Our Little Place in the Universe (And the Universe Within)

There were people who were awed by the beginning of the movie “The Burbs” because of the intricate drop by the camera from Planet Earth down to the United States down to one neighborhood street.

No matter what you thought of the 1989 Tom Hanks movie, it was a breathtaking little special effect if you happened to see it in a theater. Now imagine taking that to the extreme.

By Mike Shiloh

Catching Up

After a number of years of working two jobs to make ends meet and missing so many of the best (and worse) movies and TV series because there wasn’t enough time to sleep, I’ve now put that aside in favor of catching up on so much of the stuff I’ve missed, only I’m starting from scratch instead of where I left off in the early 2000s.

While other people are binging on whole TV series, I starting with history — there are so many wonderful and well-written movies that I missed out on, there’s no reason to overlook Hollywood’s classics from the ’20s through the end of the 20th Century is there?

So I’m still behind on Mad Men; since there’s now a little time for rummaging through the old flicks, I reached back to the obscure 1944 Rene Clair-directed fantasy, It Happened Tomorrow, about a newspaper writer who obtains a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper and goes off a reporting spree while letting it help him woo the girl he wants to marry. He also tries to win big at the horse races, knowing the winner ahead of time, to a unique what-will-be twist.

The movie is fast-moving, funny and clever in its twisting of the concept, and the young Dick Powell (a Hollywood wonder who began as a singer/actor in the 1930s, whose career lasted well into the 1960s) is charming in the lead, as is his girl played by the also-young Linda Darnell, the Dallas girl and WWII pinup favorite who went on to great fame in the classics A Letter to Three Wives and My Darling Clementine.

Edgar Kennedy is a standout as a police inspector, using all his mugging tricks from the Laurel and Hardy days, with Clair and Dudley Nichols getting the writing credit, based on a screenplay by Hugh Wedlock (wasn’t he head writer on Laugh-In in the ’60s?) and Howard Snyder, from a play by Lord Dunsany.

Because it was made during WWII it was set in the 1890s to make it pure escapism for what postwar journalists always called “war-weary crowds.” It just happens to be among the best fantasy-comedies of Hollywood’s “golden era.”

I left the film wondering just when the guys who created Early Edition saw the movie and decided to adapt the concept for the TV series.

Obviously I’m also getting around to more recent stuff, but if you’re a movie fan who’s also partial to mysteries and the fantastic, anywhere is a good place to start.

 

 

Combating Fake News

There’ve been a lot of articles about how to spot fake news ever since the guys in the political parties last year started emphasizing the danger of false reporting, especially on the Internet, and then journalists took up the cause with a vengeance because their revenue was slipping.

A new favorite of mine is this article from Stand Up Republic, titled “Combating #Fake News,” because it’s supposed to help you and me in spotting Bogus Bulletins, and one of the “tips” is to question anything you read from a source you’ve never heard of.

Have you ever heard of Stand Up Republic?

Since you haven’t, does that mean the points the writer makes are questionable?

In fact, the article was written by Evan McMullin, the ex-CIA man who made the long-shot stab at running for president last year, had a strong showing in Utah, but ultimately didn’t win any states.

Now does his article have more credibility in your mind?

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Saying a Tentative Goodbye to What’s Now An American Tradition: The Alt-Weekly

 

If you were among those who saw the rise of the alternative newspaper in major US cities, their decline and imminent fall is all the more sad, if only because they changed journalism in America.

Word from On High (The New York Times) is that  the venerable Village Voice in Manhattan is laying off 13 of its 17 union employees, and did so at the end of August. That the once-small publication had union employees at all (that began in 1977) was a sign of its one-time prosperity.

The celebrated author Norman Mailer was among those who started the leftist Village Voice in 1955 and it became the leader in what was called “alternative media,” a term that led to the current designation of alt-weeklies, which include dozens of papers from Boston to L.A.

In 2009 there were 135 of them; today there are 108, according to Pew Research Center.

The Boston Phoenix and The San Francisco Bay Guardian have closed up and a number of alt-weeklies are in big financial trouble now that advertising money is going online; the strategy now is for the weeklies to go online too, and stay there.

The Village Voice is shutting down its print edition after more than 60 years of sitting in stacks at newsstands across Manhattan next to the Daily News and Backstage.

New York memories bring back the days when many in show business would pick up the Voice along with Variety and the Post, if they had the money (New York showbiz was never a lucrative career for any but the few)  because in addition to sometimes shocking political and social news the Voice also covered off-Broadway and movies, as well as theater, music and nightclub scandals, rising clubs and comics along with the latest experiments and excesses of Greenwich Village.

The East Village Other came along in the ’60s with its considerably more vulgar style that went perfectly with the new “revolutionary” culture of rock and roll, there were other competitors that popped up often, and then out of San Francisco came Rolling Stone, which topped ém all — though in the end the Stone made its own way, within just a few issues rightfully if temporarily concentrating on the West Coast.

You could really get a feel for the swift changes in New York — and US — culture from the VV.

Among the favorites of us kids who like the Voice were the movie reviews and the advertisements.  You could get away with thumbing through the pages at a newsstand — if the cigar-munching proprietor was busy — and seeing the odd lifestyle ads in the ’50s and ’60s, the outrageous ads for Warhol films in the late ’60s and the sometimes salacious ads for foreign movies added to the ever more far-out ad styles of the ’70s and ’80s. The Voice — and for a while The Other — was always a must, long before there was Must See TV.

A number of the alt-weeklies in the ’60s and ’70s took on what I viewed as a Soviet-inspired style with headlines like “(Get) High (in) School,” about high school activities in the Bronx, or headlines like “Workers Are Rising Up Angry!” about the labor movement. In the communistic style of the times, people were always “rising up” (except the rich bourgeois, of course, they weren’t able to rise) and were always “speaking out” (perhaps because of socially-imposed gags, which were now ripped out because they were “angry”) and were always “coming together” at least in the alt headlines.

