Kellie Pickler has been crowned the “DWTS” winner.
The country singer was named the Season 16 “DWTS” champion after weeks of competition, beating out Disney star Zendaya, Super Bowl champ Jacoby Jones and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman.
“This is amazing,” Kellie said, before Jacoby put the “DWTS” winner on his shoulders as she held the Mirror Ball trophy with her partner Derek Hough.
Shortly after the results were announced, Kellie, who initially didn’t hear co-host Tom Bergeron name her the “DWTS” winner, spoke with ABC News. “This has been an unbelievable night. I’m kind of lost for words,” the “American Idol” alumna said.
“I’m very proud,” a very poised Zendaya, who was the runner-up, told “DWTS” co-host Brooke Burke Charvet. “I get to leave here with an amazing experience so I’m happy.”
After he found out he wasn’t the “DWTS” winner shortly before the show ended, Jacoby joked that he’ll be “gracefully” catching the football on the field now, thanks to months of training with his partner Karina Smirnoff.
About 20 minutes into the “DWTS” finale, Aly was the first finalist to be eliminated. “This has been the best experience of my life,” she said upon learning she was not the “DWTS” winner. Aly’s partner Mark Ballas called the gold medal-winning gymnast “the best student [he's] ever had.” Despite her fourth place position, Aly did join the female pros, Zendaya and Kellie for a reprise of their routine set to Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls).”
To determine who would be named the Season 16 “DWTS” winner, the remaining three finalists — Jacoby, Kellie and Zendaya — had to perform a routine they learned less than an hour prior to hitting the dance floor (a.k.a. an “instant dance”).
Jacoby and Karina danced the salsa, earning praise and three perfect 10s from the judges. “You’re like the Big Easy,” head judge Len Goodman told him. “You always deliver … For me, you’re a breath of fresh air.” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba added that Jacoby’s samba was “the dance of a champion.”
Kellie and Derek performed an energetic jive that also had the judges raving. “What a perfect ending to a wonderful journey,” Carrie Ann said. “You’re the bee’s knees,” Len added, before all three judges awarded Kellie and Derek with 10s as well.
Last up for the instant dance was Zendaya and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy with the jive, the final dance of Season 16. “You dance with such maturity. It’s incredible,” Len told her. Judge Bruno Tonioli called Zendaya “pitch perfect” and “unique” and unsurprisingly, she also received 30 points for her instant dance.
The audience’s pick for the encore dance went to Kellie and Derek, who wowed the judges on Monday night’s finale with their contemporary routine, even moving Carrie Ann to tears.
But before the “DWTS” winner was crowned, contestants from Season 16 returned to hit the “DWTS” dance floor and stage yet again. Many of the season’s cast members participated in the opening number, set to one of many Pitbull songs of the evening. Later, Lisa Vanderpump danced alongside her partner Gleb Savchenko and Len Goodman, Andy Dick revived his Alice In Wonderland-inspired jazz number with his pro partner Sharna Burgess, and Season 16 contestant Wynonna Judd sang Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” while pros Peta Murgatroyd (Sean Lowe’s partner) and Tony Dovolani (Wynonna’s partner) danced. “That’s what I do,” the songstress said at the end of her performance.
Dorothy Hamill, who bowed out of the competition after an injury made it too dangerous for her to perform, also returned, ready to pick up where she left off. Unfortunately, her partner Tristan MacManus was injured and unable to perform in the finale so pro Henry Biyalikov stepped in to partner Dorothy. Mid-performance, the audience was pleasantly surprised to see “DWTS” Season 6 winner and fellow Olympic champion ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi join her for a side-by-side routine. “It’s such an honor to join my idol out here on the dance floor of all things,” the former “DWTS” winner said.
The “DWTS” finale also saw Psy stop by to perform his new hit “Gentleman” and Pitbull also took the stage to sing “Sube Las Manos Pa’ Arriba.” Shortly before the “DWTS” winner was announced, “American Idol” alum Jessica Sanchez performed her own take on Pitbull and Christina Aguilera’s hit “Feel This Moment,” while highlights from the season played behind her.
Do you think Kellie Pickler should have been the “DWTS” winner? Who did you vote for? Sound off in the comments.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder did not recuse himself from the 2010 search warrant for emails from a Fox News reporter’s personal account, a Justice Department official said Monday evening.
DOJ regulations require the attorney general to approve charges against a journalist or the search warrant for journalist phone records, but that regulation does not appear to apply to journalist emails. The DOJ official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said no charges against Rosen were anticipated. Language used by an FBI agent requesting a search warrant made Rosen’s reporting activities out to be part of a criminal conspiracy.
“To our knowledge, the Department of Justice has never prosecuted a reporter,” the Justice Department official told The Huffington Post. “No reporter has ever been charged by the Department of Justice simply for publishing information obtained through an illegal leak of classified information by a government official. At this time, we do not anticipate bringing any additional charges in this matter.”
Holder, during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, said that targeting journalists had not “fared well in American history” and suggested there was a high bar for prosecutions. The focus, he said, “should be on those people who break their oath and put the American people at risk, not the reporters who gather the information.”
