Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Journalism

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

The media must meet the challenge of effectively covering the impeachment hearings

Margaret Sullivan writes: The national media’s shortcomings have been all too obvious in recent years as Donald Trump has gleefully thrown the norms of traditional journalism into a tizzy. They’ve trafficked in false equivalence. Allowed President Trump to play assignment editor. Gotten mired in pointless punditry. Granted, it’s been a mixed record. Journalists have done a lot right — they have pointed out lies, dug out what’s really happening, skillfully

Mark Zuckerberg — like most Americans — doesn’t know what the First Amendment is for

Masha Gessen writes: What is the First Amendment for? I ask my students this every year. Every year, several people quickly respond that the First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to speak without restriction. True, I say, but what is it for? It’s so that Congress doesn’t pass a law that would limit the right to free speech, someone often says. Another might add that, in fact, the government does

With impeachment looming, the news media is growing a spine. It needs stiffening

Margaret Sullivan writes: Scott Pelley of CBS pushed back hard when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried to spin him on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” So did Chris Wallace of Fox News when Trump aide Stephen Miller refused to accept reality on the same subject: President Trump pressing Ukraine’s president to provide dirt on his political opponent. So did Jake Tapper of CNN with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking Republican

The growing threat to journalism around the world

A. G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, writes: Two years ago, we got a call from a United States government official warning us of the imminent arrest of a New York Times reporter based in Egypt named Declan Walsh. Though the news was alarming, the call was actually fairly standard. Over the years, we’ve received countless such warnings from American diplomats, military leaders and national security officials.

Journalists and activists ‘laundering’ genocidal regimes

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad writes: A week after Damascus feted a delegation of the European far right, Bashar al-Assad’s regime ushered in a new set of suitors. On Sunday, the American blogger and Sputnik contributor Max Blumenthal announced his arrival in Syria with a selfie. The caption read: “Here I am near the border of Jobar, a neighborhood east of Damascus occupied by the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam until early last year.

With Trump in office, major newspapers increasingly quoted anti-immigrant groups without explaining who they were

The Intercept reports: The Center for Immigration Studies, a far-right, anti-immigrant group, was frequently cited by major U.S. newspapers in the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency — without mention of the group’s deep ties to the Trump administration, according to a report released Thursday. Ninety percent of news articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today that cited the Center for Immigration

Bernie Sanders on his plan for journalism

Bernie Sanders writes: Walter Cronkite once said that “journalism is what we need to make democracy work.” He was absolutely right, which is why today’s assault on journalism by Wall Street, billionaire businessmen, Silicon Valley, and Donald Trump presents a crisis—and why we must take concrete action. Real journalism is different from the gossip, punditry, and clickbait that dominates today’s news. Real journalism, in the words of Joseph Pulitzer, is

Can the president of Brazil jail Glenn Greenwald for publishing leaks?

Adriana Carranca writes: On June 9, The Intercept began publishing a series of investigative stories that sent shocks through Brazil. The pieces appeared to supply evidence that Sergio Moro, Brazil’s Justice Minister and the former top judge in a major corruption investigation, colluded with federal prosecutors to convict prominent political figures—among them, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been leading 2018 election polls and was rendered ineligible to