Our present and coming information dystopia
“We need to talk about Devin,” Blake Hounshell tells us. In Devin Nunes creates his own alternative news site, POLITICO’s David Siders reveals how the congressman is bypassing mainstream media with his own news outlet, “The California Republican.” As Jessica Huseman explains, “Guys Nunes’s campaign is operating a ‘news’ site featuring articles on him being great.”
According to Siders’ story, “The California Republican” is classified on Facebook as a “media/news company,” which brings us to the new cover of WIRED, by Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein, who go Inside Facebook's Hellish Two Years-and Mark Zuckerberg's Struggle to Fix it All. Tweets Thompson, “Since this fall, @fvogelstein and I have been investigating Facebook's dramatic last two years. We talked to 51 ex and current FB employees and wrote 11K words for @Wired's March cover. I hope you enjoy!” Jennifer Lee says she’s “Also glad to see in media reports what we felt at the time: that the ‘Facebook Journalism Project’ was a slapdash amalgamation to mimic the well thought out and cultivated Google News Lab.” “This is the piece I’ve wanted to read since the election,” says Jason Tanz, and Sam Rega is “Gonna need a longer day to read this.”
Also, “Coming soon: really fake news. This is terrifying and convincing from @cwarzel.” Robert Colvile is referring to Charlie Warzel’s BuzzFeed interview with technologist Aviv Ovadya, He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He's Worried About An Information Apocalypse. Warzel tweets, “This came out of a ton of conversations with @metaviv and other incredibly smart researchers studying the platforms, misinformation, and computational propaganda. The takeaway from all of them: we should be very, very concerned about the future.” D.D. Jackson agrees that “This stuff is terrifying and feels scarily inevitable.” “Come for the dramatic photos of @metaviv, stay for our present and coming information dystopia,” offers Kim-Mai Cutler. Tom Namako’s take: “This is a call to arms for every journalist, especially those of us in breaking news, who have to quickly parse what is real and fake and make decisions under great constraints so people get credible information before misinformation takes hold.”
Meanwhile, “This is pretty extraordinary. One of the biggest advertisers in the world threatening to pull ads from Facebook and Google if they don't get the racism/sexism/extremism/fakes under control.” Rachel Rodriguez links to Unilever Threatens to Reduce Ad Spending on Tech Platforms That Don’t Combat Divisive Content, by Suzanne Vranica of The Wall Street Journal.
So, Will truth win out? Rob Porter’s departure holds a key to effective journalism in the Trump era, writes Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan. Jeffrey Robinson thinks “There has never been a better time to be a journalist. Our American democracy needs a cantankerous free press... the #FourthEstate... more than any other time in our entire history. #Journalism.”
Speaking of Porter
In a new piece on domestic violence for TIME, Porter’s ex-wife Jennie Willoughby says, President Trump Will Not Diminish My Truth (23,000+ shares), writing “If someone finds the strength and courage to come forward, he or she is to be believed. Because that declaration only came after an uphill battle toward rebirth.”
But “Behind closed doors: The president has told multiple people that he believes the accusations about Porter, and finds him ‘sick,’” as Alayna Treene tweets, linking to the scoop by Jonathan Swan of Axios, Twisted: Trump says Porter sick, guilty; defends him publicly. Ana Marie Cox’s take: “Bullshit upon bullshit.”
Oh yes, it’s fabulous
On to some brighter news: Mirai Nagasu landed a triple axel, becoming the first American woman to do it in the Olympics (27,000+ shares). Liz Clarke covers the story for The Washington Post. As Chuck Culpepper puts it, “The masterful @lizclarketweet was present. That made it official.” Adds Adam Kilgore, “Terrific story from @lizclarketweet on Mirai Nigasu's historic triple axel, made possible by her resolve.”
Adam Rippon dazzles at Winter Olympics with performance, wardrobe, writes Martin Rogers of USA Today. He tweets, “Here is what @adaripp bedroom and wardrobe looks like. Oh yes, it’s fabulous. How much does he spend clothes? ‘Baby, I don’t know,’ he told me. ‘And I don’t wanna know.’”
In other news from the area, Josh Rogin of The Washington Post reports on his interview with the Vice President, Pence: The United States is ready to talk with North Korea. Tweets Jenna Johnson, “Behind the scenes, real progress was made last week toward a new diplomatic opening that could result in direct talks without preconditions between Washington and Pyongyang, @joshrogin reports.”
And before we move on, Julia Reinstein and David Mack of BuzzFeed have this quick reminder for you: PSA: Kim Jong Un's Sister Is Not Your New Fave Shade Queen. She's A Garbage Monster.