CORRECTION: This article has been edited to note that Rosen’s emails were searched as a result of a search warrant, not a subpoena.
Elliott Negin: Unreliable Sources 4: How the Media Help the Kochs and ExxonMobil Spread Climate Disinformation
Charles Koch (above) and his brother David (below) gave $49.8 million to a network of climate contrarian think tanks and advocacy groups from 2002 through 2011.
This six-part series, “Unreliable Sources: How the Media Help the Kochs and ExxonMobil Spread Climate Disinformation,” documents that the press routinely cites climate contrarian think tanks without reporting their ties to the fossil fuel industry. For part 1, click here; part 2, click here; and part 3, click here.
Part 4: The Koch Brothers Overtake ExxonMobil as Top Contrarian Patron
For several decades, Charles G. and David H. Koch — owners of the Wichita-based oil, gas and coal conglomerate, Koch Industries — surreptitiously financed political and policy organizations favoring “free enterprise” and opposing government regulation. At the same time, the billionaire brothers developed an unsavory reputation with at least one philanthropy watchdog.
In 2004, the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) published a comprehensive study on the funding strategies of 79 conservative foundations to support 350 public policy think tanks at the national, state and local level. Three of those foundations were ones controlled by the Kochs — the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation.
The NCRP’s take on the Kochs’ funding agenda? It concluded that their family foundations support think tanks that “do research and advocacy on issues that impact the profit margin of Koch Industries.” “In touting limited government and free markets,” the NCRP found, “these organizations doubt the dangers of various chemicals, environmental pollutants and global warming, as well as challenge research efforts documenting these hazards.”
“… It makes sense that the Kochs would fund such anti-environment organizations,” the study authors added, “given their seedy past of environmental violations and lawsuits.”
To be sure, Koch Industries has a long environmental crime rap sheet. Over the years, the company has had to pay tens of millions of dollars in fines and hundreds of millions in cleanup costs. At the same time, the brothers’ grantees have been particularly critical of environmental safeguards on the books as well as proposed ones, such as a carbon emissions cap-and-trade system, which would certainly have a significant impact on Koch Industries’ bottom line.
As it turns out, a number of the think tanks the Kochs began supporting more than 25 years ago — the Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute and Heritage Foundation, among them — are the very same policy shops that represented the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries in their fight against the Food and Drug Administration in the mid-1990s. And, as I pointed out earlier in this series, ExxonMobil, General Motors and other fossil fuel interests enlisted these same think tanks at the turn of the century to sow doubt about the reality of global warming and blunt any attempts in Congress to pass climate change legislation.
In the early 2000s, there was a bipartisan bill kicking around Congress that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from power plants, refineries and other industries. The legislation — first introduced in the Senate in 2003 by John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and in the House in 2004 by Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) and John Olver (D-Mass.) — was reintroduced in both houses in 2005. In contrast with the Bush administration’s unsuccessful voluntary approach, the proposed bill called for establishing a mandatory, market-based cap-and-trade system to cut emissions.
The McCain-Lieberman bill apparently spooked the Kochs, who operate oil refineries in Alaska, Minnesota and Texas and supply coal to Midwestern utilities. In 2005, their three main family foundations doubled their contrarian group contributions from the previous year to $4.2 million, surpassing ExxonMobil, which spent $3.48 million. A year later, the Kochs’ donations doubled again, reaching a peak of $8.59 million, more than three times what ExxonMobil gave that year. All told, the three main Koch family funds would funnel more than $43 million to the contrarian network from 2005 through 2011, while ExxonMobil would hand out $12 million — less than a third — to many of the same groups.
The Kochs Fly Under the Media Radar
By 2005, the Kochs had quietly replaced ExxonMobil as the uber patron of climate contrarianism, but nobody knew it. The news media were only just beginning to pay attention to ExxonMobil’s funding activities and, outside of the fossil fuel industry — and Koch grantees, of course — who had ever heard of Koch Industries? As David Koch liked to joke, his family-owned conglomerate, whose annual revenues are now estimated at $100 billion, was “the largest company you’ve never heard of.”
At least one national news organization, however, was on to the Kochs — for about a news-cycle nanosecond. Thirteen years ago, on January 29, 2000, the Washington Post ran a front-page story by Dan Morgan, “Think Tanks: Corporations’ Quiet Weapon; Nonprofits’ Studies, Lobbying Advance Big Business Causes,” which profiled a conservative, multi-issue, small government policy group called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE).
“CSE was founded by two free-spirited Midwestern oil and gas tycoons, the brothers David H. and Charles G. Koch, principal owners of Koch Industries of Wichita,” Morgan reported. “Foundations they controlled helped found Cato, CSE and other less-known think tanks committed to the Koch’s libertarian beliefs.”
Morgan’s investigation turned up documents that, as he explained, “provide a rare look at think tanks’ often hidden role as a weapon in the modern corporate political arsenal. The groups provide analyses, TV advertising, polling and academic studies that add an air of authority to corporate arguments — in many cases while maintaining the corporate donor’s anonymity.”