But as of the 1980s, local TV news began using a similar language (“an indicted cop speaks out tonight at 11!”) and newspapers slowly intensified their coverage of protests and demonstrations, which were once treated like the carnival just came to town.

The alt-weeklies always had an eye for protest marches and their coverage somehow seeped into the mainstream so that now hardly a day goes by in a big city that marches aren’t front page news.

Newspaper movie reviews were at one time treated in a similar fashion to critiques of art shows, but the alt-weeklies pioneered the movie review from regular people, reviews where you’ve never heard of the columnist, who calls portions of the film “putrid”and even summed up the flick as “a two-hour time suck, that sucked.” It was enough to make Vincent Canby and Roger Ebert cringe, but we, the readers, got the message.  Often, movies suck and it helps us save our money not to be taken in by suck-y flicks.

But most of all it was the muckraking, the at times over-the-top political reporting of the alt-press that brought back a kind of yellow journalism style that had gone out of favor since the 1930s. Writers were digging into the Lindsay administration in New York and finding corruption or at least hypocrisy, and then local alt-writers were doing the same in cities across our fair land.

The  writers’ point of view was usually framed with an attempt at truth-to-power, adding in a little radical left politics with an eye toward the proletariat and the young reader who will tolerate slogans and catchphrases.

And of course the papers in the ’60s and ’70s always celebrated the freedom to use language coarser than the major dailies down the street, with “fuck” the leading verb and “shit” the leading adjective. I remember a short-lived Houston alt-weekly that carried, on a story about city hall, the headline, “Fuck This Shit!,” below which was a byline and a copyright notice.

You can’t make this stuff up, except that the staffs of the alts did make up this lowbrow style of  — should we call it journalism? — writing and it spread like wildfire across the nation, until as with all things, it seems, people just got tired of it or they grew up.

Some of those writers went on to greater things, like Rolling Stone or gentler weeklies like The Austin Sun, but many of them remained radical writers trying to interest America in an anti-capitalist future, while the cartoonists made the best of it.

In fact, it was the cartoonists like R. Crumb who started at the alt-weeklies and ended up with a fan base numbering in the millions and collections that are still available today.

So are the alt-weeklies dying or just declining?  The Village Voice hard copies will be no more, but then major newspapers are cutting back, farming the hard copies out to printers out of town or sometimes out of state, and even the big publishers are more and more going online.

The Local Independent Online News Publishers  recently reported 19 new members in 15 states, for a total of 160 members.

As Poynter points out, “there’s a difference between declining and dead, though one does lead to the other.”

“There are more print publications in Knoxville now than there were 20 years ago, Neely said on Poynter.

“And both Ashevile and Chattanooga… smaller cities … still have alt-weeklies. The Mercury is still online and people are volunteering stories, including Neely, but they’re not getting paid for it anymore.

“It has been frankly alarming to see what is happening to our peers in much bigger cities,” said Sarah Fenske, editor of St. Louis’ Riverfront Times. “Seeing the Village Voice decide to go digital-only, it’s like you feel the grim reaper’s hand on your neck,” she said on Poynter.

Or maybe we’ve just come full-circle; the style, point of view and substance — if not the outrageous advertising — of the old alt-weeklies have been absorbed by some major dailies, and the increase in ad-supported papers in the ’80s and ’90s make people today unwilling to pay for a weekly.

It may be a long time before we see a major daily newspaper run a headline saying “Union Minions Are Rising Up Angry!”and we may never see “Fuck This Shit!” in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, but there are a lot of people who are right of the political center who wouldn’t be surprised if we did.

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But What If It’s True?

It is true that Russia did not hack the computers belonging to the Democratic National Convention in mid-June or July 5th during the 2016 election as many including my colleagues in the news media have claimed — quite the contrary, the computers were hacked by a DNC insider.

That’s not my contention, that’s the basis of a report in The Nation that’s unlike most of the major news stories you and I have seen over the past year about the Russia scandal, because this report is backed up by on-the-record, named sources — “qualified experts working independently of one another” — who have closely looked at the leaked DNC emails and found that the download metadata has been tampered with, and the data itself was downloaded at a much faster speed than any Internet connection can support.

Because it was downloaded onto a thumbdrive or something similar, not over a low-speed Internet connection by a Russian hacker in Romania, writer Patrick Lawrence says. Remember, The Nation is a left-of-center web magazine, not some right-wing conspiracy site.

If the conclusions of  this report from The Nation are true, it’s a turning point in the entire Russian-conspiracy-to-tilt-the-2016-election paradigm.

Just thought you might like to read it.

Also: You may notice that there are far too many people writing opinion pieces on the web who won’t get to the point until several (sometimes many) paragraphs into the piece. The New York Times‘ Bret Stephens has some tips for making op-eds more readable.

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Shock Jocks In the Afterlife

I was once privileged to work with one of the most creative radio comedy teams in America.  Both of them have passed on now, but that doesn’t stop those of us who loved them and their work from thinking about them every day.  But thinking about them and talking about them are of course two different things.

That’s where The JoyRide Show comes in.

Stevens and Pruett were already legendary when they began their highly successful and long-running morning show on KLOL-FM in Houston, having already worked as a team under the brand name Hudson and Harrigan at KILT-FM back in the 1970s.  Both stations were extremely hot in their time; KLOL was the top rock station in Houston, KILT was at one time or another the number one station in town.

I was working next door at KTRH-AM (all-news and talk, “a world of news every 30 minutes”) when I began doing commercials for the Mark Stevens and Jim Pruett Show.

Mark Stevens once called me “the funniest newsman I’ve ever heard.” Believe me, that’s a compliment.

(How does a news anchor/reporter end up doing commercials for a shock jock show?  Hey, it irrelevant right now and I’ll try to cover that some other time.)

S&P and their crew were among the funniest people I’ve ever worked with (a pantheon that includes Sam Kinnison, Bret Butler, Bill Hicks, Fred Greenlee, Steve Garfinkel, Chuck Shramek, Bruce Maness and various other standups, comic actors and geniuses of varying degrees.

