The New York Times Invokes its Inner Child

The New York Times published a petulant piece on Hillary Clinton attending a fundraiser, and we discovered why via a tweet from another NYT reporter, Michael Barbaro.

Evidently the New York Times reporters—Amy Chozick and Jonathan Martin—are unhappy that Clinton has not held a press conference. They imply that she makes herself accessible to the wealthy, but not the press or regular folk.

Mr. Trump has pointed to Mrs. Clinton’s noticeably scant schedule of campaign events this summer to suggest she has been hiding from the public. But Mrs. Clinton has been more than accessible to those who reside in some of the country’s most moneyed enclaves and are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to see her. In the last two weeks of August, Mrs. Clinton raked in roughly $50 million at 22 fund-raising events, averaging around $150,000 an hour, according to a New York Times tally

And while Mrs. Clinton has faced criticism for her failure to hold a news conference for months, she has fielded hundreds of questions from the ultrarich in places like the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley.

The New York Times piece implies that Clinton has spent all of her time at fundraisers—with the unspoken comparison with Donald Trump, media’s Great White Hope.

Press Conference As Entertainment

It is true that Trump has had more press conferences. However, they haven’t been singularly effective or informative. A March press conference played out more like an informercial, one in May was an attack on the Press, and we don’t need to get into the press conference where Trump invited Russian hackers to hack Clinton’s computers.

These press conferences weren’t effective for us…but they were effective for the news media. They were circuses, and stories about them attracted attention. Attention is money in the media biz.

I suspect that’s what the New York Times and other media really want: they want more circuses. They want to trap Clinton in a room and just hammer her: about her email, her foundation, Russian hackers, and even the recent news about Anthony Weiner.

They certainly aren’t interested in the issues, or any of the meticulously detailed proposals that Clinton has provided—two of which, on economics and mental health, she published in August. The same August the New York Times reporters claimed she spent most of her time fundraising.

About Those Fundraisers in August Both Clinton and Trump Attended

In a Presidential race, August is the last month candidates can focus on earning the big bucks necessary to fund both campaigns and advertising for the rest of the race. After August, it’s all campaigning, all the time.

So, yes, Clinton attended a lot of fundraisers in August. However, so did Trump. When he recently cancelled events in Nevada, Oregon, and Colorado, he still attended fundraising events scheduled in the same areas.

Clinton also raised over $143 million dollars in August. Yes, that’s a lot of money. Of that money, though, $81 million is going to the DNC and to the state Democratic parties to help with down-ticket races.

We don’t know how much Trump raised in August, but we can take a good guess in how much went to down-ticket races: exactly zero.

Why Not a Motel 6?

The writing that really stood out for me in the Times pieces wasn’t the coverage of the fundraising. No, it was the unnecessary and gratuitous aside about the Clinton family’s August living arrangement for the past few years.

Cash-seeking candidates from both parties often rely on August to reach vacationing donors who open their wallets, and their palatial homes. In 2012, the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, brought in close to $4 million over a single weekend from events in the Hamptons. And Mr. Trump, while netting $64 million through online and direct-mail fund-raising in July, also made the trek this summer to the eastern end of Long Island to raise cash.

But Mr. and Mrs. Clinton have occupied a particular place in the social fabric of the enclave. Over the past several summers, they have spent the last two weeks of August in a rented 12,000-square-foot home with a heated pool in East Hampton and in a six-bedroom mansion with a private path to the beach in Sagaponack. This year, the former first couple stayed in the guesthouse of Steven Spielberg’s East Hampton compound built on nine acres overlooking Georgica and Lily Ponds.

Question to Ms. Chozick and Mr. Martin: were you expecting the Clintons to stay at Motel 6? Maybe, sleep in a limo with the Secret Service?

I Want to Know: Are the Toilets in the Trump Plane Gold-Plated?

Since expensive homes seem to offend the delicate sensibilities of our intrepid reporters, I wonder if we can expect to see a similar piece on Donald Trump. For instance, I’ve read that there are real diamonds embedded into the entry door to Trump’s home in Trump Tower.

Why diamonds? Diamonds are insipid. Why not emeralds, or rubies?

And is everything in the Trump plane gold-plated? Does that include the toilets? If so, what’s it like to plant your bum on gold? Does it make you feel special?

