist Dave Carney. “Yeah, it will help him.”

People are picking up on it in New England. A Vermonter wrote:

Went to a church function last night and some of the discussion was about the so obvious bias by the MSM. Not sure if sympathy would be the word, but more like reality that the Republican candidate cannot be fairly reported by the MSM. Other venues are more honest.

One man objected to the media’s handling of Trump’s comments last week on the Second Amendment versus what Democratic candidates have said in the past:

why is Trump’s comment generally interpreted as a call to violence but Clinton’s and Kerry’s are not? Media bias is a problem – especially when it benefits one particular political party. Last I looked, we live in the USA and not the USSR.

A man from Seattle wrote:

You have to wonder why they aren’t going after Hillbilly the criminal Clinton 24-7 for all the different email scandals. There’s hardly a mention and when there is it’s excuses why she did what she did.
We need more sources like wikileaks.

Someone rightly took the Herald to task for their own coverage:

So the Boston Herald, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal….those are ALL conservative media outlets. Did they devote their space this week to discussing Trump’s economic proposals in detail? Nope – they focused on the Obama founder of ISIS statements also. So maybe not a liberal thing, but an eyeballs and sales thing.

A Maine resident said:

I work in the public sector and would be afraid to put a Trump bumper sticker on my car.

In conclusion, this is where media bias gets us, in the US and abroad.

It was the same with Brexit. Most Leave voters keep quiet about their leanings, even today.

GoogleThe New York Observer has a fascinating article on how the media, including high tech companies, are managing the 2016 presidential campaign.

Liz Crokin’s article of August 12 is a must-read. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Most of us know that The New York Times and The Washington Post are the most prominent newspapers in the tank for Hillary Clinton. We also know that many Americans refer to CNN as the Clinton News Network.

However, Crokin, an award-winning journalist and author, gives us solid evidence that Apple, Google, Twitter and others are manipulating what the public sees in a variety of ways.

Donald Trump supporters can easily fall foul of Apple, which sees a duty to warn people about the Republican nominee:

I began looking into how strong the bias and censorship runs in these forums after I did an interview on the pro-Trump podcast, MAGAPod. The show’s host, Mark Hammond, was disappointed Apple wouldn’t run his show without an “explicit” warning. Hammond’s podcast didn’t contain content that would be deemed explicit under Apple’s policy, and most other shows in the News & Politics category aren’t labeled as such.

On June 18, Hammond talked to Sandra, a representative from Apple. She explained that, since the description of his show is pro-Trump, his show is explicit in nature—because the subject matter is Donald Trump. So, an Apple employee concluded the Republican presidential candidate is explicit.

Liz Crokin did some investigation, namely on iTunes, and found that none of the content, even when it related to terrorism or dictators, had such warnings. MAGAPod’s host, Mark Hammond, contacted Apple to point that out. An Apple representative promised to update his podcast to ‘clean’ within 24 hours.

Apple outright banned a video game about Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, ‘Capitol HillAwry’, until Breitbart published a story about it. It is now available.

Yet, Apple sees no need to warn online aficionados about anti-Trump content, however. A foul video game, Dump Trump, gets the go-ahead.

Apple also manipulates customers’ news feeds. As Crokin discovered, even selecting a conservative outlet as first choice does not mean that the other channels in the mix will be right-of-centre:

Of all the channels listed in the Apple News politics section, only two of the 16 arguably lean right—the rest are reliably left-wing.

Apple claim they have no skin in the political game, yet:

some of their executives—including CEO Tim Cook—actively support Clinton’s campaign. Buzzfeed recently obtained an invitation to a private $50,000-per-plate fundraiser Cook is hosting for Clinton with his Apple colleague, Lisa Jackson, at the end of this month.

There would be nothing wrong with that if Apple were not restricting what customers can see and play. However, they are playing an elitist, paternal role by censoring anything anti-Clinton — until customers complain.

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange found evidence that Clinton is using Google in her campaign:

It’s been widely reported Clinton hired Eric Schmidt—chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google—to set up a tech company called The Groundwork. Assange claims this was to ensure Clinton had the “engineering talent to win the election.” He also pointed out that many members of Clinton’s staff have worked for Google, and some of her former employees now work at Google.

This means that if you key in search terms such as “Hillary Clinton criminal charges” into Google, you get results for “Hillary Clinton crime reform”.

Similar manipulations existed for Google searches on Donald Trump, comparing him to an historical figure. One such wheeze went as follows:

In July, searches for Trump’s book, Crippled America, returned images of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf.

After these came to light, Google fixed them, but:

again, why do these issues always conveniently disparage Trump and help Clinton?

Twitter is also in the censorship game in favour of Democrats. Breitbart fans know that the site’s technical editor Milo Yiannopoulos has had his account banned for life.

However, what many people do not know is that Twitter banned black rapper Azealia Banks after she came out in support of Trump.

Such Twitter censorship is not new. This week, Buzzfeed found out that in 2015:

then-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo secretly ordered employees to filter out abusive and hateful replies to President Barack Obama.

No doubt a lot of people complained about their Obamacare premiums skyrocketing and their doctor’s retirement because of the programme. Not hateful, just truthful.

Now:

the platform also changed its algorithms to promote Clinton while giving negative exposure to Trump.

Furthermore, pro-Trump Twitter users find they are often unable to retweet comments favouring their candidate.

Instagram is also in the mix. They allow topless photos of Melania Trump but censored an Australian artist’s depiction of Hillary Clinton in a bikini.

Facebook allows far-left organisations and movements to maintain their pages while closing down pages promoting conservative ideas:

It should be noted that Facebook employees have donated more to Clinton than to any other candidate.

Crokin ended her article with a takedown of CNN coverage. Everyone I know in the US watches CNN. This is what they are seeing and hearing:

as NewsBusters pointed out for just one day, “CNN set aside nearly half of its air time on Wednesday’s New Day to various recent controversies involving the Trump campaign — 1 hour, 24 minutes, and 18 seconds over three hours.

Yet, when it came to the secret $400m airlift to Iran:

John Berman gave a 27-second news brief to the report, but didn’t mention that the payment was sent on “an unmarked cargo plane.” New Day, therefore, devoted over 187 times more coverage to Trump than to the millions to Iran.

Crokin notes that when CNN have two Republicans and two Democrats on a panel, one of the Republicans is always anti-Trump.

Then, there’s their news site:

Right now, CNN has a story on its site called “Which Republicans oppose Trump and why?” There’s no corresponding story about Democrats who oppose Clinton, even though her underdog challenger in the primary lasted far longer and received far more votes than any of Trump’s Republican challengers.

Crokin rightly concludes:

These companies are engaging in activity that can quickly lead down a very dangerous slippery slope and this should concern all freedom-loving Americans—not just conservatives.

It should be noted that the publisher of the Observer is Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Every Trump-related article or op-ed piece has a disclaimer.

I plan to feature more US censorship articles in the next few weeks.

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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