Tag Archives: Media

See Ben Swann Speak In Miami!

We have some exciting news for you!

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All you have to do is take this 1 minute survey and applicants will be chosen at random. That’s it! This is the future. Don’t miss it!

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In Comments Criticizing the Media, Obama Ignores His Administration’s History of Censoring Journalists

President Obama unleashed a new series of critical comments regarding the media Monday night, claiming journalists should “maintain certain standards,” and should not be “government-controlled.”

During a speech at the “2015 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting” ceremony at Syracuse University, Obama began by discussing the accomplishments of Robin Toner, the first woman to be the national correspondent for the New York Times, who died in 2008.

The president then took the time to criticize the current state of political journalism, and said he believes it’s worth asking ourselves what each of us—as politicians or journalists, but most of all, as citizens—may have done to contribute to this atmosphere in our politics.”

[pull_quote_center]The divisive and often vulgar rhetoric that’s aimed at everybody, but often is focused on the vulnerable or women or minorities. The sometimes well-intentioned but I think misguided attempts to shut down that speech. The violent reaction that we see, as well as the deafening silence from too many of our leaders in the coarsening of the debate. The sense that facts don’t matter, that they’re not relevant. That what matters is how much attention you can generate. A sense that this is a game as opposed to the most precious gift our Founders gave us—this collective enterprise of self-government.[/pull_quote_center]

Obama went on to say that the “Fourth Estate” journalist should not be “government-controlled” and should “maintain certain standards” that do not “dumb down the news.”

[pull_quote_center]Part of the independence of the Fourth Estate is that it is not government-controlled, and media companies thereby have an obligation to pursue profits on behalf of their shareholders, their owners, and also has an obligation to invest a good chunk of that profit back into news and back into public affairs, and to maintain certain standards and to not dumb down the news, and to have higher aspirations for what effective news can do. Because a well-informed electorate depends on you. And our democracy depends on a well-informed electorate.[/pull_quote_center]

Obama also said that in the years to come, people will look back at this time and they will look for “the smartest investigative journalism” where journalists “asked the hard questions and forced people to see the truth even when it was uncomfortable.”

[pull_quote_center]But 10, 20, 50 years from now, no one seeking to understand our age is going to be searching the Tweets that got the most retweets, or the post that got the most likes. They’ll look for the kind of reporting, the smartest investigative journalism that told our story and lifted up the contradictions in our societies, and asked the hard questions and forced people to see the truth even when it was uncomfortable.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 10x the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents Combined]

While Obama criticized the current climate in journalism, he did not mention the fact that his administration has prosecuted 12 individuals under the Espionage Act—with a case still pending against Edward Snowden—which is more than four times the three whistleblowers who were prosecuted prior to his presidency.

According to ACLU Washington’s Gabe Rottman, “By my count, the Obama administration has secured 526 months of prison time for national security leakers, versus only 24 months total jail time for everyone else since the American Revolution.”

“The last and best source of that accountability is a free press. Tragically, that free press now has a 526-month sentence to serve,” Rottman added.

Obama also did not credit the fact that his administration has set the record for withholding Freedom of Information Act requests, and that in 77 percent of cases, requests are met with empty or redacted files.

The Associated Press noted that, “In some high-profile instances, usually after news organizations filed expensive federal lawsuits, the Obama administration found tens of thousands of pages after it previously said it couldn’t find any.”

Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

Four Breitbart Staffers Quit Amid Trump Controversy

Claims of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign manager assaulting Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields has caused a ripple effect, resulting in four members of the online news outlet’s staff quitting.

According to Fields, Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski assaulted her after attempting to ask Trump a question during a campaign event.

“Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down,” Fields wrote in an article for Breitbart published March 10. “I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken.”

Fields posted a photo on Twitter on March 10, showing a bruised arm.

Trump’s campaign denies Field’s story and Breitbart published an article casting doubt against her account of the incident.

“New video of Donald Trump’s press conference Tuesday evening shows that the Washington Post’s account of an altercation involving Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields could not possibly have happened as Ben Terris reported,” wrote Breitbart’s Joel Pollak.


Fields, along with editor Ben Shapiro, resigned after a Breitbart news article contradicted the Washington Post‘s Ben Terris’ vivid account and refuted Fields’ account of the incident.

On Fox New’s The Kelly File, Fields explained the alleged assault to Megyn Kelly. In the video below, Kelly shows the timing of the encounter in a newly released video starting at the 9:00 mark.

Fields filed a police report of simple battery in Jupiter, Fla. against Lewandowski and it is currently being investigated.

Two more Breitbart staffers quit on Monday, accusing the organization of being “an unaffiliated media Super PAC for the Trump campaign.”

Both Jordan Schachtel, national security correspondent, and Jarrett Stepman, associate editor, resigned at noon Monday according to reports on Twitter.

“The company no longer resembles the ideals that inspired me to start writing for them three years ago. Some of us have been fighting behind the scenes against the party-line Trump propaganda for some time, but without any success, unfortunately,” Schachtel said in a statement.

“Breitbart News is no longer a journalistic enterprise, but instead, in my opinion, something resembling an unaffiliated media Super PAC for the Trump campaign. I signed my contract to work as a journalist, not as a member of the Donald J. Trump for President media network. As recent events have proven, there is no longer a point in trying to reform the company from within, so I must step aside with my dignity intact. I wish everyone at Breitbart the best, and hope the site can redeem the legacy of its founder under much-needed new management,” Schachtel’s statement concluded.

Stepman also released a statement:

“Breitbart News has always been open about being a grassroots, conservative publication, but in my opinion we are working with or perhaps even taking direction from a presidential campaign, which is unacceptable journalistic behavior. I believe Breitbart News is becoming less of a news site and more of a propaganda organization dedicated to the Trump campaign.

Breitbart News has also now openly embraced the ‘Nationalist/Populist’ viewpoint, which is in direct opposition to limited-government conservatism that channels the philosophy of the Founding Fathers. It is becoming impossible for conservatives like myself to continue working for the organization, which now relentlessly pushes a perspective directly at odds with my fundamental beliefs.

I believe the integrity of Breitbart News, my own personal integrity, and the legacy of Andrew Breitbart are at stake, which is why I had to resign.”

Former Breitbart employee Kurt Bardella told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook his thoughts on the exodus of his colleagues.

“I think people have to follow their conscience and do what they think is right for them and for their livelihood. Beyond that, it’s not for me to judge how other people want to navigate these very challenging waters,” Bardella said.

