Media bias: 8 types [a classic, kinda]

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

News media bias has been a hot topic lately, brought into sharp focus by the media’s desperate attempts to make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look mainstream and moderate, and to make sensible, mainstream Americans look bigoted and extreme.

The bias may be worse than we’ve seen before—due, I think, to the near-elimination of diversity in the nation’s top newsrooms—but the problem is not new.

Evidence of that: a draft chapter I wrote, roughly 23 years ago, for a book that was to be published by the Media Research Center, a watchdog group.

As I did recently with a 25-year-old column on Global Warming ( ), I present it to you, dear reader, exactly as I found it in my files. It ends abruptly; I’m sure I was supposed to write a conclusion. In a couple of instances, I would phrase things differently if I were writing it today. (For example, despite my expectations, Nelson Mandela turned out to be a peacemaker, seeking reconciliation in his country and preventing  the bloodbath that could have taken place. He’s dead, and his country has resumed its march toward disaster, but at least he held it off for a while. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that, as I reported back in 1993, he had been a revolutionary communist and an advocate of violence, changing his attitude later.)

Anyway… Here it is, like Oliver Cromwell, warts and all: my look at the eight types of media bias.



Media bias takes several form. Here are the major categories:

1) Bias by commission: a pattern of unfounded assumptions and uncorrected errors that tend to support a left-wing or liberal view. The national media regularly report “facts” that don’t stand up to scrutiny: that the Reagan and Bush Administrations cut funding for social programs, when in fact social spending rose dramatically in both administrations; that the rich grew richer and the poor grew poorer during the Reagan years, when all income groups grew richer; and perhaps most scandalously, that there are three million homeless people in the United States. This statistic didn’t come from a government report or an academic study with a strict methodology. It came from homeless activist Mitch Snyder in 1983. How did Snyder count the homeless? He called up shelter providers and asked them.

Examples of bias by commission abound. During a March 1991 “Face the Nation,” host Lesley Stahl blamed an increase in the number of cases of measles on Reagan-era cuts in the federal immunization budget. The budget actually went from $32 million in 1980 to $186 million in 1990. She claimed that infant mortality is increasing in the United States; in fact, it has not increased since at least 1960, it has declined an average 2.5 percent a year since 1980. Between 1989 and 1990, it fell six percent.

A few days earlier, Dan Rather began a broadcast of the CBS Evening News with these words: “A startling number of American children are in danger of starving….Good evening. One out of eight American children is going hungry tonight.” But the report on which Rather based his report made no such claim. Robert Fersh, head of the liberal group issuing the hunger “study,” the liberal Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), The Christian Science Monitor: “I wasn’t asked much [by reporters] to clarify it.” To this day, no one knows where Rather got the assertion about “starving” children.

In fact, the national media are sometimes more impressed with (and less skeptical of) reports by liberal interest groups than government reports. Marianna Spicer-Brooks, Executive Producer of Face the Nation, told an MRC analyst that “studies” from the liberal Children’s Defense Fund, which aren’t original research but reworked data from government agencies like the Census Bureau, are more reliable than the Census Bureau itself. She asserted: “This is my own peculiar feeling about the Census Bureau. It has proved itself to be unreliable on a number of various issues, but the Children’s Defense Fund has made it their business to check out the statistics. They’re specialized.”

To find bias by commission often requires research. Unfortunately, while reputable books and studies have no credibility without footnotes, the media (especially television reporters) often ask you simply to believe them. But when reporters cite a specific group or study, get a copy of the original report. You may even find (as we have with the FRAC report) that liberal reporters exaggerate liberal groups’ research. Find experts in the field, and ask them if a story’s statistics ring true.


2) Bias by omission: a pattern of ignoring facts that tend to disprove liberal or left-wing claims, or that support conservative beliefs. This can be the most damaging bias, especially when the media build a crisis, and then refuse to report facts that oppose their earlier reporting.

Take the reporting of environmental “crises.” Recently, we’ve learned that a ten-year government study has found that acid rain has caused no discernible damage to forests and lakes. We also learned that the dioxin scare that caused the evacuation of Times Beach, Missouri, was highly exaggerated. But neither of these stories were covered by all of the national media. To date, the acid rain study has been ignored by the networks (except for 60 Minutes). Some TV reporters continue to report on acid rain as if the report never happened. The Times Beach story aired only on ABC.

Go back in time to the 1990 “budget summit,” when President Bush agreed to break his “no new taxes” pledge. Not one network reporter managed to compare the overall budgets of 1990 and 1991 (which showed a $100 billion increase despite those crushing “budget cuts.”) Not one network reporter pointed out the obvious — that spending “cuts” are often only cuts in projected increases.

When South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela visited America in June 1990, we found that none of the networks mentioned his communist past. None reported that he welcomed to his New York City platform three of the four Puerto Rican terrorists who shot and wounded five U.S. congressmen in 1954. When Mandela went to Cuba to celebrate the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution with Fidel Castro in July 1991, the networks did no story.

News refuting the promise of “socialist brotherhood” — such as the murder of millions of people in the Ukraine or in Cambodia is often ignored, sometimes for years or decades. During the years the Khmer Rouge murdered millions of people, the networks devoted less than thirty seconds per month per network to the human rights situation in Cambodia. When and if such news is reported, the role of the Left is played down or ignored. In the case of Cambodia, some reporters still place the majority of blame on the United States.

In early 1992, CBS reporter Betsy Aaron warned about bias by omission: “The largest opinion is what we leave out. I mean, it sounds simplistic, but I always say worry about what you’re not seeing. What you are seeing you can really criticizing because you’re smart and you have opinions. But if we don’t tell you anything, and we leave whole areas uncovered, that’s the danger.”


3) Bias by story selection: a pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of the Left while ignoring stories that coincide with the agenda of the Right.

Contrast the media’s treatment of ethical charges against Ed Meese when he was Attorney General and Jim Wright when he was Speaker of the House (and second-in-line? for the presidency). We compared the number of stories about Meese in January and February 1988 and stories about Wright between January 1987 and February 1988. The media covered charges against Meese in 17 times as many stories in just one-seventh the time. The nightly newscasts on ABC, NBC, and CBS carried 26 reports of charges against Meese in just two months, compared to zero stories against Wright in 14 months.

As it turned out, none of the charges against Meese were sustained, while the charges against Wright drove him from office in disgrace. Anti-Meese charges were considered news, regardless of whether the charges were justified, but accusations against Wright (mostly by Congressman Newt Gingrich of Georgia) were ignored month after month — until the liberal group Common Cause joined in the criticism.

When White House Chief of Staff John Sununu was investigated by The Washington Post for his extensive government travel habits, the Post devoted 27 stories to the supposed scandal. But at the same time, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin had also flown in a lot of government planes, including a flight back from a ski vacation in Colorado. The Post did no story on Aspin (Until we held a press conference and called them on it. Then they did one.)

Often, charges made by conservatives are (at least initially) written off as the product of paranoia. Charges made by the Left — that the Korean airliner shot down by the Soviets in 1983 was on a spy mission, or that the Reagan campaign negotiated to delay the release of the Iranian hostages in 1980 — are taken seriously, regardless of the strength of the evidence.

After the Korean airliner shootdown, in which a U.S. Congressman was killed, major news outlets promoted the theory that the airliner was on a spy mission for the CIA; more than three times as many stories promoted the theory rather than rebutting it, according to a study of six top media organizations. In a supreme irony, it was Russian reporters who later exposed the fact that the Soviet government found the plane’s black boxes, covered up the discovery, and lied about it — strong evidence that the Soviets knew they were shooting down an unarmed civilian aircraft.


