Conservative Media

Conservative media helps Trump perform ‘law and order’ in Portland, with risks for November – The Washington Post

The Trump administration has escalated tensions, argue local officials, by sending camouflaged officers to confront activists, most of whom have practiced nonviolence. The president, while devolving control of the coronavirus response to state and local authorities, has vowed to replicate the federal crackdown in Chicago, New York and other Democratic-controlled cities seeing sustained protests after the police killing of George Floyd. And he is being cheered on by provocateurs online and in the media pointing to the backlash against federal mobilization as a sign that a still more severe response is needed.

Video posted by conservative activist Andy Ngo, showing a scuffle with armed agents in military fatigues, became fodder for Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire website to label protesters “rioters.” Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, thundered, “The president’s right. This is a war zone.”

The decision to insert the federal government into spasms of racial unrest so close to a national election — as the Trump administration strains to respond to a pandemic that has claimed close to 140,000 American lives — resembles efforts to arouse fear of the migrant caravan heading to the U.S. border in the lead-up to the midterm election in 2018. Those efforts sputtered, with suburban voters propelling Democrats to a House majority.

Similarly, the administration’s moves now to “dominate” the streets, as Trump characterized his vision, risks backlash in both parties.

“If there is something that is perceived as too strong and bordering on totalitarianism, that’s not right, and I don’t think people in the heartland want government crackdowns, if you want to call it that, going too far,” said Scott Frostman, the Republican chairman in Sauk County, Wis., a political bellwether an hour from Madison.

Trump’s quest to magnify urban violence comes as his campaign seeks to denigrate Joe Biden as weak on crime. The line of argument, backed by millions of dollars boosting television ads painting a grim portrait of Biden’s America, is at odds with criticism of the presumptive Democratic nominee as an advocate for the 1994 crime bill, which is frequently blamed for mass incarceration.

Recently, the president has portrayed his opponent as a vessel for rules intended to combat housing discrimination, which Trump asserted would “abolish our beautiful and successful suburbs.” And he has falsely accused the former vice president of supporting calls to defund the police. Biden has embraced reforms but has not endorsed cutting funds for law enforcement.

Biden on Tuesday denounced Trump’s tactics in Portland, while also taking pains to show he sees a role for federal authorities.

“Of course the U.S. government has the right and duty to protect federal property,” the former vice president said in a statement. “The Obama-Biden administration protected federal property across the country without resorting to these egregious tactics — and without trying to stoke the fires of division in this country.”

That measured view found little purchase within the Web’s fractured information ecosystem, which privileges the most extreme positions. Among the highest-performing Facebook posts on Tuesday about Portland were by conservative media or activists lambasting Democrats for resisting the president’s moves.

“The attacks are escalating and they’re going to kill people,” claimed a “Blue Lives Matter” page, linking to a video of protesters barricading a county courthouse. Mark Levin, the talk radio host, mourned, “Another city goes to hell,” earning more than 12,000 shares.

Neither the chaos depicted in conservative media nor the president’s caricature of protesters as extremists who “hate our country” is reflected in what the city’s leaders describe as mostly peaceful assemblies, including by dozens of women who this week formed a “wall of moms” around demonstrators. Local officials have condemned the presence of federal forces, who have struck a protester in the head with a less-lethal round and whisked others away in unmarked vans.

Members of the Trump administration have justified the deployment in the name of safeguarding federal property, while also pointing to dangers to federal personnel. Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told Fox News he does not require “invitations by the state, state mayors or state governors to do our job.”

Tactical teams from Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as Customs and Border Patrol are on the ground in Portland, those agencies confirmed, while the full extent of the deployment prepared for other cities, as well as the underlying legal justification, was not clear. Democratic governors and other officials vowed to pursue litigation to halt what they condemned as a violation of constitutional rights and a slide into authoritarianism.

“Portland will not be a proving ground for fascism,” said Chloe Eudaly, a city commissioner, adding in an interview that “the arrival of federal forces has done nothing but escalate tensions.”

