Patterico's Pontifications


Stating the Obvious: U.S. Press Does Not Face Same Dangers and Risk As Their Iranian Counterparts

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:06 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Yet again demonstrating the insular bubble of delusional preciousness in which some professional journalists cocoon themselves:

Haberman, who presumably is allowed to continue to roam free in order to work, is unfortunately representative of so many Big Media outlet writers who perceive themselves as society’s desperately needed intellectual saviors of the unwashed, ignorant masses. Thus the compulsion to equate their struggle with Trump, who does not hold the press in any regard (unless they say nice things about him), as on a par with the struggle Iranian journalists face with their government if they report accurately about the anti-government sentiment happening on the ground.

Haberman seems to assume that because Trump blathers on about the American press being an “enemy of the people,” that he obviously wants to see it abolished. The thing is, while Trump has certainly attacked the press here for actual and perceived slights, honest and dishonest assessments, and accurate and inaccurate reporting, the media has, unarguably, made inaccurate claims and reports about the President. The President’s relationship with the American press has been defined by a palpable, mutual loathing and tension that has only increased during his tenure. Who struck the first blow? Well, as I am disgusted with both the press and its history of anti-conservatism, and Trump and his corruption and dishonesty, I’ll point you to this great analysis by Charles C.W. Cooke:

Our national press is a national joke. Vain, languid, excitable, morbid, duplicitous, cheap, insular, mawkish, and possessed of a chronic self-obsession that would have made Dorian Gray blush, it rambles around the United States in neon pants, demanding congratulation for its travails. Not since Florence Foster Jenkins have Americans been treated to such an excruciating example of self-delusion. The most vocal among the press corps’ ranks cast themselves openly as “firefighters” when, at worst, they are pyromaniacs and, at best, they are obsequious asbestos salesmen. “You never get it right, do you?” Sybil Fawlty told Basil in Fawlty Towers. “You’re either crawling all over them licking their boots or spitting poison at them like some Benzedrine puff adder.” There is a great deal of space between apologist and bête noire. In the newsrooms of America, that space is empty.

It’s getting worse. Despite presenting an opportunity for sobriety and excellence, the election of President Donald Trump has been an unmitigated disaster for the political media, which have never reckoned with their role in Trump’s elevation and eventual selection, and which have subsequently treated his presidency as a rolling opportunity for high-octane drama, smug self-aggrandizement, and habitual sloth. I did not go to journalism school, but I find it hard to believe that even the least prestigious among those institutions teaches that the correct way to respond to explosive, unsourced reports that just happen to match your political priors is to shout “Boom” or “Bombshell” or “Big if true” and then to set about spreading those reports around the world without so much as a cursory investigation into the details. And yet, in the Trump era, this has become the modus operandi of all but the hardest-nosed scribblers.


The greatest service that Donald Trump has rendered these United States is to have exposed the many ailments of which he is a symptom but not a cause. We had political division and cultural alienation before him. We had overbearing government and an imperial executive branch before him. We had media that were arrogant, parochial, and impenitent before him, too. Alas, they have grown yet worse since he arrived.

Anyway, that Trump can be hostile toward the American press is simply not the same as wanting to shut down the press altogether, or to use the heavy hand of government to imprison, torture, or have non-compliant reporters killed.

And it’s just ridiculous to have to say this, but quite clearly, American journalists are not under a remotely similar yoke of oppression or facing the same mortal danger as are their Iranian counterparts. Not by any stretch of an overactive imagination.

President Rouhani threatens Iranian journalists:

In a tweet on Thursday Hesameddin Ashena who is President Hassan Rouhani’s media advisor warned “the Iranian agents of Persian-language media [abroad] not to participate in the psychological warfare regarding the Ukrainian airliner [crash] and stop cooperating with those who are at war with Iran”.

The long arm of persecution:

The Iranian intelligence has threatened to kidnap journalists working for the London-based Iran International TV and take them back to Iran. It has also pressured their families back in Iran to persuade their relatives to leave the channel, it was revealed on Monday.