There are examples of the Stevens and Pruett form of morning radio comedy on YouTube, so you can decide if their brand of humor suits you, but I guarantee you when the microphone was turned off things got even funnier than when it was on. That’s what I loved.

Growing up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show it was one of my dreams to work somewhere where the people were funny every day, and I found it with these guys and their crew, Brian Shannon, Laurie Kendrick, Locke Siebenhausen and many others.

Mark Stevens died in 2012, Jim Pruett died in 2016, but some of the crew got together to talk with Stevens and Pruett in the afterlife on the JoyRide Show, a program that speaks with those who have passed on.

Kerrie and Tiffanie are the hosts and they bring in guests who want a “weekly exploration of all things spiritual, energy, healing, personal growth, with positive, uplifting and encouraging topics,” and on the occasion of May 2nd, 2017, had a little kind of seance to reach out into the comedy cosmos to speak with Stevens and Pruett.

Click here to see how it went when Shannon, Stevens and Pruett ramrod and boss Pat Fant, S&P promoter Doug Harris and medium Emanuelle McIntosh tuned in “The Radio Gawds” as S&P styled themselves.

I wish I coulda been there, and of course so many of us miss the “Gawds” there has been a new wave of nostalgia for the great days of rock radio nationwide and in Houston (and in other markets by syndication, including Dallas, I believe) these guys ruled.

The JoyRide show is great fun and while you’re there look into the other programs Kerrie and Tiffanie have done.

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The US Goods Retail Market Is In Decline

 

The chart below from The Wall St. Journal looks bad for clothiers and other retailers and yet it’s worse today than the chart actually indicates because another year has gone by (market values have not yet been updated) with once-great stores like Sears and JCPenney dropping in value even more, according to market analysts.

Is it really true that people are willing to order clothes from online retailers like Amazon without trying on those clothes first?  We all have anecdotes in which we ordered something online that arrived that was damaged, didn’t fit, weren’t what we thought they were or trigger a later Buyer’s Remorse.

[Source: @carlquintanilla, @tveskov, @dgelles]

Is it possible that brick-and-mortar retail is heading toward the stocking solely of items that must be obtained very quickly or are tempting as point-of-sale impulse buys or require an intimate fitting or constitute an emergency purchase? Wal-Mart and Target fit the bill (as does Walgreens and CVX to an extent), but with the rise of Amazon, it’s not clear exactly what to market in filling those needs.

And is it possible that the American infatuation with Amazon and it’s mail order process (even when the company uses drones for delivery nationwide) is something of a drawn-out fad? The long-term online-purchase effect ripples through consumer demographics, with the most Internet savvy people buying into Amazon, Pandora, NetFlix and even the vast YouTube inventory first, followed by older generations, the less web savvy consumer, people with less money to spend online and those simply wary of putting up a credit card online. We haven’t moved yet through all the demographics.

One thing is striking: It appears American consumers are growing less loyal to retail brands, especially in shopping habits, with some marketing research indicating that younger shoppers don’t feel much loyalty at all. Credit card branding still works and is a potent tool for sales, especially for the younger consumer, but sadly for institutions like Sears, JCPenney and even Macy’s the days when those retail brands were, as they say in marketing, “top of mind” appear to be waning.

For those of us who remember happy rituals of shopping for shiny, new clothes for the coming school year at the big Penney’s on the mall, these are sadder times.

 

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State Books

It is fair to say that every state in America has a well-known book associated with it, even if you have to go back decades.  It’s up to new writers to craft anew the quintessential novels about our state experiences, but as of now Business Insider has put together a dazzling list of books associated with each state — great if you love books.

The 1950s Revolutionary Road may not capture the spirit of Connecticut today and The Shining may bring a little embarrassment to Colorado as perhaps its most well-known literary companion, but as an Americana list, the Business Insider Famous Book That Takes Place In Every State page is great fun.

 

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Real Estate Madness: Could Jed Clampett Afford His Mansion Today?

 

 

For anyone who remembers the semi-classic TV series The Beverly Hillbillies it’s probably common knowledge that the mansion in which the Clampett family lived was actually a studio set — probably less well known is the studio itself, the General Service and Hollywood Center studios (two names, same location) at 1040 N. Las Palmas Avenue in the heart of old Hollywood, right down Highland Ave. from the Chinese Theater.

That’s where Martin Ransohoff’s independent Filmways Co. contracted to shoot the series, which mostly took place at the Clampett mansion, their bank, assorted offices and general indoor locations. (Filmways was a big company, incidentally, back in the 1960s and produced The Addams Family, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction and Cagney and Lacy — all hit series that live on in reruns today — before selling out to Orion in 1982.)

The series was produced and often written by Paul Henning, who had a kind of genius for double entendres (see The Bob Cummings Show — Love That Bob on YouTube — for some great examples).

There were outdoor locations used on the series over the years but none more famous than the mansion Jed Clampett bought as part of the series premise: He struck oil on his land (in the Ozarks?) and at the urging of family (including Cousin Pearl, played by the sparkling character actress Bea Benederet) bought a mansion among the rich folks of Beverly Hills, among the most exclusive properties in America, but they kept their country accents, attitudes and values.

Well, the real live mansion filmed for use on the series, built in 1933 and now called “The Chartwell,” as Bloomberg says, is up for sale — and the price is a hefty $350 million dollars.

And Bloomberg’s Matt Gross did the math: The Clampetts were supposed to be among the super-rich — their $25 million to $100 million in 1962 (when the series began) is “equivalent to $200 million to $800 million in 2017, so if the oil company that purchased his swamp was generous, then yes, Chartwell could be his. (Although spending nearly half of one’s net worth on a giant estate that will require constant upkeep and staffing seems unwise, even for a hillbilly.) But given the current depressed price of oil, down nearly 50 percent from 2013–14, I’m guessing Chartwell would be out of his budget.

