Daily Briefing:Coverage of the Al-Baghdadi Takedown Exposes Media Dysfunction (November 1, 2019)

DOD image. Defense Intelligence Agency DNA laboratory confirms the positive identification of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi with a probability of 1 in 104 septillion based upon DNA collected during Baghdadi’s detention in 2004. (Source: Defense.gov)

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Table of Contents:
Baghdadi Story Reveals Divided — and Broken — News Media:  Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, Oct. 28, 2019
CNN Is Not So Different from Breitbart:  Kyle Smith, National Review, Oct. 28, 2019

The ‘Demedia’s’ Impeachment Beat Goes On:  Conrad Black, American Greatness, Oct. 29, 2019

Iranian Aggression Bringing Arabs and Israelis Closer Together: Trump Mideast Envoy:  Rob Crilly, Washington Examiner, Oct. 31, 2019

______________________________________________________Baghdadi Story Reveals Divided — and Broken — News Media
Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone, Oct. 28, 2019Two sets of headlines over the weekend described the suicide of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. From the Washington Post Sunday morning: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.The Post has since rewritten that, though the description of an “austere religious scholar with wire-rimmed glasses” remains in the lead paragraph. Meanwhile, the headline on Foxnews.com:Al-Baghdadi kill: how the daring military operation went down

The Post headline would fit a quiet academic who died in his sleep, not a genocidal jihadist leader. The Fox headline is less nuts, but still not quite right: al-Baghdadi wasn’t killed but reportedly committed suicide, while pursued by American “military dogs.”

Donald Trump was correct when he tweeted Saturday night that something “big” had happened, but from there, America received two almost completely different versions of the story of al-Baghdadi’s pursuit and suicide. It was a vivid demonstration of how dysfunctional the modern news landscape has become.

When important events take place now, commercial news outlets instantly slice up the facts and commoditize them for consumption by their respective political demographics. We always had this process, to some degree, but it no longer takes days to sift into the op-ed pages. Now news is packaged for Republicans or Democrats on the first reporting pass. Moreover, it’s no longer true that Fox is more blatant about its slant than the Democrat-friendly press, which in the Trump years has become a bullhorn of caricatured bellyaching in the same way Fox was in the Clinton years.

The Trump version of the Baghdadi story was a predictable heroic cartoon. The Obama administration at least had the decency to seek out a decent director and wait a year or so before the heroic Zero Dark Thirty bin-Laden-killing epic was released. Trump decided the skip the Hollywood negotiations and deliver the boffo movie lines upfront. “He died like a dog, he died like a coward,” Trump said, saying al-Baghdadi died “whimpering and crying.” Al-Baghdadi, Trump said, was the “biggest ever” terror villain, even bigger than bin Laden, because he “built a caliphate.” He even praised the “beautiful dog, talented dog” that chased al-Baghdadi into a tunnel. The White House released photos of Trump and advisers watching the assault, an experience Trump described as being like “you were watching a movie.”

Conservative media immediately emphasized the political benefit of the raid to Trump, as in the Fox headline, “Al-Baghdadi takedown catches Dems flat-footed, blunts criticism of Trump’s Syria pullback.” There was also mockery of liberal culture-war targets like Saturday Night Live, which ran an ill-timed gag this weekend. “SNL mocks Trump for ‘bringing jobs back to ISIS’ amid operation targeting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria,” read the Foxnews.comheadline. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

CNN Is Not So Different from Breitbart
Kyle Smith
National Review, Oct. 28, 2019

CNN went apesnit Friday night on the news that Facebook had tapped Breitbart as one of the sources for its new “news tab.” National Review was also tapped, indicating that Facebook is making an effort to be inclusive in its understanding of what news is. Perhaps Facebook has noticed that a declared ideological agenda, as opposed to an undeclared one, is insufficient cause for disregarding a media outlet.

CNN’s Brian Stelter used a chunk of his Friday-night newsletter to waste everyone’s time reporting that various like-minded individuals were of like mind; literally all of the “experts” he contacted for comment about the inclusion of Breitbart were established anti-Breitbarters who he knew would provide him with anti-Breitbart comments. Why reporters continue to launder their opinions through cherry-picked experts, professors, wonks, and fellow journos is a mystery. Why not just tell us what you, Brian Stelter, obviously think, which is that Breitbart is beyond the pale and ought not be admitted in polite company? Make the case, Brian Stelter! Don’t hide behind your friends’ opinions. The case can very easily be made. Except . . . not by you.

The argument I present is not an ad hominem one. It’s a question of the proper credentials for membership in an exclusive club. Breitbart’s willingness to slant the facts in service of its narratives about immigration, crime, and Islam is comparable to CNN’s disregard for balance on these subjects and others.

Almost everything Breitbart presents is the truth, or at least arguably the truth. The problem with Breitbart is that it is tendentious, partisan, and biased, relentlessly propagandistic for its side and less interested in the pursuit of truth than in scoring points.

So is CNN.

Breitbart plays up true information that advances its worldview while downplaying or pushing back against true information it sees as damaging to its cause.

So does CNN.

