When does a real news story become fake news?

2017-02-13Last week, my favorite talk radio host had a call in segment about whether or not the U.S. left and right could ever again really come together as a country. Bear with me as I take a roundabout approach to share my thoughts.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

 

Keith Eldridge is a reporter/anchor for KOMO, the ABC affiliate in Seattle. Yesterday morning, he tweeted the series of photos on the right. They tell the sad tale of a Tacoma family whose husband/father, Armando Chavez Corona, was detained by ICE after having been rear-ended on the freeway.

His wife said she had no idea why that might have happened and blamed it on President Trump. His teen-aged daughter worried that she might never see her father again. That’s awful, right? I mean, the accident wasn’t even his fault!

Do you notice anything missing from the tweets? Say, the reason why ICE might have gotten involved? I wondered, too, so I tweeted Keith Eldridge to ask, but got no response. I had to wait, as it says in one of his tweets, for the story at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.

As it turns out, Chavez Corona was arrested because he is a convicted felon who had been previously deported. This couple has been married for 16 years. How likely is it that Ms. Chavez didn’t know her husband had a felony drug conviction? Keith Eldridge surely knew before his morning tweets, but chose not to share that information.

Click through and you’ll see that Eldridge finally tweeted the rest of the story 8-1/2 hours later. The story posted on their website is also correct, but how many people didn’t or couldn’t get back to the story later in the day and were left with the wrong impression?

The obvious problem here is that for some people, the “facts” about this story are “Trump is a horrible person who wants to rip apart this lovely family,” while for others, the “facts” are “Thank God that Trump is deporting convicted felons.”

Granted, this isn’t a terribly important story on its own, but it’s part of a pattern that’s become increasingly obvious in the weeks since the election. The Federalist has compiled a list of 16 fake news stories, some of which are also not so important on their own but, taken as a whole, paint a very negative picture of the president and the GOP. These are national stories, but how many local stories like the one presented here have run?

So my questions are:

  • Did Eldridge have a responsibility to paint a fuller picture of the story in his morning tweets?
  • Was the lie of omission part of a calculated strategy to create a misleading impression? Or was it merely a marketing ploy?
  • If it was a marketing decision, do a station’s marketing concerns outweigh their responsibility to accurately report the news?
  • How do people stay informed if they can’t trust what they see and hear from news media?
  • How much of a story can be omitted before becomes fake news? Or how much bias can be injected into a story before it becomes fake?
  • How much responsibility does a news outlet bear to make news consumers aware that a story has been corrected or that they’ve published additional facts? (See what happened here.)

Our ability to come together as a unified people is directly tied to our ability to find common ground. When half the country is operating with one set of “facts” and the other half with another, that ability is profoundly hindered; we can’t find common ground if we don’t we share common facts.

There are plenty of things for which the President can legitimately be criticized, but people’s opinions of him should not be based on lies, partial truths and innuendo. Same with Congressional Republicans; God knows there have been many times I wanted to throttle the lot of them, but I want my criticisms to be based on fact, not fiction.

I don’t want to absolve the individual of the responsibility to stay informed, but I’m finding that it’s nearly a full-time job to sort out the real from the fake news. I’m retired so I have time for that, but what, for example, does a single mom do if she wants to stay informed? Cut out sleep altogether?

Conservatives have been trying to hold the news media accountable and demanding accurate reporting for years even if it means reporters and anchors have to do something completely crazy, like, you know, actually investigating rumors before tweeting them or repeating them on television.  That’s not surprising because, frankly they’re the ones who usually come out on the short end of this situation. Now it’s time for fair-minded liberals to demand it too.

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Frenemies

chris-vanceIf you were following Washington State politics during the last election cycle, you may remember Chris Vance. He’s the former Washington State Republican Party Chairman who ran against Patty Murray for U.S. Senate. Despite a condescending video he recorded to open his campaign (which seems to have been scrubbed from the internet) in which he insulted the traditional GOP base, I voted for him based on the assumption that no one could be worse than Patty Murray.

I may have been wrong. Okay, maybe not, but I have questioned my vote in recent weeks.