As of this publication, Breitbart has not replied on the record to Cook’s request for a statement regarding the resignations.

LOTFI: Regarding Racism, Media Bias Against GOP is Glaring

NASHVILLE, November 7, 2015– Earlier this summer, the nation was saturated with narratives against anyone that identified with southern heritage after 21-year-old Dylann Roof entered a South Carolina African-American church and ruthlessly murdered 9 souls. Afterwards, hundreds of thousands demanded Confederate flags and all other Confederacy associated iconography be removed from public view across the country. The fight took center stage here in Nashville when thousands demanded the removal of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust from the capitol. At least two Tennessee legislators, Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro), the only Native American in the legislature, and Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) called for an end to the divisiveness. In return, ridicule ensued from media across the nation. Meanwhile, Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini recently published an op-ed that praised a man responsible for the death countless Native Americans, and the media was all but silent.

At the peak of the Forrest controversy, Holt ran an op-ed that called for unity. While Holt acknowledged Forrest’s checkered past and involvement in the Confederacy and KKK, he also re-told a story of Forrest that the media all but refused to report. Forrest was a man redeemed. Holt wrote that Forrest ended up being one of the South’s first civil rights activists who called for the KKK to disband. In addition, it’s widely known fact that Forrest’s funeral was attended more than 3,000 African-Americans in Memphis who wanted to pay their respects for all that Forrest had fought for on their behalf late in his life. Of course, Forrest had committed atrocities. However, Holt wrote Forrest’s heart had changed and we should recognize, celebrate and model such change, not seek to erase it from history.It wasn’t as if Holt had made this narrative up. Historian Gregory Tucker validated Holt’s narrative in his own column published by the Daily News Journal. Regardless, Tennessee and national media lined up in a hurry to ruthlessly attack Holt. Headlines asked “What next, Andy? Ted Bundy was a women’s rights activist?” The Tennessee Democratic Party, which is led by Mancini, even went on to attack Holt on their Facebook page.

A different story:

In preparation for their annual Jackson Dinner, Mancini wrote in an op-ed recently published by the Tennessean that she and the Democratic Party will be forever grateful to party founder, Tennessean, and former President Andrew Jackson for infusing the Democratic Party with the spirit of equality and an understanding that the White House was the people’s house.

“We will be forever grateful to General Jackson for infusing the Democratic Party with that spirit — we were the “party of the people” then and we are the “party of the people” now — and we will continue to honor that legacy,” wrote Mancini.We’re talking about the same Jackson that ruthlessly murdered tens of thousands of Native American Indians. The same Jackson responsible for the Trail of Tears.

According to Mancini, Jackson “captured the imagination of the American people.”

One forgets that Jackson didn’t think Native Americans were people, so he committed genocide against them and made them his slaves.

National media was silent. Not a word. Not a single Tennessee journalist, pundit, professor or talking head questioned Mancini’s praise of a man referred to as “America’s Hitler” by Native Americans. Not one.

The Tennessean did, however, publish an op-ed from a Native American historian that called for an end to the celebration of Andrew Jackson while damning Jackson as a monster, but not before praising Mancini as a “voice of liberalism and reason in the community” which leads the reader to believe that this Historian is a liberal himself. That’s all the scrutiny the chairwoman received for praising and celebrating a man that murdered tens of thousands, enslaved thousands more and quite literally attempted to commit genocide. Seriously?

So, media infers that Republican Holt is a dumb racist who would support abusing women because he called for unity and understanding, and sought to clarify some historical points. Meanwhile, Democrat Mancini is a voice of reason.

A message for media:

If you want to understand why America has lost trust in the media, then look in the mirror. America deserves better. To those editors willing to recognize the state of media and reflect, I applaud you. Hope may yet remain for the Press’ freedom and integrity.

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Bernie Sanders to Media: I am Not Going to Play Your Game

By Caitlin Hurkes (IVN) – Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders commenced his campaign with a vow to refrain from personal attacks against his opponents. After a campaign speech in Iowa on August 16, a Washington Post reporter tried to provoke Sanders into criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


“What I said is that corporate media talks about all kinds of issues except the most important issues,” Sanders explained. “Time after time I’m being asked to criticize Hillary Clinton, because that’s the sport you guys like,” he added.

According to the latest poll, Sanders is only 7 points behind Clinton in Iowa. In May, Sanders was polling at 16 percent compared to Clinton’s 57 percent. Even more striking is the New Hampshire poll that places Sanders ahead of Clinton, compared to his place in March when he was 39 points behind.

This is a significant increase and part of it, Sanders explained, is from his pledge to discuss issues Americans care about rather than attacking his opponents.

Negative advertisements are of strategic value only if a person is behind in the polls. Essentially, Sanders should have been attacking Clinton for weeks; yet, his promise to refrain from this sort of politicking might have catapulted him to the front in some states.

“I am not going to get into the game of sitting around and criticizing Hillary Clinton,” Sanders said.

In national polls, Sanders remains 24 percentage points behind Clinton. However, it is clear he will continue to keep his pledge to refrain from personal attacks — at least, in the short term. If Sanders does decide to go negative, it will severely hurt his authenticity, which so many voters have come to rely on.

In the UK, the Left Has Other-ized the Rest

Following the British general election, in which the center-right in the form of the Conservatives and UKIP parties completely outperformed the predictions of every pollster, pundit and media outlet, those same pollsters and pundits are earnestly exercized with trying to understand how they got it all so utterly, consistently and massively wrong.

Two dominant explanations have been offered: first, that the British electorate changed their political preferences in the last couple of days before casting their votes; and second, that people who vote Conservative (by far the largest party in England by representatives in parliament and by popular votes) were too “ashamed” to be honest about their intentions to those who ask.

As a Brit who has maintained a strong interest in British politics, but lives abroad, I am pleased to be able to save these navel-gazing pundits a great deal of time.

Let me start with a thought experiment.

Consider the statement, “Some of my best friends are UKIPpers.”

Now replace UKIP in that sentence with any easily identifiable group in society like “black”, “gays”, “women”, or (for the sake of being politically current,) “Scots”. The statement immediately becomes an unpleasant attempt to proclaim one’s progressive disposition while actually demonstrating its opposite – since the very fact of needing to say such a thing admits a regressive, chauvinistic paradigm from which the speaker feels the need to distance himself (in the spirit of “the lady doth protest too much”.)