After Morgan’s story, however, it was radio silence, at least at the national level. There was no follow up by the Post, and no attention paid by any other news organizations besides local papers in Houston, Seattle, St. Louis and Wichita, which ran one-off stories over the next five years that linked the Kochs to conservative think tanks. The “Kochs as under-writers” story essentially died, despite the fact that, between 2002 and 2007, they spent nearly $24 million on climate contrarian policy groups — and millions more on think tanks and lobbyists working on their other pet issues.
It wasn’t until 2008 when the news media — at least at the local level — began to take notice again. What piqued reporters’ interest, appropriately enough, was Americans for Prosperity (AFP), one of the two multi-issue, tea party-affiliated groups that Citizens for a Sound Economy spawned in 2004 when it broke up, the other being FreedomWorks. David Koch, who is credited as AFP’s founder, is the chairman of the group’s foundation.
In 2008, AFP kicked off a cross-country “Hot Air Tour” featuring hot air balloon rides and the slogan “Global Warming Alarmism: Lost Jobs, Higher Taxes, Less Freedom.” The national print press ignored the story. Besides Fox and MSNBC, national television and cable news shows didn’t pay much attention, either, and only MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show mentioned the Koch-AFP link. Local newspapers where the tour touched down, on the other hand, covered it like the circus coming to town. But only five out of 38 briefs and articles those papers ran on the tour in 2008 and 2009 reported that the Kochs backed AFP.
So where was the Washington Post?
Remarkably, it took the paper nearly a decade to rediscover the Koch-think tank connection that Dan Morgan reported back in 2000. Although the paper ran 24 stories on AFP from 2004 through 2009, only one — which ran in August 2009 — linked the group to the Kochs. It also was the only story that mentioned that AFP disputed climate science. Most of the other stories merely identified it as a “conservative” or “small government” group.
A Public Interest Group Blows the Whistle (Again)
The Kochs’ years of relative anonymity came to an end in early 2010 and, as in the case of ExxonMobil, it was largely due to the work of a public interest group.
As I reported earlier in this series, ExxonMobil was thrust into the public eye in the summer of 2005 by the Exxpose Exxon campaign, which was sponsored by a dozen public interest groups, and again in early 2007, when a Union of Concerned Scientists report disclosed the company’s role in bankrolling climate contrarians. The Koch brothers, meanwhile, were outed by a March 2010 Greenpeace report revealing that between 2005 and 2008, the Kochs spent significantly more than ExxonMobil on virtually the same network of contrarian groups to attack climate science and undermine government attempts to address global warming.
Before Greenpeace released “Koch Industries Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” the group’s research director, Kert Davies, met with journalists at a number of news organizations, including ABC, Newsweek and the New York Times, to go over the report’s findings. “The number of serious journalists who didn’t even know the name David Koch or Koch Industries was stunning,” Davies, a lead author of the report, told Politico, a political trade journal. “It was because they were intentionally invisible. They really liked it the way it was. So one of our main objectives was to make them a household name….”
David Koch is bullish on global warming. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people,” he says, “because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.”
The Greenpeace report definitely created a media buzz. In July, New York magazine profiled David Koch, who told the magazine that global warming is a good thing because it will lengthen growing seasons in the northern hemisphere. Around the same time, economist Paul Krugman disclosed the Koch-climate contrarian link in the New York Times for the first time. A month later, the Washington Post profiled AFP, delving into the details of its Koch connection. And the New Yorker ran a 10,000-word opus on the brothers’ family history, libertarian philosophy, and influence on conservative politics that prominently cited Greenpeace’s findings.
All of the sudden, the Kochs were fair game.
News Media Tie AFP to the Kochs, But Fail to Connect Other Grantees
Despite the fact that more journalists are now aware of the Koch brothers, many still miss the fact that AFP is not the only policy group that lives off Koch largesse. For instance, AFP is just one of approximately 40 think tanks and advocacy groups the Kochs underwrite to promote their climate and energy agenda. Regardless, journalists still more often than not fail to mention they’re Koch surrogates.
If you’ve read any of the previous installments in this series, you know that I recently reviewed climate and energy coverage from 2011 and 2012 to see how often top news organizations disclosed funding sources for AFP and seven other climate contrarian groups I call the “Oil Eight.” My survey included stories, editorials, opinion columns and interviews from the Associated Press, NPR, Politico, and six leading newspapers: the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Given there’s a brighter spotlight on the Kochs and a heightened awareness of post-Citizens United money flooding the political system, it’s not surprising that these news outlets mentioned AFP more than any other of the Oil Eight. Overall, nearly 30 percent of the 357 climate and energy stories in my sample cited AFP at least in passing, and a number focused squarely on the group and its activities. Many of the stories referenced the group’s multimillion-dollar TV political ad campaign last year. A number of the news organizations in my survey–the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Politico and Washington Post, in particular–devoted considerable space to that story.
