Patterico's Pontifications


About That Conspiracy Theory that CNN Removed a Critical Episode of Larry King from Google Play

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:45 pm

Here is the allegation:

The 1993 episode of CNN’s “Larry King Live” featuring an anonymous caller who was later identified as the mother of Biden accuser Tara Reade was no longer listed in Google Play’s catalog late Saturday.

Twitter user J.L. Hamilton shared a screenshot showing the Aug. 11, 1993, broadcast of “Larry King Live” was no longer listed in the season three catalog of the iconic CNN talk show. Mysteriously, though, the Aug. 10 broadcast, which is listed as “Episode 154” is followed by the Aug. 12 broadcast, which is listed as “Episode 155,” suggesting that episode and the ones that follow could be incorrectly listed and off by a number.

Fox News later verified the Aug. 11 episode is not listed on the streaming service. It is unclear when it was removed from the catalog.

The allegation was repeated by Tiana Lowe at the Washington Examiner:

[A]fter months of the media hedging on the Reade story, the specific Larry King Live episode apparently featuring Reade’s mother has inexplicably gone missing on CNN’s Google Play archives of the show. …. Given CNN’s relative silence on the Reade allegation, the network’s top bosses’ toxic obsession with Trump, and the size of the Larry King Live archive on Google Play, it cannot possibly be ruled out that the episode’s disappearance was the result of Biden-backing CNN executives intentionally memory-holing it. Now tell me, do you corrupt your credibility so thoroughly when you think a man is innocent?

The Daily Caller reported the same thing.

This allegation created quite a buzz. Every political hack and incurious partisan — you know, the kind who get huffy about “fake news” except when they spread it themselves — hurried to their keyboards to tap out knowing and cynical takes about the dishonest media that covered up this episode.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So is it really true? Nope, it does not appear to be.

Here’s the grain of truth. If you go to Google Play, and search for Larry King episodes from 1993, you do in fact see that the search results show no episode from August 11, 1993. Go ahead and click to see for yourself, even though I am about to show you a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 12.56.25 PM

BOOM! as they say on Twitchy. The precise thesis of the Fox News article, borne out by actual screenshot evidence! Now go forth and spread this rumor far and wide!

… or maybe don’t. First, before we get to the really hard evidence that this is bullshit, let’s apply some common sense to the notion that CNN (which broadcast Larry King Live) was trying to cover this up by … publishing a whole article about it and putting it on their front page yesterday:

Helluva cover-up, to publish an article about it. But still: why the removal from the archives? Well, if you’re asking that question, you probably have not noticed the (faulty) assumption you’re making. I’ll take you through how I uncovered it. First, I noticed (as the Fox News article did) that the numbering was consecutive, as if the episode had never been there. The call by Tara Reade’s mom happened on August 11, 1993. The episode the night before (August 10) was Episode 154 according to the screenshot. The episode the night after (August 12) was Episode 155. What’s the deal? Did someone go back and renumber all the episodes? Was the missing episode called Episode 154.5?

Curious, I clicked through Episode 155 to see what it said there. Was it labeled Episode 155 when you click through? Here’s what I saw:

Episode 155 Unavailable

See that language in the bottom left corner? It says “This show is currently unavailable.” So I clicked through some other episodes from Season 3, and every time I clicked through I got the same message. So I tried a few other seasons, up to and including the most recent. Every time I clicked through, I found that I could not actually pull up the episode.

I figured maybe I didn’t understand how Google Play worked. After all, so many outlets had confidently reported that you could access the other episodes. I went to Twitter and put up my findings:

TV’s Andy Levy sent me a link to this tweet from CNN spokesman Matt Dornic:

Turns out I understood Google Play well enough. It was just the case, apparently, that not a single one of the media outlets or talking heads who retweeted this ridiculous conspiracy theory had bothered to check to see if any other episode of Larry King was available on Google Play.

Note that the original version of the Fox News story did not have Dornic’s response (thank you, Wayback Machine!), saying merely: “Neither CNN nor Google immediately responded to Fox News’ requests for comment. Fox News also reached out to the representation of Larry King and have not heard a response.” (I love those “they did not respond immediately” sentences in media stories. Just how many minutes or seconds do they give people to respond?) But now their story says:

On Sunday afternoon, CNN provided as a statement a reply tweet from CNN Communications spokesperson Matt Dornic, who denied that the network removed anything from Google Play, calling the allegation from Hamilton “B.S.”

“Listings on the site are not sourced thru CNN. Click any episode, it will say ‘not available to watch,'” Dornic added in the reply to the Twitter user.

Which pretty much blows up the whole premise of the story, wouldn’t you say? The guy who made the original observation thinks so. He has deleted his original tweet and is now retweeting the response from the CNN spokesman.

Now, there’s still the issue of the absence of that episode from the search results. Here’s what I have to say about that: it is odd, but it has nothing to do with the validity of the dumb conspiracy theory.

