Conservatives Can’t Identify Journalism, Confuse It With Doxxing

People usually frame Trump’s war on the press as if it’s just him making Soviet-style “enemy of the people” declarations against the media. But Trump gets plenty of help in belittling the mainstream press from conservative media — and not just by them parroting his punch lines, either.

One great example of this occurred last week when reporters asked for information about the jurors assigned to the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Conservatives accused the journalists of trying to sway the jurors into ruling for a conviction against Manafort, who is charged with eighteen counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and hiding foreign bank accounts.

Jurors started deliberating Wednesday. Surprisingly, considering how mobbed up Manafort (and indeed the whole Trump apparatus) is, they have not been sequestered, meaning it’s probably likely that jurors have heard President Trump lobby on behalf of his old friend. (“It’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort,” Trump told the press, an endorsement that Manafort’s defense lawyer said he appreciated.)

We may never find out what jurors thought or heard during deliberations once the trial ends. Judge T.S. Ellis III has blocked the release of any information that might get them identified by the press. Requesting access to juror info is a common reporter gambit — used, for example, after the Bill Cosby trial — to get the sort of juror quotes you read in high-level, post-trial reports. The Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Politico, and BuzzFeed all petitioned the court together to obtain the jurors’ names and addresses and other currently unavailable Manafort trial information, citing precedent that jury information should be revealed “absent extraordinary circumstances such as ‘realistic threats of violence or jury corruption.’ ”

But, Judge Ellis said there had been threats — to him. Ellis revealed he was under the protection of U.S. marshals, and said he feared for the jurors’ “peace and safety,” which led him to refuse the request.

Seems pretty straightforward. But conservatives — who did not know, or did not care to know — that this was standard journalistic practice told readers that reporters wanted to know the jurors’ names, not to write stories, but so they could “dox” them to coerce a conviction of Manafort on behalf of the Democrats.

At the Federalist, Bre Payton attacked what she described as CNN’s “long history of doxxing threats and harassment” and said “publicly outing the names and home addresses of jurors is considered ethically questionable” — as if it had been established that CNN, or anyone else, planned to do that to the Manafort jury.

Payton cited two pieces of evidence for her claim: CNN’s 2017 attempt to expose the person who posted a viral clip of Trump beating up a guy who had a CNN logo covering his head, and the network’s February 2018 contentious interview with Florine Gruen Goldfarb, a Florida Trump supporter whose Team Trump Broward Facebook page, according to CNN, listed events “promoted and encouraged by Russian trolls.” (Goldfarb’s responses in an interview with CNN regarding the possibility that Russians hacked into her group’s Facebook account were maladroit; she said accusations of Russian involvement were just a “cover-up” for “the shooting that was done at the high school.” At the time, conservative media portrayed her as an innocent victim of a “reporter ambush” who was “receiving threats on social media,” thus proving she had been “doxxed” rather than her merely having agreed to be interviewed.)

Payton’s accusations gave the brethren some talking points. “CNN Accused of Intimidating Paul Manafort Jury,” claimed John Nolte at Breitbart. Nolte called the request by CNN and the “six other far-left media outlets…disturbing and almost unprecedented.”

Nolte seemed to take Payton’s word that CNN planned to publish the jurors’ names and addresses without their consent. As evidence Nolte cited how CNN, during its 2013 coverage of the trial of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin briefly showed a police document onscreen that showed Zimmerman’s Social Security number. Apparently this had been done in error, and yet Nolte nonetheless portrayed it as proof of CNN’s “desperation for a conviction in that case.” (He didn’t say how Zimmerman’s Social Security number would have helped the prosecution.)

Nolte suggested something similar was happening with Manafort: “What many see here, and not without precedent,” he wrote, “is yet another attempt by the media, most especially CNN, to bully and intimidate private, everyday citizens into convicting Manafort.… Jurors are almost certain to learn that these powerful anti-Trump outlets are hunting them down.”

“CNN and Other Leftist Outlets Accused of Planning to Smear Manafort Jury,” said Cillian Zeal at the Conservative Tribune. “CNN’s request to the court looks less like an act of journalists seeking information than it does the groundwork of a plan to attack the Manafort jury if it comes back with a verdict the media doesn’t like.… It’s doxxing, plain and simple.”

Perhaps aware that all but the most credulous wingnut readers would find this argument unconvincing, some conservative commentators clung to plausible, just-asking, others-accuse deniability, but some couldn’t restrain themselves.

“Was The Media Trying To Dox And Intimidate Jurors At Paul Manafort’s Trial?” riddle-me-this’d RedState. But after a few paragraphs it lost its cool: “This seems like a raw attempt at jury tampering. Like these news organizations were telling the jurors ‘we know where you live and if you f*** this up we’ve got you.’ ”

“Judge Ellis in Manafort Case Denies Dox-Factory CNN’s Demand for Juror Information,” brayed Ace of Spades, “Says He Himself Has Been Threatened, and The Jurors Would Be As Well.” Then Spades added, “Of course. That was the point. Also the point? Letting the jurors know that the media is very interested in digging up their identities, and will keep on trying.”

