JIP Recovers from Crash; Will Major Media?

By Andrew Kreig

Andrew KreigOur Justice Integrity site is recovering from a system crash last Thursday, which was triggered by our upgrade to ease reader comment. We created an emergency repair over the weekend, and are confident that redesign will soon empower readers to use our material far more effectively. 

If only we could be so confident that the corporate-controlled media will resurrect themselves! They continue to falter in providing basic news coverage on major controversies, such as the U.S. debt-limit deadline. A combination of willful bias and incompetence prompts many to shortchange the public with basic facts about the cause of U.S. deficits and many other issues. For example, a new report today provides shocking new evidence that News Corp. used illegal hacking on ordinary people. Hacking – and potential blackmail – of politicians is probably even more dangerous to the public. An alarming pattern of news manipulation has been revealed also at MSNBC. It shows a pro-Obama bias that deserves to be exposed.

Last year, we reported to you that media criticism is part of our campaign for legal reform because the public cannot correct abuses that are suppressed, ignored or misreported. We regret last week’s tech glitch that disrupted our efforts. But we regret even more the shortcomings described below involving larger organizations that we all rely upon.

Deficit Coverage

Daily Howler, Special report: Banana republic press corps! Bob Somerby, July 27, 2011.On Sunday, Teresa Tritch broke the news to New York Times readers concerning those Bush tax rates. In her EDITORIAL / DECONSTRUCTION, Tritch authored the following claim:  A few lessons can be drawn from the numbers. First, the Bush tax cuts have had a huge damaging effect. If all of them expired as scheduled at the end of 2012, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels. Say what? If the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012, our future deficits revert “to sustainable levels?” If Tritch’s claim is actually true, shouldn’t someone have mentioned this fact to Times readers a long time ago—long before last Sunday? Out on the newspaper’s front page, perhaps?  Can we talk? We’re not sure we saw a single useful question asked anywhere on Sunday’s [TV public affairs] programs. But then, this clowning has long been the norm.

New York Times, The Cult That Is Destroying America, Paul Krugman, July 26, 2011. Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system. So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. What would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will. This is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray. Our nation will pay the price.

OpEdNews, Disastrous Outcomes From An Orchestrated Crisis, Paul Craig Roberts, July 28, 2011.. While the world media fixates on the orchestrated debt ceiling crisis, the US government continues to bomb civilians in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia and continues with preparations to do the same thing to Syria and Iran. The off-shoring of US jobs, GDP, tax base, and consumer demand that has eroded away the US economy and the government's tax base, thus elevating the deficit, is somehow not a crisis. The fake orchestrated crisis can easily turn into a real one. Americans need desperately to ask themselves why they put into political office such utterly irresponsible and incompetent people capable of creating such a totally unnecessary crisis loaded with such disastrous potential outcomes.

Murdoch Hacking, Hearings & Fallout
White House Chronicles, Murdoch is felled by a disease he once cured, Llewellyn King July 25, 2011.  In the 1960s, even to an old union man like myself, British newspaper unions had reached a point at which they were a threat not only to the newspaper industry, but also to the freedom of the press itself. It took someone as ruthless and sociopathic as the unions to find a way to break their hold. That man was Rupert Murdoch and he did it with outstanding courage, cheek and military-like planning. So there is a fine irony that the Murdoch’s News Corp. now stands accused of many of the sins of the unions he disciplined: sociopathic arrogance; a desire to control the news as well as cover it; and a thuggish corruption that reached into the highest levels of at least three British administrations, Thatcher, Blair and Cameron; and has brought low the world’s largest and most storied police force, the Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard.