But as written, with the word “UKIPpers”, that sentence could be said at almost any dinner party in England (assuming that no UKIP voter is invited, of course,) and would likely get a genuinely curious, “Really?” from well-meaning Labor-voters and Liberals, as the start of a conversation about just how shocking people’s views can be … and how genuinely fascinating it is that humanity can include people who maintain such obviously unjustifiable or misguided views.

In other words, many young, educated, middle-class adults (I am one of those) would respond to the statement “some of my best friends are UKIPpers”, not with the horrified silence that the statement, “some of my best friends are gay” would elicit, but more the wondrous curiosity of a person contemplating an exotic and perhaps somewhat dangerous animal.

Why? Fortunately, as a regular listener to the British media who doesn’t live in Britain, I can easily explain.

Although the United States, my adopted country, gives me most of what I need to be very happy, there are some things from Blighty that I can’t do without, like good tea and Marmite. Chief among them is the BBC, and specifically those great Radio 4 comedies that I often play at the end of a busy day as I wind down to sleep… sketch shows, quiz shows, stand-up shows… Many of them are brilliant. The writing is invariably witty; the comedians are invariably talented; and I am always grateful for (and a little bit proud of) this export from my native land.

But all of these shows – all of them – have something else in common. Whereas they would never, ever make jokes at the expense of any of the groups I identified above (with the occasional exception of the Scots – but watch that change now that they have identified themselves as a victim group), they all play off the unstated but unhidden understanding that the Tories are mean or callous or evil, and UKIPpers are all of those things or perhaps just too stupid to know better.

The same is true of comedy and other entertainment on TV in the UK. Shows that do not purport a political point of view but are written with mass appeal for reasonably educated people nevertheless include politically motivated comedy that always comes from the same overtly Left-wing direction. It’s utterly predictable. I still love the shows, but with a recurrent disappointment that well-meaning, clever and funny writers and performers, whose work both arises from, and determines, Britain’s “cultural normal”, do not even care to understand that what they take for granted is not so obvious to a large part of the culture that thinks differently. And worse, the part of British political culture that our mainstream performers, entertainers and comedians don’t get and can’t write jokes for (rather than against) is actually the majority of British political culture.

Most political tribes sacralize something, and the Left tends to sacralize victim groups. Believing their politics to be the only reasonable political manifestation of inclusiveness and compassion, many self-identified left-wingers look down on Tories and Ukippers for other-izing (treating as essentially “other than themselves”) victim groups, such as welfare recipients and immigrants, respectively (just to pick a couple of examples).

The obvious irony is that in so doing, the British Left, through the mainstream and alternative culture, other-ize those they perceive as guilty of the unconscionable offence of other-izing. Left-wing other-ization always manifests as a kind of condescension – a soft shaming that pervades British popular culture in the form of both jokes and serious accusations that go unremarked, about the meanness of Tory voters and the ignorance of Ukippers etc. They always get a laugh and no one thinks anything of it, even though the very same jokes about gays, blacks, women, foreigners would be utterly anathema.

Just as progressives are quite right to point out the meanness and ignorance on which other-izing always depends, they surely display their own meanness and ignorance when they other-ize those who vote differently or have different ideas about what social and economic justice mean, or what social structures make for a happy society over time.

And before I am accused of other-izing the Left, I should say, with my tongue only half in my check, that “most of my British friends are Labor voters”, and I don’t other-ize them at all. I don’t think worse of them. I don’t assume moral superiority that allows me to lump them altogether and then make jokes about them. I understand that decent people have different views – even if I believe to my very core that those views would be extremely damaging if fully implemented – just as I expect some of those friends think likewise about some of my views. And that is absolutely fine.

So, then, without other-izing, I offer the following just as a cultural observation and a large part of the answer to the question that is currently exercising British political pundits.

A Leftish in-crowd culture pervades the UK, and especially its airwaves.

Here’s another thought experiment: can you name a few mainstream British comedians who take an explicitly Tory, classical liberal or (God forbid), populist UKIP-like perspective from which they make jokes about icons of the modern Left in the same way every Radio 4 comedy or TV quiz show naturally takes pot-shots not just at Cameron and Farage (who are fair game because they chose to seek power) but at entire swathes of the public who support them? Not only can such comedians not be named (because they don’t exist): it’s almost impossible to imagine what their acts would even consist of.

Sure, the News Quiz or Have I Got News For You make jokes at Miliband’s expense, but when did you last hear a put-down of “Labor voters” or “Labor politicians” as a block like the ones you’ve hear repeatedly made at the expense of all Tories or Ukip voters and politicians?

Our mainstream culture not longer allows moral condescension based on sexual orientation, skin color, gender, place of birth etc. But condescension based on political disposition is fair game – if and only if the disposition is perceived to be to the right.

If the post-mortem of the elections is anything to go by, the bulk of both Britain’s media establishment and its providers of alternative culture are so saturated in the soft tyranny of pseudo-intellectual condescension against those they perceive as the other-izers, that they cannot see the self-contradiction inherent in their chauvinistic other-izing millions – literally millions – of people.

I am sure there are mean Tories, but all the ones who I know vote conservative because they believe there is more compassion in a hand up than a hand out if the hand out becomes a destroyer of dignity, aspiration or basic fair play. I am sure there are racist UKIPpers, but all the ones I know vote UKIP because they believe that the EU is undemocratic and that freedom of thought and speech (and therefore the ability to determine one’s own destiny) depend on being able to talk about the causes of social and economic problems without being immediately marginalized because they are talking about a sacralized group or issue.

Sneering at the chauvinism of entire groups of people who differ politically, without knowing their stories and reasons, is chauvinistic. Yet, that particular chauvinism saturates British popular culture – whether represented by Russell Brand’s aggressive populism or by Radio 4’s more decent intellectualism – or anything in between. (Murdoch’s papers are just about the exception that proves the rule.)

In other words, under the banner of “We Know Better Than to Other-ize”, the British Left, has other-ized the Rest.

In 1969, American President Nixon was the first to talk about the silent majority.

In 2015, the UK today has something a little different – a silenced majority.

So the real question is not, “Why were the polls and media wrong?”: it is, “why did you expect them not to be?”.

Answer that question and you’ll really understand British political culture.

Don’t Let The Media Fool You: The United States Government is Still Torturing

As activists and human rights organizations around the world prepare for a Global Day of Action Against Torture we reflect on the US governments continued use of torture.

