Category Archives: Media Bias

Facebook “Adds to” a Lee Kessler Blog

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I don’t know whether to be flattered or angry. I’ll choose angry today. Two weeks ago I posted one of my Blogs from www.LeeKessler.net. It had to do with voting, and my recommendations–not on who to vote for–but on how to make sure your vote gets counted, and counted in a timely manner, this election.

The Blog was one of the ones most commented on by you, my readers, and most forwarded. Facebook, however, was not satisfied with it, and decided to do their own improvements.

It’s bad enough that some company feels they can censor your words and thoughts, that are not at all inflammatory. It’s even worse when some millennial “woke” person creates an algorithm, and the algorithm then finds words, and then Facebook adds their commentary or evaluation.

In this case they added right on top of my Blog–as if it were part of it–a box with all kinds of “helpful” information on voting during this election. If you click on their link, you find some good information there. And you also find “evaluations” and opinions about mail in voting. And that is just what it appears to be–an opinion, not supported by current facts necessarily. If they cared about facts they would have stated what the rejection percentage has been in recent years and months with mail in ballots, or the number of fraud cases in recent elections.

When I checked the source of the Facebook-approved voter recommendations, it is Jason Grumet’s think tank, the Bipartisan Policy Center. Grumet is a former Obama energy and climate advisor.

You can form your own opinion. You read my Blogs because hopefully you value my opinion on some issues. I doubt you needed Facebook’s! So, I am going to post it again. You can read the original post. It is just to the right of this one, under Recent Posts. Title: How to Ensure Your Vote Counts

How Did CNN & MSNBC Miss This?

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Yesterday, a bombshell dropped that rocked the Fourth Estate that seems to feel they are our guardians and masters. Many news agencies did cover this, because to fail to cover it would be dereliction of duty. Yet CNN and MSNBC avoided it. And in doing so, misled all of their viewers by withholding something of significance, and worthy of thought.

Bari Weiss, the Opinion Editor for the New York Times, resigned yesterday. Below is the letter she sent to the head of the Times, explaining her decision to leave. Any fair-minded person will want to read this. You CNN fans and MSNBC fans should ask them why this story just didn’t warrant their attention.


Dear A.G.,

It is with sadness that I write to tell you that I am resigning from The New York Times. 

I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home. The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers. Dean Baquet and others have admitted as much on various occasions. The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.

I was honored to be part of that effort, led by James Bennet. I am proud of my work as a writer and as an editor. Among those I helped bring to our pages: the Venezuelan dissident Wuilly Arteaga; the Iranian chess champion Dorsa Derakhshani; and the Hong Kong Christian democrat Derek Lam. Also: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Masih Alinejad, Zaina Arafat, Elna Baker, Rachael Denhollander, Matti Friedman, Nick Gillespie, Heather Heying, Randall Kennedy, Julius Krein, Monica Lewinsky, Glenn Loury, Jesse Singal, Ali Soufan, Chloe Valdary, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Wesley Yang, and many others.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions.I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.

My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.

There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment, and constructive discharge. I’m no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong. 

I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.

Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique. But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets. 

Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.

It took the paper two days and two jobs to say that the Tom Cotton op-ed “fell short of our standards.” We attached an editor’s note on a travel story about Jaffa shortly after it was published because it “failed to touch on important aspects of Jaffa’s makeup and its history.” But there is still none appended to Cheryl Strayed’s fawning interview with the writer Alice Walker, a proud anti-Semite who believes in lizard Illuminati. 

The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

Even now, I am confident that most people at The Times do not hold these views. Yet they are cowed by those who do. Why? Perhaps because they believe the ultimate goal is righteous. Perhaps because they believe that they will be granted protection if they nod along as the coin of our realm—language—is degraded in service to an ever-shifting laundry list of right causes. Perhaps because there are millions of unemployed people in this country and they feel lucky to have a job in a contracting industry. 

Or perhaps it is because they know that, nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back. Too wise to post on Slack, they write to me privately about the “new McCarthyism” that has taken root at the paper of record.

All this bodes ill, especially for independent-minded young writers and editors paying close attention to what they’ll have to do to advance in their careers. Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.

For these young writers and editors, there is one consolation. As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere. I hear from these people every day. “An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a democratic ideal. It’s an American ideal,” you said a few years ago. I couldn’t agree more. America is a great country that deserves a great newspaper. 

None of this means that some of the most talented journalists in the world don’t still labor for this newspaper. They do, which is what makes the illiberal environment especially heartbreaking. I will be, as ever, a dedicated reader of their work. But I can no longer do the work that you brought me here to do—the work that Adolph Ochs described in that famous 1896 statement: “to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.”

Ochs’s idea is one of the best I’ve encountered. And I’ve always comforted myself with the notion that the best ideas win out. But ideas cannot win on their own. They need a voice. They need a hearing. Above all, they must be backed by people willing to live by them. 

Sincerely,

Bari

Who is Nancy Green & Why are We Banishing Her?

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Nancy Green was born a slave in Kentucky. Once freed, she became an activist, and one of the organizers of the Olivet Baptist Church. She also was a great cook, with a great personality.

She became a model, becoming the first black woman to secure a contract to represent a company’s product and become its spokesperson. She was offered a lifetime contract for her image, and her appearances.

With the considerable money she made, and utilizing her fame and stature in Chicago, she was able to become one of the first African-American missionary workers and devoted time to anti-poverty programs to benefit black and white alike, and to work for equal rights.

And this week, the “woke children” of America decided to banish Nancy Green. It seems as if everyone has piled on. Even corporate America. Why, you ask? Because Nancy Green was Aunt Jemima.