While I share many positions with Vance on a variety of issues, mostly concerning national defense and the national debt, I’ve come to believe that he’s among the worst of politicians…the moderate Republican who’s still trying oh, so hard to be accepted by the cool kids where all the cool kids in the cafeteria are liberals. To put it another way, I once read that the difference between a pop star and a rock star is that the pop star wants to be beloved by fans and a rock star doesn’t give a damn. Vance is a pop star and the fans he’s courting aren’t conservative Republicans.

2017-02-08-14Vance’s post-election twitter feed is all Republican bashing all the time. I’m not exaggerating! Even when he offered a weak admonishment to the Democrats to confirm the Neil Gorsuch appointment to the Supreme Court, he included Republicans to soften the blow. As if there were anything the GOP could do to cause Democrats to be less obstructionist.

And if he’s not bashing Republicans, he’s attacking one of the foundations of the republic, the electoral college. He’d like to be able to vote to abolish it and he’s so passionate about it that he mentioned it twice on public radio in the space of a month.

Vance has also, predictably and very publicly, come out in opposition to President Trump’s immigration executive order. He’s so opposed, in fact, that he joined the protest in Seattle.

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Which is fine, of course. It’s his prerogative to spend his time and exercise his right to free speech in any way he wants. Which includes, I guess, joining the ACLU, also in response to the immigration order.

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Also his prerogative. I guess he doesn’t mind if they’ll use his membership fees to advance their leftist anti-voter ID, pro-affirmative action, anti-law enforcement agenda if it makes him feel good about his position on Trump’s executive order.

It doesn’t end with his Twitter account, either. He’s started a blog, “Wide Awake.” In his second post, he makes the assertion that the major threat to freedom today comes from the right. He cites the rise of Putin in Russia. I agree; Putin is a threat. Putin is a fascist, he says. Okay, sure, maybe he is. (I don’t agree that fascism is a right wing ideology, but that’s an argument for another day.)

But then he goes on to tie this back to U.S. politics. He implies that Trump and those who voted for him have fascist tendencies. (I disagree again; I believe that Trump, at least, is a populist, not a fascist.)

He brings up racism and Islamophobia and the demonization of immigrants. These are predictable straw men used against conservatives, but commonly by Democrat politicians and progressive activists (but I repeat myself), not by Republicans eating their own.

By now it’s probably obvious that Chris Vance isn’t my favorite Republican and you may be wondering why I’ve gone on this extended rant rather than just ignoring him. Let me ask you this. Would you choose to let cancer eat away at you from within if there were anything you could do to stop it?

Chris Vance is a cancer eating away at the Washington State Republican Party. His favorite pastime is bashing other Republicans, and he does so at a variety of left-leaning places who keep him around like a pet they can trot out when it suits their agenda. He undermines and weakens the GOP at a time when we should be working to unite the party in Washington. He may think his anti-republican position will curry favor with local voters, but I have to point out that Patty Murray posted the largest margin of victory of her political career over Vance.

Like his successor at the WSRP, Luke Esser, who now lobbies for the SEIU and makes contributions to Democrat politicians, Vance seems to be leaning ever closer to the dark side.

Which brings me to my final point.

2017-02-08

 

So, Chris, if this is the only thing holding you back, get over it and go. Please. You’re not helping the WSRP and your disdain of the conservative Republican base is palpable. Frankly, I’d be embarrassed if you claimed to be speaking for all Republicans and I cringe over your willingness to chastise. So just go already. The last thing we need is a frenemy like you.

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How I Voted

Just kidding…I’m not going to recreate my ballot for you, except for this:

ballot-photo

Despite the unflattering things I’ve said about Matt Manweller in the past, he’s doing a great job in Olympia, and I’m happy to cast my vote for him again.

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When Is an Apology Not an Apology?

When it’s not an apology, that’s when.

Here’s Howard Dean “apologizing” over the tweet in which he wondered if Donald Trump was using cocaine:

“I apologize for using innuendo. I don’t think it’s a good thing to do, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do…This entire campaign has been debased by innuendo. Where was the mainstream media calling out innuendo 15 months ago when Donald Trump started running for president of the United States? That’s what I want to know. Do your job.”