“Perhaps [the jurors] have seen the videos of Trump administration officials harassed in restaurants, businesses protested and boycotted for expressing pro-Trump sentiment, and street attacks by Antifa,” mused William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. “While a Not Guilty verdict for Manafort would not in fact be a ‘pro-Trump’ gesture, there is little doubt it would be perceived that way by the anti-Trump resistance.”

“Why do you suppose seven news organizations — all liberal, presumably — wanted to know who the jurors are and where they live?” asked John Hinderaker at Power Line. To contact them for interviews? Wrong! “They are worried that the jury, having heard the evidence, may not render the ‘right’ verdict, i.e., the one that helps the Democratic Party,” declared Hinderaker. “So they want to know who the jurors are so they can apply pressure on them through mob action, newspaper denunciations, online harassment and so on. This is how today’s Democratic Party operates.”

“Wow. So now they’ve gotten into the jury-tampering business,” marveled Monica Showalter at American Thinker. “They’re more interested in who the jury is than the trial itself.” Showalter compared the press to “Jean-Paul Marat, one of the French Revolution’s bloodthirstiest leftists (this is where we get the term ‘leftist’),” and added, “Oh, and note that this request takes place in the city of Alexandria, Virginia, home of shotgun political violence against Republican House leader Steve Scalise, who was nearly killed by aimed gunfire in a leftist assassination attempt while on a baseball field. You can bet the jury knows about that one.” It all adds up!

“Suing to doxx jurors was more threatening than simply doing it,” tweeted actor-turned-troll James Woods. “It’s like the mafia leaving a dead fish on your windshield.”

“And you can bet that the minute this information becomes publicly available, CNN will rush to broadcast it [sic] every single American — including the deranged ones — it can reach,” said Vivek Saxena at BizPac Review.

Yeah, that’s how journalists operate. They claim they’re “reporting news,” but they’re really passing on orders to kill. It’s easy to understand why conservatives think this way. They themselves admit that right-wing media outlets don’t do a lot of reporting, and most are simply content to chest-pound on behalf of Donald Trump. So would they even recognize what journalism is? Under such circumstances it would make sense if they came to consider journalism in the same way they consider creative endeavors: as vaguely disreputable dark arts practiced only by their enemies, to be beaten back with slander and propaganda.


Mississippi’s “Anti-Bloomberg” Bill, Sarah Palin & Faux Consumer Libertarianism

When Mayor Bloomberg proposed his soda ban all those months ago, it was evident that the bill would receive some flak. Anything above 16 ounces of pop eliminated from storefronts and restaurants? New Yorkers didn’t know whether to yell out “Communism!” or binge drink Big Gulps faster than always-bored teenagers who spend a majority of their day lingering outside of the local 7/11.

It was a public health proposal reminiscent of Bloomberg’s 2002 smoking ban in restaurants and offices, except with a product that had a less shitty public image. Of course, that time, New Yorkers erupted at the then-new Mayor but gradually accepted the cleaner air. And restauranteurs shrugged off their old enemy as more customers came to restaurants, scared before of inhaling the secondhand smoke instead of the sirloin. Now, smoking inside public spaces is not even an after-thought for most.

The backlash against the soda ban, however, has attained a different feature; one that could possibly be linked to this confused conservatism of the present day. The anti-smoking-ban did claim to defend “the rights” of smokers but this opposition, symbolized by New Yorkers for Beverage Choices and other groups, has donned a mask of small government libertarianism. Across the country, the fight for Big Gulps has transformed into an ideological battle between those who view consumerism as a choice and others who view consumerism, like capitalism, as a system that must be closely regulated to prevent unwarranted side-effects.

And that’s exactly what shouldn’t happen.

Soon after Judge Tingling gave his ruling that upended the soda ban yesterday, former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Barracuda unleashed this tweet for the world to see. Even if an endorsement from this one is the last thing New Yorkers want to be associated with:

She describes those who hate the ban as “liberty-loving” and declares, “Govt, stay out of my refrigerator!” It’s hard to say whether the New Yorkers who are against the ban love liberty more than its supporters, let alone the fact that Mr. Tingling struck it down because it was a shitty bill in terms of efficiency, not that it was totalitarian. And most of the things in your refrigerator are already regulated (for the most part but not really) by the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

But a card like the phrase “liberty-loving” is very easy to throw down on the table in this day and age; fears of government intervention are at an all-time high, spearheaded by the Tea Party and characters like Ms. Palin. By those standards, any instance where choice is limited by a higher authority is deemed appropriate for a fired-up kind of groupspeak. And there is something to be said when New Yorkers are ideologically tied to Sarah Palin in this strange way.

