• NBC’s Cultural Revolution (Ronna McDaniel)

    April 11, 2024 // 17 Comments »

    For all the talk of a Civil Cold War now underway in America, Red vs. Blue, it is the wrong historical example. The professional death of Ronna McDaniel at NBC earlier this month was an event right out of Mao’s time, not Robert E. Lee’s. McDaniel was fired by the masses at NBC because she wrongthought, because she held political views associated with the right and not the leftist road NBC and its running dog networks follow. The decision comes less than a week after NBC News announced her hiring, prompting an extraordinary public protest from the former host of its flagship Sunday morning show, as well as from popular MSNBC hosts. They fired her, but a public flogging would not have been out of the question if Chuck Todd thought he might get away with it, and he might have.

    Fans of the new Netflix series “3 Body Problem” saw it in action: the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Beginning in May 1966, this was a decade-long period of political and social chaos caused by Mao Zedong’s bid to use the Chinese masses to reassert his control over the Communist party. It was almost unfathomable in its brutality, killing as many as two million people for wrongthinking, thoughts that fail the ideological purity test. Wrongthink is an Orwellian word that preceeded the Revolution by decades but described its core spot-on. The word is equally useful today.

    “3 Body Problem” opens with a fictionalization of just one death, a university professor who refused to change his beliefs about physics to match Mao-thought, as contained in his so-called Little Red Book. For its complexity, the Cultural Revolution boiled down to one thing: believe what the majority says is right or suffer, to the pain of death, at the hands of the powerful. “Mean Girls” this is not.

    McDaniel, who is the niece of Republican Senator Mitt Romney, was first hired to lead the Republican National Committee (RNC) by Trump in 2017 after she served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party. She was then hired by NBC presumably to bring a dot of balance to NBC’s news coverage after her recent Trump-led ouster at the RNC. She was stricken from the news network after only four days on the job because as head of the RNC she in the past voiced support for claims by Trump about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The gist of the burn at NBC was that was a lie, McDaniel thus a liar, and as an NBC analyst she could not be trusted to not lie more.

    “Hold my beer” said dozens of people who came from the Democratic National Committee and the Biden White House to work as NBC analysts, chief among them Jen Psaki, who, as the official spokesperson for the Biden White House, lied as a profession to defend Joe Biden (here’s a compendium of her lies.) She jumped from liar-for-hire to hosting a show and constantly being on MSNBC, including “Meet the Press.” NBC frequently calls on the former spooks John Brennan, James Clapper, and once-senior FBI official and associate director Frank Figliuzzi. These are trained liars of the Deep State, men who helped promote Russiagate and sought the overthrow of Trump on fake accusations. Previously Neo-Cons were given hours of airtime on NBC to defend the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses and to later defend torture as a righteous response of a democracy to terrorism. How are they different from McDaniel? Rightthink versus wrongthink. If you are going to tell a lie it had better be in line with what the masses want to believe at NBC.

    Truth? In a cultural revolution as we are undergoing now the truth is what the Party tells the masses it is. Remember how vehement Rachael Maddow was about the truth of Russiagate even after it was shown to be an elaborate hoax of the Deep State? No matter; there was no one like Ronna McDaniel around to tell her she was wrong and we now know there never will be.

    Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — hosts of Morning Joe, a morning show watched daily by President Biden — said they were being inundated with calls over the decision to hire McDaniel. They vowed never to have her on their show in any capacity. Nicolle Wallace, a former White House communications director for President George W. Bush who is now a host on MSNBC, said on her show Monday having McDaniel on the network would embolden “election deniers.” Rachel Maddow, continuing the group therapy session, likened it all to hiring “a mobster to work at a D.A.’s office.” Chuck Todd, who emerged alongside Maddow as the spokesperson for the masses in the NBC news division, worried especially about “giving Ronna NBC News’ credibility.”

    Credibility? Only 32 percent of the population reports having “a great deal” or even “a fair amount” of confidence the media reports the news in a full, fair, and accurate way. The only other time in recent history that trust has fallen to 32 percent was in 2016, with the election. A record-high number of Americans — 39 percent — say they don’t trust the media at all. That number has steadily increased since 2018. Much of the change is driven by Democrats and Independents, presumably NBC’s target audience, whose collective trust in media plummeted 18 and 13 percentage points, respectively, from their 2018 peaks. What could you expect when the people who create the news are such blatant hypocrites? NBC news should not worry too much; its reputation for honestly ranks somewhere near “American Idol” anyway. The latest partisan jousting is just one of the many reasons why so many Americans roll their eyes when asked about the media.

