Category Archives: Media


Final Nielsen numbers show that Joe Biden‘s State of the Union address drew 32.3 million viewers, an 18% increase from last year. (Ted Johnson/DEADLINE.COM)

The numbers were reported based on data from 14 broadcast networks and cable channels.  What’s more, my wish came true.  Fox News drew more viewers than any other single outlet with 5.84 million.  As mentioned in the last blog, their commentators promoted the event as though it was going to be “Biden’s Last Stand.”  This was akin to promoting “Oppenheimer” as a comedy.  Unsuspecting viewers did not get what they came to see.

Want more good news.  While Fox News led for a single entity, MSNBC and CNN had a total viewership of 7.06 million (4.43 and 2.63 million respectively).  From a network perspective, Fox Broadcasting drew 1.78 million viewers while their three competitors–ABC, NBC and CBS–pulled in a combined total of 13.8 million.

Does it make a difference when more viewers get their news from sources other than Fox, Newsmax and OANN?  I’ll let Tommy Christopher of MEDIAITE.COM answer that one.

A CNN flash poll shows President Joe Biden (his emphasis) gained massively on a key question asked before and after his State of the Union address: will the president’s policies move the US in the right direction or the wrong direction?

While 64  percent had a positive view of the speech, there was a dramatic swing from before the speech.  On the “right/wrong direction” question, the difference between the pre-speech number on the question — 45 percent “right direction” — and the post-speech number of 62 percent — was a swing of 17 points.

Keep in mind, until Nikki Haley suspended her campaign on Wednesday, the election coverage was largely on the GOP horse race with all the contenders bashing Biden.  It is now mano-a-mano, and if Thursday night viewer metrics are any indication, the reigning champ opened his defense with a first round knock-down.

For what it’s worth.

The Broken Mirror

Two events in the last 48 hours make it clear, the motto for the MAGA-verse should be, “Don’t watch what we say, watch what we say!”  (No, that is not a typo.)

Event #1:  A remote segment during Friday night’s edition of Jimmy Kimmel Live consisting of interviews with three South Carolina Trump supporters.  Here are excerpts from “Debate and Switch.”  The interview starts by asking each if they would mind if she asks them about things that Joe Biden has said or done.

Interviewer:  What did you think when Joe Biden suggested that Covid could be cured by shining a bright light inside the body?
Trumpster #1:  It is very sad that Joe Biden is clearly a dementia patient.
Interviewer:  I’m so sorry.  I got my notes mixed up.  Can we start all over?
Trumpster #1: Okay.
Interviewer:  What did you think when Donald Trump suggested that Covid could be cured by shining a bright light inside the body?
Trumpster #1:  It depends on what that technology is.

Interviewer:  There are accusations Joe Biden cheated on his wife with a porn star after his son was born, and there’s actually a paper trail showing he paid the sex worker $130,000 to keep quiet about it.
Trumpster #2:   Who did that?  Joe Biden?
Interviewer:  Joe Biden.
Trumpster #2:  And he was making less than $100,000 a year at that time as a senator.  How does he do that?
Interviewer: You tell me.  Would you vote for someone who did that?
Trumpster #2:  Of course not.
Interviewer.  So Trump did do that.
Trumpster #2:  Trump had a fling with Stormy Daniels.
Interviewer:  And paid her $130,000.
Trumpster #2:  And paid her hush money.
Interviewer:  Yes, and you’re voting for him.
Trumpster #2:  I am.  My father had affairs too and I still respect him.

Interviewer:  How do you feel about Joe Biden using bone spurs to dodge the Vietnam draft?
Trumpster #3:  Joe Biden has a problem.  He isn’t an American.  He isn’t a patriot.
Interviewer:  I’m sorry, I asked you about Biden but I meant Trump.  Can I ask you the question again?
Trumpster #3:  Yes you may.
Interviewer:  How do you feel about Donald Trump using his bone spurs to dodge the Vietnam draft?
Trumpster #3:  My brother-in-law had flat feet. I’m sure you cannot go into a military zone like Vietnam with bad feet.  You just can’t do the job.  And it actually impacts the other soldiers.