Seriously, Howard Dean apologizes like all liberals…without a single bit of regret and with no actual apology proffered to his intended target. Note: Saying “I apologize,” is not, in fact apologizing.

The way The Hill chose to caption the photo accompanying the article doesn’t help.

“Howard Dean apologized Friday for insinuating that Donald Trump used cocaine, arguing his remarks were meant to highlight a critique of media coverage of the businessman’s presidential bid.”

Note to The Hill: Dean didn’t apologize for insinuating that Trump used cocaine.

Howard Dean didn’t apologize for the content of the Tweet. He didn’t use innuendo. He didn’t even, as The Hill’s caption implies, insinuate that Trump used drugs or apologize for doing so.

To call Dean’s statement an apology in any sense of the word is an insult to everyone who’s ever made a heartfelt apology to anyone over anything. An apology carries with it a sincere sense of regret. Does anyone think Dean was regretful over his use of “innuendo,” much less over the original tweet? Of course he wasn’t. He said exactly what he thought he needed to say to try to get the result he wanted.

The whole rambling statement is a farce, intended to deflect any further criticism of his tweet. (Rambling enough that it left me wondering about Dean’s possible drug use.) The next time it’s mentioned, he can say, “I apologized for that” and move on.

 

Here’s my point.

I don’t really care if Howard Dean insults Donald Trump, or publicly wonders whether or not he’s using cocaine. I do care that news outlets continue to call statements like Dean’s apologies.

Here’s my point. Words have actual meanings. To continually use words in ways that are at odds with those meanings degrades the language. Let this go on long enough and it will become impossible to communicate complex ideas. English is such a beautiful language; it’s flexible, it’s adaptable, it’s precise, concise and dynamic. Why anyone would willingly jeopardize that is just mind-boggling to me.

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More on I-1491

I happened to come across this website that examines and rejects I-1491 from the perspective of a mental health advocate. You should still vote NO.

Know 1491

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Vote NO on Initiative 1491

Washington State readers, if you take your constitutional rights seriously; if you believe that no one should be deprived of their rights without due process; if you consider yourself to be an advocate for civil liberties, please vote NO on Initiative 1491.

Under I-1491, a judge can, at the request of “family and household members” (ironically, household members need not actually live with you…more about this later), issue an order depriving you of your constitutional right to bear arms. Indeed, the individual to be deprived of their right to bear arms need not even be notified in advance that any action is being taken.

Consider this from Washington Arms Collectors:

“A woman, stalked by a violent ex-husband, attends a handgun class, obtains a Concealed Pistol License, and purchases a handgun – all to defend her and their children. The stalker realizes that he is now in danger if he follows, confronts, assaults her or invades her home. He sends a petition to the court, stating that his ex-wife has threatened him, that during a recent argument she brandished a firearm, and that she owns a gun and has taken training in its use. The stalker provides proof to the court of the acquisition of a firearm. He also knows of his wife’s visits to a psychologist during their divorce proceedings and in his petition discloses the medications she is on and alleges that she is mentally unstable and a danger to her, their children and him. The allegations are serious enough that the court, without a hearing, issues an ‘ex parte* extreme risk protection order’ that orders the woman to surrender her firearms. The first time that the stalking victim knows of the process that is being used to disarm her is when is when the local police show up at her door to deliver notice, search her home and seize her firearms.

With the help of the courts, this victim has been made helpless.”

Forget due process. Forget your constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Forget any quaint notions you may have about being innocent until proven guilty. Forget the old saying about having nothing to fear from the courts if you’ve done nothing wrong.

The progressive group, Alliance for Gun Responsibility is, predictably, supporting this initiative by distributing questionable “facts” and statistics. For example, they cite a study by the equally progressive Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, that claims dozens of lives have been saved by “similar” legislation in Connecticut. That’s super, but unless you live in a Minority Report world, where it can be known in advance that a particular act is certain to happen (and we know how that turned out in the movie), any claims of lives saved has to be pure speculation.

