Friday, January 22, 2021

Washington Post scrubbed unflattering Kamala Harris story from site, restored it after backlash - Reason reporter Eric Boehm noticed the bizarre edit and took the Post to task in a scathing breakdown

 The Washington Post removed an unflattering tidbit about Vice President Kamala Harris from a 2019 feature and republished a new version of the story that is friendlier to the Democratic media darling -- but eventually restored a link to the original after widespread backlash.

Reason reporter Eric Boehm noticed the edit and took the Post to task in a scathing breakdown of the situation.

The Washington Post oddly removed an unflattering tidbit about Vice President Kamala Harris from a 2019 feature and republished a new version of the story. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

The Washington Post oddly removed an unflattering tidbit about Vice President Kamala Harris from a 2019 feature and republished a new version of the story.

"When The Washington Post published a 2019 campaign trail feature about then-presidential hopeful Kamala Harris' close relationship with her sister, it opened with a memorable anecdote in which Harris bizarrely compared the rigors of the campaign trail to…life behind bars. And then proceeded to laugh—at the idea of an inmate begging for a sip of water," Boehm wrote, calling it "an extremely cringeworthy moment" that painted Harris in a negative light.

"But now that Harris is vice president, that awful moment has seemingly vanished from the Post's website after the paper ‘updated’ the piece earlier this month," Boehm wrote.

The original Post feature from 2019 featured a tale of Harris comparing campaigns to prisons to her sister, Maya, when making a point that finding time to relax on the campaign trail is similar to prisoners seeking food and water. The first seven paragraphs of the 2019 Post story appeared like this:

It was the Fourth of July, Independence Day, and Kamala Harris was explaining to her sister, Maya, that campaigns are like prisons.

She'd been recounting how in the days before the Democratic debate in Miami life had actually slowed down to a manageable pace. Kamala, Maya and the rest of the team had spent three days prepping for that contest in a beach-facing hotel suite, where they closed the curtains to blot out the fun. But for all the hours of studying policy and practicing the zingers that would supercharge her candidacy, the trip allowed for a break in an otherwise all-encompassing schedule.

"I actually got sleep," Kamala said, sitting in a Hilton conference room, beside her sister, and smiling as she recalled walks on the beach with her husband and that one morning SoulCycle class she was able to take.

"That kind of stuff," Kamala said between sips of iced tea, "which was about bringing a little normal to the days, that was a treat for me."

"I mean, in some ways it was a treat," Maya said. "But not really."

"It's a treat that a prisoner gets when they ask for, 'A morsel of food please,' " Kamala said shoving her hands forward as if clutching a metal plate, her voice now trembling like an old British man locked in a Dickensian jail cell. "'And water! I just want wahtahhh….'Your standards really go out the f—ing window."

Kamala burst into laughter.

"It should go without saying that choosing to run for the most powerful political office in the world is absolutely nothing like being behind bars—and getting to squeeze in a morning SoulCycle session before sitting down for an interview with a national newspaper is not remotely the same as dying of thirst. None of this is funny," Boehm wrote before revealing the paragraphs had been scrubbed from the Post’s website.

The story was updated on Jan. 11, 2021 – two years after it was initially published – and an additional reporter’s byline was added along with the editor’s note "This story has been updated from an earlier published version."

Boehm was baffled at the edit. 

"Its disappearance suggests something about the Post, and about the way traditional political media are preparing to cover Harris now that she's one heartbeat away from the presidency," the Reason reporter added.

A spokesperson for the Post initially told Reason that ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden and Harris it "repurposed and updated some of our strong biographical pieces about both political figures."

"The original story remains available in print," the Post spokesperson added, a reminder that anyone with a 2019 hard copy of the paper can still read the unflattering story about Harris. 

Following the Reason report and widespread backlash, the Post added a link to the original report and admitted making an editorial mistake.

"As part of our Transfer of Power coverage and special sections produced on Biden and Harris, we repurposed and updated some of our strong biographical pieces about both political figures. The profile of Maya Harris was updated with new reporting, and while the original story remained available on The Lily (a separate section of The Post), we should have kept both versions of the story on The Post’s site (the original and updated one), rather than redirecting to the updated version. We have now done that, and you will see the link to the original at the top of the updated version," Washington Post vice president of communications Coratti Kelly told Fox News.