Now you can look on this as an opportunity to be insulted by images of a mammy from the South, and justify hatred due to her image calling up dark times from the past. You can be so repulsed by her face looking at you from your kitchen table, and be so self-righteously disgusted that she represents exploitation, that you banish her forever. You could do that.

I see something different. I see a hero. She came from unfortunate beginnings, and when freed to pursue life on her terms, she turned that negative into a huge positive in her anti-poverty programs, the example she set, the success she achieved, and the legacy she left. Personally, I would want little children at my table to look at her, and for me to tell her story to them. I doubt they would see a former slave. I believe–if I told the story to the young–that they would see a woman who rose above the worst of it, who dreamed, and who succeeded, and who carried her success forward into posterity.

You see, Nancy Green was a living embodiment of Emerson’s “in every adversity lies the seed of equal or greater benefit.”

Quaker Oats, you got it right in 1890. You got it wrong in 2020.

And, I ask all of the “woke” in this country, “just what have you created? Hatred, divisiveness, and less than shallow analysis?”

When I look at Aunt Jemima, I do not see a face that reinforces my so-called “white privilege.” I see a woman who made good. I plan to buy a bottle of pancake syrup, even though the current face is not the face of the woman who inspired the brand. I will photograph it, and put it in my folder of heroes.

Wake up, America!

A Tribute to Barry Farber

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Barry Farber died this week, one day after his 90th birthday. His daughter’s tweet says he was live on the air the day before he passed, and that he viewed death as a place he hadn’t gone to yet, like Finland or Estonia.

Many things will be said about this brilliant man by men and women who knew him better than I. Even the New York Times will acknowledge the life and work of one of the earliest pioneers of talk radio. Much will be made of a man who broadcasted live almost every day for 60 years, taking time out only to run for Mayor of New York City for example.

Or they will praise the obvious genius of a man who spoke over 20 languages, who wrote books, and advised the mighty–in business, politics, and broadcast journalism.

His close friends and family will have the most intimate and touching stories to tell to memorialize him. As for me, I have my own personal perspective.

In 1986, I was introduced to Barry Farber over lunch by one of the investors in a show I had brought into New York about the legendary diarist Anais Nin. And without any hesitation whatsoever he tried to help a young actress/writer on her journey and promote her.

He encouraged me to sit in with him on his show at ABC studios, and encouraged me to weigh in on his famous nightly talk show. He, I, and his co-host at the time would then walk late at night to an ice cream place they loved. And they talked about the world. I listened.

Through the years, I would see Barry perhaps once every few years, talk to him briefly on the phone in between, occasionally email to fill him in on my latest novel. Always, he was an encourager.

Yes, Barry Farber was brilliant, articulate, a precision-thinker with uncanny wit. But, he was also a gentleman. No matter the argument, there was a grace about him on his show, and in person. There was a profound respect for his fellow man.

He personally guided me into an understanding of Israel, the Israeli people, and that remarkable country–whose leaders he knew very well, for a very long time. I gained a world-view and appreciation from my exposure to him, both in person and on the air.

I learned to extend my hand out to others, to help them accomplish their goals. He unselfishly helped me, when he did not even know me, and I learned to help others in like kind.

Mostly, since I admired him, and his grace under fire, I gained the ability in my writing to face some of the toughest issues and people in the world today. If you know me, or my work at all, you have an inkling.

So, how do I say thank you to someone I barely knew? To someone who touched my life by chance a long time ago, but whose influence was profound and enduring?

As I said in the previous Blog, you live, ’til you die. I am quite confident Barry Farber did just that–if his daughter’s tweet is any indication. He was a country boy who “died with his boots on.”

A Warning from the Past–revisited

Published / by Lee Kessler / 1 Comment on A Warning from the Past–revisited

 “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.  Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.  The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day. . . .  I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors.” 

Attributed to Thomas Jefferson (June 11, 1807) – Principal author of the Declaration of Independence, 3rd, President of the United States from 1801 to 1809

Food for thought for today’s climate: What is “lying by omission?” And then ask yourself how devastating is it to you if the Press omits key facts that would allow you to properly evaluate?

You are the boss.

Dwarfed by the news of the Pandemic and the national shutdown, the last two weeks however have also seen monumental revelations concerning abuse of power and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, and Justice Departments from 2016 to the recent past.

Documents long sought under the rule of law–not anonymous sources making up and “leaking” whatever–have surfaced. The picture I and many have described and tried to help you see is now clear. In their own words in emails and texts, and even in their own handwriting, the proof of a plot, and the identities of the malevolent cast of characters are now visible for you to see.

You may writhe, and struggle, and deny and argue, but this data will be evidence–in my opinion–in courts of law in the coming months. Justice is sometimes slow, but eventually truth does out.

A mentor of mine in business was overheard telling one of his young proteges this: “The things that will hurt you most in life are the things you accept as true, but which are actually false.” One takes the lie, and begins to think, evaluate, and decide through the filter of the lie. And terrible consequences can ensue.

So, Director Comey, I watched you last year on national television brazenly and pridefully confess to actions which were part of a coup. You laughed, and thought you would get away with it. Except for that pesky little thing called the Law, you would have.

Now, as of last week, we know the back story. As I wrote in the novel “White King and the Doctor,” if you want to overturn a government, without a hot war and without being spotted as the subversive, you “persuade” the people of that country to do it themselves.

What is that back story then? A counter-intelligence operation which we would normally run against another country to covertly overthrow a government there, was turned against our own government. The goal? The overthrow of the President of the United States.

James Comey, you have a right to remain silent…

For those who need more info, look up “recent developments in the case of Michael Flynn.” If you don’t see it, bail from that news agency. You might try JusttheNews.com