 

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Abandoned

There’s something compelling, mysterious and haunting about abandoned buildings. We see them everywhere yet often we don’t know. There must be hundreds of thousands of abandoned homes in America alone, maybe millions. I once tried counting them along state highway 58 between Barstow and Bakersfield, California, but I gave up after a few miles. Some are rotting and fallen, some remain with a hint of their past dignity but all are left with nothing.

How often have some of us passed what were once the homesteads of families trying to stay ahead of bill collectors, raise children, repair leaks and make dinner — and wondered what it was like to live there?  And when?  The Great Depression, as one would imagine the falling wooden roof on one of the old highway 58 shacks, where residents east of the Mississippi made their way along Route 66 and then veered off toward rumors of work in oil fields, orange groves or farms, staying with friends or loved ones already arrived in modest woodframe shelters?

Sometimes it just seems the American way to create, build, innovate and abandon, moving on to the next stage, paying no mind to the ruin left behind to aspire to the new horizons.

Graffiti appears on them overnight.

Factories, movie theaters, schools and what were once called insane asylums have been left to deteriorate with nothing but the ghosts of what went on within those walls, and Matthew Christopher has for years been doing a great job chronicling the forgotten halls of Americana at his website Abandoned America, an Autopsy of the American Dream.

There are radio stations, churches, factories and power plants, mills and trolleys where one day the last human walked away.

There are imagined crowds roaring at Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand, now-primitive machines that measure kilohertz and megawatts, forgotten testimonies and dried sparks from welders’ torches.

And there are happy endings in the form of restoration groups, preservation societies and commercial restoration projects, and some of these buildings are coming back to life.

Others continue to sit and mold when the roofs leak or collapse — all the more material for Christopher’s rambling and splendidly-photographed website and book.

That’s one of the great things about ideals like the American Dream — just when they seem to have been abandoned, they gain new life in the minds of the creative, the innovative and those with a sense of history and wonder — and appreciation for what came before.

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The Most Hated Office Memo

 

FM: Fearless Leader

TO: Moose & Squirrel and All Troops

RE: Raise the Bar

 

It has come to my attention that you all are squatting when you should be doing jumping jacks so let’s get on the ball, people!

We’ll start by getting our ducks in a  row with some blue sky thinking about our mission statement, so remember your marching orders: Work work work, push push push.

We’re on a journey and its a game changer, so let’s pick it up and run with it, gang.

If you have doubts about where we’re going, it’s a no-brainer that you kick them into the long grass and think outside the box.

Let’s drill down, peel the onion, dive deep and punch a puppy.  No more boiling the ocean, no more preponing.

It’s all about teamwork, people, so let’s get those thought showers going and increase your bandwidth, and if you’re imagineering ideas don’t take them offline, run them up the flagpole and get them actioned! Make your own Swat team!

This is the timeline and it is now so touch base with me (unless I’m out of pocket); and if you don’t like it get off the bus.

Check it out or you’ll be demised.  Period.

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The Best Guitars

It’s hard to imagine better musical instruments than those that are hand made with loving care and precision, and Bill Collings made some of the best of the best guitars, both electric and acoustic, and mandolins, ukuleles and other stuff at a little factory in Austin, Texas. And not just any handmade guitars, but ones used by great musicians like Jimmy Van Halen, Lou Reed, Keith Richards, Paul Simon and Pete Townshend of  The Who.

As is so often the case he was not celebrated except among musicians for all the years he crafted with loving care some precise and brilliant instruments, so it’s especially pleasing that upon his death he is remembered in The New York Times.

Bill loved his work and loved his instruments and is notable for never cutting corners, staying true to his craft and believing in his products.

That’s a great legacy for anyone, but in Bill’s work it’s extraordinary — he could have chosen to finish medical school or just toiled in the oil fields of Texas, but he gave us something we can touch, admire and play beautiful, raunchy and strong music with — without being a professional musician himself.

He was an engineer but most of all an enthusiast — and sometimes that’s all it takes to build a career doing what you love.

 

Mike Shiloh is an award-winning broadcast journalist who began in radio in 1981 and has since contributed regularly to AP Radio and Television, CNN and ABC News, while also anchoring for network radio on News24-7 and for top local stations including KILT-Houston, WINK Newsradio/TV Ft. Myers/Tampa FL, KRBE-Houston; has also regularly contributed to KTRH-Houston and is an editor at The Texas Energy Report and TheLatest.net.

2016 Election Journal: As it happened — finish to start

CAMPAIGN ’16 WRAPUP:
How the American news media blew the election and didn’t care

The Election word-for-word as it appeared here at TheLatest.Net — starting with the end of the election and working back because this little slice of political weirdness is probably more interesting that way.


Well, there you have it, another election decided.  Only this one was one of the strangest I’ve ever covered. One candidate who didn’t really have much a message for the heartland (as so many people between Nevada and Virginia kept telling me, Hillary Clinton “forgot us”) but seemed to feel she deserved to win, and another candidate who used a crude form of show business to grab and hold the spotlight while preaching a message of nationalism in what appeared to be a distant echo of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign.

With Donald Trump’s win, you can expect people to run for office all across the country, people with high public awareness (movie folks, athletes, corporate types and the like, people you’ve already heard of) because politics is a lot like show business.  And you know when Hollywood has a hit, it inspires all kinds of imitators and sequels, most of them rather dismal.

Trump is apparently a hit, so expect imitators and sequels, most of them rather dismal, hoping their name will grab you at the voting booth, so they don’t have to spend all that time on trivial matters like policy, vision and public discourse.

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We can begin to wrap up our light coverage and criticism of Campaign 2016 not by citing the justified anger many still have over the treatment of Sen. Bernie Sanders by the Democratic Party nor of the bizarre treatment of Donald Trump by the party with which he ran. Both candidates were desirable alternatives to the Democratic candidate, who carried a lot of political baggage and seemed to millions of American voters to be arrogant and strident.