Huffington Post, News of the World Hacked Into Phone Of Sara Payne, Mother Of Sarah Payne, Abducted And Murdered Girl, Jack Mirkinson, July 28, 2011. The News of the World hacked into the phone of Sara Payne, the mother of Sarah Payne, an abducted and murdered 8-year-old girl, the Guardian reported Tuesday. It was the hacking of 13-year-old Milly Dowler's phone that turned the long-simmering phone hacking scandal into a full-blown crisis for the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. Yet the news of Payne's hacking is, in some ways, even more shocking, because it was her daughter's murder by a pedophile in 2000 that led News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to launch a crusade for a sex offender's law in Britain known as "Sarah's Law."
Rupert MurdochOpEd News, What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally, Russ Baker, July 26, 2011. Rupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. Here are 12 "take-away" points that are being obscured in the daily rush of revelations, and the related specialized coverage (his wife's wardrobe and demeanor, the effect on his company's stock price, etc.): 1) He has transformed world politics for the worse....
OpEd News, Murdoch Hearings: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Michael Collins, July 20, 2011. The Murdochs and their former chief executive of News International testified before a House of Commons committee yesterday. Their hours of explanations can be summarized in a phrase: We knew nothing. Both Murdochs, Brooks, and the two resigned police heads know absolutely nothing about phone hacking.  There is proof positive that both the Murdoch faction and the police officials were simply ignoring the obvious as they mocked the committee and the citizens of the United Kingdom.
Justice Integrity Project, Media Week: Three Blogger Weddings (Sort of) and a Funeral, Andrew Kreig, July 18, 2011. An impressive National Press Club speech by Arianna Huffington last week found its converse in Rupert Murdoch’s meltdown over the phone hacking scandal. The Huffington Post founder and AOL CEO and Chairman Tim Armstrong, left, portrayed a bright future after AOL's $300 million purchase last winter of the company she founded and leads as an AOL subsidiary.

MSNBC Ouster of Obama Critic
The Rev. Al SharptonHuffington Post, Al Sharpton Brings Baggage, Conflict Of Interest And No Discernible Talent To MSNBC, Jason Linkins, July 28, 2011. It seems that during the time I was out of the country, The Powers That Be at MSNBC decided to replace "Young Turks" host Cenk Uygur with civil rights movement celebrity Al Sharpton as host of the 6 p.m. hour. This move was confusing at first. There's no evidence whatsoever that Sharpton (left in a David Shankbone photo via Wikipedia) has any real talent for hosting a television show or covering the news of the day. So, what, if anything, does Sharpton bring to the table? Well, as Wayne Barrett reports in The Daily Beast, Sharpton's appeal may stem from the fact that he's already been such a fine company man to NBC, having played an important role in facilitating the network's merger with Comcast:  It’s gone remarkably unnoticed that Sharpton was the first major black leader to endorse the Comcast merger, which met fierce resistance. So, Sharpton gets a gig in return for doing the suits a solid -- that's some sweet, sweet synergy right there!

Salon Unclaimed Territory, Al Sharpton, MSNBC and journalistic standards, Glenn Greenwald, July 27, 2011.  On Sunday, Cenk Uygur was interviewed by CNN's Howard Kurtz about Uygur's departure from MSNBC, and Ugyur claimed that Al Sharpton -- widely reported to be his replacement -- vowed in a 60 Minutes interview never to criticize President Obama under any circumstances. The segment described Sharpton as "now a trusted White House adviser" and recounts that "given his loyalty and his change from confrontational to accommodating, the administration is rewarding him with access and assignments."  How can a media outlet such as MSNBC that purports to be presenting political journalism possibly employ someone as a journalist -- even an opinion journalist -- who publicly and categorically pledges never to criticize the President of the United States under any circumstances?

Huffington Post, Cenk Uygur On Leaving MSNBC: Network Told Me To 'Tone It Down,' Didn't Want To 'Challenge Power' (VIDEO), Jack Mirkinson, July 21, 2011. Cenk Uygur--the progressive online talk show host whose brief tenure as an MSNBC anchor ended on Wednesday--tore into the network in a lengthy monologue on Wednesday night, saying he had turned down a smaller role on MSNBC because he had been told he was too combative towards "those in power." Uygur had been the 6 PM host the network since January. But that role came to an end on Wednesday, as the network announced that he would not be continuing. Now, every indication is that Al Sharpton will become the new 6 PM host.