Shortly after the release of the Senate Report on CIA Torture Americans were hit with a barrage of media coverage that attempted to either discredit the report, paint it as a one sided partisan issue, or simply distract the masses. All of these efforts were designed to suppress the real issue:  The US military with the support of the US government has tortured and continues to torture suspected terrorists, many who have been cleared of any wrong doing. Read that again. CLEARED OF ANY WRONG DOING.

That’s right. The country that has boasted about freedom and democracy for the last 100 years actually closely resembles many of the nations Americans are told to despise. However, the actions and decisions of top authorities and military soldiers are not the choices of individual Americans. If we are to regain any sense of moral high ground we,  individually and collectively, need to reassess whether we truly support torture. And if Americans do support torture they should be honest and stop parading around as if America is a bastion of compassion and freedom.

It has become increasingly obvious that both parties during the Bush administration and continuing into the Obama administration were aware that torture is happening. Late in 2014, the NY Post reported that Jose Rodriguez, who oversaw the interrogations program from 2002 to 2004, stated that all members of Congress were briefed on the programs. Rodriguez went as far as saying that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was briefed on “all of the techniques … she never objected to the techniques at all.”  Rodriguez said Pelosi was specifically briefed on waterboarding and sleep deprivation. No word on whether or not she heard about Rectal Feeding.

As far back as 2010 it has been known that at least 68 members of Congress were told about the program. Watchdog organization Judicial Watch obtained formerly “Top Secret” government  documents that detail congressional briefings between 2001 and 2007.

But what about today? Does torture continue under President Obama’s watch? When running for President, Senator Obama promised to hold Bush officials accountable for the crimes perpetuated under that regime. However, in 2009, after a Department of Justice investigation was announced, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder stated it was “time for reflection, not retribution.” The DOJ would eventually close all investigations into alleged abuse and conclude that no charges should be brought.

Despite the Obama administrations claim that no charges should be brought forth, members of the U.N. Committee Against Torture recently told the US that it rejects the Bush administrations interpretations of torture law. The Committee rejected the findings of the DOJ investigation. Committee Chairman George Tugushi stated, “In our view, any investigation into possible ill treatment by public officials must comply with the criteria of thoroughness. And actually to be considered credible, it must be capable of leading to a determination of whether force or other methods used were or were not justified under the circumstances, and to the identification of the appropriate punishment of those concerned.”

When pressured on the apparent failure of the investigation, US officials said they interviewed more than 90 witnesses but declined to say whether any of the witnesses were actually prisoners who had been subjected to the CIA interrogations. The Obama White House actually broke promises to help the Senate investigation into the CIA torture. The White House withheld thousands of documents from the Senate.

There has also been reports boasting of executive action taken by Obama shortly after coming into office. Allegedly his executive order put an end to torture under his administration. This is also false. To be fair Obama did upgrade interrogation techniques to make sure they were in line with the US Army Field Manual and thus the Geneva Convention which has prohibited torture since 1956. However, the Alternet reports that in 2006 the manual was revised to allow techniques that went beyond the Geneva Convention’s restrictions.

” As pointed out by US psychologist Jeff Kaye who has worked extensively with torture victims, a new UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) review of the manual shows that a wide-range of torture techniques continue to be deployed by the US government, including isolation, sensory deprivation, stress positions, chemically-induced psychosis, adjustments of environmental and dietary rules, among others.”

Still President Obama continues to give interviews stating that no torture has been condoned on his watch.

Investigations by The Nation have found the use of CIA “black sites”, or secret locations for interrogation and torture, has increased under President Obama. One investigation found secret prisons in Somalia and another facility known as “Obama’s Guantanamo”. The Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan is reportedly home to regular beatings, loud blaring music, sleep prevention, and forced “stress positions”. Former detainees allege that there is a second, secret prison on Bagram Air Base that organizations like the Red Cross are denied access.

Probably the most blatant example of continued torture under the Obama administration is the use of force-feeding at Guantanamo Bay. Many of the remaining detainees at the prison have been cleared of wrong doing for years yet they cannot leave because most nations are not willing to harbor formerly suspected terrorists. One of these men is Syrian citizen Abu Wa’el Dhiab. 

 Dhiab has been at the military prison since 2002 and cleared for release since 2009. He is represented by attorneys with the international human rights organization Reprieve. Dhiab and others began a hunger-strike to protest their conditions and the military responded by force-feeding detainees. Dhiab recently asked the federal courts to stop the forced-feedings, as well as the process known as Forced Cell Extractions (FCE), where detainees are violently removed from their cells.

During the hearing Reprieve attorney Cori Crider presented three expert witnesses. One of the witnesses was Boston University medical professor Sondra Crosby. Crosby examined Dhiab and stated that he complained of bleeding and pain from the tubes forced up his nose. He also stated that he had been forcibly removed 1,300 times since 2002. When Crosby saw footage of the forced-feedings she called it “disturbing”.

The hearing wrapped up after attorneys with the government failed to present any witnesses to speak in defense of the forced-feeding methods. The judge is expected to write an opinion on the case which could take weeks.

Videos of the forced-feedings were shown privately during the hearing. On October 3, Judge Kessler ruled that the government must unseal 32 video tapes related to force-feeding Dhiab. The government had previously argued that the release of any footage of the type “provides the enemy with opportunity to search for weaknesses and vulnerabilities”. Several news organizations came together to oppose the sealing of the videos, including ABC News, Associated Press, First Look Media, Guardian, McClatchy, NPR, New York Times and Reuters. Immediately following the ruling, the Obama administration asked a federal appeals court to halt the release. The issue still remains in legal limbo.

Just yesterday VICE News reported that a two-page document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveals that the US military acknowledged that force-feeding violates medical ethics and international law. The document is dated June 21, 2013 and titled  “Legal Authority and Policy for Enteral Feeding at JTF-GTMO” (Joint Task Force-Guantanamo).

The last paragraph of the document states, “While enteral feeding is solidly supported under US federal law and policy, international law and certain medical ethical standards holds that the ‘forced feeding’ of a mentally competent person capable of making an informed decision is never acceptable.” The reference to medical ethical standards comes from a letter from the American Medical Association which stated the practice  “violates core ethical values of the medical profession.”

The picture could not be more clear. President Obama has not only refused to pursue charges against Bush administration officials responsible for torture, he has actually continued and expanded the practice. It is als0 unlikely the next president will seek charges against Obama.

 In response to the torture report activists and human rights organizations around the world have called for prosecutions of US officials who ordered and allowed torture to take place. Indeed, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have called for prosecution of U.S. government officials. The Anti Media, The Conscious Resistance Network, Hustle For Humanity,The Solutions Institute, The Houston Free Thinkers, and many more organizations are calling on activists and concerned citizens around the world to organize actions on Saturday January 31st.

