The Nature of Free Speech in the 21st Century Information Environment

I would like Mitchell (and Don or anyon else) to discuss the following Wired article: It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech. I think it touches on some of the issues that Mitchell and I have been discussing, while bringing up insights that we may not have specifically and explicitly addressed. Here are some passages that stood out for me: Continue reading “The Nature of Free Speech in the 21st Century Information Environment”

Political Scorecard: the Nunes Memo

(Note: This is post is more of a work in progress. My rationale is that if I don’t post this soon, I never will, and I do want to test the idea out–an idea I mentioned briefly in this post. Think of it as a beta-test; or maybe watching me build a house in front of everyone, while hopefully getting some help from those watching. Also, not that I have to tell you this, but please take what I say with a grain of salt. There could be errors, here. Indeed, if you guys notice them let me know, particularly any factual errors or other significant inaccuracies.)

This scorecard will focus on Rep. Devin Nunes’s memo. Score will be kept about the claims made by the memo, as well as counter-claims. I’ll also keep score on the people making the claims. Here are brief summaries of the two main claims:

The Nunes Side:

  • My understanding is that Rep. Nunes has found that DOJ/FBI have improperly got FISA warrant to set up surveillance on Carter Page.
    The claim is that Christopher Steele’s dossier was the primary reason for this. The claim is that FBI/DOJ(?) didn’t give background information about Steele dossier, namely that Steele hired by Fusion GPS, who was hired by DNC to do opposition research on Trump. (Fusion GPS actually initiated the research from a conservative group during GOP primary.)
    The contention is that the memo will reveal serious misconduct and perhaps show politicization of the Russia investigation.
    Nunes did make changes to the memo, after it was voted on to be made public, but Nunes claims the changes were minor (grammatical type of changes.
  • The Schiff Side:

  • My understanding is that Rep. Schiff believes the memo is baseless and also dangerous–in that it can expose classified information and possibly sources and methods of gathering that information;
    Schiff says the memo is undermining the trust between Congress and the intelligence community;
    Democrats have also written a memo to debunk the Nunes memo, but as far as I know the HPSCI hasn’t allowed its release.
    FBI and DOJ have said the oppose the release of the memo.
    Rep. Schiff claims that Nunes changed the memo after it was voted on to be released. In other words, the memo sent to the WH is different from the one the committee voted on releasing.
  • Continue reading “Political Scorecard: the Nunes Memo”

    The Challenge of Covering Trump

    Even though the press coverage of Trump frustrates me at times, I also recognize and believe that Trump poses unique challenges to the press, challenges that aren’t easy to overcome. Ideally, I should take the time to write a more organized post, listing and describing some of these challenges. However, I just saw a tweet that made me think of one of these challenges, and I want to comment on this before I forget. Here’s the tweet: Continue reading “The Challenge of Covering Trump”

    Congressional GOP and Fox News Are Worse Than Trump

    As I mentioned in the other thread, in a way, I think the Congressional GOP and conservative media outlets (including radio pundits) that either actively enable Trump or largely stand by silently are actually worse than Trump. I actually believe that if they vigorously and vocally opposed Trump, it could actually be a kind of proud moment in our history (or at least mitigate the way Trump has embarrassed and disgraced us), and it could serve as a big blow to authoritarian regimes like Russia. But, alas, something close to the opposite has happened. Like the other thread, I’m going to use this thread as a collection of evidence for this claim. Here’s one I saw today from Fox News’s Sean Hannity:

    Edit (1/30/2018)

    Edit (2/8/2018)

    This is how bad it’s gotten:



    That House GOP in HPSCI putting an end to Russia investigation soon surprises me. I don’t think it would be so fast. The whole thing, especially with Devin Nunes’s antics have been a joke. And Paul Ryan seemed to be OK with all of this. GOP is awful.

    Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D) response:


    Colonel Ralph Peters, a commentator on Fox News, has written a damning letter, explaining why he will no longer be working at the outlet. I highly recommend reading it.

    Some excerpts:

    In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration. When prime-time hosts–who have never served our country in any capacity–dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller–all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of “deep-state” machinations– I cannot be part of the same organization, even at a remove. To me, Fox News is now wittingly harming our system of government for profit.

    As a Russia analyst for many years, it also has appalled me that hosts who made their reputations as super-patriots and who, justifiably, savaged President Obama for his duplicitous folly with Putin, now advance Putin’s agenda by making light of Russian penetration of our elections and the Trump campaign. Despite increasingly pathetic denials, it turns out that the “nothing-burger” has been covered with Russian dressing all along. And by the way: As an intelligence professional, I can tell you that the Steele dossier rings true–that’s how the Russians do things. The result is that we have an American president who is terrified of his counterpart in Moscow.

    (emphasis added)



    Not sure if this is entirely relevant, but I thought some of the comments were interesting.


    This exchange makes me want to pull my hair out:

    I would be really surprised if he’s the only one that feels this way. (Some of Senator Corker’s public statements strongly suggests he’d be at least one other person.) If many Republicans feel this same, here’s one thing that drives me crazy: You have all this talk about the Deep State opposing Trump, you have Trump saying the media is “fake news,” you have Fox News and other conservative pundits pushing this propaganda–and the truth is that many Congressional Republicans actually think Trump is totally unfit, and possibly a danger to the country! If many Congressional Republicans believe Trump is totally unfit, it weakens the claim that the liberal media, “deep state,” or Democrats just hate Trump and are out to get him. But the congressional Republicans who think Trump is unfit allows these narratives to have life, and in my view they jeopardize the republic, and the rule of law.


    Here’s more of the conversation with the GOP Congressman above.

    Also, this is irresponsible and reprehensible:


    I’m not sure how Ryan will feel about how he handled himself as Speaker, especially during Trump Presidency, but a part of me genuinely feels sorry for him. If I were in his position and looked back on my time with Trump, I’m not sure I could live comfortably with myself. I can imagine it would be awful.



    Just leaving this here. Even if Trump doesn’t fire Mueller (or Rosenstein), that McConnell says he woudl be “shocked” if Trump fires Mueller shows poor judgment on his part.


    It’s hard not to see this as a direct result of many Republican politicians and conservative media/pundits–and Donald Trump himself. This is really bad.