Likewise, the news organizations did a better job identifying AFP as fossil fuel industry-funded group. Seventy of 102 pieces citing AFP — 69 percent — linked the group to the Kochs, whose family foundations gave AFP more than $5.75 million between 2005 and 2010. (For more on my survey results, click here.)
Discounting their AFP coverage, the news outlets cited fossil fuel industry funding sources in only 24 percent of 255 pieces that mentioned the other seven climate contrarian groups. Those seven groups — the American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Institute for Energy Research (and its political arm, American Energy Alliance), and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research — together received $10 million from the three main Koch family foundations between 2001 and 2011. (For more details, see this list of the Oil Eight’s fossil fuel industry funding.)
American Energy Alliance vs. Obama Campaign: Dueling Ads
Another Oil Eight member — the American Energy Alliance (AEA) — also got caught in the glare of political campaign coverage last year. Although the eight news outlets in my survey were not as attentive to its funding as they were with AFP, they still managed to tie the alliance to the fossil fuel industry in 43 percent of the 61 stories that cited the group in 2011 and 2012.
Most of the stories citing the alliance — the political arm of a small, single-issue group called the Institute for Energy Research — focused on its TV ad battle with the Obama reelection campaign. A number of those stories that mentioned the alliance’s funding relied on the Obama camp’s charge that the AEA is a “front group for big oil” without going the extra mile to nail down that fact. For example, an April 3, 2012, story by Associated Press political reporter Andrew Miga stated: “There’s no way of knowing if Obama’s claim that the American Energy Alliance ad is funded by Big Oil is true; the alliance does not disclose its donors or contribution amounts.”
If Miga had checked either the Conservative Transparency or Foundation Center website, he would have been able to confirm that during the last decade, the alliance’s parent organization received $160,000 from the American Petroleum Institute (2008-10), $337,000 from ExxonMobil (2002-07), and $227,500 from Charles Koch’s Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation (2001-07).
To his credit, Miga did report that AEA’s president, Thomas Pyle, is a former Koch Industries lobbyist and that AEA’s arguments “are the same ones made by oil companies and their allies.” All told, the Associated Press cited AEA’s fossil fuel industry connection in three of the six stories it ran over the two-year period I checked.
Politico, meanwhile, mentioned the alliance’s funding in 11 of the 23 stories it ran citing the group. The Washington Post, on the other hand, reported it in only one of five stories. That story, “Energy issue gets jolt of ads,” by T.W. Farnum, called the alliance “an advocacy group that pushes for less government regulation of the [energy] industry,” and reported that it “spent $3.6 million on an ad attacking Obama over gas prices, Solyndra, the Keystone pipeline and his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”
Farnum then paraphrased an alliance spokesman, who told him the group “received most of its funding in its last tax year from individual families, including many with newfound wealth from domestic drilling.” That does make it clear that the alliance represents the oil and gas industry, but most readers would presume that the AEA is a mom and pop operation. Little would they know that the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers have been funding the group for years.
Note: Last Friday in part 3 of this series I mentioned that Heritage Foundation fellow David Kreutzer previously worked for Richard Berman, who runs a network of corporate front groups. Yesterday, the Boston Globe published a front page exposé of Berman, focusing on his Center for Consumer Freedom, which represents the interests of the restaurant and food industries.
On Wednesday, this six-part series, “Unreliable Sources: How the Media Help the Kochs and ExxonMobil Spread Climate Disinformation,” continues with a look at how top news organizations covered the Cato Institute and the Heartland Institute.
Elliott Negin, the director of news and commentary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, is a former NPR news editor and former managing editor of American Journalism Review.
“We elected him as an employee,” Youssef said directing his deadpan barb at Egyptian President Mohamad Morsi, a regular target of the surgeon-cum-satirist’s ridicule.
Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef regales AMF audience (Abu-Fadil)
He justified his attacks on Morsi and the president’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood movement by saying satire and criticism had existed through the ages.
Youssef, who’s appeared before an Egyptian magistrate to explain his jokes, continues to break taboos.
“I was called in by security officials and expect to return. I’ll fill in a time sheet,” he said as the hall exploded with laughter.
Youssef shared the podium of a session on satirical media with Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian comics and writers but he clearly stole the show and brought down the house with his comments.
Another panel raising eyebrows and questions at the two-day annual event
featured Arab singing and acting stars who added buzz and followers by hosting talk shows and judging talent competitions, to the dismay of traditional journalists in a lean job market.
Presenter Wafaa Al Kilani chairs panel on stars-to-TV hosts (Abu-Fadil)
The forum, organized by the Dubai Press Club drew a record 3,000-plus participants from across the Arab world and beyond to exchange views, network and question which way the wind was blowing on the media horizon.
Record 3,000-plus attended Arab Media Forum (Abu-Fadil)
One of the AMF‘s opening sessions zeroed in on the recurrent issue of social media and citizen journalists competing with, and often feeding, traditional media.
“We have strict guidelines on sourcing and unsubstantiated videos,” said Reuters‘ Middle East and Turkey editor Samia Nakhoul about content from conflict zones.