4) Bias by placement: a pattern of placing news stories so as to downplay information supportive of conservative views. Does a story appear across the top half of the front page, or is it buried back with the obituaries and the horoscope? News editors (or whichever staffers lay out a given newspaper) exercise great discretion in their placement of stories. The news they consider most important and/or most likely to sell papers goes “above the fold” on the front page, where it can be read as the newspaper sits on the rack. Less important stories go on the bottom half of the first page, on the first page of other sections of the paper, on page two or three, and so on. The (supposedly) least important stories appear in the back pages.

There are limitations on an editor’s discretion, of course.  They must fit stories together in an attractive way, a job that is like assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle. They must use graphic elements such as charts, graphs, and color photos effectively.  But as a general rule story placement is a measure of how important the editor considers the story.

When The Washington Post was investigating the travel habits of Sununu and reported 27 stories in 68 days, they put the Sununu story on the front page eleven times, guaranteeing that the story would remain on the front pages of other papers and early in radio and television newscasts.

Another form of placement is the placement of facts within a story. News stories are usually written in a “pyramid” style — that is, the most important facts are supposed to appear early in the story, with each paragraph a little less important that the previous paragraph. Newspapers use that style for two reasons: (a) so that editors, editing a story to fit the available space, can cut from the bottom up, and (b) so that the average reader will get the most important facts. Editors know that, the farther down you go in a news story, the fewer readers you have.

When the liberals at People for the American Way released a report questioning the travel habits of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, The Boston Globe broke the story on its front page, but didn’t mention People for the American Way until the eighth paragraph, after the story had jumped from page 1 to page 17. The Washington Post story the next day put the group’s name at the very beginning of the report.

Studies have shown that, in the case of the average newspaper reader and the average news story, most people read only the headline. Some read just the first paragraph, some just the first two paragraphs, and some read just to the bottom of the column and don’t bother to read the continuation. Very few people read the average story all the way through to the end, especially if it is continued in another section of the paper.

Robert Rector, a poverty expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, laughs at his regular “slot” in Washington Post news stories on studies released by liberal groups. Rector regularly appears in the second-to-last paragraph of Post stories, which the Post then calls balanced. Rector’s own studies are regularly ignored by the Post.

One of the most obvious expressions of bias by placement came in The Washington Post’s coverage of abortion rallies in 1990. Post ombudsman Richard Harwood took his own paper to task, noting the NOW pro-abortion rally dominated the front page, generating a dozen stories taking up 15 columns of space. The pro-life rally received two stories in the “Metro” section.


5) Bias by the selection of “experts”: the use of such phrases as “most experts believe” and “observers say,” or a reporter’s deliberate selection of experts who share his point of view. When a reporter says “most experts believe…,” he often means, “I believe…” Quoting an expert by name does not necessarily add to the credibility of a story, because the reporter may choose any expert he wants. Often a reporter picks an expert who will provide him with a quote supporting his (the reporter’s) personal opinion.

Experts in news stories are like expert witnesses in trials.  If you know whether the defense or the prosecution called a particular expert witness to the stand, you know which way the witness will testify. And when a news story only presents one side, it is obviously the side the reporter supports.

Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution is one of the most quoted experts in Washington. So he knows how journalists often go looking for quotes to fit their favorite argument into a news story. Hess wrote in The Washington Post: “If I don’t respond appropriately, they say they’ll get back to me. Which means they won’t. This is a big city and someone else is sure to have the magic words they are looking for…TV news is increasingly dishonest in that increasingly its stories are gatherings of quotes or other material to fit a hypothesis.”    On the CBS Evening News on January 22, 1990, anchor Dan Rather introduced a story on the latest events in the Soviet Union with the sentence: “Bruce Morton sampled the debate in this country.” But Morton’s sampling ranged from left to left: Ellen Mickiewicz of the Jimmy Carter Center, Ed Hewett of the Brookings Institution, William Hyland of the liberal-leaning journal Foreign Affairs, and CBS consultant Stephen Cohen.

In September 1990, The Washington Post reported on the Census Bureau’s annual measurement of poverty. Post reporters Spencer Rich and Barbara Vobejda wrote: “Economists across the political spectrum said yesterday the current economic picture could mean an even greater rise in poverty.” The Post followed this with two experts: Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution and Isabel Sawhill of the Urban Institute, two indistinguishable liberals.


6) Spin: emphasizing certain aspects of a news story in the hope that other aspects will be ignored. Party spokesmen who talk with reporters after a presidential debate, seeking to convince them that their candidate won, are called “spin doctors.” One expert on the news media, Professor Michael Robinson, explains that “spin involves tone, the part of the reporting that extends beyond hard news.”

Our favorite example of spin control comes from CBS economics correspondent Ray Brady, the networks’ Prince of Darkness when it comes to negative news on the economy. On October 12, 1989, home prices were down. That’s great news for buyers, but not for sellers, so Brady focused on the sellers: “In the past, the American dream of owning your own home always had a sequel — live in it, then sell it at a huge profit…So another dream has faded.” Five months later, on March 16, 1990, home prices were rising, so the conclusion switched to the buyers: “So they keep looking. Thousands of young couples like the Wares, looking for that first house, looking for what used to be called the American dream.”

Two networks often put different spins on the same story. When President Bush decided to reconsider the definition of a “wetland,” ABC’s Ned Potter focused on critics of Bush: “George Bush gets reminded on days like this that he pledged to be the environmental President. He’s likely to face stiff opposition from some Congressmen who say he’s just caving in to business.”

But two days later, NBC had a different spin. Reporter Henry Champ described how many opponents of federal wetlands policy weren’t just greedy businessmen: “Suddenly, thousands of people who thought themselves bystanders saw themselves as victims: vacation homeowners, retirees, rural homeowners. For example, even though the Maryland coast is dotted with farms centuries old, building lots were now being reclassified as wetlands.” Comparing the differences in how different media outlets report the same story will often highlight the approaches and biases of each outlet on a range of issues.

Legal reporters use spin control by asserting that only liberal judges are interested in defending “individual rights.”   When liberal Supreme Court justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall resigned, reporters repeatedly warned that the conservative Court would repeal civil liberties. CNN’s Candy Crowley intoned: “Also at risk in a court without Brennan: the limits of individual freedom.”

As scandals go, the media can practice spin control by creating a media phenomenon over an issue, and then when information surfaces that challenges their theory, the story dies without retraction. Take, for example, the three networks’ response to the “October Surprise” theory, which suggested that the Reagan campaign bargained with the Iranians to delay the hostage release until after the 1980 election. The networks did 27 evening news stories on the theory in 1991. But when major exposés in Newsweek and The New Republic challenged the dubious sources behind the theory, the network evening news shows did nothing. (By early 1993, Senate and House reports had thoroughly discredited the October Surprise theory, but the networks failed to look at how they had been used.)


7) Bias by the labeling of activists, organizations, and ideas. The media’s power to label people is one of its most subtle, and potent. Responsible conservatives are sometimes stigmatized as “far right,” “ultra-conservative,” or “right-wing extremists,” while radicals, even Marxists, are called “progressives,” “liberals,” or “moderates.”

The paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould may be a Marxist, but one point he makes is certainly valid: that labels tell you as much about the person applying the labels as they tell about the subject being labeled. Gould wrote, “Taxonomy [the science of classification] is often regarded as the dullest of subjects, fit only for mindless ordering and sometimes denigrated within science as ‘stamp collecting’ . . . . If systems of classification were neutral hat racks for hanging the facts of the world, this disdain might be justified. But classifications both direct and reflect our thinking. The way we [put things in] order represents the way we think.” In other words, classifications, or labels, matter.

Think about that the next time you hear a TV reporter, when you hear the hard-line Communist coup plotters in the USSR called “conservatives.” Terms like “right-wing” are used to describe hard- line communists and staunch capitalists, Israeli Zionists and Soviet anti-Semites, apartheid-loving bigots and Clarence Thomas supporters. And liberals complain about conservatives being “simplistic.”

Meg Greenfield, editorial page editor of The Washington Post, notes that “every time there is a confrontation somewhere in the world, we manage to dub the good guys liberals and the bad guys conservatives and pretty soon that is the common currency.”

Sometimes labeling bias takes the form of not labeling people and organizations in ideological terms. For example, conservative groups are almost always identified as conservative, while liberal groups are described in neutral terms such as “women’s group” or “civil rights group,” or favorable terms such as “children’s rights supporters,” “free-speech activists,” or “clean-air advocates.”

Consider the two major women’s political organizations in the United States — the conservative Concerned Women for America and the liberal National Organization for Women. By all measures, NOW is at least as far to the left as CWA is to the right. But an MRC study of three newspapers (Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post) and the three news magazines showed that NOW was labeled liberal in only 10 of 421 newspaper stories (or 2.4 percent of the time) in 1987 and 1988. CWA, with three times the membership of NOW, was only mentioned in 61 stories in the same time period, but was labeled conservative 25 times (41 percent).

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), consistently rated by various groups as one of the three or four most liberal U.S. Senators, rarely receives an ideological label in news stories, while Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina) is consistently referred to as “conservative,” “right-wing,” or “far-right.” One study showed that Helms was labeled ten times as often as Kennedy.

The same pattern holds true for comparisons of the conservative Heritage Foundation and the liberal Brookings Institution, conservative civil rights expert Pat McGuigan and liberal Ralph Neas, and various other similar pairings. The conservative organization or individual is almost always labeled, but the liberal counterpart is not. Why? Because the national media see liberal groups as “us” and conservative groups as “them.”

The examples we have listed are from the national media, but the same principles apply to local media. It is up to you to examine the media in your area and determine the extent to which labeling and other types of bias appear. Once you have acquainted yourself with the above examples, you should find it easy to spot local bias.


8) Bias by policy recommendation. As we have mentioned, when reporters list possible solutions to society’s problems, the solutions are almost always on the agenda of the Left (“raise taxes,” “cut defense,” “have taxpayers pay for abortions,” “issue more government regulations.”)

Most news stories simply relate a sequence of events, but an increasing number mix reporting with specific recommendations for government policy. Time magazine’s “Planet of the Year” story at the end of 1988 included — as examples of the actions government “must” take to avoid ecological catastrophe — a wish list of liberal and ultraliberal ideas. Time has recommended a raising the tax on gasoline at least 24 times in the last four years. On August 8, 1990, Detroit reporter S.C. Gwynne asked for the biggest tax hike: “The most effective solution, many experts say, would be a combination of market incentives and somewhat higher fuel-efficiency standards. A stiff gasoline tax of $1 per gal. would encourage consumers to choose more economical autos.”

For several years ABC’s World News Tonight has run a nightly series of reports called the “American Agenda.” These are essentially essays in which reporters highlight various proposals for solving the nation’s problems. While some reports have publicized creative private solutions to social problems, often the reports endorse the same old government “solutions.”

On December 3, 1991, ABC reporter Carole Simpson promoted the programs of France’s socialist prime minister, Francois Mitterand, as more efficient and caring than the United States:

“When you see how France cares for its children, you can’t help but wonder why the United States won’t do the same for our children. Americans continue to study and debate what to do about poor children, but the French decided long ago. Their system of social welfare is based on the belief that investing in the children of France is investing in the future of France.”


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Divestment campaign shows how the ignorant and superstitious prevail on campus

With the triumph of racist, anti-Free Speech extremists in the conflict at the University of Missouri [see below for links to news stories and commentaries on the UM crisis], it’s a good time to take a look at another campus campaign based on ignorance and superstition: the effort to pressure colleges and universities to get rid of their investments in carbon-based fuels (commonly and wrongly called “fossil fuels”).

The National Association of Scholars has a new report, posted at (PDF at, that details the effort.

To give you a taste of what’s in the NAS report, here’s a timeline showing how the “divestment” movement grew from nothing to a national campaign, one that threatens public pensions funds and other investment funds as well as those of academic institutions.

A digest of the timeline from the NAS report:


October 2006. Bill McKibben, a visiting professor at Middlebury College, and six students organize Step It. Over the period 2008-2011, the group (also known as 1 Sky) becomes It is the leading organization in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

[NOTE: “350” refers to the level of carbon dioxide, or CO2, that the group believes is the maximum if humans are to avoid disaster – 350 parts per million, or 1/2857th of the atmosphere. The figure in the 19th Century is believed to have been 280 parts per million, or 1/3571st of the atmosphere. The current estimate for atmospheric carbon dioxide is 400 parts per million, or 1/2500th of the atmosphere, the rough equivalent of five tablespoons of water in a 50-gallon tub.]



Fall 2009. The Sierra Student Coalition’s Campuses Beyond Coal campaign urges colleges to shut down on-campus coal power plants. This effort becomes the foundation for the divestment campaign.



October 2010. After Professor George Lakey (Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania ) takes students on a fall break visit to West Virginia coal country, the student group Swarthmore Mountain Justice forms to oppose coal mining and demand divestment from the “sordid sixteen” carbon-based fuel companies with “the dirtiest environmental and human rights records.”



June 2011. Student groups meet in Washington, D.C. at offices of the Wallace Global Fund (named after former Vice President Henry Wallace, 1948 presidential candidate of the Soviet-front Progressive Party; founded in 1995 by Wallace’s son).  The students launch a series of divestment campaigns, “Divest Coal,” at six colleges.

November 2011. The Carbon Tracker Initiative in London releases a report warning about that energy companies already have, in their reserves, five times more carbon-based energy sources than would be sufficient to trigger catastrophe. These are (supposedly) “stranded assets” that cannot be used and are, therefore, worthless – the equivalent of worthless mortgage-backed securities during the financial crisis.



January 2012. Hampshire College, the first school to divest from South Africa during apartheid, is the first academic institution to divest from carbon-based fuels.

July 2012. Divestment activists at Swarthmore College and Earlham College go on a “Divest Coal Frontlines Listening Tour” in Appalachia. On July 28, they join with Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival (RAMPS) to shut down Hobert mine, the largest strip mine in West Virginia, for three hours. Students plan to double the number of campus campaigns to 12 by the fall.

Summer 2012. The divestment movement grows to 50 campaigns, including at Brown University, Harvard University, and Columbia University.

August 2012. Bill McKibben’s article “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” in Rolling Stone goes viral. Based on the five-times-catastrophe argument [see November 2011, above], McKibben argues that 80 percent of all carbon-based fuel reserves must be left in the ground.

November 2012. Bill McKibben launches a “Do the Math” speaking tour at 21 cities in the United States, and launches the Go Fossil Free: Divest from Fossil Fuels! Campaign (counting 100 separate efforts). Unity College in Maine divests. Go Fossil Free counts 100 active campaigns.

