Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward







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Recent Posts


The sordid origin story of Max Blumenthal’s cadre of pseudo-journalists

Joshua Collins writes: Professional liars, conspiracy theorists and old-fashioned fanatics have existed since the dawn of civilization, but in a digital age where clicks are driven by outrage and sensational headlines, these bad actors find themselves in possession of a megaphone with global reach that has never before been seen in human history. But not all grifters and yellow journalists are created equal. That is to say, in media platforms

Journalism under attack

Mathew Ingram writes: The United States is not the only country where journalists work in a toxic political environment, in which the leader of the nation routinely attacks and demonizes them. A recently published report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University in the UK describes how similar patterns can be seen in a number of other countries in central and eastern Europe, including Hungary—where

Brazilian judge declines — ‘for now’ — to move forward with charges against Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept reports: A judge today declined to proceed with cybercrime charges lodged against Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald for his reporting on prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in Brazil. In a decision announced Thursday, Judge Ricardo Augusto Soares Leite ruled that Greenwald’s prosecution would not go forward, but only on account of a previous finding by the Brazilian Supreme Court that The Intercept’s reporting on Operation Car Wash had not transgressed

The conservatives trying to ditch fake news

McKay Coppins writes: Jonah goldberg, the conservative author and longtime fixture at National Review, used to have a go-to metaphor he’d deploy whenever he found himself defending one of his noisier compatriots in the right-wing media. “I had this whole spiel about how the conservative movement is like a symphony,” he told me in a recent interview. “You need the fine woodwinds like Yuval Levin or Irving Kristol, but you

Glenn Greenwald charged with cybercrimes in Brazil

The New York Times reports: Federal prosecutors in Brazil on Tuesday charged the American journalist Glenn Greenwald with cybercrimes for his role in the spreading of cellphone messages that have embarrassed prosecutors and tarnished the image of an anti-corruption task force. In a criminal complaint made public on Tuesday, prosecutors in the capital, Brasília, accused Mr. Greenwald of being part of a “criminal organization” that hacked into the cellphones of

The Sanders-Warren ‘feud’ and Ukraine revelations are nowhere near equal in importance

Margaret Sullivan writes: A sense of proportion — what’s significant and what’s trivial — seems strangely missing. What truly deserves our all-out attention and outrage? What’s the small stuff? Numbed by the barrage of news, dazzled by distraction, many citizens don’t seem to know anymore. And news sources, particularly TV and social media, show little ability or desire to help. (As Pew Research in late 2018 revealed, TV is still

New reporting restrictions on the Senate impeachment trial suppress freedom of the press

NPR reports: News organizations and journalists’ advocates are battling restrictive new ground rules for reporters assigned to cover the Senate impeachment trial. Correspondents who submit to an official credentialing process are granted broad access throughout the Capitol complex and usually encounter few restrictions in talking with members of Congress or others. But now Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger has imposed new requirements for the impeachment trial, negotiated in part with Republican

How misinformation overwhelmed our democracy

Vox reports: No matter how President Trump’s impeachment trial plays out in the Senate, one thing is certain: Despite the incontrovertible facts at the center of the story, the process will change very few minds. Regardless of how clear a case Democrats make, it seems likely that a majority of voters will remain confused and unsure about the details of Trump’s transgressions. No single version of the truth will be

James Murdoch slams Fox News and News Corp over climate-change denial

The Daily Beast reports: In a long-simmering rift between factions of the Murdoch family over climate change, Rupert’s younger son, James, and his activist wife, Kathryn, are attacking the climate denialism promoted by News Corporation, the global media group, and also by the Fox News Channel overseen by James’ older brother, Lachlan. “Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp

Bret Stephens and the perils of the tapped-out column

Jack Shafer writes: New York Times columnist Bret Stephens ambushed and gravely wounded his own career on the evening of Dec. 27 when his piece about—bear with me here—the alleged superior intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews went live on the Times website. As Twitter fury rose to smite Stephens for his “The Secrets of Jewish Genius” column and press coverage tilted hard against him, his editors attempted some post-publication damage control.

Chris Wallace: Trump is engaged in the most direct assault on freedom of the press in American history

Chris Wallace: “I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.” Also, “He has done everything he can to undercut the media, to try to de-legitimize us.”  

Impeachment coverage: How journalists can reach the undecided

Margaret Sullivan writes: The diplomats have been inspiring, the legal scholars knowledgeable, the politicians predictable. After endless on-air analysis and written reporting, pundit panels and emergency podcasts, not much has changed. If anything, weeks into the House of Representatives’ public impeachment hearings, Americans’ positions seem to have hardened on whether President Trump should be impeached and removed from office. So, is the media coverage pointless? Are journalists merely shouting into

All Trump’s lies

Politico reports: CNN’s Jake Tapper thinks fact-checking Donald Trump is no longer enough — and he’s created an hourlong special exploring the effects on foreign policy, business and the national culture of the president’s compulsive lying. While news organizations including The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have openly weighed when and whether to call Trump’s misstatements “lies” — a term that implies malice and forethought — Tapper thinks

Democracy can’t survive if Americans don’t make more effort to become better informed

Margaret Sullivan writes: A lot of Americans don’t know much and won’t exert themselves beyond their echo chambers to find out. This is the way a democracy self-destructs. And what’s more, it’s not that difficult for American citizens to do much, much better. Granted, the flow of news is unending — exhausting, even. And granted, there’s a lot of disinformation out there. But apathy — or giving in to confusion

Many Americans are tuning out of politics because they mistrust the media

The New York Times reports: In upstate New York, Travis Trudell got an alert on his phone Wednesday morning telling him the impeachment hearings had started. He turned on Disney Plus instead. In Wisconsin, Jerre Corrigan never considered watching. She spent the day giving a math lesson to third graders. In Idaho, Russell Memory worked a busy day as a computer programmer and figured he’d catch up in a few

Trump’s flagrant abuse of power in his efforts to punish Jeff Bezos as retribution for critical news coverage

Jonathan Chait writes: The saga of President Trump’s reprisals against Amazon has lurked on the margin of the news, largely overshadowed by the Ukraine scandal. Late Thursday night, Amazon revealed it had filed a protest in federal court of a Pentagon decision to deny it a $10 billion cloud-computing contract, the most recent piecemeal iteration of a saga that attracted precious little media attention even before the Ukraine scandal obscured