 The Global Day of Action Against Torture is also partnering with the 501(c)(3) Charity, Hustle For Humanity.  Hustle For Humanity recently announced their new viral challenge campaign to stop torture.  It’s called the “Hustle For Humanity 30 Second Waterboard Challenge” and organizers offer to pay $300 to any participant that can last a full 30 seconds of properly applied waterboarding.
In exchange, if the participants don’t last the full 30 seconds, they agree t0 make a tax deductible donation of $30 to Hustle For Humanity as part of their nationwide awareness campaign.

For more information on the event please see this.

All Mainstream Media Must Publish the Hebdo Cartoons

To all those media outlets who have convinced themselves that they don’t need to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in reporting the recent events in Paris: you are profoundly wrong.

Your raison d’etre is to present news. The Hebdo cartoons are a natural part of the story of the murders in Paris. To assert that a description of an image is anything like the image, itself, is a rationalization of cowardice. The only reason to “describe images” without publishing them is fear of the consequences of publishing.

charlie hebdo1

The official reason offered by many Western media outlets for not showing us the images that have at least in part provided the excuse for three fanatics to murder is “so as not to cause offense”.

First, you can’t cause offense. Offense is always taken, never given. Western society depends on that – on responsibility for one’s emotions, and if not for one’s emotions, then for what one does with one’s emotions. Many of us get offended on a weekly basis. The “right” not to be offended is not a right at all. Rather it can only ever be, by definition, a claim made to limit the rights of others.

Some people and organizations do indeed get-off on causing offense for attention or for its own sake. I have little time for such behavior. Indeed, all my political work is geared to mutual respect and finding common ground.

But that is not at issue here. Any sane person can see that the presentation of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in stories about the murders in Paris is a very natural and legitimate part of telling the story of those murders – a purpose that is entirely and necessarily consistent with the much greater and deeply necessary purpose of the media in a civilized society.

charlie hebdo2

This is all very basic stuff. Murders have been committed because (among other reasons) the murderers dislike the way their victims exercised their freedom of expression. Some media organizations whose existence depends on that freedom, and that have the greatest responsibility to defend it (because they exercise that right every day), are giving it up without a fight. That responsibility to defend it is a responsibility to self-interest, let alone to the free society that allows them to operate, and to the people from whom they gain their revenues.

If these mainstream media outlets have adopted “not causing offense” as a new standard for editorializing, then I hereby inform them that I – and millions like me – choose (because it is always a choice) to be deeply offended by much of the mainstream media’s credulous reporting of our own government’s actions – especially in foreign policy, military and civil rights matters – since 9/11.

I don’t expect them to be very bothered by that, of course, because it’s not the causing of offense that concerns them – and all editors know as much from a moment’s introspection. They’re not concerned by my taking offense because I, being a civilized human being whose mind has not been ossified by religious orthodoxy and fundamentalism, am not going to use my offense as an excuse for violence against them.

Everyone who’s working at these media outlets realizes that one goal of the attacks in Paris is to render the Western press unfree, or to punish it for exercising its freedom (which is exactly the same thing). Now, by definition, only the media, and those who work in the media, can decide whether to give the attackers what they are demanding – a veto by one group on everyone else’s freedom of expression.

A media executive might protest that his job is not to take political, cultural or religions sides … that the presentation of information doesn’t entail direct engagement in such controversy. And that is correct … and that is why the editors should do their job without fear or favor, which is to tell the story in full. It’s by not publishing those cartoons, therefore, that media outlets are acting politically and morally – and they are doing it for the wrong side.

When George Bush famously said, “either you are with us or you’re with the terrorists”, he was profoundly wrong. At that time, the media collectively failed us miserably by promoting the fear-driven propaganda that resulted in the deaths of many American servicemen, many more innocent foreigners, and the take-down by our government of the very rights that the terrorists in Paris would also like to see taken down as they establish their silly caliphate.

But now if you’re in the media, there is a clear sense in which “either you are for freedom of the press, or you are with the terrorists” – because you can’t be for freedom of the press if you would prefer not to do the proper job of the press so as to avoid the possible consequences of defending press freedom by exercising it.

Think about that. If you’re an editor who’s not publishing those cartoons today, you’re not just failing to defend press freedom, you’re acting against a free press because you’re giving up your job to tell the whole story at the very time when the story is about the freedom on which your job depends.

That is not a neutral position.

As Sartre said, “What is not possible is not to choose”.

This is not about multiculturalism or cultural sensitivity. It is not about imposing images of a prophet on people who don’t want to see them. My deep sensitivity and respect for the values and lives of Muslims around the world, many whose lives have been destroyed by Western policies that I oppose, in no way requires me to engage in a wholesale suppression and denial of my own values – which include media that tell the truth without knowing distortion by either falsity or omission.

Ironically, perhaps, in the next few days, the media’s actions will speak louder than their words. And to turn to another idiom, a picture is worth a thousand of those. Right now, then, one cartoon is worth even more than that – but, crucially, no cartoon is worth an order of magnitude more.

Much of the American media, in particular, spent many years rather uncritically providing platforms for people who have asserted that defense of our freedom requires killing innocent Muslims abroad – while legislatively compromising away those very values that we were purportedly defending… without any of the sensitivity to Muslim sensibilities (let alone lives) that they have found over a few images.

The events in Paris have shed light on something that has always been true: that the fight to maintain our liberties can ultimately only be won or lost in the minds of the people whose liberties they are. They are won or lost whenever people choose to preserve those liberties by exercising them even when doing so feels risky, or when, alternatively, people decide not to exercise them because they are less important than avoiding discomfort.

So media, are you with us, the People, and our freedom of speech – which is also yours, or are you with the terrorists? Because if you will not do your job at this time when your freedom even to be the media is attacked – then what the heck are you for?

And please don’t come back with the tired trope about protecting your employees. If they don’t like the fact that their organization is choosing to do the right thing, rather than fall into gross hypocrisy, then they can exercise another beautiful freedom … the freedom to get a job that suits them better.

Absent leader raises questions from around the globe

While part of the propaganda machine within North Korea thrives on presenting their country and leader as strong, powerful, and unconquerable, the recent absence of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has many people asking what is happening with the supreme leader?