Before the Post’s correction, Boehm wrote that the paper’s approach to covering Harris going forward should be under a microscope.

"The Post, of course, can do whatever it pleases with its own content. It can update or rearrange or delete any detail in any story at any time," Boehm wrote. "Still, the decision to remove that specific passage—and to replace it with a puffy opening about how Maya has ‘been a constant companion along Kamala Harris's journey into history’ —is questionable at best… it also raises questions about the Post's approach to covering Harris going forward."

Many others took to Twitter to condemn the Post for initially removing the original version of the story:

Washington Post scrubbed unflattering Kamala Harris story from site, restored it after backlash | Fox News

Trust In The Media Hits An All-Time Low In New Polling

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

We have previously discussed how American journalism has been destroyed by years of openly partisan coverage in an age of echo journalism. Not surprisingly, the public has lost faith in what was once the leading nation in terms of journalistic practices and ethics. A new survey by the global communications firm Edelman (via Axios) found only 46 percent of Americans trust traditional media. 

That mirrors polls by Gallup showing an even lower level of trust

We are living in a new age of yellow journalism at a time when real journalism has never been more needed.

The loss of trust is greatest among Republicans, who view the media as openly aligned with the Democratic party and most recently the Biden campaign. Gallup’s 2020 results found that 73 percent of Democrats trusted the media, while only 10 percent of Republicans held such trust.

The plunging level of trust reflects the loss of the premier news organizations to a type of woke journalism. We have have been discussing how writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. Even journalists are leading attacks on free speech and the free press.  This includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation.

One of the lowest moments came with the New York Times’ mea culpa for publishing an opinion column by a conservative senator.  The New York Times was denounced by many of us for its  cringing apology after publishing a column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark.). and promising not to publish future such columns. It will not publish a column from a Republican senator on protests in the United States but it will publish columns from one of the Chinese leaders crushing protests for freedom in Hong Kong. Cotton was arguing that the use of national guard troops may be necessary to quell violent riots, noting the historical use of this option in past protests. This option was used most recently after the Capitol riot.

There is no evidence that American journalism will return to its prior position of independent reporting. Reporters continue to offer openly partisan takes on stories while burying other stories entirely. No editor or journalist wants to find themselves subject to same the treatment of the Times’ editor or others forced out for running unpopular positions or reports.  The result is that audiences and readers are now left with siloed media sources that keep them within a comfort zone of reporting — maintaining narratives that neither challenge them nor educate them. That is why a majority of citizens do not trust the media as a source for information.  In one generation, contemporary editors and journalists have utterly destroyed their profession — tossing aside generations of struggle by journalists to maintain strict principles of neutrality and integrity.  The sad fact is that you can have the greatest protections for the media in the world in the First Amendment but our journalism will be no better than the journalists themselves. The Constitution can stop the government from government coercion but not media duplicity.

The great tragedy is that we need a legitimate media now more than ever. Citizens are facing deep and violent divisions without trust in what is being reported in our newspapers, television programs, and Internet sites.

Trust In The Media Hits An All-Time Low In New Polling | ZeroHedge

President Donald Trump Forms New Patriot Party! Here's How Donald Trump's 'Patriot Party' Could Become a Political Force

The president could form a sizable splinter party if he's serious, but GOP defectors would have major ballot-access issues. Might they take over a smaller party instead?

"Goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form," Donald Trump said at the end of his final speech as president of the United States. "Have a good life. We will see you soon."

But how soon? And in what form?

These questions prompted much speculative chatter Tuesday, after The Wall Street Journal published a short, anonymously sourced article stating that "Trump has talked in recent days with associates about forming a new political party," to be named the Patriot Party.

If serious (always a critical "if" with Trump), the former president's trial balloon has the potential to disrupt America's two-party balance in the most significant way since the Kansas-Nebraska Act split the Whigs in 1854, helping give rise to the Republican Party.

If the 45th president takes his ball and goes home, he won't be alone. While Trump's public approval has consistently been the lowest of any modern president—and closed with a thud—it remains high among Republicans: 79 percent, according to a January 15–17 Morning Consult poll. His average GOP approval rating during the past four years was a record-tying 88 percent, per Gallup. (Among Democrats, it was a record-shattering low of 7 percent.) Until further notice, he remains the most popular figure in the party. A January 15–18 Civiqs poll showed that Trump voters, by a two-to-one margin, preferred characterizing themselves as "Trump supporters" rather than Republican Party supporters.

Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) warned on Fox News last Friday that if GOP senators vote to convict Trump of impeachment, "it'll destroy the party. A third of the Republicans will leave." If so, that would likely include elected officials. Remember that just under half the GOP's congressional delegation voted on January 6—even after the violent siege of their workplace—against certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, even though the theories behind their objections had been serially debunked, including by a number of Trump-appointed judges.

So the raw material for a Trumpian defection is there. But could he really do it? I see four main obstacles, beginning with the man himself:

1. It takes a lot of thankless, expensive drudgery without an immediate, flashy payoff. Not exactly what you'd expect from a leisure-loving 74-year-old corner-cutter who isn't exactly known for his lengthy attention span.

"At the risk of understatement," says Libertarian Party Chair Joe Bishop-Henchman, "starting a new political party is very hard. It requires a lot of money, a lot of work, a lot of volunteers. We'll see, but it's very difficult to do."

Aside from the ballot-access hurdles (on which more below), there is an important fundraising bottleneck at the beginning of a new party's life: The incumbents, including minor parties, that have "national committees" as recognized by the Federal Elections Commissions (FEC), are able to accept donations at $35,000 a pop. Individual campaigns along the lines of a prospective Trump 2024? Just $5,000.

And here's the catch about graduating to the big boys' fundraising club: The FEC won't grant national committee status until a political party holds a national convention, establishes national headquarters, sets up state party committees, and has a "sufficient number of party-designated federal candidates on the ballot in a sufficient number of states in different geographic areas." In other words, the Patriot Party better get cranking right now to compete in a whole bunch of 2022 House and Senate races; in the meantime, the candidates and the party will have to either self-finance (never a Trump specialty) or collect donations at a fraction of their competitors' size for a minimum of two years.

"You almost have to through an election cycle before you get that qualification," says Constitution Party Chair James Clymer, citing Ross Perot's experience self-financing his independent run in 1992 before forming the Reform Party. "The first time around, unless you have somebody who's willing to spend their own money in a big way, it makes it much more difficult to establish."

Trump? Willing to spend his own money in a big way? On other people?

The Constitution Party, founded in 1990 as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, already has a national committee, and it was on the ballot last year in more states (17) than hip hop billionaire Kanye West. But the party's ballot access, membership, and vote totals are all trending downward, and its 8th place 2020 presidential nominee, Don Blankenship, is more known for being the coal executive ex-con who coined the nickname "Cocaine Mitch" for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) than he is for competing against Joe Biden.

So it's little wonder that the right-of-center, tough-on-immigration party is flirting openly with Trump's not-quite-existent Patriots. "We would like to join forces with them, if that's possible, one way or the other," Clymer says. "I talked with some other people that are part of that, and…we're exploring what possibilities there may be to work in some kind of alliance with them. But this is all very much in the preliminary stages."

2. Americans are third-partiers in the streets, duopolists in the sheets. "Majority in U.S. Still Say a Third Party Is Needed," went the headline over a Gallup poll in October 2018. Two weeks later in the midterm elections, third-party and independent candidates got smoked.

Pre-election polls persistently overcount third-party support by about a third, with many third-curious voters retreating to old habits in the polling booth. Over the past century, nontraditional presidential candidates have exceeded 15 percent of the vote—the minimum polling threshold to get into the duopoly-gatekept presidential debates—just twice: Progressive Robert La Follette's 16.6 percent in 1924, and Perot's 18.9 percent in 1992. Neither were within even 12 percentage points of second place.

The Trump political brand relies heavily on the concept of "winning." He just lost by seven million votes nationwide—and if he bolts the GOP, he'll split that coalition in two. Even given the unusual turbulence of contemporary politics, that does not seem like a formula for first place. Which would be hard for an ego that large to accept. But Trump wouldn't be the only politician facing a gut-check.

3. Ballot access is a huge pain for third parties in non-presidential races. Trump could pretty easily (if expensively) get on most or all ballots in 2024, but GOP defectors who came along would be faced with roadblocks they've never before encountered.

