CNN caught feeding debate questions to Clinton

Donna Brazile is a Democratic operative who landed a gig as a commentator at CNN.  The Wikileak trove of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s e-mails includes Brazile giving him a question that would be asked in the CNN-hosted Town Hall debate.

Earlier Wikileaks seemed to indicate that she was leaking questions in earlier debates, but Brazile and CNN both strongly denied it.  But there is no question about what this e-mail says.

So CNN and Brazile have severed ties. [Read more…]

Luther and technology

David Gibson of Religious News Service tells about three major exhibitions opening this month on Luther’s Reformation:  at the Morgan Library in New York City; at the Minneapolis Art Institute; and at Emory University in Atlanta. These sound extremely interesting and worth going to.

I was struck by what the Morgan library curator says about Luther’s use of the new information technology of the time (with the assistance of artist and printer Lucas Cranach).  See what he says after the jump.  But read Gibson’s whole article, which includes the point about how Luther became the model for “speaking truth to power.”
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NY Times illegally published Trump’s tax returns

The New York Times published three pages from Donald Trump’s state tax returns for 1995.  They show a loss of $916 million, which “could have” allowed him to pay no federal taxes for 18 years.  (The story is here.)

That remains highly speculative until we can see the full returns. But the biggest problem is that publishing tax returns without permission is a crime. The Washington Post reports that the Executive Editor of the Times said that he would be willing to go to jail if he could publish Trump’s tax returns.

Read all about it after the jump.  Then consider:  Do you think these revelations will harm Trump’s election chances, as Clinton’s campaign is saying it will?  Do you think this will end up harming the reputation of prestige journalism more than it will Trump?  Won’t ordinary Americans appreciate Trump’s ability to avoid paying the IRS (if that, in fact, happened) while resenting the press’s illegal violation of his privacy? [Read more…]

Media election coverage

After the Republican convention, the media was giving Trump lots of unfavorable coverage.  But once Hillary Clinton racked up a seemingly safe lead in the polls, reporters started giving her a hard time.  To the point that after Matt Lauer’s interview of the two candidates, Democrats complained about media bias!  (Welcome to the Republicans’ world!)  Now that Trump has caught up in the polls, though, journalists are attacking him again.

Prediction:  Watch for stories now about Clinton’s good qualities.

Fox News is coming apart

Roger Ailes, who runs Fox News, is set to be fired by Rupert Murdoch, owner of the network, over charges that he sexually harassed TV journalist Gretchen Carlson.  Megyn Kelly has also said that Ailes harassed her, though other Fox News employees are defending their boss.  In fact, three of the network’s biggest stars–Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren–are threatening to quit if Ailes leaves.  This would mean, for better or worse, the end of Fox News as we know it. [Read more…]

The end of the written word?

Facebook is predicting the end of the written word–at least on Facebook, which the head of the company in Europe says may well be all video in 5 years.  Suggesting that reading and writing will be all but obsolete (though not completely), Nicol Mendelsohn said, “The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video,” which “conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”

This is not true, as media expert Neil Postman has shown.  It certainly isn’t “quicker” to watch a video, as opposed to scanning a few paragraphs.  And the information value of videos is quite low, if you are looking for ideas and facts, as opposed to emotional experiences.  And “stories” can be told with much more depth in writing, as nearly any comparison with a movie and the novel it was based on will prove.

And yet, I can see Facebook and other online media replacing the written words with visual images and oral performances. This would be in line with the predictions of another media scholar, Marshall McLuhan, who said that when this happens, we will revert back to a pre-literate culture, one that is tribal, anti-rational, and functionally primitive. [Read more…]