October Surprise? More Like November Nothingburger
"Restraint months before election, revelations days before?"
That's Neela Banerjee of InsideClimateNews describing the FBI's inconsistent pattern (or lack thereof) in disclosing investgiative findings in close proximity to the election. We all know by now (and if you don't, I envy you and wonder if there's room for me underneath the rock where you live until Election Day) that James Comey's FBI broke with longstanding tradition by revealing to Congress that investigators found new possibly pertinent emails related to Hillary Clinton's private server investigation 11 days before the election as part of the underage sexting case against Anthony Weiner, all but guaranteeing it would blow up on traditional and digital meia channels, therefore threatning to impact the outcome of the race. But according to the New York Times, the FBI faced a similar dilemma as recently this summer when the U.S. Department of Justice this past summer urged the FBI to be patient and not issue subpoenas for a pair of investigations into Donald Trump's campaign manager's ties to the Ukraine and the Clinton Foundation—only that time, unlike with the Weiner emails, Comey actually heeded the DoJ's advice. Meanwhile, Politico's Blake Hounshell spotted a buried lede in the Times story, tweeting, "FBI investigation into Clinton Foundation is largely based on info from news stories and 'Clinton Cash.'" In other words, these are secondary sources of information that are potentially biased against Clinton, as opposed to evidence collected firsthand by the FBI. Strike a yoga pose and say thie mantra with me, friends: "7 more days." "7 more days." "7 more days." "7 more days..."
"No comment necessary."
On one hand, there are historically Republican newspapers like the Arizona Republic which broke with a 120-year tradition of endorsing GOP candidates by siding with Clinton as opposed to Donald Trump. So if Trump can't convince a conservative institution like the Republic to endorse him, what newspaper can he rely on to stand by him? Apparently, the Crusader newspaper is happy to endorse Donald Trump. But according to the Washington Post, the Crusader is the official newspaper of the KKK. "No comment necessary," says Brent Staples of the New York Times
"Fake news in action."
Remember when fake news was funny? We'd go to the Onion's website (or, for those old enough and geographically fortunate, pick up the Onion newspaper) and laugh at news that was clearly fake and not designed to "fool" anybody. Fast-forward to today and you've got sites like "Your News Wire," identified in a CNN segment by Brian Stelter, spreading stores that, unlike Onion articles, are just plausible enough to trick gullible readers and not funny enough to signal that they are obviously fake. One story in particular claiming that Michelle Obama had deleted endorsements of Hillary Clinton spread so fast and far and wide that popular conservative pundit Sean Hannity shared it on Twitter, says Stelter. (Hilariously, Hannity didn't even get the fake facts right, tweeting that President Obama was the one who deleted the tweets, not Michelle.
About that "Secret Trump Survey Story"
Remember in yesterday's Muck Rack Daily when we struggled to make heads or tails of Franklin Foer's report at Slate about a Trump server that may have been communicating with a Russian bank, a "scoop" that was published the same day as a New York Times report stating that the FBI has found "no clear link" between Trump and Russia? It turns out we were right to be suspicious: Foer's self-proclaimed "October Surprise" became a "November Nothingburger" when a number of outlets debunked it, including the Intercept where four writers crafted an enormously well-researced fact-check. "Nice rundown by @TheIntercept on why they & many other news orgs ultimately passed on the Trump-Russia server story," tweeted Trevor Timm of the Guardian and Columbia Journalism Review.
Bad News For HRC?
And no, it has nothing to do with "emails." According to the New York Times, "African-Americans’ share of the electorate that has gone to the polls in person so far has decreased, to 15 percent today from 25 percent four years ago." Part of it's due to Republican-backed efforts to limit both early voting and black turnout—particularly in North Carolina, according to a federal appeals court—but it also raises a crucial question for the Democratic Party going forward: Is the participation level among black voters during the Obama era sustainable for the future?
"That’s how afraid I was of Peter Thiel and his kind."
And finally, check out a black woman's recollection on Facebook of a converrsation she claims to have had with Peter Thiel when they were both students at Harvard in which Thiel allegedly said he supported South Africa's racist policy of Apartheid. Thiel has since denied that this conversation took place, but the fear felt by the woman, TED speaker, New York Times bestselling author, and former student dean at Stanford Julie Lythcott-Haims, as elaborated upon in a Medium post, was very real.
RIP Bill Machrone
Former PC Magazine editor-in-chief and hugely influential pioneer of tech journalism Bill Machrone passed away over the weekend. Read this obituary from Machrone's colleague Michael J. Miller which outlines the ways his presence is still felt throughout technology reporting today. The self-described "unapologetic wires-and-pliers hardware geek" had been battling brain cancer. He was 69.