    This is in no way to grant Ronna McDaniel status as some magnificent journalist, someone who can be seen as speaking for a generation of Republicans. Nor is it to say she would have spoken much truth to power at NBC anyway; chances are she would have barked out what those who fed her wanted to hear, perhaps as a Washington Generals-like foil to some hero like Chuck Todd. And what happened at NBC could have just as easily taken place at CBS, CNN or NPR. As my colleague writes “greater injustices have been perpetrated in the media world than the premature conclusion to Ronna McDaniel’s punditry career at NBC News.”

    The news is not there to make anyone feel safe. It exists so we can learn from it, and for us to learn from it we have to at times be offended and uncomfortable with it, to bathe in it, to taste it bitter or sweet. When you wash your hands of an idea you also lose all the ideas which grew to challenge it. Think antibodies fighting a disease. What happens when a body forgets how to fight an illness? What happens when places like NBC forget how to challenge a safe idea with an opposing one?

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Other Ideas

    Moments of Russiagate Truth

    May 30, 2022 // 6 Comments »

    It’s sometime a very sad moment when truth is all that’s left. Suspicions of infidelity become credit card receipts from the no-tell motel. A Facebook post tells of a meal shared when a business trip was scheduled. It is ugly, especially the now certainty that you were lied to by someone you once trusted. Two such instances passed through the MSM this week with barely a notice that deserve notice.

    The first is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, through the MSM, lied Russiagate. Hillary, et al, paid experts to create two data sets, one showing Russian cellphones accessing Trump WiFi networks, and another showing a Trump computer in contact with a mystery Alfa Bank server in Russia. The latter was supposedly how Trump communicated incognito with his handlers in Moscow Center. Neither happened, both were lies, and both were made up for and paid for by Hillary. How do we know this with certainty?

    Former Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias on the stand May 18, 2022 in the trial of his former partner, Michael Sussmann swore to it under oath. Special Counsel John Durham brought Sussmann to trial for allegedly lying to the FBI, denying he was working for a client when he was representing the Clinton campaign. Elias testified he and Sussmann worked for the Clinton campaign, and had engaged Fusion GPS to acquire dirt on candidate Donald Trump. He also admitted that he had briefed Clinton campaign officials about the fake information, including contacts with Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, campaign chair John Podesta, spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri, and policy director Jake Sullivan, now Joe Biden’s national security adviser and who aggressively pushed the Alfa Bank server story in the media. Elias said he also spoke with Hillary Clinton and was involved in meetings where she was present.

    Does this have to really be so ugly? Do we have to hear it in her own words? Somethings it takes that harsh splash of cold water. Yes. Hillary tweeted on October 31, 2016 Trump had a secret server and it was communicating with Russia. She knew it was false at that moment because her campaign paid to create that information. The only thing left for the trial to prove or disprove is whether Sussmann lied about working for the campaign when he met with the FBI. He pleaded innocent but is a very bad liar; Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for his meeting with the FBI. The material facts otherwise have been demonstrated — she lied. Cold and simple. No one colluded with Russia (as the Mueller Report later concluded.)

    The next splash of water require you to wallow so deep in hypocrisy and lies if it was all water you’d drown. After refusing to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story except to label it Russian disinformation in autumn 2020, the same NBC news headlined a story May 18, 2022, almost two years after the laptop story first broke, reporting “analysis of Hunter Biden’s hard drive shows he took in about $11 million from 2013 to 2018” from Ukrainian and Chinese companies for dubious consulting work. NBC reports this as breaking news, and made no mention whatsoever that they sat on the story.

    To understand why NBC spiked the story for almost two years, one needs to go back to 2020 as the laptop tale was breaking elsewhere. Almost in real time more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a letter claiming the emails “have all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” With absolutely no evidence, the signers said their national security experience made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case.” “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”

    The letter was evil brilliance in that it played off earlier prejudices created by Hillary Clinton in 2016, that the Russians sought to manipulate American elections. In fact, most of the key signatories — James Clapper and John Brennan among them — had misdirected public opinion around the whole of Russiagate. In the hands of the MSM the meme quickly morphed into “the laptop is fake,” a parallel to “but her emails!!!”

    NBC News wrote in 2020 U.S. intelligence agencies suspected Trump associate Rudy Giuliani, who had been shopping the laptop contents to various media organizations, had been in contact with alleged Russian intelligence agents. The FBI was “looking into whether the Russians played any role, and no official has ruled that out,” said NBC. Twitter also blocked the Hunter laptop story after intelligence officials shared Russian hack rumors.