So here’s the thing. If CNN spokesman Matt Dornic is full of crap, and other episodes of Larry King can be played on Google Play, here’s your chance to make yourself famous. Go make a screen recording of yourself playing any episode of Larry King Live from Google Play. CNN’s Matt Dornic says it can’t be done. If he’s lying, go to the link, click on one of those episodes you think actually is available, and play it. Because, as always, there’s a chance I’m wrong. And if I am, you can make a name for yourself as the guy who proved a CNN spokesman was full of crap.

If you have been repeating the conspiracy theory, you owe it to the truth to do this. If you can’t play any Larry King episode on Google Play, it means the conspiracy theory is crap — which means you really ought to go to all the places where you repeated it, take it back, and admit you were wrong.

Oddly, many of the people to whom I have pointed out these facts have suddenly gone radio silent. A few quibble with questions about why the episode is missing from the search results and such, but not one person who was pushing this theory has come back to me and said: “You know what? You’re right. I tried playing other episodes and I can’t. I guess I was wrong to push this.”

It would be so refreshing if people would do that in this age of partisanship. And if I turn out to be wrong about this — which is possible, although the possibility seems increasingly remote — I’ll admit it.

Now let’s get out there and put an end to baseless rumors — even if they are about the media and confirm your biases. The truth is more important than confirming your prejudices.

An Oldie But A Goodie From The Trump Playbook: Blaming The “Lamestream Media” To Save Face

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:11 am

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, it was reported by Axios that Trump’s aides were concerned about the President’s daily press conferences being a negative for him:

President Trump plans to pare back his coronavirus press conferences, according to four sources familiar with the internal deliberations.

He may stop appearing daily and make shorter appearances when he does, the sources said — a practice that may have started with Friday’s unusually short briefing.

…Trump’s daily press conferences — televised to a largely homebound population — have dominated the public discourse about the coronavirus.

…A number of Trump’s most trusted advisers — both inside and outside the White House — have urged him to stop doing marathon televised briefings.

They’ve told him he’s overexposed and these appearances are part of the reason polls aren’t looking good for him right now against Joe Biden.

“I told him it’s not helping him,” said one adviser to the president. “Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see.”

In spite of the concerns by those close to him, Trump defended the press conferences because, as he claimed, they got good ratings. But that was before his “disinfectant” debacle:

Many close to him believe the daily briefings hurt him more than they help him, with Thursday’s episode being the prime example. The White House spent the last 24 hours attempting to clean up remarks from the President that researchers should look into injecting people with disinfectant or ultraviolet rays to cure coronavirus.

A source close to the coronavirus task force said Trump was upset about the “flack” he was taking after those comments and that appears to be part of the reason why the President cut Friday’s briefing short.

During the earlier questioning from reporters on Friday, Trump said he was being “sarcastic” with his suggestion that people inject themselves with disinfectant, even though he was clearly being serious during Thursday’s briefing.

One White House official said they asked the President to stop conducting the daily briefings last week but he resisted. Another ally told CNN that this concern is not new among those close to him.

And a separate Trump ally told CNN that Thursday’s briefing is exactly what they were worried about when they begged him not to have such long and freewheeling press conferences — that one day he would just say something completely off the wall and off the rails.

Trump apparently got the message, and announced yesterday that daily press conferences were not worth the time and effort. But of course he would have to blame someone other than himself for the situation in which he found himself. So why not go to his old standby, the media:

To Trump’s mind, the pressers weren’t a disaster because he mistook them for political rallies where his supporters *want* and *expect* him to go off the rails, and applaud him when he does. No, the fault had to lay elsewhere. It wasn’t hard to find the obvious scapegoat. To his clouded mind, he wasn’t taking flak in the press because he was promoting unproven treatments, brazenly disagreeing with members of his Coronavirus Task Force, or musing about whether injecting disinfectant would be an effective way to fight coronavirus. Nope. To him it was basically the continuation of one very long witch hunt.

Even during a pandemic, it is not possible for Trump to muster up the self-discipline needed to stay on point, stick to the script, give brief and accurate updates, and defer to experts – without challenging them, brazenly disagreeing with them, or interjecting his own wacky theories.

But none of this is surprising. We’re jaded, we’re informed, we’ve seen it all before. It’s always been this way.


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 6

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 9:54 am

It is the third Sunday of Easter. Today’s Bach cantata is “Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden” (Stay with us, for evening falls):

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 24:13-35:

On the Road to Emmaus

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Stay with us, for evening falls, and the day has declined.

Highly-praised Son of God,
let it be not displeasing to You,
that we now, before Your throne,
lay down a petition:
remain, ah, remain our Light,
because the darkness breaks forth.

Ah remain with us, Lord Jesus Christ,
because evening approaches now,
Your divine Word, the bright light,
let it not be extinguished among us.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

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