The Democratic Party is now trying to second guess what went wrong because they came so close to winning the election. And they did have the major news media on their side, as a majority of Americans believe and as polls confirm.

It is the unprecedented effort by those media to minimize the Sanders campaign, invalidate Trump’s campaign and facilitate the Clinton campaign that could be considered the greatest crime committed during the election, because the news media are positioned as a powerful service to help inform the electorate, and the media in siding with the losing Democrats delivered a monumental disservice to the nation.

Those practicing this advocacy journalism are bringing down their own profession and they don’t even seem to care. Maybe they don’t even know.

There were a few post-election apologies here and there, but the news troops continue to bash Trump even as they finally offer some recompensive coverage to Sanders, now that it’s too late.

Sanders still has his dignityy and remains loyal to both Clinton and his followers and Trump is president-elect, but the major news media are shamed and deserve to be shunned.

Yet they are now spinning yarns about the rise of so-called “fake news.”

Perhaps Stephen Miller at HeatStreet put it best so far in his piece, “The Mainstream Media Has Only Itself to Blame for the ‘Fake News’ Epidemic,” but he fails to note that by trying to define “fake news” the major media are diverting attention from the, well, deplorable job they did in their disservice to democracy.

Miller wrote: “CNN has run segments suggesting that asteroids cause climate change, and black holes can materialize in Earth’s atmosphere and swallow 747 passenger planes . A CNN panel led by left wing commentator Sally Kohn declared their “hearts are out there marching” with protestors in Ferguson as they all raised their hands to mimic the Black Lives Matter protest mantra — “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” — echoing an alleged gesture during a police shooting that was declared one of the year’s biggest lies (ironically) by the Washington Post.

“…NBC was also caught airing edited audio of a 911 phone call in a way that made Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman come across as a racist, when the full context was far more mundane.

“Meanwhile, NBC Universal has invested $2 hundred million in BuzzFeed and Vox. There isn’t enough space to list all of the times Vox failed at delivering “real news.” I will simply let Deadspin explain: “46 Times Vox Totally Fucked Up A Story.”

“Rolling Stone continues to put out a magazine despite a verdict of malicious defamation of a UVa administrator related to its publication of, “A Rape on Campus,” a story about a brutal rape that, as it turns out, never happened.

“Another such case is Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University rape activist who carried a mattress on her back to protest University administrators for not expelling her alleged rapist. Except the rape never happened. Still, the New York Times ran a piece exulting Sulkowicz titled ‘The Art of the Political Protest.’”

Newspeople have been defined as the “fourth estate,” and while it is perhaps fitting that at a time when all three branches of government are finding wide distrust among citizens, so are the news media. It is also fitting that the news media sided with what seemed like a sure winner only to have that winner — and the news media’s reporters’, anchors’, editors’, producers’ and executives’ reputations as unbiased — go down in flames.

We at TheLatest.net are working newspeople who are aware of the stresses and complexities in reporting news both in print and broadcast, but we recognize that beyond human nature’s tendency to bias news stories in small ways, there is no excuse for the incompetent bias toward one candidate and against another consistently, blatantly and with malice aforethought.

It’s not about journalism anymore. It’s about saying outrageous things (“Why You Can’t Be a Christian and Vote for Trump;” “Is Trump a Bigot, a Xenophone, or Is He Just Crazy?;” “Hillary’s Strategy: Lay Low and Let Trump Make a Fool of Himself,” major news headlines).

And it’s about click-throughs, click-bait, getting people to click on your outrageous story so the advertisers will come.

“Fake news” sites depend on click-bait too.

In that sense, the “fake news” sites that the news media are now decrying are just like the major media — they both want to make more money by creating outrage. That has not been traditionally the job of news reporting.

But maybe those days are over. Maybe advocacy journalism is here to stay and objectivity is on its way out. Maybe journalistic “oohs and ahs” about the mighty New York Times and Washington Post and CNN are now misplaced. Or disgraced. Maybe we really are heading backwards to the Yellow Journalism of 100 years ago.

If so, too bad, really, it was good to have news media you could trust to at least try to present all sides of a story; it was great work trying to uphold that trust by doing extra work, digging a little bit deeper in reporting — but if its all about click-throughs and advertising and provocative headlines and even propaganda, then the “fake news” sites are just doing a better job.

So among the majors even after the election, the bias is still there against Trump and to a lesser extent Sanders; there is much reporting on the “fear” and “crying” going on among “heartbroken” Americans in the wake of the election.

And little regard for the fact that there is still a war in Syria, there is still simmering hatred in the Middle East, Europe is hanging by a thread in several ways, some of America’s friends are turning against us and our economy is in shambles even though we’re still constantly told of the great strides we’re making economically.
And little regard for the folks from “flyover country” who’ve had enough.

Little regard for how a growing number of Americans are resentful of the mass of opinion-shapers both in news and in politics. Isn’t “opinion-shaping,” they might ask, propaganda?

And little regard for the courageous resistance by voters — courage to resist being talked into voting for one candidate while the other candidate is vilified.

Courage, as Dan Rather used to say.

Courage indeed, America.

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Associated Press headline: “Tanzanian rats will train to sniff out trafficked pangolins” — Now that’s click-bait. Maybe the “false news” websites should try out this sort of thing.

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11/21/16 — Donald Trump’s media summit was a ‘f—ing firing squad’— “Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The New York Post.

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.

“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.”

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IS DONALD TRUMP THE NATION’S FIRST INDEPENDENT PRESIDENT? By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

“Think again about how he prevailed. There are a handful of major events during a general election that give the nominees a chance to showcase themselves, their judgment and their vision. One is the selection of a running mate. Another is the staging of the conventions. A third is performance in the debates. Hillary Clinton did better than Trump on all three tests, though Trump’s team believes the debates did not fall so decisively in her favor…
“In other words, Trump came out the loser on virtually every aspect of how campaigns are usually evaluated. Yet today he is staffing his administration and Clinton is still absorbing the brutal shock of having lost a race she believed was hers…

“It has long been noted that the conditions have existed for an independent candidate to run a serious campaign for president. The level of dissatisfaction with Washington, the anxiety over the economy and the generally sour mood about the future provided the foundation for a campaign by someone from outside the system, who is tied to neither political party and with a promise to shake things up.”