Nadia Abou El-Magd from Egypt’s new Masr Al Arabiya news channel emphasized the need for accuracy across all platforms but said those working in television felt more pressure to turn out good content.
Various Arab media have often been faulted for stoking sectarian and national differences, notably in countries experiencing unrest and transitioning from regimes led for decades by strongmen.
Media have in turn been calling for greater accountability by governments and pan-Arab bodies ruling on major policy issues.
Dubai TV talk show host Zeina Yazigi needled keynote speaker Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi about his organization’s inability to end the violence in Syria.
Dubai TV’s Zeina Yazigi corners Arab League chief on Syria (Abu-Fadil)
“What’s needed in Syria is a political solution to end the bloodbath,” he said. “The Arab League was first in taking the initiative to end Syria’s violence but its powers are limited.”
Asked whether it was time to revamp the League’s original charter given changes rocking the Arab region, Al Arabi agreed saying the decision was not his to make but that of the member states.
“The common ground in the Arab League is cultural, not political,” he admitted.
Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque, said he supported freedom of expression but urged journalists to abide by ethical standards.
In an opening speech, Al Tayeb said the Arab media’s role was to correct distorted and stereotyped images of Islam while acknowledging the chaos of religious “fatwas” (edicts) on local and regional channels.
He asked journalists to protect the Arabic language, which critics say has been disfigured by misuse in traditional and social media.
A panelist in a session dedicated to Arabic said the language was being systematically massacred while expert Farouk Shousha retorted that the media had contributed to its renaissance.
Farouk Shousha: whither Arabic in media? (Abu-Fadil)
Purists insist media adhere to rigorous use of classical Arabic, also known as the language of the Holy Quran, whereas news organizations have settled for a slightly less formal permutation.
Social media users and netizens have, in turn, resorted to using their own form, combining Arabic and English terms, known as “Arabizi” (short of Arabi-Inglizi), making classicists cringe.
The AMF is the region’s leading media-related event and has continued to gain importance since it was launched 12 years ago.
It closed with much fanfare and the handing out of Arab Journalism Award prizes in categories including investigative journalism, sports, interviews, political coverage, business news, columns, photos and caricatures, to name a few.
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohamad bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Arab Journalism
Award ceremony (Abu-Fadil)
Syrian caricaturist Raed Khalil won the coveted prize in his category for an illustration of an Arab’s mouth as the nozzle of a gun he’d pulled, and a screaming mouth drawn on the barrel, depicting intolerance of “the other’s” views.
Award-winning caricature by Syrian Raed Khalil (Abu-Fadil)
As with all things Dubai, superlatives fail to describe the police force’s squad cars parked in the driveway of the hotel where the AMF was held.
The Lamborghini and Bentley reminded gawkers that Dubai’s men and women in uniform could easily floor the gas pedal to nab speeders on the country’s streets and highways.
Dubai police patrol Lamborghini to nab speeders (Abu-Fadil)
We have, of late, been inundated with press accounts declaring that the Obama Administration is in real trouble. Headlines scream: “Obama struggles,” “White House dysfunction,” or, worse still, asking “Has Obama Lost Washington?” One would get the sense that the Administration is unraveling.
There can be no doubt that this has been a bad week, but it’s not as disastrous as the president’s critics would have it.
To understand the dynamic that set in motion this avalanche of bad press, two metaphors are helpful. The first comes from former Senator Eugene McCarthy who was fond of comparing Washington’s political press to crows on a high wire. “When one lands” he would say, “they all land. And when one takes off, they all take off.” It is an apt description for the “feeding frenzies” that can occur in our political world when reporters and politicos, like sharks, smell blood in the water (the other metaphor) and move in to devour their wounded prey.
In the toxic environment that is Washington, stories grow and become larger than themselves, and in the ensuing hysteria, all sense of proportion can be lost. Such has been the case with the Congressional hearings into the way the White House handled the deaths of four U.S. officials in Benghazi. The story has been exaggerated to such an extent that a recent poll shows 41 percent of Republicans now say that Benghazi is the “biggest scandal in U.S. history,” and former Vice President Cheney claiming that Benghazi is “one of the worse incidents, frankly, that I can recall.” That there is less to this entire affair than meets the eye doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that this Benghazi “scandal” pales in comparison to the lies that dragged the U.S. into the Iraq war. What matters to the press is the perception that they have created for themselves — that this is a “big story” revealing “dark truths” about the Obama Administration and its failures.
Add to this other recent allegations about the Internal Revenue Service targeting some Tea Party and “patriot” groups for special scrutiny, and the Department of Justice using its Bush-era anti-terrorism powers to investigate reporters who received “leaked” information about a CIA operation in Yemen, and you have Republicans hyperventilating in excitement and the media in a frenzy.
I might suggest that we first take a deep breath and make an effort to put the events of the past week in some perspective, but I know it wouldn’t do any good. There is blood in the water and in deeply partisan Washington, the struggle for advantage and power always trumps reality.