The last time Kim was seen in public was at the beginning of September when the leader was seen at a concert with his wife within the “hermit kingdom.”  Since then, Kim has missed several high profile events, according to Chron, and the absence of Kim’s media presence has led many to speculate on his disappearance.

One theory is the leader has been ousted from power by way of a coup, and an image showing a bloody Kim being seemingly dragged out of a hallway was said to be “evidence.”  However, this theory was proven false as the urban legend and rumour website Snopes pointed out the image in question was a near identical photo to one captured a few years ago while Kim visited a unit of the Korean People’s Army.

Health problems are a more plausible explanation for the leader’s absence, but what kind of health problems?

Gout, diabetes, a heart ailment, mental illness, a leg injury, and a brain hemorrhage, are all reasons people have said Kim has been absent, but none are confirmed. One North Korean lawmaker even asked Amd. Choi Yoon-hee, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in North Korea, if Kim was brain dead.  Choi promptly said there were no problems with Kim “severe enough to disrupt his status as ruler of the country.”

In fact, North Korea’s UN ambassador, Hyan Hak Bong, told the BBC Kim was healthy and there was no reason to worry about his health, despite North Korean media reports in early September saying Kim was suffering “discomfort.”

While the world is questioning Kim’s absence from the media, Scott Snyder, an expert on Korea who has been working with the Council on Foreign Relations, says the cult of personality established within the country is so strong, “the people feel Kim’s presence even when he is absent.”

Kim currently has no known heir, and the line of succession has followed the Kim family since Kim Il-sung ceased power in 1948.  This has led some to say Kim is indeed ill and his sister, Kim Yo-jong, has been acting with Kim’s voice.

What is strange though is in Kim’s absence, a three-man delegation was sent to Seoul, accompanied by a personal message to South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye, with the intention of opening North-South dialogue.  So if Kim is currently unable to make decisions from health ailments, or is incapacitated in some way, who is trying to open these dialogues?

Guess who Obama is now blaming for his poor approval ratings…

WASHINGTON D.C., October 8, 2014 – On Tuesday, President Obama identified a new scapegoat with regards to his poor approval ratings. Obama told a group of wealthy donors that the media was to blame for his dismal dip in approval ratings and implied that the mainstream media was also responsible for the unpopular public image of his tenure. Obama’s approval ratings continued to plummet in September, reaching an all time low of 38%.

Obama stated, “Frankly, the press and Washington, all it does is feed cynicism.” Obama’s criticism struck many as absurd considering what some have referred to as the media’s “kid-glove” handling of the President. So far this year, none of the big 3 media powerhouses has even mentioned Obama’s spiraling poll numbers.

This is not the first time Obama has blamed the media for his failed policies and public image. At a Labor Day event in Milwaukee earlier this year, Obama slipped another slant against the media into a speech praising the economy under his presidency, a speech that ignored the $7 trillion debt deficit added to the nation under Obama and the 10 million Americans who have given up on finding work under the President’s devastating policies.

At the Milwaukee event the President stated, “So, look, I’m saying all this just because sometimes, you know, if you’re watching TV, it’s just kind of a whole downer.” At another event this past Friday, while speaking to donors at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York, Obama again disparaged the media, making a specific knock at social media stating, “The truth of the matter is, is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through.”

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Kucinich: Stop Calling Iraq War a “Mistake”

The current state of affairs in Iraq is drawing the attention of many, including politicians like Dennis Kucinich, who served as a member of the United States Congress from 1997 to 2013. Kucinich expressed his frustration with current American sentiments about the Iraq War in an editorial for The Huffington Post.

Kucinich claimed that both media commentators and politicians had settled upon deeming the war a mistake. He said that by calling it a mistake, “it minimizes the Iraq War’s disastrous consequences, removes blame, and deprives Americans of any chance to learn from our generation’s foreign policy disaster.”

According to Kucinich, the American people were lied to, and the truth, although widely available, was ignored. He wrote, “Millions of people who marched in America in protest of the war knew the truth, but were maligned by members of both parties for opposing the president in a time of war.” Kucinich went on to write that the war was not about liberating the Iraqi people, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, and there were no weapons of mass destruction.

In 2008, when Barack Obama became the President of the United States, he declared that his administration would not investigate the Iraq War. “Essentially, he suspended public debate about the war,” said Kucinich. “That may have felt good in the short term for those who wanted to move on, but when you’re talking about a war initiated through lies, bygones can’t be bygones.”

Kucinich wrote that, in order for the United States to address its true role, President Obama must tell the American people the truth about Iraq and the false scenario that caused the United States to go to war. “President Obama didn’t start the Iraq War, but he has the opportunity now to tell the truth,” said Kucinich. “That we were wrong to go in. That the cause of war was unjust. That more problems were created by military intervention than solved. That the present violence and chaos in Iraq derives from the decision which took America to war in 2003.”

According to Kucinich, journalists and media commentators also needed to address their true role in forming the lie the American public believes about the war in Iraq. He said they should “stop giving inordinate air and print time to people who were either utterly wrong in their support of the war or willful in their calculations to make war.” Kucinich blamed the media for fanning the flames of war, due to the fact that they did not give “adequate coverage to the arguments against military intervention.”

The unwillingness to confront the truth about the Iraq War has induced a form of amnesia which is hazardous to our nation’s health,” Kucinich explained. “Willful forgetting doesn’t heal, it opens the door to more lying. As today’s debate ensues about new potential military “solutions” to stem violence in Iraq, let’s remember how and why we intervened in Iraq in 2003.”

Whose Media? Pulitzer Prize-winning Seymour Hersh defends his report on Syria (VIDEO)

Pulitzer Prize-winning Seymour Hersh says the Obama Administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a war with Syria. Hersh is a Pulitzer, Polk, George Orwell and National Magazine Award-winning investigative journalist who has written for the New Yorker since 1991, discussing military and security matters there. He covered the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam and more recently the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. The message of his London Review of Books essay was simple: Barack Obama’s haste to go to war and cherry-picked intelligence “data” pose a serious security threat to America.

Earlier this year, Obama said that Assad’s use of Sarin gas constituted a “red line” – mimicking Benjamin Netanyahu’s discussion of Iran’s nuclear capabilities – beyond which American intervention would be necessary. The largest and most widely reported of these attacks occurred on August 21, and the evidence regarding this particular attack was the focus of Hersh’s essay.

Hersh’s essay confirmed what many independent voices suspected, that Obama’s attempt to involve America in Syria’s Civil War was rash, as rebel forces have the capabilities and knowledge to make gas and rockets. The essay added concrete data, facts and information to this idea, and provided a clear illustration of exactly how the Obama Administration cherry-picked and manipulated the intelligence in favor of a Syria strike.