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BERNIE SANDERS LETS LOOSE ON THE NEWS MEDIA: “While he admits that there are exceptions, Sanders views contemporary political journalism as “dedicated to personality, gossip, campaign strategy, scandals, conflicts, polls and who appears to be winning or losing …”

“He points to a CNN interview where he was told that his elbows were not sharp enough for the national stage, and recalls the countless pundits who wrote him off as “fringe candidate.”

“An example of this circus-style coverage, Sanders asserts, came when his vehicle was pulled over for speeding by the Iowa State Police as his team sought to quickly shuttle him around the state. Unfortunately for Sanders, a New York Times reporter who was shadowing him for a story was in the backseat as the scene unfolded.

“’The state trooper was professional and polite and gave us a warning,’ Sanders writes. ‘Not so, who, it goes without saying, made it a major part of her coverage.’

“To Sanders, the lack of national media attention to America’s pressing problems is “like living in a parallel universe” compared to what he heard from attendees at his events.” — Politico “The Democratic primary according to Bernie Sanders” 11/11/16

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Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson: “Regardless of who is your chosen – or least favorite – presidential candidate, independent minds should be concerned about the latest revelations in the news media’s unseemly relationships with government and political actors. While there are many responsible journalists working today, inside documents and leaks have exposed serious lapses constituting the most far-reaching scandal our industry has known. It’s our very own Newsgate.” It’s Newsgate 2016.

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Bernie Sanders makes the point we have been trying to make for months: “I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo.

“Working families watch as politicians get campaign financial support from billionaires and corporate interests — and then ignore the needs of ordinary Americans. Over the last 30 years, too many Americans were sold out by their corporate bosses. They work longer hours for lower wages as they see decent paying jobs go to China, Mexico or some other low-wage country. They are tired of having chief executives make 300 times what they do, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. Many of their once beautiful rural towns have depopulated, their downtown stores are shuttered, and their kids are leaving home because there are no jobs — all while corporations suck the wealth out of their communities and stuff them into offshore accounts.” — New York Times 11/11/16

But the singling out of corporations is just diversionary, because one must hold our “leaders” and politicians of all stripes accountable for this mess, as well. Even as corporations go greedy, our leaders hold the regulatory keys to straightening out the mess but they don’t use them. Indeed, some of them are reaping rewards from such greed. Such incumbent politicians — and Mr. Sanders could be included — are part of the problem.

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WILL NAILS IT! “The mood in the Washington press corps is bleak, and deservedly so.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.
“This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’s be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.

“So much for that. The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.
“And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.

“It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing.”

— Will Rahn, political correspondent and managing director, politics, for CBS News Digital, The unbearable smugness of the press

HERE’S WHY PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP REPRESENTS THE FUTURE: From Bloomberg, insight into how Trump’s message bypassed cities to reach the rest of America, which is substantial and has been overlooked for many years by both the Democrat and Republican establishments. Trump’s effort is to bypass the elitist few and the rich in the cities and reach for the disenfranchised everywhere. It’s a remaking of the Republican Party into a party for all disadvantaged Americans, not just some.

“Back in May, speaking to Bloomberg Businessweek about how he intended to remake the Republican Party, Trump laid out precisely the message that would activate these voters in November. “Five, 10 years from now—[it will be a] different party,” he said.

“You’re going to have a worker’s party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry. What I want to do, I think cutting Social Security is a big mistake for the Republican Party. And I know it’s a big part of the budget. Cutting it the wrong way is a big mistake, and even cutting it [at all].”
— Trump’s Data Team Saw a Different America—and They Were Right

IN CLINTON’S WORLD, there is finger-pointing and blame everywhere for the Clinton loss, which points up an essential problem with the whole organization — no one will stand up and accept responsibility for the failure of the campaign, unless the candidate herself does so. Clinton World dumbfounded by Hillary’s election defeat.

________________

LOOKING BACK:

POLITICO: POLL SHOWS SHY TRUMP VOTERS A MIRAGE: (11/1/16) “According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult study conducted by Morning Consult this past weekend and released Thursday, a hidden army of Trump voters that’s undetected by the polls is unlikely to materialize on Election Day.

The study — which was composed of interviews with likely voters conducted over the phone with a live interviewer, and other interviews conducted online without a personal interaction — showed only a slight, not-statistically-significant difference in their effect on voters’ preferences for president.”

POLITICO: WHAT IF EVERYONE’S WRONG?: (11/2/16) “What if the polls are wrong? And more: What if Clinton’s vaunted data operation and ground game don’t deliver? What if there is, in fact, a “silent majority” of Trump fans? What if Clinton’s banked stash of early votes is insufficient? What if, as President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager David Plouffe not so affectionately describes nervous Democrats, the “bed-wetters” are right?”

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Tuesday’s stunning win by Donald Trump sent stocks and oil prices plunging, Republicans into self-examination and Democrats into shock; already there is blame being placed on third-party candidates for causing Democrats to lose the presidential election. The Trump campaign defied political tradition and expectations with a small “ground game” of workers and far fewer media advertisements.

The New York businessman used the media to get attention and in the end the irony of it was that his opponent was counting on Trump’s use of the media to put his foot in his mouth — but suddenly began sounding savvy and serious as the final weeks drew on. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then jumped in to save her campaign without realizing that it was too late.

The Trump win is a repudiation of conventional American politics, the Republicans who held him at arms length and those who outright insulted his efforts, the major news media who treated him as an abomination and joke right up to the end, an arrogant Democratic Party that after eight years in power grew self-satisfied and out-of-touch with most Americans and it was a repudiation of professional politicians who grow rich everywhere.