Even if I wanted to ascribe the best of intentions to the Republicans who are pushing the Benghazi story, I find it difficult to do so. If they were truly concerned about “lies” that were told by government officials, the failure of an Administration to protect American lives, and the need for responsible government officials to be transparent and accountable for their actions, the place for Congress to begin would be with the Iraq war or with the Bush Administration’s systematic use of torture, rendition, and other practices that violate our own and international laws.
But, of course, this entire enterprise of “getting to the bottom of Benghazi” has nothing to do with truth, lives, or accountability. The Obama Administration’s release of interagency communications, if anything, establishes nothing more than the somewhat banal practice of language vetting that, while annoying at times, has become rather standard practice.
No, in the end, this is not about truth or governance. It is, in fact, nothing more than a continuation of the five year long effort to weaken and distract the president, in order to gain advantage over Democrats, and, in this instance, to wage a preemptive strike against former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s presidential aspirations (should she have any).
As for the IRS and Department of Justice stories, they are problems, to be sure, but problems that do not implicate the president. If anything, these revelations have given the president the opportunity to demonstrate his determination to respond quickly and decisively. He immediately condemned both as abuses of power and acted to remove the head of the IRS who was responsible.
All this, the pundits say, could not have come at a worse time for the president. As conventional wisdom has it, the administration has a limited window of opportunity remaining in which to push through its second term agenda: immigration reform, responsible gun control measures, a new budget that continues to grow the economy while reining in deficits, and facing down foreign policy challenges, especially those raging across the Middle East. In this view, by next year the country will be in the throes of Congressional elections with “every man for himself” and Democrats running in close contests wanting to dissociate themselves from a weakened White House. In this environment, Republicans hope that Democrats will be less inclined to support the president’s agenda if it doesn’t fit their reelection calculations. Following these November, 2014 contests, the president truly becomes a lame duck as the country heads toward the 2016 presidential elections. This is the conventional wisdom, and it is what has Republicans gleefully putting forth, and the press echoing and amplifying, the notion that the president is “finished.”
Two observations are in order. The first is that while Obama has had a bad week, it pales in comparison with his predecessors’ second term woes. Clinton had to deal with a trumped-up impeachment process and Bush faced national scorn for his disastrous handing of hurricane Katrina and the unraveling of his Iraq war. These were, by any measure, far more serious challenges. Clinton not only survived impeachment, but was buoyed by a robust economy. And Bush, with his “smoke and mirrors” “surge” operation in Iraq, was able to rebound a bit until the economic collapse of 2008.
It will not be easy, but what President Obama will now do is work to regain control of the story being told in the daily press accounts emanating from Washington. The still recovering economy will help, but it won’t be dramatic enough to turn the tide. Nor can he count on Congress to support him with passage of key elements of his agenda. With or without “scandal,” partisanship will continue to win out, with Republicans loathe to give the White House any meaningful victories.
The president will need to reestablish control by executive decisions in areas of domestic or foreign policy where he can demonstrate leadership by acting independently and decisively. Should he succeed, the shenanigans in Congress will be reduced to a sideshow. And the nation’s press, a la McCarthy’s metaphor, will follow the story he is creating.
All in all, it may have been a bad week, but it is one the White House can survive.
If there’s one thing I can tell you definitively about the future of journalism, it’s that young people of the present will be the leaders of that future.
Those in college now, who have recently finished college, or maybe a few years out of college, they’re the leaders of tomorrow. There are a lot of questions about what that future will look like, but these folks have the creativity, innovative mindset and smarts to take journalism to places it’s never been before.
These are the Millennials. They grew up with computers, instant messaging on AIM, using Facebook in school, they’re not afraid to communicate in GIFs or acronyms, and they’re poised to do great things in the future. That’s why they’re worth watching. And that’s why I thought I’d put together a list of them.
Thanks to some crowdsourcing help on Twitter and Facebook, here are more than 100 young people to watch in the social media and journalism space going forward. These people have bright futures ahead of them!
Did I miss someone great? Tweet me @ckanal and I can consider adding them.
Well, that’s one clever way to get a job.
With a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a postgraduate diploma, Vizcaino’s credentionals are nothing to snort at. But like many recent graduates in Spain, where the unemployment rate is 27.2 percent, Vizcaino was unable to find a job.
So Vizcaino came up with a better idea than printing out countless copies of his curriculum vitae — many of which would probably just end up in the recycle bin, he reasons on his blog.
While a friend filmed, Vizcaino strummed on a ukulele and serenaded straphangers on the Barcelona Metro.
“Degree in journalism and a master’s diploma that is folded right here, in case you’d like to see it,” he croons. “I’m the King of Word, Excel and Powerpoint. I control Photoshop.” (See full lyrics below)
Fortunately, after the video was posted on YouTube and shared widely on social media, the job offers flooded in, Vizcaino notes on his blog.
Watch Vizcaino sing his resume (in Spanish) on the subway in the video above, or see the full lyrics (in English) below.
LYRICS: (Translation by The Huffington Post)
Degree in journalism
and a master’s diploma
that is folded right here,
in case you’d like to see it.
An online course I found on Groupalia
about community management.