Then we hear more news of the same ilk from Mississippi.

There, the state is about to pass an “Anti-Bloomberg” law, one that will stop any local government from regulating consumer products. In a state with one of the highest obesity rates in the country, that job will be left up to the legislature, which, if this bill is any indication, don’t seem too keen on doing much.

But the subject of this bill hits the core of the problem at hand. The fact that the Mayor’s proposal has risen Mississippians to actually state this removal of authority is a step backwards. It’s civil libertarianism used like a chess piece and, seriously, soda is too mundane to start a fight over.

If there is to be an ideological battle over this ban, it should not be over our rights as consumers because, face it, we’re Americans – our lives are defined by our transactions. Or the role of government in our affairs: you’re not “liberty-loving,” you’re just jumping onto an ideological bandwagon that’s way too easy to jump on. If you want to hate anything, pick a fight with a drone.

Upon creation in the early 1900s, the FDA’s first goal was to make sure there wasn’t poison in our food (success rate = mediocre); over time, our problem has morphed from a lack of information to its modern form, where we have all this information but still continue to disregard it, leading to shorter life spans and an overall less healthy nation.

So, rather, we should be discussing how the hell we’re going to fix this obesity problem. Yeah, you may disagree with the soda ban and argue that it’s over-reaching on the government’s point but what other alternatives can you provide against an industry that literally thrives off mass consumption? You can direct all your frustration at this fizzy product and call yourself a freedom fighter. You can blare up the war drums and act like this is a battle over the Constitution. But that loud noise doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

Until then, we leave you with this:


Andrew Cuomo: “Extreme” GOPers Will Have To Answer to Voters For Killing “Public View” Marijuana Bill

As we reported yesterday, State Senate Republicans killed a bill proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo that would further decriminalize marijuana in the Empire State by closing a loophole that makes having weed in public a misdemeanor, while possessing weed in private is only a violation.

No skin off the gov’s ass, though — those “extreme” Republicans can look forward to facing voters in the fall, he says, and there’s “no place” in New York for “extreme Conservative philosophy.”

“You had the Conservative Party make their voice heard,” the governor said on Fred Dicker’s radio show this morning. “The state Senate
heard the Conservative wing of the party and they’re reacting to it — and
that will be an issue in the campaign season.”

The governor again noted that “extreme’ Conservative philosophy isn’t
gonna fly in a state like New York, and that Republicans in the state
have been successful only when they take a more moderate stance.

Marijuana was decriminalized in New York in the 1970s with the
passage of the Marijuana Reform Act, which made possession of small
amounts of
marijuana a ticketable
offense, rather than a crime that will go on your permanent record.
However, a loophole in the law makes it a misdemeanor to possess weed in
“public view.”

The loophole
has led to the disproportionate arrests of young minorities — of the
roughly 50,000 people arrested each year in New York for
low-level marijuana offenses, 87 percent are black or Hispanic.

“To me, it is not complicated,” Cuomo continues. “I laid out the facts. I
believe it’s a clear issue. i think the support I put together [for the
bill] makes it clear.”

Cuomo’s referring to the long list of law enforcement officials that
were quick to get behind the measure to close the “public view”
loophole. See several of the bill’s supporters below.

· NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly called it “a balanced approach.” (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)

· Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who published an
op-ed in support of legislation, also said the measure would bring
greater “safety and fairness” to the criminal justice system,” and
called it “the right thing to do.” (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov.
Cuomo’s office)

· Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes said the measure would
“go a long way toward a more balanced approach to drug related
offenses.” (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo)

· Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the proposal
“strikes the right appropriate balance between the needs of law
enforcement and the concerns of the community,” and would “enhance the
fair operation of our criminal justice system.” (June 4, 2012, Press
Release, Gov. Cuomo office)

· Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said the proposal
would “make the law consistent and obviate the need for many arrests
which erode the trust between the community and law enforcement.” (June
4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)

· State Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who ran for
Attorney General on the Republican line, said the measure would allow
NYPD to “reallocate some of its resources to address more serious
crimes.” (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)

· Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice – the top law
enforcement official in Sen. Dean Skelos’s district, called the
proposal a “common sense reform,” and said the measure would “enhance
community relationships with law enforcement,” calling such
relationships “the most important tool we have in keeping neighborhoods
safe.” (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)

· New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President
Patrick J. Lynch said that “the NYC PBA is very supportive” of the
measure as it would provide “clear and precise directions” to law
enforcement officers. (June 4, 2012, Press Release, Gov. Cuomo office)

· Rochester Police Chief Jim Sheppard praised the measure and
said it would stop the practice of needlessly “putting kids into the
system which obviously if they get into the system it makes it hard for
them to have gainful employment and that can create more crime for us.”
(June 5, CBS News 8, Rochester).