Most of all, it appeared to be a repudiation of the elites, a class of Americans who, by virtue of education or conceit (often both), believe they are smarter and more entitled than average citizens.

Their defeat should send them running back to their offices to reconsider their ways, including their constant belittling of those who are not as well off or not as well educated as they are. Because their elitism is still classism, their arrogance is still boorish and their attempts to rule the speech and behavior of their fellow men and women fairly demonstrates the totalitarian approach of which they so often accuse their opponents.

Their lack of sympathy for those they’ve they’ve taxed while they wined and dined, flew the world on jets paid for by their minions and tried to reshape the planet in their political self-image was almost allowed to spiral out of control. But Tuesday night, in an instant, their power was drained and their influence stymied.

They tried to shape the political competition into a battle of men vs. women, ethnics against ethnics, whites against blacks, when all along it was just a class manipulation by the powerful against the little people — until the little people saw through it and their power over them was no more, thanks to some ideas that began to come to fruition in the year 1774.

Such elitists should do some long self-examination before again believing that their attempts to steamroll Independents and independent Americans can be made into slop to be fed to the masses they abhor.

WINNERS
Donald Trump
Mike Pence
Kellyanne Conway
US Senator Jeff Sessions
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Congressional Republicans
Americans who voted for Donald Trump

LOSERS

Never-Trumpers, which include some of those below
Senator Bernie Sanders
Democrats who voted for Bernie Sanders
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton
President Barack Obama
Clinton Foundation Board of Directors member Chelsea Clinton
Clinton adviser Donna Brazile
Vice President Joseph Biden
Soon-to-be former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
Billionaire George Soros
Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton
Senator Ted Cruz
Tim Kaine
Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta
Congressional Democrats
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Politico
CNN
MSNBC
The New Yorker
Esquire Magazine
The Huffington Post
The Dallas Morning News

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OUR FRIENDS IN THE NEWS MEDIA DO A DISSERVICE TO INDEPENDENTS AND INDEED ALL AMERICANS: The day before the election, 2016, and an unprecedented bias on the part of our colleagues in the major news media continues. For those political Independents who are interested in the two candidates who promise change, it’s been a sorry year if you get all your information from people in the news business. Bernie Sanders could barely get traction considering all the attention paid to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; Wikileaks revealed the internal Democratic Party campaign against Sanders, who now says he’s now returning to his Independent roots.

And the news media have largely served up a daily diet of articles subtly or overtly attacking Donald Trump. By election day they will have left, as comic strip character Pogo used to say, no turn unstoned.

One of the points of being an Independent is increased skepticism of party lines (for instance, Democrats say Wilileaks of Dem emails are being directed by Russian leaders to interfere with this election, but where is the proof? The FBI says there is no proof. But that’s the Dem’s story and by golly they’ll stick to it, truth or not).
Say what you will about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but if Clinton wins we will continue to be fed talking points and party lines from the Democratic National Committee for another four years (just as we’ve been getting the past eight years) — it does not appear Trump will be delivering a lot of party propaganda, considering his party has mostly disowned him.

One of the great ironies of this election is the fact that The New York Times and especially Washington Post writers and editors declared the whole thing over just two weeks before Election Day. Democrat Hillary Clinton was so far ahead, the pundits proclaimed, that she should be measuring the drapes. It only took a week for her poll numbers to drop so precipitously that the day before the election Clinton was tied with Trump in many polls and was losing her grip on key states that “guaranteed” her election.

Never mind the Wikileaks emails indicating that CNN and Wolf Blitzer have a cozy relationship with the Democratic Party, passing tips and favors back and forth. Or that Politico reporter or the Washington Post people who appeared to collaborate with the Clinton campaign.

See, the problem here is this: Both our trusted news media and our trusted presidential candidates can no longer be trusted and the fault is their own. Americans expect to at least be treated with fairness and a modicum of honesty, but instead we get not only lies and deception but intelligence-insulting bias and partisan propaganda almost everywhere we turn. It is no wonder politicians and news media are among the least trusted people in America.

These people seem determined to prove H. L. Mencken right when he said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Article after article has been written about the “anger out there” among the electorate; is it any wonder considering the condescension and smirking arrogance of the many running for office — or those in office for that matter? they know why the anger persists. The only way there can be legitimate dismay over public anger is if politicians, pundits and the pretty, pugnacious boys and girls of the press don’t look around and see the corruption they’re party to, perhaps literally.

As Hollywood producer Norman Lear lamented last week, Americans deserve a selflessness on the part of our leaders and indeed our news handlers, a spirit of statesmanship that appears to be gone. Debates degenerated into insult matches and sloganeering. Candidate speeches degenerated into pandering sessions espousing whatever the candidate thinks the public wants to hear, ignoring the colossal problems facing the United States (rampant corruption, potential for war in the Middle East that could spiral out of control, the increasing division among American ideologies, ascendant foreign nations arming themselves and challenging America, increasingly decrepit infrastructure across the nation, an economy built on credit that is already out of control and most of all the lack of jobs, the lack of satisfying work and paychecks that increase instead of decrease in value over decades).
Some people say Americans get the leadership (and information) they deserve. Not this year.
(For background see Ken Silverstein’s “This Election Has Disgraced the Entire Profession of Journalism”)

And here’s how NBC’s chief Washington correspondent instantly loses credibility: Campaign collusion: Is CNBC’s John Harwood too close to the Clinton operation?