Hersh told the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone that the New Yorker, who previously published his work, passed on his extensive and detailed rich investigative report. The Washington Post passed on it too.

Later, Hersh said it was a mistake to believe the Post would publish such a provocative story.

“Why did I think a mainstream press paper would want to go so hard against, you know, from a freelancer? It was silly of me. I should have just gone to the London Review very quickly. My mistake,” said Hersh.

The Administration and hawkish Republicans created a narrative that was pushed out by the mainstream media. Investigative journalist Ben Swann and Hersh were the few independent voices who challenged the Administration’s narrative by reporting facts not covered by the main stream press.

Last week Ben Swann wrote, “For well over a year and half, I have been a dissenting voice in media on this issue.  But to be the dissenting voice means taking a stand when others will criticize what you do.”

Watch Hersh respond to his critics in the video below.


Obamacare Group Gets $1M To Pitch “Obamacare Success Stories” To Media


By Michael Lotfi,

The President’s landmark legislation has been anything but successful. Premiums have skyrocketed, millions have lost their doctors and their insurance, three twenty-year-old college kids built a better website in a few days than the Obama administration could construct with hundreds of millions of dollars and years to do so, and polls show that the majority of Americans flat out want the law totally axed.

Step in the  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The liberal healthcare foundation is paying Families USA, a non profit healthcare advocate organization, $1 million to plant the media with pro-obamacare success stories.

According to TIME, Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, says that the donation will significantly expand the story bank, which will be delivered to various news media outlets. Pollack says there are more than 900 stories with more to come.

The Obama administration and supporters are working overtime to turn public opinion on the Patient Care Act. Negative association with the name “Obamacare” has even prompted the administration to no longer use the term and only refer to the healthcare law as the Patient Care Act. The $1 million grant is sure to help redirect the negative attention away from the failures of the President’s healthcare law.

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Video: Many Voters Have No Clue That Obamacare & The Affordable Care Act Are The Same Thing

Most Americans are extremely opinionated when it comes to Obamacare.

It is unsettling, then, that many have no clue that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing.

On “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last Tuesday, a camera crew hit Hollywood Boulevard to ask random people on the street which they liked more: Obmacare or the Affordable Care Act.

Kimmel found that many voters have no idea that  Obamacare is merely a nickname for the Affordable Care Act.

When one woman was asked what she thought of Obamacare, she said, “I think there’s a lot of holes in it, and I think it needs to be revamped. The Affordable Care Act is better.”

Another said, “I just don’t agree with the whole Obamacare policy going on,” she said.

When asked if “Obamacare is socialist,” one man said yes. He said no, however, when asked if the Affordable Care Act is socialist.

If the ignorance demonstrated by Kimmel’s interviewees comes anywhere close to representing the country’s population, it is worrisome and may be closely tied to “information” being put out by the mainstream media.

The media often does not care about giving us substantial information about important issues like Obamacare, so long as we click on their sensational, partisan headlines and make them more ad revenue.

Instead of focusing on Obamacare’s implications, like specific premium costs or the changing doctor-patient relationship, the media so often pumps out fluffy, talking-point stories that feature anecdotal stories like, You Might Hate Obamacare, But It’s Saved These People’s Lives.

The media’s disregard for solid facts can lead to a largely ignorant voting population. A voting population that has virtually no knowledge of the most significant government power-grab of our generation, Obamacare.

Exclusive: Creator of “Ghetto Tracker” App Talks With Ben Swann and Says Media Creating “Race War.”

It has been a busy week for David Foster.  Foster and his company, just one week ago, began beta testing a website and soon to be released app called “Ghetto Tracker”.  The name alone created a firestorm of criticism from national media outlets as well as local broadcast TV stations.  Everyone from CNN and MSNBC to the Huffington Post, to dozens of local broadcast TV affiliates have come out strongly against the website and app that aims to keep visitors to any city away from the “bad parts of town”.

The headline on the Huffington Post: “‘Ghetto Tracker,’ App That Helps Rich Avoid Poor, Is As Bad As It Sounds”

CNN’s piece about the app states,

“The word choice was far from the only problem critics had with Ghetto Tracker, which featured a stock photo of a smiling white family on its homepage. Many called it out, accused it of being racist and classist. Ghetto Tracker’s ratings of neighborhoods weren’t based on any hard crime data, just the impressions and biases of regular people.”

Foster’s reaction, he pulled the site down and renamed it “The Good Part of Town”.  David Holmes with Pando Daily went after the app writing,

“It’s pretty detrimental to society when we reinforce the idea that poor or crime-heavy areas are places to be categorically avoided or shamed. As if to assume that every person who lives in an area with comparatively high crime or poverty is a criminal, or that these areas are devoid of culture or positivity,”

By Saturday Foster had reversed course and reinstated the original name ‘Ghetto Tracker’ because of what the owner of the site says has been an incredible outpouring of support.

“When we looked at the percentage of positive feedback versus the little bit of negative.  We are not trying to be insensitive but in reality if it offends you then just don’t go there.  That is not our intention.  Our intention is to help people,”
says Foster who talked exclusively with Ben Swann via Skype.

Foster has received dozens of requests for interviews from the national networks and local affiliates nationwide but came to BenSwann.com to share his side of the story.

“I refused to do a single interview until I had talked to you first because I know what is going to happen.  They are going to get me on there, they are going to spin it, they are probably going to cut it up and make it something that it isn’t and I don’t want to deal with that.”

So where does the name “Ghetto Tracker” come from?  Foster says that he created the app in response to his wife having to travel often for her job and not knowing what parts of town she would feel safest in.

“If we would call this app anything, we looked at slum tracker we looked at all these different names.  No matter what we would have called it, as soon as those areas were highlighted and people thought that we were focusing in on the ghetto, we would have been in this situation anyway, regardless of the name,”
says Foster.

To be clear, “Ghetto Tracker” does not attempt to correlate crime data in order to determine less “safe” parts of a community.  Instead, the information in the app is completely uploaded by users.  Foster says what he is doing is similar to the ratings system for sites like Hotels.com.

“It is completely created by users, all the feedback.  Like if somebody goes into an area, like rating a hotel, if they are in an area and they feel like its not a decent area, they can mark it in there, make a comment and say this is what I experienced in this area.” claims Foster.