I’m on expert on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest,
Linkedin and MySpace.
at a local radio station,
with a fellowship contract,
that was unpaid, of course.
And even if it wasn’t my thing,
I also worked as a salesperson,
I worked in a call center,
and as a cashier in Mediamark.
With regards to languages I’ll say:
My English level is good,
I used to fly with Ryanair.
Parlo anche Italiano, (I also speak Italian)
Livello amore de verano, (Summer fling level)
and I understand some French.
I’m the King of Word,
Excel and Powerpoint.
I control Photoshop.
Don’t reach for your wallet,
I’m not here to ask for money.
Though maybe you have a friend or relative…
Need a journalist, screenwriter,
writer or editor,
Or maybe you’re looking for a more basic service.
I also know how to kneel
and for a special price
I will let you whip me.
For more information
always at your disposition
my profile is at Infojobs.
The battle between the “Fashion Police” writers and the show’s network E! is getting ugly.
About a month after 12 “Fashion Police” writers went on strike — seeking payment for allegedly unpaid regular and overtime hours totaling $1.5 million, according to Deadline — things are at a standstill.
The writers had planned a benefit show at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, CA for Wednesday, May 15 and one “Fashion Police” writer, Eliza Skinner, posted the below to Facebook days before the event:
E! bought 100 tickets to our benefit, we doubt they will show up, so COME OUT.
We suspect this is an attempt to make us look weak by keeping people from buying tickets, or by showing up and creating a hostile crowd.
It’s sold out online, but there will be plenty of tickets at the door if ONE HUNDRED E! EMPLOYEES don’t come. Please come – we’re fighting for comedy writers and cable writers in general! Plus, Bobcat Goldthwait is great!
According to the writers, a large portion of the tickets for the benefit (the proceeds of which are going to the “Fashion Police” writing staff) were reportedly bought by E! Vice President John Najarian and other E! executives, per The Hollywood Reporter.
E! president Suzanne Kolb wrote a letter to the “Fashion Police” writers on the morning of May 15, the day of the benefit show, which THR and Deadline obtained.
“I want to make it clear that E! is not anti-[Writer's Guilde Of America],” Kolb’s letter reads. “The WGA has convinced you that a strike is necessary in order to gain a union contract. But history at E! has shown that not to be true. You are actually losing paychecks because of the guild’s dislike of elections … This leads me to ask you, why strike over an election if you believe the vote will be in favor of representation? Please reconsider striking over something as democratic as an election. There will be no resolution to this matter without one.”
When the “Fashion Police” writers’ strike started on April 17, the WGA West said in a statement, “The election the Company is calling for is a well-known stalling tactic … By ignoring for weeks our repeated requests for negotiation of a fair deal, E! has forced us to vote with our feet.”
Kolb’s letter also stated: “Joan Rivers has been and remains emphatically supportive of you. And, despite what has been reported to the contrary, her company does not produce ‘Fashion Police’ nor set the compensation of E! Networks Productions’ writers. The personal attacks on Joan have been grossly unfair and inaccurate as the responsibility of the show lies on my shoulders, not hers.
During the strike, the “Fashion Police” writers made a Funny or Die video, joking about their boredom (and poor-dom). Check it out below:
Two more contestants are saying goodbye to “The Voice”: Vedo from Team Usher and Garrett Gardner from Team Shakira were eliminated.
This week, the choice was up to America and the judges could no longer save their team members. With Garrett and Vedo eliminated, newbie “Voice” coaches Shakira and Usher are down a competitor. Veteran “Voice” coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton both have three contestants still in the running.
Kris Thomas from Team Shakira was the first contestant to join the Top 10, then the Swon Brothers from Team Blake, Sarah Simmons from Team Adam, Josiah Hawley from Team Usher, Judith Hill from Team Adam, Danielle Bradbery from Team Blake, Michelle Chamuel from Team Usher, Amber Carrington from Team Adam, Holly Tucker from Team Blake and Sasha Allen from Team Shakira.
Before it was time for Garrett and Vedo to bid farewell to “The Voice,” there were some impressive performances. “Voice” mentors Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams sang “Blurred” along with T.I.; Blake Shelton and his team — Holly Tucker, the Swon Brothers and Danielle Bradbury — took on Brooks & Dunn’s “Play Something Country”; Lady Antebellum, featuring Team Adam mentor Hillary Scott, performed their song “Goodbye Town,” accompanied by Team Adam’s Amber Carrington, Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons; and finally, Adam Levine and his team performed The Cure’s “Love Song.”
Did “The Voice” voters get it right in sending Vedo and Garrett home? Who are you voting for? Sound off in the comments!
“The Voice” airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.
Spoiler alert: That day was May 7, 2012… but first a quick history lesson.
Okay, I’m one of those folks who obsesses about the late 1960s and early 1970s, but this time it’s really important. Because today that is the rallying cry for any presidential scandal, that this one is “worse than Watergate.” But the Watergate break-in happened 41 years ago, which means that more than half of all Americans weren’t even born yet, so you can’t blame a lot of voters if they don’t know much about what Watergate and the related scandals of Richard Milhous Nixon were all about.