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We were among the first to report the story below, from reporter Al Kemp: Turns out the suspect didn’t have a gun. There have been reports that someone tweeted a threatening remark about Donald Trump the night before the rally, so emotions may have been running a little high Saturday night:

BREAKING 11/5/2016 — DONALD TRUMP RUSHED OFF STAGE BY SECRET SERVICE DURING RALLY IN RENO, NEVADA: 6:13 PM (Pacific Time) the Republican presidential candidate was speaking when supporters near the front of the crowd began yelling. Trump, unable to understand what they were saying, noted that it was probably a Hillary Clinton plant. “How much are they paying you, $100,000?,” he asked, the started to resume his speech when people in the front of the crowd began yelling what appeared to this listener to have been “he’s got a firearm!” Secret service officers grabbed Trump and rushed him off the stage as plainclothesmen jumped to the front of the crowd and appeared to subdue one person on the floor. A police officer appeared to join in and after about 3 minutes officers — including what appeared to be heavily armed federal agents — escorted a balding man out of the arena. A minute later Trump reappeared, saying “No one said it was going to be easy for us.” He then resumed his speech after thanking the Secret Service.

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PLANNED IRRELEVANCE: Nationwide polls show there’s a strong belief that the news media are biased in favor of Hillary Clinton in the presidential race and it’s obvious that once-dominant newspapers like The Washington Post are shoveling daily dirt on what they hope is the grave of the Donald Trump campaign — but Dave Hohmann at the Post has some journalists chuckling at his latest attempt to bury Trump.

Hohmann wanted to know how the Republican is doing among the must-win voters outside Philadelphia, so he decided to spend a day bar-hopping there to find out, then he presented his findings at the top of the Post‘s Daily 202 news blast Friday. After bar-hopping for a solid day, Hohmann says the guys watching the Eagles game were white male (Trump demographics) but were also college-educated (not Trump demos, he says) so he concludes that Trump is perhaps in trouble in the City of Brotherly Love.

So what’s next for Hohmann? Perhaps he’ll check the local supermarkets one midday to see if he can find any men or women who will not vote for Hillary Clinton, and when he just can’t seem to find just one person who won’t, he can report his anecdotal findings in the Post as a major reason why Clinton will be our next president.

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As polls continue to show that the American news media is held in low esteem by the majority of the public and accusations of bias in newspapers, broadcast and online media continue to increase, we’re reminded of a list sent by a friend at a Pennsylvania circa 2002:

The Wall St. Journal is read by the people who run the country.
The New York Times is read by people who think they run the country.
The Washington Post is read by people who think they ought to run the country.
USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t understand the Washington Post.
The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country if they had time, but no one has pleaded with them to do it.
The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country.
The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t sure who’s running the country.
The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country, as long as there’s a scandal involved.
The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there even is a country, much less that anyone is running it.
And The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country.

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Documentary maker Ken Burns has been talking pro-Clinton politics lately — perhaps it’s more to the point to say he’s anti-Trump, though we have yet to see him weigh in on Bernie Sanders — but he frames himself as usually non-political. We must remind Mr. Burns of his September 30th 2011 opinion piece in USA Weekend in which he denounced those who “divide the country over one issue,” referring apparently to immigration. The article’s angle was about his then-recently completed documentary about Prohibition, co-directed with Lynn Novick. He drew a parallel between the righteous indignation of Protestants over the drunkenness of the Jazz Age. He notes that the outlawing of alcohol in 1919 pitched America against itself and Protestants against the influx of Catholics. This article was from 2011, remember, so he wasn’t talking down Donald Trump, he was talking down divisive politicians. Barack Obama was president at that time. Mr. Burns, contrary to his I’m-not-usually-political stance today, has indeed often been political in his time. Though he says he’s certain that Hillary Clinton is the best choice for president, he noted in his article five years ago that “I think that when you have a sense of absolute certainty, you are in trouble.”

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As a political Independent, watching the paranoia on the part of news media this election cycle can be amusing. The New York Times appears to be so phobic about Donald Trump winning the presidency that they can find him just about everywhere. Opinion writer Jim Dwyer sees the ghost of Trumpin an old episode of The Addams Family (ABC-TV 1966) in which Our Hero Gomez Addams hires a financial guy who squanders the Addams bank account. Why, Dwyer seems to be saying, that’s just like Trump! If that’s not pathetic enough, maybe the National Review can find the ghost of Hillary Clinton in an old episode of “Bewitched” or something.

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If you’ve been playing chicken with the United States by continuing to pump lots of oil onto world markets hoping to put US shale companies out of business but now you’re starting to run out of money yourself, do what Saudi Arabia is doing — change calendars, of course! Go to a calendar that’s two days longer and you’ll save money on payroll. Apparently the Saudi chicken game backfired on them; and even though a number of American oil companies are outta business, Saudi officials are cutting budgets drastically to pay for the game.

dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

Web citizen journalism is still on the rise, exemplified by Citizens Audit and its investigation into Media Matters and MM’s apparent ties to the Super Political Action Committee (PAC) known as American Bridge 21st Century. A PAC is a donation-taking group aimed at convincing the public of something, in this case to vote exclusively for Democrats.

Wait, but Media Matters is supposed to be a “not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center” — yet the two share office space? Citizens Audit looks at some odd discrepancies in the organization(s) books. This follows Citizens Audit’s look at how the “Clinton Campaign Illegally Purchased “Research” from a pro-Democrat Super PAC.” That Super PAC, again, would be American Bridge 21st Century, the name of which BTW comes from a late 1990s speech by President Bill Clinton. So we have one group (Media Matters) claiming to be non-partisan while sharing office space with a committee raising money for Democrats. So that would likely make any non-partisan claims by MM, maybe, what? Lies?

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For nearly 18 years, TheLatest.net has been a loose consortium of working journalists; this report included tips and news from journalists friendly with this website.

Gender Ideology Harms Children: American College of Pediatricians

Statement from the American College of Pediatricians, submitted by Roxy Elder:

“The American College of Pediatricians urges healthcare professionals, educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.”

1. Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of male and female, respectively – not genetic markers of a disorder.

2. No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one.

3. A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.

4. Puberty is not a disease and puberty-blocking hormones can be dangerous.

5. According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty.

6. Pre-pubertal children who use puberty blockers to impersonate the opposite sex will require cross-sex hormones in late adolescence.

7. Rates of suicide are nearly twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBTQ – affirming countries.

8. Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.