Breitbart regularly resorts to name-calling, exaggeration, and even outright hysteria.

So does CNN. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

The ‘Demedia’s’ Impeachment Beat Goes On
Conrad Black
American Greatness, Oct. 29, 2019

he pre-electoral schism in American politics seems now to have reached a point not approached since the Civil War. The Democrats have been successfully hounded by the Republicans for their unauthorized, in camera, selectively researched, and leaked “impeachment investigation.” Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is going to have its existence approved by the House, but with plausible deniability, so vulnerable Democrats in pro-Trump districts can claim they only voted to “look into it”—not to impeach the president for probable crimes of sufficient gravity.

This is just another palliative to cover the egregious antics of U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), intelligence committee chairman and congressman from Hollywood. Now lurking constantly at Schiff’s side in his innumerable photo and sound-bite ops is his yappy attack dog, Rep. Eric Swalwell, also of California, perhaps the first elected Democrat to call for Trump’s removal, and for being the Democratic presidential nomination candidate who had the least support and was the first to be knocked out. Swalwell manfully accepts the invitations on Fox News that Schiff declines.
This can be seen as a tactical victory by both sides, as Pelosi obviously needs to provide some sort of veneer of seriousness to this burlesque, a concession to Republicans, but the White House will continue to ignore Schiff’s subpoenas. With a few exceptions, all Schiff can get as witnesses are anti-Trump ex-government employees whom the president cannot instruct to ignore his committee’s subpoenas.
In fact, in these matters, the system is working as it should: the House has no standing to pretend it can order the executive branch about, as the legislative and executive branches are co-equal and the legalities will be determined in the courts by the third co-equal branch—and not by the flaky-left lower benches where the Democrats have judge-shopped, but by the Supreme Court.

Little But Vituperative Partisanship

Nothing has come to light that is remotely presentable as an impeachable offense. And there appear to be legally insurmountable hurdles getting an article of impeachment that is both susceptible of being adopted by the House—jay-walking would be approved for the purpose by Rep. Jerry Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) kangaroo judiciary committee—and an offense of sufficient gravity to justify removal of the president, if proved beyond a reasonable doubt to have occurred to the satisfaction of 67 senators (including 20 Republicans). …. [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

Iranian Aggression Bringing Arabs and Israelis Closer Together: Trump Mideast Envoy
Rob Crilly
Washington Examiner, Oct. 31, 2019

President Trump’s departing Middle East envoy says he is saddened to be leaving the job before publication of a much-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan but believes that the two sides are closer than ever after years of Iranian aggression in the region.

Jason Greenblatt steps down as special representative for international negotiations at the end of the week. After 2 1/2 working alongside Jared Kushner in the role, he told the Washington Examiner that an Israeli-Palestinian deal would be Iran’s “worst nightmare.”

“The Iranian regime’s regional aggression has brought the Arab nations and Israel closer together,” the former attorney for the pre-White House Trump and the Trump Organization said in an answer to emailed questions. “I think we’re seeing that this cooperation can ultimately help advance diplomatic progress in other areas, hopefully including peace efforts.”

Political turbulence in Israel has stalled publication of the full plan, and so far only the economic portion, proposing massive investment in the Palestinian territories, has been released. At the same time, critics suggest Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his apparent closeness to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in power for a decade before finishing second in last month’s general election, had alienated Palestinian leaders.
Greenblatt, 52, said it was part of a new approach that involved speaking “hard truths.” “The president’s bold, courageous and historic decision to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was absolutely the right decision,” he said. “It was also the fulfillment of a U.S. law from 1995 that every president pushed off until President Trump. Peace can only be built on reality.”

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their capital. Most members of the United Nations have maintained embassies in Tel Aviv rather than prejudge the outcome of negotiations.

Greenblatt shrugged off another key tenet of the long-standing consensus on any future deal. “The use of vaguely worded phrases such as ‘two-state solution’ do not help the cause of peace,” he said, explaining that the administration was trying to avoid “ambiguous” terms with different meanings for different audiences. “When the vision is released, I hope that both parties will read it carefully and not make any hasty decisions,” he added. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]

For Further Reference:

Josh Jordan @NumbersMuncher:  “Jeffrey Dahmer, connoisseur of exotic and locally sourced meats, dies at 34” #WaPoDeathNotices, View image on Twitter

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Rebuffs Calls for Tighter Controls, Saying Free Speech Must Be Preserved:  Ryan Tracy, WSJ, Oct. 18, 2019 — Mark Zuckerberg has spent the past two years apologizing to a chorus of critics for misinformation, privacy violations and more.

Democracy Dies in Derangement Too:  Charles Lipson, Real Clear Politics, Oct. 30, 2019 — Because our country is so deeply split and so distrustful of its basic institutions, it needs solid, dispassionate reporting now more than ever. We are not getting it.

Distorting Ben-Gurion Prof. Efraim Karsh, BESA, Oct. 10, 2019 — It is only recently that David Ben-Gurion ceased to be, for the sake of the official record books, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

This week’s French-language briefing is titled Communique: Mais pourquoi Erdogan en veut-il autant aux Kurdes (1 Novembre 2019)

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