December 2012. Seattle commits to divest its daily operational budget.



February 2013. Sterling College in Vermont divests. The first national student divestment activist “convergence” is held at Swarthmore College with students from 77 colleges and universities.

March 2013. College of the Atlantic in Maine divests.

April 2013. Green Mountain College in Vermont divests. Eleven students at Rhode Island School of Design hold the first sit-in.

May 2013. declares “Fossil Freedom” day with 50 protests and rallies. The Swarthmore College board of trustees meets with students, staff, and faculty to discuss the issue; 100 students with Swarthmore Mountain Justice disrupt the meeting and take over the microphones to make demands on divestment and other left-wing causes. San Francisco State University Foundation commits to divest from direct holdings in coal and tar sands.

Summer 2013. Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network forms.

October 2013. The Harvard President calls “climate change” “one of the world’s most consequential challenges” but rejects divestment as a dangerously “instrumentalizing” the endowment. Foothill-De Anza Community College Foundation in California divests from direct holdings.  Naropa University in Colorado freezes investments in carbon-based fuel companies and pledges to divest within five years.

December 2013. Go Fossil Free launches “#RejectionDenied,” a Twitter hashtag and the name of strategy to “escalate” campaigns and overturn rejections. Peralta Community College District in California pledges to divest within five years.



February 2014. Prescott College in Arizona pledges to divest within three years.

April 2014. San Francisco State University hosts a second divestment convergence, with more than 200 students attending. Pitzer College in California announces that it will divest from all direct holdings by the end of the year and create the Pitzer Sustainability Fund within the endowment to invest in “environmentally responsible investments.” In California, Humboldt State University, which hasn’t held direct investments in carbon-based fuel companies for more than a decade, adopts a “stricter” investment policy related to “concerning sectors” such as casinos, tobacco and alcohol, utilities, and aerospace and defense.

May 2014. A student participating in “Divest Harvard” is arrested for blocking access to a building. Stanford University divests from direct investments in coal companies.

Summer 2014. The Divestment Student Network forms the “Escalation Core” to orchestrate more aggressive actions. Students take “#BankOnUs” pledges to continue organizing.

June 2014. The British Medical Association becomes the first medical organization to divest from fossil fuels. Union Theological Seminary announces that it will divest all “separately managed accounts” and withdraw from any commingled funds that “are not central to our portfolio.” University of Dayton, a Jesuit university in Ohio, commits to eliminate fossil fuel holdings from its domestic equity accounts and “invest in green and sustainable technologies or holdings.”

September 2014. One day before the People’s Climate March (PCM) in New York City, the PCM Youth Convergence draws thousands of student activists for training and launches “UnKoch My Campus” efforts to reject funding from the Charles Koch Foundation. The PCM itself draws a claimed 400,000 people (New York Times estimate: 311,000). The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announces that it will reduce coal and tar sands to one percent of the portfolio by the end of the year and “determine an appropriate strategy for further divestment over the next few years.”  At the Climate Summit in New York City, the UN releases a divestment action plan.

November 2014. Students at Syracuse University occupy the president’s office demanding divestment and making other left-wing demands. Canada’s first Fossil Free Convergence brings together 80 students. Seven student members of Divest Harvard file a lawsuit against Harvard for failing to divest; they say the university is guilty of “mismanagement of charitable funds” and they claim Harvard is funding “climate change denial” which has “a chilling effect on academic freedom” and undermines graduates’ job prospects. (The suit is dismissed in March 2015.)

December 2014. California State University-Chico commits to divest within four years. California Institute of the Arts, which has no direct investments in carbon-based fuels, will withdraw 25 percent of its indirect investments over the next five years.



January 2015. Goddard College in Vermont divests. The University of Maine System divests from direct investments in coal companies. University of Maine Presque-Isle announces that it divested in 2013-2014.

February 2015. The New School in New York announces its divestment plan and the creation of a curriculum to make students into “climate citizens.” Pushing back against divestment, the Environmental Policy Alliance releases a cartoon video depicting a boy who “breaks up” with carbon-based fuels and ends up without electricity, modern technology, or consumer goods. organizes Global Divestment Day, with 450 events in 60 countries. Natalie Portman, Cornel West, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. endorse Divest Harvard. Brevard College, a Methodist-affiliated college in North Carolina, commits to divest by 2018.  The “multidenominational” Pacific School of Religion in California commits to divest.

March 2015. The Guardian newspaper, partnering with, launches a petition to urge the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to divest. In the first 24 hours, 60,000 people sign the petition. “Divestment spring” begins with a sit-in at Swarthmore College. UN “climate change” official Christiana Figueres endorses the sit-in. (The sit-in ends when the board of trustees agrees to consider the proposal – which, in May, they reject.) Another sit-in, involving 20 students, is held at University of Mary Washington. William Bowen, president emeritus of Princeton University and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, denounces divestment in a Washington Post op-ed. Syracuse University announces it will divest from direct holdings [which, it turned out, the school didn’t have] and screen out carbon-based fuels.

April 2015. The Guardian announces its plan to divest. About two dozen student stage a sit-in at Bowdoin College, and 48 students sit-in outside the president’s office at Yale. Divest Harvard holds Harvard Heat Week, with speeches by Bill McKibben, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, and former Senator Tim Wirth. University of Washington announces it will divest from direct holdings in coal companies by the end of the year.

May 2015. Adler University in Illinois divests. The University of Hawaii System divests and commits to reducing exposure in commingled funds to one percent.

June 2015. Rhode Island School of Design divests from direct holdings in fossil fuels. Georgetown University announces it will divest from direct investments in coal.


As the authors of the NAS report note: “The fossil fuel divestment movement is an attack on freedom of inquiry and responsible social advocacy in American higher education. The movement impresses on a generation of students an attitude of grim hostility to intellectual freedom, democratic self-government, and responsible stewardship of natural resources. This study shows how that is happening.” Again, you can download the report at (PDF at




Here are links I promised above, dealing with recent, disastrous events at the University of Missouri:


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In a stunning confession, Politico admits: We hate Ben Carson, so we just make stuff up about him [OK, they didn’t actually admit it]

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

Today, the top candidates for the Republican presidential nomination include Dr. Ben Carson, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina, the first woman to head one of the country’s top 50 businesses.

To Progressives, that lineup is a real problem. The Progressive movement grounds much of its appeal in identity (i.e., racist/sexist) politics and in the myth that its adversaries – conservatives, Republicans, non-leftist religious people, members of the Tea Party movement, et al. – are the ones who are racist and sexist. Yet a look at the GOP lineup strongly indicates otherwise. In the words of Chico Marx: Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?

Progressives are attempting to solve the Carson/Rubio/Cruz/Fiorina problem by declaring that those candidates aren’t really African-American, Latino, or female. The Republicans are imposters, you see, or, at least, fakes, dirty rotten lyin’ liars.

This week, they’re focused on Dr. Carson, who in recent polls has been in first or second place for the nomination. CNN staffers looked into some of the stories in his autobiography, such as his tale about almost stabbing a friend, and were unable to verify the stories—or, at least, the CNN people claimed that they looked in the stories and were unable to verify them. Even if the CNN people are telling the truth (and there is no reason to believe them), their lack of results does not prove, or even indicate, that Carson is lying.

Think of the stories your best friend has told you about his or her childhood. Could you prove all of those stories happened? Would you assume that any story lacking definitive proof was a lie?