New Statesman,The strange silencing of liberal America, John Pilger, July 7, 2011. Obama's greatest achievement is having seduced, co-opted and silenced much of liberal opinion in the US. How does political censorship work in liberal societies? Authors, film-makers and poets make their way to a sanctum of liberalism bankrolled by the billionaire Patrick Lannan in the tradition of Rockefeller and Ford. In 2008, Patrick Lannan backed Barack Obama's presidential campaign.  On 15 June, I was due in Santa Fe, having been invited to share a platform with the distinguished American journalist David Barsamian. The foundation was also to host the US premiere of my new film, The War You Don't See, which investigates the false image-making of warmakers, especially Obama. I was about to leave for Santa Fe when I received an email from the Lannan Foundation official organising my visit. Patrick Lannan had called her and ordered all my events to be cancelled. Baffled, I asked that the premiere of my film be allowed to go ahead, as the US distribution largely depended on it. She repeated that "all" my events were cancelled, "and this includes the screening of your film." Theories? There are many, but nothing is proven.

Legal Procedures

Harvey SilverglateForbes / Injustice Department, Constructing Truth: the FBI’s (non) recording policy, Harvey Silverglate, left, July 27, 2011. President Obama recently surprised many in both parties by extending current FBI director Robert Mueller’s term by two years, intoning that “in his 10 years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the bureau.” For Obama at least, that “gold standard” has apparently retained its sheen despite a fundamental flaw in the FBI’s truth-gathering apparatus that Mueller (and, to be fair, his modern predecessors as well) supports: the long-defended Bureau-wide policy of not recording interrogations and interviews, a practice that allows the FBI to manipulate witnesses, manufacture convictions, and destroy justice as we once knew it. Mueller is above, at right.
Legal Schnauzer, Prostitutes, Judges and ‘Judges Gone Wild,' Roger Shuler, July 26, 2011.  Judges can't seem to stay off police blotters these days. They are the ones who are supposed to uphold the law in our courtrooms?  The latest example comes from New Mexico, where a state judge  faces charges that he sexually assaulted a prostitute. District Judge Albert S. “Pat” Murdoch, 59, was arrested last week and charged with criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness. He was released on a $50,000 bond overnight.

Debate on Security vs. Civil Rights
Salon / Unclaimed Territory, An un-American response to the Oslo attack, Glenn Greenwald, July 28, 2011. Over the last decade, virtually every Terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. -- whether successful or failed -- has provoked greater security and surveillance measures. The reaction to the heinous Oslo attack by Norway's political class has been exactly the opposite: a steadfast refusal to succumb to hysteria and a security-über-alles mentality. there are other values besides security that matter a great deal and that pursuing security above all other values, in a quest for absolute safety, is both self-destructive and futile. This realization was once not only common in the American political ethos, but its defining feature. Patrick Henry's decree -- give me liberty or give me death -- resonated for generations precisely because it underscored that Americans were willing to subordinate physical security to other values (such as freedom and privacy).

WikiLeaks-Related Prosecutions
FireDogLake, The Government Clampdown on Anonymous for ‘Operation Avenge Assange,’ Kevin Gosztola, July 20, 2011. Widely reported yesterday was the arrest of sixteen individuals alleged to be members of the hacktivist group Anonymous, known engaging in cyber operations for political and social reasons. The FBI raided homes seizing computers and computer-related accessories. The Justice Department claimed fourteen of the individuals had been part of the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on PayPal back in December 2010, when PayPal suspended WikiLeaks’ accounts making it impossible for the organization to receive donations via PayPal.

Associated Press / Google, 14 arrests for alleged cyberattack on PayPal, Peter Yost, July 19, 2011. Fourteen people were arrested Tuesday for allegedly mounting a cyberattack on the website of PayPal in retaliation for its suspending the accounts of WikiLeaks. Separately, FBI agents executed more than 35 search warrants around the country in an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyberattacks against major companies and organizations. As part of the effort, there were two arrests in the United States unrelated to the attack on the PayPal payment service. Overseas, one person was arrested by Scotland Yard in Britain, and there were four arrests by the Dutch National Police Agency, all for alleged cybercrimes.