To be fair, the Kimmel staffer could have spent days working on this project in order to find these three “gems.”  As we know, there are also a few nuts in every box of Cracker Jacks, even ones who would give permission for this footage to be aired on late night television.  Posthumous kudos to Andy Warhol.  It’s amazing what people will do for one minute, much less 15 minutes of fame.

Event #2:  The South Carolina GOP Primary.  Surely, most Palmetto State Trump supporters could not be this unaware.  If only there was a way to prove it.  As legendary sports reporter Warner Wolf would say, “Let’s go to the video tape.”  In this case it is National Election Pool (NEP) exit polls from yesterday’s South Carolina GOP primary.  When voters were asked about the condition of the national economy, 16 percent said it was “Good,” and 84 percent said it was “Not Good.”  They were then asked about their “family’s financial situation.”  The envelope please.

Getting Ahead/22 percent
Holding Steady/60 percent
Falling Behind/16 percent

Really?  Eight-two percent of South Carolina GOP voters are doing okay or better and yet 84 percent think the national economy is in the proverbial dumpster.  Not to mention every indicator of national economic health is performing at a record pace or trending in that direction.

This morning, not a single major newspaper or media outlet reported anything about this case of cognitive dissonance from the NEP polls.  I had to go back to last night’s MSNBC’s election night coverage to find where it appeared once on the crawl at the bottom of the screen.  None of the MSNBC commentators mentioned it during the broadcast.

This does not happen by accident.  No one wakes up one morning and says, “You know, the economy sucks but my family situation is pretty good.”  Those conclusions come from different sources.  You understand your personal financial condition through everyday experiences.  You know when you can and cannot pay the bills, even if inflation is above the target set by the Federal Reserve Bank.

Information about the national economy is provided by outsiders.  And your outside sources are a matter of choice.  I am sure if you asked the 84 percent who think the economy is “not good” where they get their news, a significant majority would be Fox News and Fox Business viewers.  I do not expect the Murdoch media empire to address this “I’m fine but…” anomaly.  Surely, someone in the “liberal press” noticed South Carolina voters were speaking out of both sides of their mouths.  Yet, they said nothing.

Is this going to convert die-hard MAGA voters?  Of course not.  But 2024 is not just about saving America from Donald Trump.  It is also a campaign to expose the irrationality underpinning the MAGA movement.  Certainly, there is someone out there who saw the Kimmel segment and thought, “I’m not that crazy, am I?”  More importantly, they should not have to depend on a late night talk show host or a Sunday morning blogger to point this out.


I rarely defend Donald Trump.  But unlike MAGA world which believes Fox News, NewsMax and OANN can do no wrong, journalistic integrity is important no matter the source.  Last night, Lawrence O’Donnell, who should know better, echoed a story going around that Trump called his wife “Mercedes” during Saturday’s speech at CPAC.  To be fair, Trump was lying about how supportive Melania has been despite the fact she has not been with him in court or on the campaign trail.  Of course, the lemmings in the audience applauded loudly.  Then Trump turned slightly to his left and said, “Mercedes, how about that?”  Even I know that the wife of CPAC president Matt Schlapp and Trump’s second White House Director of Communications is (drum roll) “Mercedes Schlapp.”  And chances were pretty good she was sitting in the front row during Trump’s speech.

I have no doubt there will be a Trump or MAGA PAC ad in which they talk about “how desperate the liberal press is.”  And O’Donnell and others handed him the ammunition to credibly do exactly that. 

Never has this Nate Silver quote been more relevant.  “Distinguishing the signal from the noise requires both scientific knowledge and self-knowledge.”

For what it’s worth.