One of the biggest drivers of Watergate was the seemingly unending war in Vietnam. As opposition increased to a foreign war that ultimately killed 58,000 Americans, for goals that were murky at best, so did government paranoia. At the core of Watergate was a team of shady operatives that were nicknamed “the White House Plumbers” — because they went after news leaks… get it? In May 1969, after news reports about U.S. bombing activities in Cambodia, Nixon and his then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger enlisted J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to wiretap journalists and national security aides.
Later, one of the worst governmental abuses occurred after whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked the massive Pentagon Papers that exposed governmental lies about the conduct of the war in Vietnam. Nixon’s “Plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to dig up dirt to discredit him. Here is what one of Nixon’s former aides, Egil Krogh, wrote about it in 2007:
The premise of our action was the strongly held view within certain precincts of the White House that the president and those functioning on his behalf could carry out illegal acts with impunity if they were convinced that the nation’s security demanded it. As President Nixon himself said to David Frost during an interview six years later, “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” To this day the implications of this statement are staggering.
No doubt. Luckily for America, not everyone agreed. Over the next couple of years, criminal charges against Ellsberg were tossed because of the government’s misconduct, and Nixon resigned facing certain impeachment over the activities of his Plumbers and the ensuing, elaborate cover-up. The nation mostly rejoiced. The system worked… for a while.
Flash forward to 2012. America had at that point been in an undefined “war on terror” for 11 years — the same amount of time from the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident that greatly expanded the Vietnam War to the 1975 fall of Saigon. Just as during the 1960s and early 1970s, this terror war had provided government with an excuse to greatly expand its domestic spying on American citizens — some of that through a law called the Patriot Act and some of it even more dubious, constitutionally.
Then, on May 7, 2012, the Associated Press published an article about the Obama administration’s conduct of its war in a country that we’d never declared war on (it was Cambodia in 1969, but Yemen in 2012) and Obama’s Justice Department — for reasons not yet fully known — went crazy over the leak. This, then, is a reminder of why history matters so much.
Because if we’re not careful… it repeats:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.
In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
The AP’s CEO said last night that “[t]here can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters” — and I could not agree with him more. This revelation is deeply troubling — and has the makings of a major scandal. Sure, you could try to mitigate it by noting, fairly, that accessing these phone records isn’t as bad as wiretapping. But that is small solace, indeed. There’s every reason to believe that Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on this unwarranted assault on the First Amendment, and if so, he ought to be canned (hasn’t he overstayed his welcome, anyway?). Also, you might try to excuse this as a one-off, an ill-advised but isolated incident.
Except that it’s not.
Since the day he took office, the Obama administration has undertaken an assault on government whistleblowers — people informing citizens of what their government doesn’t want them to know — that surpasses anything that Nixon or any other president has done. Since 2009, the Obama administration has brought espionage charges against six whistleblowers. And most of these whistleblowers have been criticizing that way that America conducts its neverending war of the 21st century. One, Thomas Drake, blew the whistle on the illegal warrantless wiretapping that began under George W. Bush. John Kiriakou dropped the dime on illegal U.S. torture — and was sent away to prison, even as the perpetrators of torture from Dick Cheney to John Yoo continue to walk freely among us.
Nixon had Daniel Ellsberg, and Obama has Bradley Manning of Wikileaks. Okay, so they didn’t break into the office of Manning’s psychiatrist, but they have detained Manning in a solitary confinement that a UN torture expert called “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Do you feel better about that? Because I don’t. The war on whistleblowers, the treatment of Manning, and now this investigation of journalists are all hallmarks of a White House that promised transparency but has been one of the most secretive — all to the detriment of the public’s right to know.
Let’s be clear — this is about Obama… and it is about much, much more than Obama. It is yet another example of how the national security state that has dominated our political life since World War II has corrupted the American soul. It is exactly what Philadelphia’s own Benjamin Franklin tried to warn us about — trading liberty for security, and geting neither. To the conservatives reading this, who warn so much about big government running amok…here it is. To the liberals reading this, who thought that one man named Barack Obama could change the system, he couldn’t. Only we, the citizens, can truly change things.
Let’s work together. Let’s start by repealing the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Force, declare victory in what was formerly known as the war on terror, and resolve that never again will this nation enter into a perpetual and constitutionally dubious war. Let’s repeal the most egregious aspects of the USA Patriot Act, hold public hearings on the true extent that the U.S. government has spied on citizens without warrants — and then bring those practices to an end. And as today’s events made crystal clear, let’s make America a nation where journalists and other truth-tellers can write stories or reveal information that the government might not like…without fear of intrusion or reprisal. Ironically, many of those type of changes were supposed to happen after Nixon, after Vietnam But they either didn’t last, or they didn’t come at all.
If greater liberty comes from the latest revelations, Obama’s sins — however bad not not bad they may turn out to be — will not make things worse than Watergate. This time, it — the aftermath, anyway — will be better than Watergate.