COMMENTARY: Democracy Dies In Derangement Too

first_imgOctober 31, 2019 The Times soon joined every other media organization in the race to discredit Donald Trump’s election, implying it was the product of Russian interference, and paint him as an illegitimate intruder in the White House. Although they were right to investigate Russian interference, they were wrong to pump up a thinly based conspiracy story that served their political aims.Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation showed the Russians did interfere, primarily to create chaos and assist Trump. The special prosecutor documented multiple Russian contacts with the Trump campaign, a troubling revelation for any fair-minded American. But the report did not show any impact on the election outcome or charge any Americans with aiding the Russians. Asked point-blank if the president had not been charged because he was in office, Mueller mumbled a befuddled answer (like much of his testimony) and eventually said “no.”Mueller’s report left gaping holes. It made no effort to find out why the CIA and FBI began investigating Trump and his campaign in the first place, whether that was warranted, why a counterintelligence investigation became a criminal one, or why candidate Trump was never warned about Russia’s malicious efforts. The report never addressed whether James Comey’s FBI was secretly targeting Trump for partisan or illicit purposes or how it justified this unprecedented action. Ultimately, Mueller’s report was a dud, and his testimony a disappointment for those alleging a vast, treasonous conspiracy.Did the proprietors of the Fourth Estate learn their lesson? No, siree. Like all true believers who have been thwarted, they have redoubled their efforts, reinforcing the impeachment drive by House Democrats. Even as Trump wrongly smears all news as “fake,” damaging our country (as well as his targets), those newspapers, online outlets, and cable channels are doing their best to prove him right. They have embraced their new role as active partisans, while still denying it. Who trusts their denials?This media sinkhole was exposed once again after U.S. forces launched a daring raid that killed ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Washington Post beclowned itself with a headline, since changed, that depicted the murderous terrorist and serial rapist as “an austere religious scholar.” The Twitter universe responded with parodies. Bonnie and Clyde were called “wealth re-distributors in the banking sector,” John Wilkes Booth “a noted thespian and member of a prominent theatrical family.” My favorite is Osama bin Laden, who was “killed in a home invasion.” Note that all of them are true, just as the Washington Post’s headline was. They are funny because, like the Post headline, they miss the point so egregiously.How did CNN do? Not well, but thanks for asking. At 3 p.m. Eastern time, when I tuned in, the news channel’s editors had decided that al-Baghdadi’s death was not the top story. The day after the raid. Really? They led with two minor pieces, neither of them urgent, and then took a commercial break. Afterward, CNN turned to the al-Baghdadi story, but its main point was that it was far less important than killing Osama bin Laden. I agree, but what was troubling was how CNN essentially stage-whispered to its viewers, “Trust us, this story is not that important and certainly cannot compare with President Obama’s achievement.”Burying important stories is as significant as misreporting them. Over the next few weeks, we will learn about a huge one the mainstream media has buried in a shallow grave for nearly three years. It deals with surveillance on members of the Trump campaign, based on warrants the FBI and Department of Justice gained from a secret court charged with counterintelligence investigations. DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz will report on his extensive probe of those FISA warrants and whether top FBI and DoJ officials committed fraud on the courts in obtaining them. We may learn who leaked classified materials, a crime we know happened repeatedly in 2016 and early 2017. We may learn about massive, illegal access to intelligence databases by outside contractors, who were spying on Americans without court permission. Expect criminal referrals. Expect indictments on related matters being investigated by U.S. Attorney John Durham, a highly respected, non-partisan professional. Did the CIA, which cannot spy on Americans, simply outsource the task to foreign counterparts? This is likely to be big and ugly.Our country’s leading news organizations have done almost nothing to investigate these issues and far too little to report on them. When they do report, they editorialize to downplay them. If the worst allegations turn out to be true — and we simply don’t know yet — they will have missed the biggest story since Watergate. Worst of all, they will have missed it deliberately because they feared any investigation might aid a president they hated. That position should be reserved for the editorial pages. In the news sections, such distortion and willful blindness are an abdication of journalists’ responsibilities. Democracy dies in that kind of derangement.FOOTNOTE: Charles Lipson is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he founded the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security. He can be reached at [email protected] 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.Americans know this, and we’re angry about it. Polls show we don’t trust the media any more than we trust Congress, the president, universities, or big business. And we don’t trust them at all. That’s deeply troubling since those institutions should be the secure foundations of our public life. Only one is still trusted by more than half the population — the military. Our men and women in uniform certainly deserve our trust and respect, but it’s grim news for a democracy when only the armed forces merit it. This article was sent to us by former CCO Editor Joe Wallace.  We post this article without bias, opinion or editing.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharecenter_img Democracy Dies in Derangement TooBy Charles Lipson – RCP Contributor The media has added to this sulfurous climate of distrust and division. Take the country’s most important newspaper, the New York Times. After badly misjudging voter sentiment during the 2016 election, the Times publicly promised to reevaluate its biases, take occasional trips across the Hudson, and try harder. That lasted about a week. Related Topics: Washington Post, Abu Bakr Al-baghdadi, Robert Mueller, James Comey, Russian Election Interference, New York Timeslast_img read more

Internet sales’ share on rise

first_imgInternet sales are booming at Vertical Branding, an Encino-based company that sells beauty and household products – in fact, without online sales, the business would fizzle. “It would be devastating to our company,” founder and CEO Nancy Duitch said, “as I think it would be to most companies today.” Duitch’s company makes 25 percent of its income online, and that share is growing. Like Vertical Branding, businesses everywhere are increasingly relying on e-commerce, according to the 10th annual survey of online shopping by Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation. The study released today revealed that Internet sales outpaced expectations of 20 percent growth to increase by 25 percent last year, from $176.4 billion to $219.9 billion. More than two out of three companies said their e-commerce business was profitable. “We haven’t scratched the surface of the potential of e-commerce,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, the primary author of the study, during a conference call announcing the findings. Mulpuru is a senior analyst at Forrester Research, the technology and market research company that conducted the survey. Sales of airline tickets, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages led the pack with $73.4 billion, followed distantly by clothing, accessories and shoes, which took in $18.3 billion. Computer software and hardware fell from the No.2 slot to No.3 with $17.2 billion in sales. Consumer electronics came in at $9.8 billion in sales. The biggest growth in revenue came in pet supplies, which ballooned by 81 percent, and apparel, which jumped by 61 percent. Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, called the apparel growth a milestone for online retailers. “If you were looking for a sign that online retailers have gone mainstream online, this would be the sign you are looking for,” Silverman said. Online transactions for retailers grew so much partly because retailers embraced technology that gives customers intimate knowledge of products before they buy. Web sites that show multiple color swatches, that zoom in on fabric as the user scrolls over them with a mouse, and that offer free shipping help break down reservations about not being able to examine an item in person. Sites that share customer reviews have seen a boost in sales, too. “These factors help reduce some of the hesitation consumers have about touch and feel,” Mulpuru said. And with speedy Internet connections installed in half of American households, many shoppers can run the software that allows this level of interaction. At Forever 21, a Los Angeles-based retailer, sales on the Web site are “very important,” spokeswoman Meghan Bryan said. “Ever since we launched in ’04, sales have been growing rapidly,” said Bryan, who declined to share details. The company keeps its site fresh by adding products every day and by replacing pictures of models every two months. Total online sales this year are forecast to grow up to 20 percent. The survey included input from 170 businesses. [email protected] (818) 713-3735160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more