It turns out, by the way, that Carson’s mother, Sonya, verified the stabbing story in a 1997 interview in Parade magazine ( ):

A young actor [in a movie about Carson] recreated the moment when, at 14, Ben Carson pulled a knife on a classmate and tried to stab him in the abdomen. Only the boy’s metal belt buckle kept Ben from cutting him–and going to prison instead of to Yale. “Oh, that really happened,” Sonya told me. “I sat him down and told him that you don’t accomplish much by being a bully. You accomplish more with kindness than you ever do by being harsh.”

Yet the CNN story, and a similar hit-piece in the Wall Street Journal, suggested, without evidence, that Carson makes stuff up. [For those who came in late: The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page is mostly conservative, with occasional interventionist/RINO tendencies; the Journal’s reporting staff is as kooky/ignorant/leftwing as other papers’.]

The main attack on Dr. Carson was related to a passage in his 1990 autobiography, in which Carson recounted a story from 21 years earlier:

At the end of my twelfth grade I marched at the head of the Memorial Day parade. I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present. More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point. I didn’t refuse the scholarship outright, but I let them know that a military career wasn’t where I saw myself going.

The Detroit News reported on an apparent discrepancy ( ):

Westmoreland’s Memorial Day schedule on May 30, 1969, indicates he was in Washington. The schedule says Westmoreland had a morning meeting with national security adviser Henry Kissinger, laid a wreath at an 11 a.m. memorial service in Arlington National Cemetery and had a 5 p.m. “boat ride on the Potomac.”

The Detroit News on Friday reviewed Westmoreland’s schedule for the dates in question among his official papers housed at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pa.

The Army records and Detroit News archival records show Westmoreland was in Detroit on Feb. 18, 1969, for a dinner honoring a Vietnam War veteran. The banquet was for Congressional Medal of Honor winner Dwight Johnson, a Detroit African-American who risked his life “beyond the call of duty,” according to a website about black participation in the Vietnam War.

…so, most likely, Carson misremembered a February dinner, 21 years earlier, as occurring in May. He may have conflated two events, the Memorial Day parade and the dinner honoring Dwight Johnson. As this is written, that is the only part of Carson’s story about the scholarship offer that has come under attack.

Well, attack by serious people.

Most of the folks in the news media aren’t serious people.

Thus, we get this, from Politico:

sja deception blog Ben Carson original headline in Politico 151109


Oh, the news media explained to us, we know that Dr. Carson was lying because West Point doesn’t offer scholarships. Over the past few days, I’ve seen supposed experts point this out, the “fact” that West Point doesn’t offer scholarships, on ABC News, NBC News, and CBS News.

Except that, the real world, West Point does give out scholarships. In fact, it gives a scholarship to each and every one of its students.

…as seen in this ad, which appeared in the September 1992 issue of Black Enterprise magazine:

sja deception blog West Point ad in Black Enterprise 151109


“Each year about 1200 young men and women take advantage of the opportunity to attend West Point on a full government scholarship,” according to the ad placed by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

As the leading ROTC student in Detroit, an African-American from a background of poverty, at a time when the Army was highly interested in recruiting qualified African-Americans, it is undoubtedly true that Carson could have had an appointment to West Point if he had sought one.

Perhaps Dr. Carson made up the story about meeting Westmoreland and going to dinner and. The problem for the media is that, as of this writing, there is no reason to think that he did.

Some “news” stories suggested that he had claimed he applied for West Point, but, as far as I can tell, Carson has always said that his only college application was to Yale.

Politico eventually changed its headline ( ):

sja deception blog Ben Carson revised headline in Politico 151109

Of course, that headline, too, is false. He never “claimed West Point ‘scholarship’ but never applied.” (Note the sarcastic quotes around “scholarship.”) He said, plausibly, that he was offered a scholarship to West Point—that is, a nomination to West Point—but that he didn’t apply.


The excuse that we hear from the news media for their so-far-fraudulent attacks on Ben Carson is that they’re just vetting him the way they did Barack Obama. Republicans are just a bunch of whiners, they say, for complaining about getting the same level of scrutiny that Barack Obama did.

Hah! In a future column, I’ll take a look at how the news media failed to expose, or simply ignored, the falsehoods in Barack Obama’s life story. (I’ll bet you didn’t know that his iconic autobiography, the one that made him famous, was an autobiographical novel, never meant to be taken literally. Yep.)

A final note:

It’s not just Carson’s so-called race that makes him a threat. Leftist Professor Marc Lamont Hill declared ( ):

The greatest lie in American history is the myth of the self-made person. Nobody makes themselves. We’re all shaped by communities, by people who struggled and sacrificed for us, by governments that offer safety nets. And what Ben Carson is able to do essentially is reject all that stuff and say that I was saved.

[Radio host ben Ferguson to Hill: “The government didn’t make me, though, Marc.”]

[Hill:] Ben Carson is able to say, “I was saved by Jesus and hard work.” That allows him to reject a safety net. That allows him to push back against the expansion of a welfare state. That allows him to resist tax cuts for the middle class and poor and tax hikes for the wealthy. It allows him to create an entire narrative where people say, “Hey, wait a minute, why are you doing this?” Ben Carson can say, “Hey, because I did it myself,” and it makes white voters feel comfortable to say that, “Look, this black guy himself is telling me poor people [inaudible] . . .

You might say “You didn’t build that.” ( )

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It’s the news media’s world. You just live in it.


[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

. . . [E]very one of these candidates says, “Obama’s weak, Putin’s kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he’s going to straighten out.” And then it turns out, they can’t handle a bunch of CNBC moderators. If you can’t handle those guys, I don’t think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]

Thus spoke President Obama, who, along with Hillary Clinton, has refused ever to participate in a debate on Fox News, presumably because Democrats quake in fear of questions from Megyn Kelly.

After the laughable, unprofessional performance by CNBC “moderators” (“extreminators”??) during last week’s Republican debate, there’s been a lot of discussion about changing the rules for future debates. There was even a summit outside D.C. bring together representatives from most of the presidential campaigns, to work out a set of rules/demands such as a ban on “gotcha” questions (however one defines the term).

It’s not the first time people have considered reforms of a broken system, in which leftists and partisan Democrats (the vast majority of political reporters at the national level) ask mostly supportive questions at Democratic debates and, at Republican debates, try to make the candidates look silly or extreme. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (for whom I worked as senior researcher in the 2012 campaign) once suggested that the candidates themselves conduct the back-and-forth during a presidential debate, with a moderator present only to keep things moving along.

The problem of news media bias has been obvious for years—decades—but, in the context of the debates, it wasn’t dealt with at an earlier point because the Republican Party hierarchy has been focused on its main priority, preventing the nomination of a candidate from the mainstream/grassroots/Reagan/Tea Party wing of the party. GOP bigwigs fiddled with the debate system for this election, but with the intention of ensuring that the nomination would quickly fall to a candidate with high name ID and lots of money. (The plan was to help Jeb Bush or, if he failed, another Establishment candidate, but that plan didn’t work very well in the Age of Trump.)

The Left dominates the news media (along with the entertainment media, the academic/pseudointellectual world, and the Too Big to Fail businesses that depend on government cronyism and are perfectly willing to cut deals with the Obama/Clinton/Sanders crowd if money is to be made). News media bias provides the Left with a tremendous advantage, one akin to a sport team having all the game officials on its side. Every activist on the conservative, libertarian, or free-market side has to deal with this bias throughout the day every day.