“Since about a month ago, after the unrest in Iran and our extensive coverage of it, they started calling several high-profile journalists, mostly anchors. They phoned them repeatedly and threatened to snatch them off the streets of London unless they quit working here”, an Iran International journalist told Radio Farda.

“Some families have also been contacted and summoned in Iran, threatened about their own safety and ordered to persuade the journalists to stop working for Iran International,” he added.

The State controlled media response to recent gas protests:

While Iran is still reeling from the recent protests that have left scores injured, more than a hundred dead, and thousands arrested, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned that two main government ministries have silenced the domestic media by issuing directives dictating coverage of the unrest, in a blatant violation of freedom of the press. Intelligence ministry officials have also threatened journalists that they will be charged with “crimes” if their reporting of events does not hew to the official narrative of events.


Another journalist who spoke to CHRI added that during the last week, after the start of protests on Friday, November 15 and the shut down of the internet on the 16th to prevent the sharing of images and information, at least eight journalists had been summoned to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence for questioning and that the Ministry of the Culture and Islamic Guidance contacted a number of journalists to warn them about the consequences of their articles and social media posts.

He said some journalists have been forced to sign a pledge that they would not report on the internet blackout, the people’s protests or the increase in the price of gasoline on social media.

“They have also been told not to write about these things in their media outlets and warned that any negative reporting will be seen as aiding the enemy and will be considered a crime,” said the source.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Booker Is Out

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:35 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Cory Booker, who with his Stanford education, corresponding ties to the tech community, friendliness with Wall Street, and a personal image of robust young minority leader ought to have been a formidable candidate for the Democrat nomination, has suspended his faltering campaign after experiencing weak fourth-quarter fundraising and lagging performance in recent polls. Naturally, President Trump responded to the news in his typical manner:

The failure of the campaigns of first Kamala Harris, then Julián Castro, and now Cory Booker to catch fire is one of the more interesting developments of this election cycle. In the Age of Trump and the corresponding Rise of the Crybullies, I had convinced myself that the Democrats would forever more prioritize issues of race, sex, and, to a lesser degree, sexual orientation and youth when choosing future candidates. Instead, we have a top four tier consisting of two elderly heterosexual white males, an elderly heterosexual white woman who once passed for Native American, and a young (defined arbitrarily by me as under 50) gay white male. Behind them is a second tier consisting of mostly elderly heterosexual white males, a middle-aged white heterosexual female, a Taiwanese-American young heterosexual male, a Samoan-American young heterosexual female, and then finally a bottom tier consisting of a middle-aged black heterosexual male (betcha you forgot about him!) and a couple of middle-aged heterosexual white males. This serves as a good lesson for all of us that social media only represents a fraction of the Democrat voters in this country, and it’s a fraction that might not exactly be fully in step with the desires of the party’s majority.

And it’s worth noting that tomorrow night’s Democrat debate is going to be whiter than a Ralph Northam medical school party.


Trump’s Claim that Soleimani Was Planning to Attack Four Embassies Is Unevidenced

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Trump recently said: “Soleimani was actively planning new attacks, and he was looking very seriously at our embassies and not just the embassy in Baghdad.”

His Defense Secretary says they all believe it. They just, um, don’t have any evidence of it.

ESPER: Well, what the president said was he believed that it probably and could have been attacks against additional embassies. I shared that view. I know other members of national security team shared that view. That’s why I deployed thousands of American paratroopers to the Middle East to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and other sites throughout the region.

MARGARET BRENNAN: “Probably” and “could have been.” That is — that sounds more like an assessment than a specific, tangible threat with a decisive piece of intelligence.

ESPER: Well, the president didn’t say there was a tangible — he didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said is he probably — he believed, could have been —

BRENNAN: Are you saying there wasn’t one?

ESPER: I didn’t see one with regard to four embassies. What I’m saying is, I share the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies.

Again: one need not conclude that the attack on Soleimani was unjustified, or believe that a planned attack on four embassies was a prerequisite to taking him out, to question Trump’s credibility.

Soleimani was a bad guy. Killing him was legally justified.

But without independent evidence from a separate source I trust, I don’t believe a word these people say.

And I’m not alone.

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