Guilty As Charged

Tuesday’s rejection of the latest appeal by [Wall Street Journal reporter Evam] Gershkovich’s lawyers means he is set to remain behind bars until at least March 30, which would mark more than a year since he was taken into custody on an allegation of espionage that the Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny.

~Wall Street Journal/February 21, 2024

Gershkovich has become a cause célèbre within the journalistic community.  But let us be honest.  How was Bob Woodward meeting with FBI deputy director Mark Felt in the garage of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts any different than Aldrich Ames or Jonathan Pollard’s rendezvous with their respective foreign sponsors? Or journalists embedded with U.S. troops in Vietnam or during the second Iraq war.  The Defense Department granted permission for these “moles” to accompany military units in hopes they would built support for American engagement in these conflicts.  But were less than pleased when they exposed atrocities such as My Lai and Abu Ghraib.

Effective investigative journalists are as proficient in the “dark arts” of espionage as any intelligence operative.  They communicate in code using burner phones.  They conduct clandestine business in remote locations.  When they are skeptical of the information they obtain, they seek corroboration from additional sources or tangible evidence.

Dr. ESP, surely you are not suggesting that Russia is justified in detaining Gershkovich.  And if not, what is the difference between what he was doing, reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and say, the February 15 arrest of FBI informant Alexander Smirnov? 

Thank you for that softball question.  It puts Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin to shame.

The simple response is, like any profession, there are honest practitioners and dishonest ones in both journalism and intelligence.  An honest player in either field seeks accurate and truthful information whether it supports or refutes an initial hypothesis.  Consider Gershkovich’s last report before his arrest on March 30, 2003.  The March 28 article “Russia’s Economy Is Starting to Come Undone,” co-authored by colleague Georgi Kantchev is bolstered by readily available statistical data and interviews with named sources.  If their goal had been to suggest a financial crisis–weakened ruble, loss of European oil customers, etc.–signaled an imminent end to Russian aggression in Ukraine, they would not have included the following paragraphs.

The government can still borrow domestically, and the sovereign-wealth fund still has $147 billion, even after shrinking by $28 billion since before the invasion. Russia has found ways to sell its oil to China and India. China has stepped in to provide many parts Russia used to get from the West.

Russian officials have acknowledged the difficulties but say the economy has been quick to adapt. Mr. Putin has said his government has been effective in countering the threats to the economy.

They even quoted Putin’s state of the nation address where he claimed Russia did not face a choice between the prosecution of the war and the domestic economy.

You know, there is a maxim, guns versus butter. Of course, national defense is the top priority, but in resolving strategic tasks in this area, we should not repeat the mistakes of the past and should not destroy our own economy.

Which makes Gershkovich’s arrest all the more puzzling.  Would an American-sponsored spy tasked with helping to bring down Putin’s government suggest that global sanctions have not deterred Russian military goals?  Arresting Gershkovich says more about Putin and the Russian economy than anything he wrote for the Wall Street Journal.  It even suggests Putin knows Gershkovich gave him the benefit of the doubt, which perhaps he also knows he did not deserve.

Compare this to the sad tale of New York Times reporter Judith Miller whose was responsible for accounts of the false “weapons of mass destruction” justification for the 2003 Iraq invasion.  She relied solely on sources within the Bush administration, most notably Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Jr., and then invoked the First Amendment in an attempt to avoid exposing Libby’s criminal use of the same false information he fed to her.

Which brings us back to Smirnov whose “spying” more resembles Miller than Gershkovich.  Perhaps, even worse.  Miller could he classified as what is now commonly referred to as “a useful idiot,” someone who caters to the powerful to garner their favor.  Smirnov must have known Putin favored Trump’s reelection in 2020, and therefore, should have questioned information from Russian intelligence agents that would hurt Joe Biden’s candidacy. However, he shared Putin’s goal of keeping Trump in the Oval Office and assumed he would be rewarded for helping make that happen.