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People died. Clinton lied.


[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

In the view of neutral observers, last week’s Benghazi hearing revealed Hillary Clinton as someone who could lie coolly and methodically in front of members of Congress and millions of television viewers—who could look family members of fallen heroes in the eye and lie about who killed their loved ones—who could frame an innocent man and put him in jail as a scapegoat—who could steal tens of thousands of pages of e-mails in order to hide those messages from the prying eyes of Congress, the FBI, FOIA-wielding journalists, and even the Obama White House—and who could store those stolen messages, containing information of great value to our enemies, on an unsecured server where they were ripe for the picking.

Some among Clinton supporters such as the news media claim the hearing was partisan. To coin a phrase, what difference does it make? If the Republicans misbehaved in some way, that in no way detracts from Hillary Clinton’s responsibility and in no way diminishes her guilt. One does not justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior. If Republicans did something wrong, let voters and/or prosecutors punish them along with Secretary Clinton. Don’t let her get away with it. (Remember: The Watergate investigation was “nonpartisan” not because of anything the Democrats did, but because honest Republicans joined the effort to nail Richard Nixon. Apparently, there are no honest Democrats today to join in the effort to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for what she’s done.)

Some among Clinton supporters such as the news media claim that the hearing produced nothing new. So what if it didn’t? The allegations and findings of journalists and government investigators in Watergate and all other major scandals were repeated ad nauseum, to the point that partisans on one side or the other got sick of the whole thing, to the point that the American people were sick of the whole thing and just wanted it to be over. Yes, Americans—many of them, anyway—are “sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails,” as Bernie Sander put it to Clinton during the Democratic debate. But it’s the job of journalists to make things interesting for people who’ve been following all along, even as they fill in the background for newbies. As they tell TV writers, “Every episode is someone’s first episode.”

Besides, the hearing did produce something new. At the hearing, it was revealed that Secretary Clinton, in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack, had informed both her daughter and the prime minister of Egypt that the attack was the result of an organized attack.

“Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like [sic] group,” she wrote the night of the attack (September 11) in an e-mail to “Diane Reynolds,” the pseudonym that Chelsea Clinton used when checking into hotels. And, according to detailed notes from Clinton’s September 12 conversation with Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, she told him that “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.” (The document is not an exact transcript, so there may be slight variation from the actual words she spoke. However, there has been no suggestion that the notes unfairly characterize the conversation.)

Soon, the story would be that the attack was the result of an Internet video, a crude movie trailer made by a fellow named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in which he ridiculed Mohammed. The video was made apparently in protest of the oppression by Muslims of the Coptic Christians. It had been cited in some protests as part of a long history of disrespect of Islam by the West, but it appears that only about 10 people had actually seen it—at least, until the President and the Secretary of State made it famous worldwide by blaming it for the Benghazi attack.

Why blame the video?

As we noted in this space last year (, the number of jihadist/Islamofascist individuals and groups and the number of attacks by Al Qaeda and its affiliates had been increasing steadily throughout the Obama administration, but the lie that “Al Qaeda is on the run” was critical to the President’s reelection plan, as well as to Secretary Clinton’s plans for 2016.

Also important for political reasons was the appearance of success for the Obama/Clinton policy in Libya. “We came. We saw. He died,” she joked in 2011 about the fate of Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy.

Here’s what happened: Khadafy was, for decades, a seemingly implacable enemy of the U.S. He was a mass murderer, and an ally of anti-U.S. zealots like President Obama’s longtime minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Khadafy deserved to be overthrown; he deserved to be killed for his crimes. Yet he had been neutralized, abandoning his WMD program and, to some degree, coming over to our side. (It was one of the few good effects of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He feared that, if he continued to be an enemy of the U.S., the same thing would happen to him that happened to Saddam Hussein.) Obama and Clinton conducted an illegal seven-month war to oust Khadafy, which resulting in his overthrow and his death and the hands of a mob. That sent a message to dictators around the world: Cut a deal with the United States, and you, like Khadafy, could end up being raped to death. Meanwhile, Libya, whose eastern region was the #2 recruiting ground for Al Qaeda (after Saudi Arabia), dissolved into chaos and, as of now, a war between Al Qaeda and its even-worse offshoot, ISIS. (At the recent Democratic debate, Clinton touted Libya as

Thus, Hillary Clinton wasn’t just on the hook for the “Al Qaeda on the run” lie. She was vulnerable for the entire Obama/Clinton bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy record, accountable (if Republicans nominate a decent candidate) for the Libya disaster, the Putin “reset button” disaster, the growth of the influence of the Communist Chinese, the Syrian catastrophe, the U.S.-backed takeover (fortunately temporary) of Egypt by the Islamofascists of the Muslim Brotherhood, the destabilizing flood of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East and even South Asia into Europe and maybe the U.S., the abandonment of Iraq and near-abandonment of Afghanistan, and other aspects of the worst foreign policy record of any presidential candidate in memory.

So the attack in Libya—on 9/11/12—had to be characterized not as a predictable terrorist attack—did I mention that it was on the anniversary of 9/11/01?—but as a response to an Internet video. Talking points to that effect were distributed, apparently the work of Ben Rhodes, brother of the president of CBS News. Obama and Clinton made announcements for Pakistani TV condemning the video, and the President declared to the United Nations that “the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.” (Imagine the outcry by First Amendment advocates if President George W. Bush had declared to the U.N. that “the future must not belong to those who slander the Messiah of Israel,” a.k.a. Jesus Christ.)

Hillary met with the families of the Americans killed in the Benghazi attack. As John McCormack wrote in the Weekly Standard ( ):

Three days after the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, in Benghazi, Libya, Clinton attended a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base welcoming home the remains of the slain Americans. While flanked by four flag-draped caskets, Clinton blamed an “awful internet video that we had nothing to do with” for the “rage and violence directed at American embassies.” Clinton did not, in the course of her speech, defend the right to free speech.

What’s worse, Clinton privately told the father of one of the CIA officers killed in Benghazi: “We will make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.” By the end of the month, an American citizen known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who made the anti-Islam YouTube video, was indeed arrested for violating the terms of his probation. He was later sentenced to a year in jail for using a name other than his given legal name.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Safire, one of the country’s top experts on both politics and language, once called Clinton “a congenital liar.” (See ) Samantha Power, now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, once called her “a monster.” In the story of Hillary and the families of the victims of the Benghazi attack, Americans saw with their own eyes, on full display at that hearing last week, what sort of person Hillary Clinton is.



The Smoking Gun, which we don’t have to look for, because we already have it

The most significant Smoking Gun in this case has been known to the public for months, thanks to the investigators, working for the Benghazi committee, who discovered what Secretary Clinton was doing with her e-mails.

That Smoking Gun is the fact that Hillary Clinton stole every single e-mail she generated in the course of her work as secretary of state. The e-mails related to her work were the property of the U.S. government. They were supposed to be protected from our enemies and, in certain circumstances, available to the people’s elected representatives, to the courts, to journalists and to the public. Secretary Clinton hid them, destroyed many of them, and claimed to have returned the ones that were work-related but, as far as she intended and believed, left no one with any way to determine whether she did so.

A Smoking Gun is overwhelming circumstantial evidence of guilt. People often use the term “circumstantial evidence” to suggest that evidence is of inferior quality—“just circumstantial evidence”—but, as every lawyer knows, circumstantial evidence is generally more reliable than other forms of evidence such as eyewitness testimony. Dogprints in the snow are stronger evidence than eyewitness testimony to the fact that a dog has walked by. As Bill Clinton pointed out, the presence of a turtle on a fencepost is proof that somebody put it there.