And the chairs. How can we forget the chairs?

All this kind of puts that rented six bedroom ‘mansion’ with its own path to the beach in perspective, doesn’t it?

If You Want to be Treated Like Journalists, Act Like Journalists

If the Press really wants more access to Hillary Clinton, it’s simple: all they have to do is act like journalists, not paparazzi.

Why should Clinton hold a press conference if every question is going to be about her email? Or the Clinton Foundation? Or her aide’s personal married life? How no one trusts her, and why is that, or her optics are bad. And nothing she says about these subjects will ever make a difference and no matter how many times she answers the same questions, it will never be enough?

The media can also drop the double standard that’s been an all too real component of its Presidential reporting. It’s spent close to two weeks dropping unfounded accusations about the Clinton Foundation based on mish-mashed cherry-picked data, yet it barely gives a mention to the very real problems Donald Trump’s own foundation has in its donation to the political campaign of Florida’s Pam Bondi.

I won’t even get into equating Anthony Weiner’s bad behavior with more trouble for Clinton (your story again, New York Times); a claim reputable journalists reject.

No, if the media wants a press conference, than it needs to look at its own behavior, including indulging in the kind of petty snark forming the core of the New York Times piece covered in this story.

No one expects the media to go easy on Clinton, but it needs to remember one important fact: She is running for the Office of President of the United States. There are more important topics to cover than speculating about what was in one specific email sent by a career State employee to Clinton 7 years ago.

Stop playing games, and get down to business. And you’ll get your conference.

Originally published at Crooks & Liars.

Ferguson: Media, You are Hurting Us

screenshot of Jon Stewart on Crossfire

The story read that the FBI had arrested two New Black Panther members for buying explosives to bomb Ferguson protests. Not long after, though, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted a story that what really happened is the FBI arrested two men for providing false information when buying guns. And that New Black Panther association? Well, that’s implied because a “police source” made the connection. Not the men. Not officially from the FBI. A “police source”.

One of the many sources who have added to the confusion and alarm associated with the Ferguson protests. The same sources that both Twitter users and mainstream press reporters have quoted without fact or verification. There is some excuse for the Twitter users: it’s not their job to fact check what they retweet. The same cannot be said for the media, who have done a piss poor job of covering Ferguson.

Even today, the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post have stories about a $5,000 bounty placed on Darren Wilson’s head by a black militant group. The only problem is, it’s all fake, a fraud. There is no black militant group. There is no $5,000 bounty. It’s all one anonymous Twitter user making the claim among a set of overly fantastic and conflicting claims, in an account that demonstrates glaringly obvious disconnects in linguistic styles. A Twitter account for a group that has absolutely no hint of existence outside of Twitter. Even photos purportedly showing the Twitter user’s hands holding a box of ammo, with dark implications of future mayhem, generated little but doubt from other Twitter users primarily because the hands looked remarkably white, and what most people missed, remarkably feminine. So much for discussions about “fellow warriors”.

(The only other reference to the group was a pulled Go Fund Me page.)

It was all fake, yet these stalwarts of the press, these icons, dutifully copied each other without any of their journalists once going, “Hey. Maybe we should fact check this or something.”

CNN writes last week about a Grand Jury decision on Friday, and it wasn’t because they had inside information, as the implication might be. No, it was nothing more than a guess. So we end up having a press conference and all sorts of stories on Saturday about no Grand Jury decision happened on Friday. That’s the same as saying, “We didn’t get hit by an asteroid this weekend”, or, “There’s a lot of snow in Buffalo”.

How much confusion has been generated by dutifully quoting Chief Jackson from Ferguson, as he makes assertions in the AM, only to add “clarifications” later that day or the next? By the time the media report the clarifications it’s already too late: the seeds of doubt are sown, and mismatched stories get flung about in Twitter, like stones fired from slingshots.

All these stories do is add to the tension and distrust. They generate unnecessary suspicion, and add fuel to an already volatile situation. It is like members of the media have gotten together over a beer somewhere and said to each other, “You know, riots in Ferguson would be good for ratings. What can we do to make it happen?”

What did Jon Stewart say on Crossfire years ago? Before his appearance on the show signaled its impending doom?

Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.

Media, you are hurting us.