I can only wonder what Donald Trump, who surely welcomed efforts to impeach Biden by the confederacy of useful idiots in the House GOP conference, especially Jim Comer and Jim Jordan, must have felt following Smirnov’s arrest.  He must be thinking, “Smirnov is no hero.  I like spies who aren’t captured, okay?  I hate to tell you.”

When I look at Evan Gershkovich’s body of work, I believe he is “guilty as charged.”  Not as a spy, but as an exceptional purveyor of “journalistic espionage,” otherwise known as investigative reporting.  And for this he is more deserving of a Pulitzer prize than detention in a Russian prison.

For what it’s worth.


The Fog of Reporting

Following the less than accurate reporting about the explosion at a Gaza City hospital, the mainstream media invoked the phrase “fog of war” to minimize accountability for their rush to judgment. The phrase originally referred to the a military commander’s uncertainty about battlefield engagement based on uncertain information about the on-the-ground situation.  It is now applied to the inability of war correspondents to accurately report what is happening in a war zone.  If you think they learned a lesson from the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital story, you would be wrong.

Based on reporting by all of the major media sources, one might believe that the recently attacked Jabaliya refugee camp is a place where Palestinian civilians sought safety following Israel’s response to Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack.  Why?  Because, until yesterday, not one print or broadcast outlet had taken time to explain when and why Jabaliya was established.  You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that in 1948 Jabaliya was designated as a refugee camp for Palestinians who were encouraged to leave or expelled from their homes in Israel at the start of hostilities following formal recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland.  The assumption being that they would be there temporarily, just until the Jewish state was quickly defeated allowing refugees to return to their residences within Israel’s borders under the UN sanctioned partition.

It may have been a tent city in 1948, but that is no longer the case.  It is now one of the most densely populated locations on the Gaza Strip, 1.4 square kilometers housing over 100,000 residents in multi-story apartment buildings.  “Jabaliya Refugee Camp” is more a historical designation than a description of its current status unless you want to call the residents, some who have lived there for three quarters of a century, refugees.

Yesterday, the New York Times, buried at the end of an article titled “In Gazan Neighborhood Hit by Airstrikes, Death and Despair Reign,” finally acknowledged Jabaliya’s history.

Despite its designation as a refugee camp, Jabaliya is a developed community housing Palestinians and their descendants who fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1940s during the conflict that surrounded the creation of Israel.

Jabaliya, Israeli officials say, is a stronghold for the militants.

But it is also a home for the 116,000 Palestinians who are registered to live in the 1.4-square-kilometer area.

They are among millions of Palestinians who are still classified as refugees by the United Nations after decades of exile. Israel, which bars Gazans from returning to the land they were expelled from, objects to the U.N. definition of Palestinians as refugees in general.

Media sources have multiple reasons to avoid again jumping to conclusions. Pictures of the still-standing structures from Jabaliya confirm Jabaliya is no makeshift refuge. The fact that many buildings remain erect right next to targeted structures suggests the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has focused on strategic targets.  Plus the IDF acknowledgement of responsibility for the bombings indicates they believe there were legitimate military targets.

Civil War General William Sherman was right when he said, “War is Hell.”  Every civilian death should be mourned.  But there is a difference between collateral damage and terrorism.  There is no question about which took place on October 7.  To determine the extent to which Israel conducted its response in accordance with the international rules of combat cannot and should not be determined now, veiled in the fog of war or media coverage.

Other history about the Gaza Strip also needs retelling, especially the unexpected proposal by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to disengage from Gaza, initiated in 2003 and implemented in 2005.  This included both unilateral relocation of 80,000 Israeli settlers against their will and the turnover of administrative responsibility and governance to the Palestinian Authority.  But that is a story for another day.

For what it’s worth.