A Smoking Gun is overwhelming circumstantial evidence, such as when a shot rings out, and you burst into the room, and you see, standing over a body which is bleeding from a bullet wound, Colonel Mustard with a smoking (recently fired) gun in his hand. It is like just short of being caught in the act—caught “with one’s hand in the till” or in flagrante delicto (“in blazing offence”). (Being caught “red-handed”—with blood on your hands—is in between the two categories; it can refer either to being caught during the act or immediately afterward.)

Once again, we turn to the late, great William Safire (

In an 1893 Sherlock Holmes story, “The Gloria Scott,” Arthur Conan Doyle wrote of a grisly murder by a sham chaplain aboard a prison ship: “We rushed into the captain’s cabin . . . there he lay with his brains smeared over the chart of the Atlantic . . . while the chaplain stood with a smoking pistol in his hand at his elbow.” . . . [T]that Holmes citation seems to be the start of the cliché that grips us today.

It first appeared in The New York Times on July 14, 1974 [during the Watergate investigation], in an article by Roger Wilkins: “The big question asked over the last few weeks in and around the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing room by committee members who were uncertain about how they felt about impeachment was ‘Where’s the smoking gun?’” The question was rooted in a Nixon defense strategy, to narrow the grounds for impeachment to a provable crime.

Hillary Rodham, now Hillary Clinton, worked for the Democrats who targeted President Nixon during the Watergate investigation, so she knows well the idea of using the Smoking Gun concept as a defense. (

Today, the idea of a Smoking Gun has been twisted into a Nixonian/Clintonian defense, that any politically-connected crime, if allegedly committed by a Democrat or leftist, must be provable by the standard of criminal law, which is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And the news media define “reasonable doubt” so broadly for Democrats that they can get away with almost anything—e.g., if Hillary denies committing a crime, that constitutes a reasonable doubt that she committed it.

Indeed, one of the most damning types of evidence is the destruction of evidence itself. It’s called spoliation of evidence. For example, if there’s a hit-and-run accident at 12:55 a.m. involving a pedestrian and a car that looks like yours, and you run that car through a car wash a couple of miles away at 1:05 a.m., that may constitute evidence, absent a reasonable alternative explanation for the late-night cleaning, that you washed blood off your car. Same thing if you run a tobacco company accused of wrongdoing, and, before a subpoena can be served, you empty your file cabinets in the parking lot and set the files on fire.

That’s what Hillary did with the e-mails.

How many e-mails did Secretary Clinton steal? We can’t know for sure unless and until someone recovers the ones that Secretary Clinton thought she had had deleted, but the Washington Times reported that “Mrs. Clinton turned over to the State Department 55,000 pages containing some 30,000 e-mails from a larger collection. The remaining e-mails were deleted from her server, she said.” The total number of stolen e-mails has been reported widely at 66,000.

The Associated Press reported on October 13:

The private e-mail server running in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s home basement when she was secretary of state was connected to the Internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers while using software that could have been exploited, according to data and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. “Clinton’s server, which handled her personal and State Department correspondence, appeared to allow users to connect openly over the Internet to control it remotely, according to detailed records compiled in 2012. Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service wasn’t intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders. . . . Clinton’s privately paid technology adviser, Bryan Pagliano, has declined to answer questions about his work from congressional investigators, citing the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

A court of law, if it were considering whether Mr. Pagliano committed any wrongdoing, would be barred from inferring guilt from his taking the Fifth. As members of the public, we may infer anything we like (although, to be fair, Mr. Pagliano may have had no improper intent, and may simply have committed acts that, unknowingly on his part, had the effect of furthering Mrs. Clinton’s crooked schemes). If Mr. Pagliano were involved in a Republican or conservative scandal, his refusal to testify on grounds of self-incrimination would be seen as damning evidence of his guilt and of the guilt of higher-ups.



Changing times: We used to support Free Speech

Once upon a time, in 1988, a writer named Salman Rushdie wrote a book, The Satanic Verses, ridiculing Islam. After a fatwa authorized his murder, Rushdie became the darling of civil libertarians, a human rights hero. A few opposed him—for example, Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, who said, “He [Rushdie] must be killed. The Qur’an makes it clear—if someone defames the prophet, then he must die.” But the vast majority of Western elites celebrated Rushdie.

In 2004, filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered over his documentary, Submission, that was critical of oppression under Islam. And the 2005 publication of cartoons featuring Mohammed led to violent protests around the world in which a reported 200 people died.

At some point, things changed. Critics of Islam began to be characterized as bigots who deserved whatever fate the Islamofascists had in store for them.

In 2010, when a Florida preacher named Terry Jones threatened to burn a Koran on the anniversary of 9/11, he was denounced, and preemptively blamed for any violent protest of his actions, by the President, the Secretary of State, and General David Petraeus, then the allied commander in Afghanistan. The President declared that “I just want him [Jones] to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan. We’re already seeing protests against Americans just by the mere threat that he’s making.” When the pastor reported death threats against him and asked for police protection, his request was mocked by ABC’s Nightline.

A few months after the controversy around the Florida preacher, when comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a rally in Washington to make fun of the Tea Party movement, Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens, who supported the death sentence on Salman Rushdie, was their honored guest (with Stewart explaining condescendingly that “Yusuf” is essentially the name “Joseph,” so—don’t you get it?—Muslims are just like the rest of us).

Last January, Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists killed 11 in an attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons featuring Mohammed; they later killed a police officer and five others.  In the aftermath of that attack, the pendulum swung the other way, with world leaders joining together to defend free speech. As I wrote earlier this year ( ):

When they held a march in Paris against “terror”—really, against the kind of terror perpetrated methodically by Islamofascists—the turnout was massive: millions of people, including presidents or prime ministers (or the equivalents) of Germany, Israel, the U.K., France, Italy, and Turkey. Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Norway, and Ukraine were represented. The king and queen of Jordan were there. Even the Palestinian president and the Russian foreign minister, hypocrites respectively on Islamic extremism and freedom of the press, were there. French Muslim leaders were there, as were the leaders of Qatar, the UAE, and Tunisia.

But not President Obama. Not Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, who was in Paris but left early. Not the secretary of state [John Kerry], so obviously proud of his ability to speak French. Not the principal designated attendee for funerals and the like, also known as the Vice President. Nobody ranking higher than the U.S. ambassador to France/Monaco, who got her job mainly because she was a big bundler of campaign contributions.

Then, when terrorists attacked a Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas, much of the media spent a lot of time attacking the sponsors of the contest rather than the terrorists. (See Media Research Center reports at,, and

To be clear: I oppose such acts as the burning of the Koran, out of respect for the many Muslims who reject totalitarianism and respect human rights, including a number with whom I’ve worked in the pro-freedom cause. I also oppose book burning of any kind, as it evokes Nazism. On the other hand, I live by the sentiment expressed by biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her distillation of the views of Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” The President and other public officials take an oath to the Constitution, and have a responsibility to make sure that no governmental power is used to prevent someone from having his say. No one should every have to fear violence for drawing a cartoon or be jailed for making a video.


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Hollywood vs. the truth


[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

The new movie Truth tells the story of the Dan Rather “Bush National Guard documents” scandal from the viewpoint of left-wing conspiracy theorists.