Furthermore, while some may say that the Connecticut legislation is similar to I-1491, it differs in at least one significant way. The Connecticut law requires an independent investigation on the part of local law enforcement before a person can be stripped of their 2nd Amendment rights; I-1491 requires only the say-so of the aforementioned family or household member.

Just exactly who are these family and household members? Aside from the people you would normally expect, I-1491 also includes a “person who resides or has resided with the respondent within the past year.”

 

Say, for example, you need a roommate, so a friend of a friend moves into your spare room. Your new roommate quickly falls behind on his share of the rent and utilities and, eventually, you ask him to move out. Several months later, the deadbeat roommate still owes you money. Angry over your efforts to collect, the ex-roommate files a petition with the court for an extreme risk protection order, stating that you own at least two handguns, drink heavily on the weekends, that you’ve been harassing him over a bogus claim for money and recently threatened him. The judge agrees that you’re a threat and issues an ex parte order to deprive your of your firearms. And just like the helpless woman in the hypothetical situation above, you’re none the wiser until the police show up to confiscate your firearms.

When this legislation was introduced to the State Legislature in 2015, it never passed out of committee. Why, you ask? Because even the liberal gun grabbers in Olympia could see that it was deeply flawed. First, as already mentioned (yes, I’m beating a drum, here), an extreme risk protection order can be issued before the respondent is even aware that any complaint has been filed.

Second, there is very little downside for a person who maliciously files a petition. There’s no filing fee and the penalty clause  is weak; in the event of a malicious petition, the respondent bears the cost and burden of seeking redress.

Next, the legislation requires only a preponderance of evidence in order for an ERPA to be issued, meaning that the judge need be only 51% sure that the facts alleged in the petition true. This is a laughably low standard to use in order to strip a person of his constitutional rights.

To be clear, I can understand the motivation behind this piece of legislation. Take the story about the woman above, and turn it around to have her seeking protection from her violent, gun toting ex-husband. It seems like the legislation proposed in I-1491 would be tailor made to protect her. Not so, according to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

If a person is truly dangerous, existing law already provides a variety of mechanisms to deal with the individual, all of which can lead to firearm prohibitions in appropriate cases.  Depending on the circumstances, these can include arrest, followed by pretrial detention or release on bond with conditions and monitoring; restraining or no-contact orders; or emergency mental health evaluations and commitments.

The issuance of an ERPO does not do anything to deal with the underlying cause of dangerousness, nor does it subject the person to any actual physical restraint, ongoing reporting or monitoring requirements, or treatment for any underlying mental health condition.  Initiative 1491 will be ineffective as it targets the tools but not the problem.

If a dangerous person is committed, he gets treatment. If he is arrested, he might be detained pretrial or at least monitored and subject to reporting requirements while on pretrial release. Nothing happens, however, to a person with an ERPO except the seizure of the person’s firearms (if he is known to have any) and listing in a prohibited person database.  Under I-1491, the person is left free to carry out any harmful designs by any means at his or her disposal, including the illegal acquisition of additional firearms.

I have not provided an exhaustive list of reasons here why I-1491 deserves to be voted down in November. I strongly encourage you to read both linked articles and ask yourself why progressives are pushing such a deeply flawed and anti-civil rights piece of legislation. While I’m sure they do want to save lives, it seems ironic that many of the same people who support this shameful assault on the 2nd and 5th Amendments also support abortion on demand and assisted suicide. This leaves me to draw the conclusion that they may be just as interested in depriving as many citizens as possible of their firearms as they are in improving gun safety.


As a side note, what is it with liberals anyway? They accuse conservatives of waging a war on women; they mock us by saying we want women to be barefoot and pregnant, but the truth is that liberals want women to be helpless and they want that helplessness codified into law.

*An ex parte judicial proceedings are conducted for the benefit of only one party; the other party is specifically excluded from the proceedings.

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Better Bombs than Guns? Really?

I pray I never find myself in the midst of a terrorist attack, but if I did, I’d prefer the attack to be with guns, where I had a chance to hide, flee or fight, than to have my life snuffed out in an instant by a bomb. Maybe it’s just me.

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