"Here's the most extreme example," says Richard Winger, editor of the indispensable third-party newsletter Ballot Access News. "The Georgia ballot access law for independent candidates and minor parties for the U.S. House was passed in 1943. So it's 77 years old, and in 77 years no minor party has ever been able to get on the ballot for U.S. House in Georgia if it's a regularly scheduled election." (There are lawsuits pending.)

So while one could easily imagine Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R–Ga.), a woman with a history of QAnon enthusiasm and Parkland massacre false-flaggism who has vowed to impeach Joe Biden, following her president out of the GOP, Greene would as the law stands likely not be able to run for re-election. Elected politicians generall prefer not to volunteer for unemployment.

"It's a mistake for anyone to think of ballot access as a package," Winger says. "It is radically different for president than it is for…offices like U.S. House and state legislature. For president, it's far easier. That's why you see the Libertarian Party four times has got its presidential nominee on the ballot in all jurisdictions, yet typically, you only see a fifth or a fourth of the U.S. House seats with a Libertarian running, maybe 5 percent of the state legislative seats up with Libertarians running….But for president, except for Texas and California, there's no really, really hard state."

To achieve national committee status, and thus lower the burn rate of initial cash necessary to build a viable electoral apparatus, the Patriot Party would have to convince a significant number of Republican elected officials to jump into a fundraising and ballot-access climate harsher than they've ever contemplated.

Would one-third of the elected GOP take that bet? I'll take the under, unless they go the merger route. But that way has its own challenges.

4. Taking over an existing third party requires you to…take over an existing third party. These are not mere empty vessels parked outside major-party national conventions with the engine running. They tend to be collections of idiosyncratic cusses who have painstakingly if shambolically crafted specific political organizations and cultures. Transplants are far from guaranteed to be absorbed by the host.

Who could the Patriots merge with? You can safely scratch off the left-wing parties: the Greens (fourth place for president in 2020), the Party for Socialism & Liberation (in sixth place), and all the scraggly groupings on a state ballot or two with "Socialist" or "Progressive" in the title. Kanye's Birthday Party (seventh) doesn't look built to last, and Brock Pierce (ninth) is an independent building something rather non-Trumpy.

Among the top 10 finishers in 2020, that leaves just four potential M&A targets for Team Trump: the aforementioned Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party (in third place for a third consecutive presidential election), the Alliance Party (sixth), and the American Solidarity Party (10th). Taking those in reverse order:

The American Solidarity Party (ASP) first attracted my attention in October when The American Conservative published its pre-election symposium of staff voting intentions, and three writers (Rod Dreher, Gracy Olmstead, and Howard Ahmanson) backed ASP nominee Brian Carroll. "When I read the platform of the ASP, I found that I didn't agree with everything," Dreher explained, "but the overwhelming majority of its pro-family, Christian Democratic (in the European sense) policies I could endorse."

The American Conservative was co-founded by Pat Buchanan, and Buchananite paleoconservatism is widely understood as the intellectual and ideological forerunner to Trumpism. (At least its modern variant—when Trump briefly ran against Buchanan for the 2000 Reform Party nomination, he pronounced Pitchfork Pat's views "prehistoric.") So could the Transitive Property of Paleos apply to the ASP?

Not so fast, explains American Solidary Party Chair Skylar Covich.

"One of our big concerns is Trump's rhetoric. That's what got a lot of members interested in the party," Covich says. (The party was incorporated in 2016, attracting a lot of never-Trump Republicans and pro-life Democrats.) "There are also concerns about Trump's immigration policy, all of what went on with the detention camps at the border and the kids in cages, that sort of thing….We want to have the mindset of being welcoming and humane toward immigrants, and providing a path to citizenship." Sounds like a nonstarter.

I'm not sure many people could pick out the Alliance Party in a police lineup. Its 2020 presidential nominee, perennial candidate Rocky De La Fuente, has in the past five years run for at least five elected offices for at least five different political parties (Democratic, American Delta, Reform, Republican, and now Alliance, in roughly that order). De La Fuente has also secured the Reform Party nomination the past two presidential elections, in case you're wondering where Perotism went.