If you’re too young to remember the scandal, I’ll summarize: In 2004, Dan Rather, the anchor of CBS News, presented a story on his network’s venerable news magazine 60 Minutes claiming that President George W. Bush, who was running for reelection, had failed to fulfill his obligations as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. The story was fake, based on forged documents, the forgery apparent under even a cursory examination.

We’ve looked at the case before, at (follow-up: ). For an update, see these recent stories:

Interestingly, despite being exposed as a liar, Rather managed to hold onto his job as lead anchor of CBS News until March 2005—which means that his tenure overlapped with that of NBC’s lead anchor Brian Williams, who got that job in December 2004. (Williams, caught lying repeatedly, has been demoted to a breaking-news anchor on MSNBC, the network of left-wing fabulism.)

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House of Canards: Remember that “disastrous” government shutdown?

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.” – from The Art of War, traditionally attributed to Sun Tzu

Trick your enemy into believing that you are strong where you are weak and weak where you are strong, and he will attack you at your strongest point rather than your weakest. Even better: Trick your enemy into believing that he is strong where he is weak and weak where he is strong, and he will attack you with his weakest forces rather than his strongest.

That’s why the Big Lie about the 2013 government shutdown is so important.

Today, Congress is in the hands of Republicans and the White House is in the hands of Democrats—specifically, a Democratic president who has no intention of letting the Constitution or the statutory law or the people’s representatives get in his way as he pursues the fundamental transformation of the country. (“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” — Barack Obama, October 30, 2008.)

President Obama claims nearly absolute power—that, any time Congress does something he doesn’t want or fails to do something he does want, he can simply put policy into effect by executive action. What are they gonna do to stop him, shut down the government?? We all know how that government-shutdown idea worked out last time around—you know, in 2013 when that lunatic Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) shut down the government in a last-ditch effort to stop Obamacare.

Yeah, I know, it’s really the President who shuts down the government, but that doesn’t matter because Republicans are blamed, and the American people get incensed, and it all ends up as an utter disaster for the GOP.


Here, for example, is part of a panel discussion on Fox News September 18 (

CHRIS WALLACE: House Republicans sharply divided about whether to threaten a government showdown . . . . And we have got this [question] from Karen Margrave on Facebook. She writes, “The GOP cowered on preventing the deal with Iran. Does anyone think they will actually defund Planned Parenthood? The GOP is a total disappointment.”

Brit, how do you answer Karen?

BRIT HUME: I would say that Karen speaks for legions of disappointed Republicans. I think she is wrong that they cowered on Iran. There is a widespread believe that actually, if they wanted to, they could have made this executive agreement into a treaty. The idea that defunding Planned Parenthood against the wishes of a sitting president with enough vetoes to sustain, and the vetoes he might cast, even if it leads to a government shutdown, there is a path to victory is crazy.

Every time that we get down to this, the government closes, and it’s always only a partial shutdown, the Republican Party gets blamed because people want the government cut down perhaps, but not shut down. The party’s standing in the polls begin to sink like a rock. Disaffected Republicans like Karen would argue, oh if they had just stuck to their guns they would win in the end. There is no evidence to support that [any] government shutdown . . . has ever led to anything good for the Republicans. So it’s a suicidal – suicide mission.

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Al Sharpton: Liar, liar, cities on fire

The Rev. Al Sharpton makes a statement outside the US Justice Department in Washington, DC, July 16, 2013, calling for a federal investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  Sharpton, President of the National Action Network (NAN) announced that NAN is organizing Justice for Trayvon vigils in 100 cities across the country on  July 20, to press the federal government to investigate civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a Florida jury on July 13, 2013.AFP PHOTO/JIM  WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: 173921541

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

Over the past three decades, Al Sharpton has used deception to make himself rich and powerful.

Sharpton first came to the attention of many New Yorkers in the 1984 case of Bernhard Goetz. Goetz, sitting in a New York City subway car, was surrounded by four robbers, three of whom carried sharpened screwdrivers; he defended himself, shooting them with a .38-caliber pistol, and fled the scene. After a massive manhunt in which the mayor called out 1,350 extra policemen, Goetz, dubbed the “Subway Vigilante,” turned himself in, and Sharpton demanded that the “racist” serve jail time. Goetz was ultimately acquitted on four counts of attempted murder but served eight months for carrying an unlicensed firearm.

“The Reverend Al” became a national figure in 1987, after Tawana Brawley, a 15-year-old African-American girl, was discovered in a garbage bag, smeared in feces and with racial epithets written on her body in charcoal. Brawley claimed to have been raped by six white men, some of whom were police officers. Sharpton led protests and accused several individuals of involvement in the crime, including prosecutor Steven Pagones. He called New York Governor Mario Cuomo (D.) a “racist” and compared state Attorney General Robert Abrams (D.) to Hitler. Brawley’s supporters suggested that the Mafia, the KKK, and the Irish Republican Army may have been involved. The whole thing turned out to be a hoax. Sharpton was sued successfully by those he accused, and his supporters paid the damages.

In 1990, Sharpton strongly supported the efforts of a fellow radical activist, Sonny Carson, who led a boycott of Korean-owned groceries in Brooklyn. The New Republic reported that, during the boycott, “not far from the boycott line, a black teen smashed the skull of a Vietnamese resident with a claw hammer, and his accomplices chanted, ‘Koreans go home.’”

There were the Crown Heights riots, as described by Ben Shapiro of Breitbart News and

In 1991, after a Chasidic Jew accidentally killed a young black child in a car accident, Sharpton went to Crown Heights, where he spoke at the funeral for the child. There, he said that “diamond merchants” had “blood of innocent babies” on their hands. He also said, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” The Crown Heights riots led to the death of Yankel Rosenbaum, an Orthodox Jewish student. Rosenbaum’s brother told TruthRevolt, “He has never apologized, he has never offered any sincere remorse for the atrocious things he has done by way of terrible racist behavior and lies, for inciting racial events. Anybody who takes a look at that person and wants to spend advertising dollars on him should take a hard look at their moral stance in terms of their position in business, in commerce, and in the community.”

In one march after the Crown Heights riots, Sharpton led some 400 protesters through the neighborhood, his followers chanting, “no justice, no peace!” One of the protest banners read: “Hitler did not do the job.” During the riots, an estimated 43 civilians and 152 police officers were injured, in addition to the rabbinical student who was killed by rioters chanting, “Kill the Jew!”

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Martian SUVs, the Zell Miller effect, and those racist Carsonites

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

A few short items this week: climate change on Mars, Kim Davis now has a party, and the RINOs are, as the kids say, showing the h8.


You may recall when the Clinton administration announced the discovery of “life on Mars”—actually, microfossils from a meteor that supposedly proved that life had existed on Mars in the distant past. It was the Story of the Century, or would have been, if it had turned out to be true and not a Clintonite hoax to knock the Republican National Convention off of magazine covers and off the top part of the front page of the country’s newspapers. Continue reading →

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See something, keep your racist mouth shut

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and public policy.]

“Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” – President Barack Obama, September 16, 2015

When you’re practicing political deception, it helps if your target is really, really stupid. That’s why the Left targets the ignorant, and seeks to keep them ignorant through its domination of the academic world and the news and entertainment media.

How stupid was the Left’s response to the Texas case of a teenage boy, the son of a former candidate for president of Sudan, who brought to school a bomb-lookalike that was actually a clock (probably from Radio Shack)? Continue reading →

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