    NBC also claimed in 2020 the laptop was not “newsworthy” as it contained no smoking gun, and because despite any ethical lapses by Hunter “Trump… is ethically challenged when it comes to appearing to use the power of his office to enrich himself and his family.” NBC in 2022 offers no explanation why the same laptop contents which it deemed not newsworthy days before Joe Biden’s election to the presidency are suddenly newsworthy in the middle of his second year in office.

    The takeaway is NBC News did not pursue the Hunter laptop story in 2020, when it mattered most, because it acted in collusion with the U.S. intelligence community to make the story go away during the election. As Hunter has publicly paid millions in back taxes and the New York Times among others validated the laptop contents, there’s no need to pretend the story is not newsworthy or Russian trickery.

    It is easy enough to say “so what?” at this point. Most people who did not support her long ago concluded Hillary Clinton was a liar and untrustworthy. Her supporters know she’ll never run for public office again, hence the claims that none of this matters. As for NBC, the last days before the election were confusing times, and the Hunter laptop story after all was out there for anyone who wanted to read it at the NY Post or Fox. So that doesn’t really matter either, right?

    Wrong. What matters is less the details of Hillary’s lie but that as someone very close to being elected she would lie about such a thing, claiming her opponent was working for Russia against the interests of the United States he would soon swear an oath to. As for NBC (and Twitter) its journalistic slovenliness laid bare news organizations work with the intelligence community to manipulate elections. Both of this week’s revelations are bombshells if you blow the smoke away, and both threaten to make a second run at our democracy in 2024.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Other Ideas

    Chelsea Clinton Makes $900,000 for Doing Almost Nothing

    July 8, 2014 // 5 Comments »

    A feature of oligarchy is the dynastic ascension of new leaders, children who rise to positions of power and wealth simply by the luck of birth. We welcome Chelsea Clinton to the club.

    Earning $445 Per Second at NBC

    Unlike most well-to-do young people who, after a decent education, take a series of unpaid internships and entry-level positions to begin working their way up some corporate ladder, Chelsea jumped more than a few rungs. Despite never having attended journalism school or otherwise having worked in the field, Chelsea was hired by NBC News to do feel-good stories as part of their “Making a Difference” series. Though the starting salary for such positions is already a chunky $100,000-200,000, Chelsea is being paid $600,000 a year for the same work.

    Or less work. Here is a list of Chelsea’s recent NBC stories:

    — June 10, NBC Nightly News, on diabetes.
    — June 10, Today show, on a car accident in New Jersey.
    — June 5, NBC Nightly News, General Motors safety scandal.
    — June 4, Today show, missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
    — June 4, NBC Nightly News, about people pointing lasers at aircraft.
    — June 3, NBC Nightly News, food-borne illnesses.
    — June 2, Interviewed the Geico gecko, an animated character who sells insurance.

    All told, in her almost three-year tenure at NBC, Chelsea has worked on all of 14 stories.

    Business Insider calculated since starting work in November 2011, Chelsea earned about $26,724 for each minute she appeared on air, or $445 per second. As in one-two-three = $1335, there’s your month’s rent.

    NBC has an eye for talent, at least the talent of children of important politicians. In 2009, it hired George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna to serve as a correspondent on the Today” show. In 2011, it hired Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan as a contributor on MSNBC.

    More Chelsea $$$$$$$$

    But back to Chelsea. She told the New York Times in 2011 when hired by NBC she intended to donate most of the money she earned to the Clinton Foundation. In addition to her gig at NBC, Chelsea also serves Vice Chair of the recently renamed “Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation,” where she was “a major force in steering her parents’ charitable work” in the final years of her mother’s time at the State Department.

    Chelsea also benefits from a job as a board member for Barry Diller’s IAC/InteractiveCorp. Salary for Chelsea: $300,000. The board position also pays an annual retainer of $50,000 and a $250,000 grant of restricted stock.

    Chelsea, though she only graduated with a master’s degree in 2010, started teaching graduate level classes two years later at Columbia University’s School of Public Health. Her exact salary is unknown. However, the average salary for a Columbia lecturer is $51,671.

    Chelsea holds another academic post, salary unknown, as assistant vice provost for the Global Network University at New York University.

    Chelsea has also presented an award to her mother at Diane Von Furstenberg’s International Women’s Day event and hosted her father’s 65th birthday at a Hollywood benefit for the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation with guests Lady Gaga and Bono.

    Chelsea’s personal fortune is estimated at $15 million, most earned as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and by working for Avenue Capital Investment Group as a hedge fund manager. Chelsea and her husband live in a $10.5 million condominium in Manhattan.

    Chelsea is only 34 years old and has already accomplished so much. What a bright future lies ahead! America is still a country where any child can grow up to someday become president.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Other Ideas