Alliance thus far is an amalgamation of independent minor parties pushing centrist mush and succeeding mostly in obtaining modest ballot access (15 states) for an ideologically promiscuous serial presidential candidate. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) It's hard to visualize Planet Trump signing onto a platform warning about gun violence and "the existential threat of climate change," but then, it's hard to imagine more than a very small number of people knowing what the Alliance Party stands for in the first place.

Odds of a Patriot merger? Not high.

How about the political party that came in third place in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, that received a whopping 70 percent of the non-duopoly vote, whose members tend to share Trump's sporadic rhetorical distaste of "endless wars" and the "Deep State," and whose presidential nominations merely require achieving a 50 percent delegate vote in a national convention?

Well, the Libertarian Party is basically having its biggest January in years, says Bishop-Henchman. And not because of disaffected Trump supporters.

"We were out very quickly and very strongly denouncing what those people were doing at the Capitol," Bishop-Henchman says. "My phone's been nonstop since the Capitol from people who used to be in the Libertarian Party and quit it because they thought it wasn't going anywhere. They're coming back. A lot of people who are like, "I was holding out hope for the Republican Party, but I mean, the Trumpists control it."

So the anti-RINO faction isn't turning toward the Libertarians?

"I'm not really seeing that," he says. "I mean, Trump still has a 60 percent approval rating from the Republicans. If he were to run again, I think he'd still win the primary. The GOP's very much where Trumpists are still nowadays."

Aside from having all sorts of MAGA-incompatible planks in the party platform, the Libertarian Party right now would have some extra inhospitality due to Trump's final hours in office, when he declined to extend libertarian-favored clemency for Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Reality Winner, and Ross Ulbricht.

As for some kind of infiltration or hostile takeover? "I think the Libertarian Party is pretty well protected," says Richard Winger. "It's age, partly. I mean, being over 50 years old, it has such strong traditions and a consistent policy of stances on the issues; it's really soaked in." You also can't exactly waltz into the party and immediately become a state delegate to the national convention. "There's rules," he said. "I mean, Libertarian have thought about this for a long time."

That leaves the Constitution Party as the most likely—and most willing—merger partner.

"I look very much at policy, and what he has done, we would be an agreement with 95 percent of that, I believe," party chair Clymer says. "I think we're certainly close enough that it would be a very good fit for both of us."

Perusing the party principles and policies, there are indeed many overlaps, "whether it's border security, America first, populism…trade," Clymer says. Might be a snag or two in the party's foundational emphasis on "integrity" ("We are committed to restoring honesty, integrity, and accountability to government"). Then there's the whole "Constitution" part, which has never been Trump's strong suit.

But Clymer takes the hopeful view.

"I don't know that Trump himself, and I don't of the other people who follow him—I don't know that they're quite as grounded in the Constitution itself and…constitutional principles as what the Constitution Party is," he acknowledges. "But some of it I think may be just education and understanding."

Winger for one sees a possible fit.

"There's quite a few Constitution Party units that are on the ballot where it's rather difficult to get on," he says. "They're an asset."

Ultimately, the biggest determinant of whether Trump bolts, aside from his own energy for the project, may be whether he even has to. Most of the Republican Party's machinery remains in solidly loyalist hands.

Ronna McDaniel was unanimously re-elected to head the party just two weeks ago. The presidential re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee in 2018 effectively (and unprecedentedly) merged, installing Trumpists atop almost all state parties, cancelling contested primary elections, and not even bothering to produce a new party platform in 2020. Such is Trump's continuing pull that one of the safest jobs in politics—Mitch McConnell's control of the Senate Republican caucus—may be in jeopardy if the minority leader chooses to back impeachment.

Trump may be gone from the White House, but his potential ability to shape the landscape of two-party politics, and now third-party jockeying, remains high.

"In a few months, we'll have a much better sense of what's happening with these parties," former Libertarian congressman Justin Amash tells me. "Everything is in flux right now."

Here’s How Donald Trump’s ‘Patriot Party’ Could Become a Political Force – Reason.com

Washington Post scrubbed unflattering Kamala Harris story from site, restored it after backlash - Reason reporter Eric Boehm noticed the bizarre edit and took the Post to task in a scathing breakdown

  The Washington Post removed an unflattering tidbit about Vice President Kamala Harris from a 2019 feature and republished a new version of...