The old rules no longer apply
The scoop from Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post is that First-class travel distinguishes Scott Pruitt’s EPA tenure. Jeff Nesbit thinks “It must be nice to be the Emperor of the EPA and travel the world first class on American taxpayers' dime.”
Meanwhile, “The acting head of the nation's top railroad safety agency has resigned, after @politico raised questions about whether he had been simultaneously working as a public relations consultant for a sheriff's department in Mississippi,” tweets Sudeep Reddy. He links to Railroad agency’s acting chief resigns amid questions about his employment, by POLITICO’s Lauren Gardner.
“We’re in a new ICE age of American immigration enforcement under Trump, and the old rules no longer apply. Here’s who’s getting arrested, and why,” tweets Nick Miroff, of his piece in The Washington Post with Maria Sacchetti, Trump takes ‘shackles’ off ICE, which is slapping them on immigrants who thought they were safe.
The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof writes about “Maybe the WORST horror story of President Trump's immigration crackdown, making even Trump voters change their minds,” in President Trump, How Is This Man a Danger?
In an exclusive for NPR, Chris Arnold reports, Trump Administration To Defang Consumer Protection Watchdog. As Katherine Peralta explains it, “per NPR- under Mulvaney sounds like CFPB will act ‘with humility and moderation’ toward payday lenders, not toward vulnerable ppl those firms take advantage of.” Geoffrey Miller’s take: “Every ounce of this is outrageous.”
And then there’s the exclusive from Kevin Poulsen of The Daily Beast, U.S. Intelligence Shut Downs Damning Report on Whistleblower Retaliation. Tweets Noah Shachtman, “Remember how all those government officials said @Snowden should've just complained to his bosses? An internal review of 190 whistleblower cases found that intelligence bureaucrats only once ruled in favor of the whistleblower. Only once! In 190 cases!” As Seth Mandel says, “What.”
A big story from Wayne Drash of CNN, State launches Aetna probe after stunning admission (100,000+ shares). He tweets, “Important story for medical community @AmerMedicalAssn CNN Exclusive Investigation launched after former Aetna medical director admits he never looked at patient records when deciding whether to approve or deny care.” “Outrageous, explosive @cnn reporting about how insurance companies actually function,” tweets Katie Hinman. Adds Melissa Walker, “You think you can imagine the depth of lunacy and ineptitude, but no. #Healthcare.”
“....excuse me,” says Olivia Messer. Duterte tells Philippine soldiers to shoot female rebels in their vaginas, reports Emily Rauhala of The Washington Post. He’s “Someone Trump has expressed admiration for and has invited to the White House,” as Catherine Rampell points out, and Stewart Bell notes, “The Canadian government was going to sell combat helicopters to this guy.”
A fascinating read
Yoni Appelbaum sets it up: Here’s a “Mind-blowing article about the dozens of freedpeople who swore that Abraham Lincoln had visited them in disguise as slaves—and what those (fictitious) stories may have meant to them.” That piece is Former Slaves' Stories of Abraham Lincoln in the South, by William Black at The Atlantic. Tweets Eric M. Garcia, “I had no idea about these folklore fictional stories about Lincoln visiting the South. But a fascinating read.” Adds Adam Serwer, “The Federal Writers Project interviewing former slaves is just an incredible resource and we are all so fortunate to have it.”
Making the rounds:
Damian Paletta of The Washington Post writes, In big reversal, new Trump budget will give up on longtime Republican goal of eliminating deficit. Although...“Lol at ‘in big reversal’ and ‘longtime Republican goal of eliminating deficit.’ Seriously,” says Gady Epstein.
“The president has a $50 million slush fund,” tweets Justin Miller, who links to Donald Trump’s Inaugural Committee Still Won’t Say What It’s Doing With Its Leftover Money, by Lachlan Markay of The Daily Beast.
I am the very model of a New York Times contrarian, writes Slate’s Matthew Dessem, who explains, “Bret Stephens’ bad takes made me break my vow to never write comic opera.”
Hillary Clinton, a favorite GOP foil, plans discreet 2018 strategy. Robert Costa of The Washington Post takes a look.
From the New York Attorney General’s office, A.G. Schneiderman Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against The Weinstein Companies, Harvey Weinstein, And Robert Weinstein.
Sony Apologizes After ‘Peter Rabbit’ Movie Exploits a Food Allergy, Upsetting Parents, reports Jacey Fortin of The New York Times, and Rebecca Mead says, “Now Sony should apologize for making an execrable piece of trash out of one of the great works of children's literature.”
Alan Partridge is back: The BBC reports, “Filming has begun on This Time With Alan Partridge, the new Partridge project coming to BBC One later this year, a quarter of a century after his BBC debut.”