Swann:  “You do not feel that the name, and obviously not because you have gone back to “Ghetto Tracker”. You do not feel that the name is insensitive in any way?

Foster:  “I don’t and I think that we are past that as people, I would like to think we are. That we would not call something for what it really is. What is another word you could use?  Slums? Skidrow? Bad part of town? I don’t know what a word that would appease people would be.”

Swann:  “When people criticize this they say, ‘Well, this promotes racism, this promotes kind of a classist system where you are keeping wealthy people away from poor people by saying ghetto tracker.  Here’s how you avoid “the ghetto”, here’s how you avoid poor people’.  What do you say to the claim that you are keeping people apart?”

Foster:    “I am in Tallahassee, Florida and if I was going to be traveling up north, I have no idea where to go up there.  I could get on Hotels.com and book a hotel and end up in a questionable area and like I said, its all based on user feedback so its just people helping people.”  “You really don’t have any other way to get that information and to know what kind of an area you are going into.  It is a real issue.”

Swann: “What about the claim that some people would make that by using the term “ghetto” you are essentially labeling people who live in those areas as being less than those who do not?”

Foster: “Personally I feel that if they have that issue with that word, that is their issue.  See, I don’t feel like there’s an issue with that word.  The actual definition of the word, and I looked it up is ‘an impoverished, neglected or otherwise disadvantaged residential area of a city usually troubled by a disproportionately large amount of crime.’  So I don’t see that as labeling people, I see that as labeling an area.”

Most interestingly, Foster claims that for every one or two negative emails he has received over the past week, he has received 30 positive ones.  Part of why he claims the “righteous indignation” surrounding this app isn’t coming from the public but is completely created by media.

“I think it is all being propagated by the media and this is why I contacted you.  I think the biggest injustice being done to the American people today is the media.”   “Right now we are facing a potential war in Syria.  There are some real issues in this country, things we need to be dealing with, things we need to be having a real conversation about.” says Foster who goes on to insist that in a free market, no one is forced to use his site or app,

“In my opinion if I were to see a web site, like this and I didn’t want to use it, I just wouldn’t use it. I wouldn’t be complaining about it. I wouldn’t see it as class warfare.  I wouldn’t be looking at it like they have ulterior motives.  I would just say ‘That isn’t a site I want to use, next.’ But they are putting so much focus.”

After our interview, I was contacted by David Foster who explains that his desire is to promote growth and opportunity in impoverished neighborhoods and sent me this statement claiming he will donate 20% of all proceeds to improving inner city neighborhoods.

“We have decided that if and when GhettoTracker makes money…we are going to donate 20% of all profits to non-profit organizations that help neighborhoods improve. We feel that this could really raise awareness to a problem that people would otherwise ignore. The first step to fixing a problem is to acknowledge there IS a problem. We also want to educate the US population about the ridiculous overspending on wars overseas. If we took the amount spent for a single day of war, and donated it to non-profit organizations that help the hungry and homeless here in our own country, we could almost eliminate it. Please connect with us on our social media channels to get updates:”



US Senator Feinstein Seeks to Further Limit Freedom of Press

The majority of America now gets its news from online sources. This has opened the country up to a whole new variety of sources including blogs, vlogs, youtube and other alternative media sources. The term “Freedom of the Press” has certainly expanded to include multiple new-age venues of modern press. However, in a developing story, Senator Feinstein (D-CA) is seeking an amendment to restrict who gets protection under new media shield laws.feinstein

First, consider the problem with a media shield law. On the surface, it may seem great. Here, you will find one of government’s dirtiest tricks. Journalists and media already have a shield law. It’s called the first amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

DC will now try and pass a law that will put parameters on media, journalism, journalists, etc. We are told that this will strengthen protection for journalists. In reality, it  could open the door for government persecution due to purposefully placed ambiguous language.  This is certainly by design, as it is repeated in almost every law passed by Congress and signed by the President.

S. 987 (Free Flow of Information Act) defines what a media provider is and who a journalist is, and is not. However, Senator Feinstein is not satisfied with the language and wants it further restricted. According to a report, Feinstein says, “I’m concerned this would provide special privilege to those who are not reporters at all.” She is referring to bloggers and the likes of Edward Snowden, NSA whistle-blower. Feinstein went on to suggest that the term journalist only apply to those who report for mainstream media sources, and do so as a primary source of income. H. 1962, the House version of the bill, already includes such stipulation:

The term ‘‘covered person’’ means a person who, for financial gain or livelihood, is engaged in journalism and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.

This meaning, if you aren’t being paid- then you don’t get protection under the new law.
Feinstein’s amendment, which is scheduled to be introduced will seek to restrict who is protected under the law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that the amendment will require journalists to meet one of the following criteria:
  1. working as a “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information;”
  2. either (a) meeting the prior definition “for any continuous three-month period within the two years prior to the relevant date” or (b) having “substantially contributed, as an author, editor, photographer, or producer, to a significant number of articles, stories, programs, or publications by an entity . . . within two years prior to the relevant date;” or
  3. working as a student journalist “participating in a journalistic publication at an institution of higher education.” (emphases added)

Amendment to S. 987, 113th Cong. § 5(A)(i), § 5(B)(iii) (2013)

Her amendment continues to muddy the waters by retaining original language that requires:

  1. that individuals “engage[] in . . . the regular gathering, preparation, collection, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting or publishing on” matters of public interest; or
  2. that individuals “regularly conducted interviews, reviewed documents, captured images of events, or directly observed events.” (emphases added)

Amendment to S. 987, 113th Cong. § 5(A)(ii), § 5(B)(i) (2013)

These criteria are troublesome. What about those not salaried? How do you define a “substantial contributor”, “entity”, or “significant”? What happens to these students once they have graduated? How do you define one who is “regularly” engaged in journalism? It is certainly ambiguous at best.

This attempt to restrict protection to bloggers and leakers is nothing new. In 2009, Senator Schumer introduced an amendment to the Free Flow of Information Act that purposefully excluded bloggers and non-salaried writers from protection.

In the future, keep an open eye for federal legislation, which claims any association with your innate rights such as the “Free Flow of Information Act”. Rights such as those to keep and bear arms, or the freedom of speech. When our rights are left to the hands of vague legislative language, no good can be found as result. For liberty and freedom are words of absolute, and ambiguity must find no refuge here.

After researching the law and proposed amendments, I cannot even be certain if my colleagues and myself would protected here at BenSwann.com due to the ambiguity. This ambiguity and fear certainly leads to restrictions on the press.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.