Daddy Issues

You ask me what I’m thinking aboutI tell you that I’m thinking aboutWhatever you’re thinking aboutTell me something that I’ll forgetAnd you might have to tell me againIt’s crazy what you’ll do for a friend

~”Daddy Issues” by The Neighbourhood

Just when you thought there was the slightest possibility Republican “Team Sane” might eventually land the ship safely on Earth One, it’s leader former Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney proved that once Donald Trump is gone, it will be back to business as usual.  On what do I base this pessimistic view of a functioning two-party democratic system?  Her interview with Jake Tapper on the October 22 edition of CNN’s “State of the Union.” After an opening segment on the importance of plea deals by Sydney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro on Trump’s legal peril and Jim Jordan’s secret ballot reality check, Tapper turned to the Israel-Hamas War.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, just in terms of advising a country that is an ally — a lot of people are drawing parallels to 9/11, although, proportionally, this was worse. This is about — would be the same as killing 40,000 people in Israel, as opposed to 3,000 that happened here in 9/11.

On 9/11, your father was vice president. You came to work at the State Department after 9/11. Take a listen to what President Biden said in Israel this week.

VIDEO CLIP OF BIDEN: But I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. And while we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.

TAPPER: Given the goal of not just defeating Hamas, but a long-term goal of Israel living in peace, of a two-state solution, if that’s even a serious proposition anymore, what lessons do you think we have learned as a country that we could tell Israel, that we could share with Israel?

CHENEY: Well, look, I think probably the biggest mistake that we made post-9/11 was President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan the way that he did.

Leave it to Daddy’s little girl to conveniently skip over the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  You know, the conflict predicated on what we once thought was “the BIG lie” until Trump came up with “a BIGGER lie.” Actually it was two lies:  Saddam Hussein’s involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attack (not true) and his imminent development and potential use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States (also not true).

We can all agree the withdrawal from Afghanistan did not go as planned largely due to the fact that no one expected the Kabul government and military forces to surrender to the Taliban within days, if not hours, of the start of the evacuation.  At a time when some Americans are questioning continued support for Ukrainians who are fighting and dying in defense of democracy, they seem to forget we provided 20 years of both American treasure and lives for a regime that showed no interest in standing up for itself.  Since the U.S. withdrawal, Afghanistan, though ruled by the Taliban, has not been a credible terrorist threat to our homeland.  They have enough problems to deal with governing their own country.

Compare that to the consequences of the 2003 Iraq invasion. 

  • A total of 4,492 U.S. members of the arm services killed and another 32,292 wounded. 
  • Direct funding of more than $750 million.  Estimates of indirect costs at home and abroad raise that total to $3 trillion.
  • An ISIS resurgence in the region.
  • War profiteering of which the major financial beneficiary was Haliburton (you know, “Daddy’s corporation”) which received $39.5 billion in federal contracts during the conflict.

Perhaps the most devastating unintended consequence of the Iraq invasion was the removal of the single most efficient counter-balance to the rise of Iran.  After eight years of armed conflict between Iraq and Iran beginning in 1980, the Iranian clerics agreed to a U.N. brokered cease-fire.  According to a 2016 report by Satgin Hamrah of the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, “While the war may have ended in 1988, its legacy lives on in the Sunni versus Shia sectarian conflicts that currently exist in much of the Muslim world.”  Without Hussein’s presence to ensure a strong Sunni counter to the Iranian Shia theocracy, the threat to America is significantly higher than it was pre-2003. According to a 2022 assessment by the Council on Foreign Affairs:

Iran has built considerable political clout in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Its wide sphere of influence could be expanding, raising domestic tensions and alarming U.S. policymakers.

When the GOP accuses the Biden Administration of enabling Iran’s rise as a global menace, politely remind them who created the opportunity by removing their preoccupation with a hostile next door neighbor.


The other piece of news coming out of the interview was Cheney’s announcement she had not ruled out a possible run for the presidency.  My first thought?  She will not have to worry about campaign financing.  Certainly, she can self-fund her campaign with Daddy’s literal “war chest.”

For what it’s worth.