Six Times the Media Failed This Week
By Adam Johnson / AlterNet
1. ABC and NBC ignore climate change’s role in extreme weather events.
As Media Matters notes, of the three major news networks, only CBS has bothered to point out the glaring, existential threat of climate change in the context of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston earlier this week. CBS aired three segments that addressed the connection: one on CBS This Morning and two featuring environmental engineering professor Jim Blackburn; an August 30 episode of CBS Evening News and an August 31 episode of CBS This Morning. As of Thursday, neither ABC nor NBC bothered to mention climate change, instead settling on routine disaster porn and personal interest stories.
2. Washington Post casually calls Venezuela an ‘enemy of the U.S.’
For some reason editors at the Washington Post decided to call Venezuela “an enemy of the U.S.,” which is odd considering Venezuela has never done anything to harm the United States.
Venezuela, enemy of the U.S., offered $5 million in aid to Harvey victims https://t.co/gUTmyiBKVO
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 31, 2017
The article in question was actually noting aid Venezuela offered to Harvey victims this week, but according to the Post, this was just a devious plot (unlike American aid, which is purely benevolent). It described the offer with the dystopian phrase “trolling U.S. leaders with kindness.” Evidence for why Venezuela is an “enemy” was never made clear in the article, but the headline was later changed to something less nakedly ideological.
3. World’s coppiest reporter snitches to police during national disaster.
Oh boy, did ABC News’ Tom Llamas have a bad day on Twitter Wednesday. After posting a tweet saying, “We informed police of the looting and Coast Guard is flying overhead. Multiple officers now on the scene,” he was righteously piled on by thousands of Twitter users for snitching to the police in a time of emergency. “F**k off, snitch,” Baffler editor Brandy Jensen tweeted.
“In a disaster scenario the first response should be helping those in need, not criminalizing them,” another user insisted. All in all it was ugly; Llamas eventually deleted the tweet and tried some half-baked excuse about how there was “a body nearby,” but no one really bought it. From there it just got worse. After many failed attempts, he finally learned the first rule of handling social media pile-ons: log off.
4. What the hell is going on with the New York Times opinion section?
In a week of uniquely terrible takes, the New York Times was the unexpected winner for worst takes in the shortest period of time. In one 72-hour period, it published op-eds by neocon hatchet man James Kirtrick bashing Chelsea Manning; an infomercial by suspected war criminal and former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince shilling his wares in Afghanistan; racist victim blaming of Arabs by Thomas Friedman; gross GOP revisionism by David Brooks insisting “racism was not a common feature in the conservative moment”; veiled climate change denial by columnist Bret Stephens; and a tedious AM radio screed against cultural appropriation by Bari Weiss. The Times insisted it had hired neoconservative Bret Stephens from the Wall Street Journal because it values “ideological diversity,” which evidently means it really just wanted to seek out more odious far-right-wing viewpoints.
5. Transphobic, far-right columnist suggests we ‘befriend Nazis.’
Forward columnist Bethany Mandel had a radical approach to stopping the emerging white nationalist scene: become their buddies and try to win them over. In “We Need to Start Befriending Neo-Nazis,” Mandel posed as a hand-wringing liberal and cited efforts by others to befriend rather than confront neo-Nazis via doxxing and attacks. But this posture was belied by her other posts that expose her as someone who is—while certainly not a Nazi—very far to the right. In April, she called Caitlyn Jenner by her dead name and insisted she engaged in “genital mutilation” due to a mental illness. In a post two weeks prior in the Forward, Mandel insisted we “Stop outing Nazis,” so not only are we supposed to befriend them, but it’s bad to expose them to the public.
6. Neocon columnists, WaPo editorial board, Vox, Marc Thiessen and Trevor Noah all play tedious ‘both sides’ game and officially condemn antifa.
After a video went viral of alleged antifa members beating an alt-right Trump supporter and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s subsequent condemnation of “antifa”—the loose-knit group of anti-fascist activists who often use violence—it was a buyer’s market for anti-antifa takes. The Washington Post editorial board kicked things off, followed by condemnations in Vox, the Chicago Tribune, from former Bush speechwriter and WaPo columnist Marc Thiessen.
Most grating of all was the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, which derided the group in its patented, unfunny manner, dismissing them as “Vegan ISIS” (get it? Because vegans are totally lame!). The bit, aside from trafficking in lazy, cartoon depictions of antifa, was woefully unfunny. Noah and others drawing equivalences between antifa and fascists helps provide the propaganda scaffolding for the Trump administration’s recent categorization of antifa as a “terrorist” group.