Graffiti has been scrawled on the federal courthouse and on a nearby county jail, Eudaly said. There have been scattered acts of property destruction and vandalism visited on nearby properties, she added. But Portland, she said, has not been seized by violence, a point brought home by residents who undertook a social media campaign to depict everyday life unfolding in the riverside city.

The justification offered by the Trump administration represents “an excuse rather than a real reason for these deployments,” said Margo Schlanger, a law professor at the University of Michigan who served as an officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama. “If the courts don’t put it down, we should be very worried,” she said, condemning in particular accounts of protesters being detained without justification by unidentified tactical teams.

Any identification beyond an “insignia indicating that they’re law enforcement” would put agents at risk, maintained White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who began her Tuesday briefing warning of “violence, chaos and anarchy” in Portland.

Trump’s allies in Congress blanketed the airwaves with similar talking points. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) went on Fox News to argue Trump bore no blame for unrest unfolding during his presidency because the violence was concentrated in cities governed by Democrats. As he spoke, tape rolled of federal agents beating a Navy veteran who had approached them with a question, “Why are you not honoring your oath?”

The conservative messaging, even when it clashes with video evidence, resonates with activists across the right-wing spectrum, said Heidi Beirich, co-founder and executive vice president of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “Whether we’re talking about white supremacist groups or militias closer to the mainstream, they view cities as hellscapes where black protesters and antifa are out of control and Trump’s moves are protecting real Americans.”

But in some of the places that could decide the November election, uncertainty marked reactions to the show of federal force, which upended principles of limited government long claimed by conservatives.

“Typically conservatives favor less government intervention,” said Frostman, the Republican chairman in Sauk County. “So the idea that the federal government is coming in to cities — does that make it more challenging for us as a more conservative group? Is there going to be a threat to shut me down, or my ability to speak or to gather?”

He said voters in the county fear unrest and anarchy, estimating that urban violence was a more deeply felt concern than a porous border with Mexico. But they also hold fast to bedrock principles of free speech and assembly, he said, and are “cognizant about the level of control you impose.”

In Erie County, Pa., another political battleground that could prove decisive in November, residents “get a different view of what’s happening depending on the station they tune in to,” said the county’s GOP chairman, Verel Salmon.

Salmon, a former schools superintendent, said he was unsure about some of the details in Portland but favored efforts to protect property.

“I don’t know the details of who said what and so forth, but the concept of protecting federal property is sound,” he said. “It’s not random arrests for no reason. People are engaging in negative acts that will cost taxpayers dearly.”

The confusion caused by incomplete accounts, jumbled by outright falsehoods, serves the president’s agenda, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communication at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.

“The framing of this is dramatically different news channel to news channel, and this is an instance in which the visuals are difficult to understand because you’re seeing people in what look to be a kind of military uniform, and it’s unfolding at night,” said Jamieson, a co-author of a recent peer-reviewed study finding that Americans who rely on conservative outlets, such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, were more likely to put stock in conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.

Even as conservative pundits raise alarm about turmoil in Portland, she said, they have not yet produced imagery to support their warnings. Still, the persistent verbal reinforcement “makes you think you are seeing a reality when in fact what you’re seeing is selected distortion.”

Sometimes, however, the visual evidence cuts in the exact opposite direction.

A Fox “alert” this week about the “54th straight night” of Portland protests led with a clip of a crowd singing the gospel that became an anthem of the civil rights movement, “We Shall Overcome.”

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Media Social

Social media is going dark for Blackout Tuesday. Here’s why the wrong hashtag can hurt Black Lives Matter. – CBS News

As anti-police brutality protesters march across the nation, two black women in the music industry have created a movement for social media users to go dark for a day of protest. 

#TheShowMustBePaused is an industry-wide call to action for social media users to acknowledge “the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black citizens at the hands of police” by posting only a black tile on their social media platforms.

The initiative is the brainchild of Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records and former Atlantic Records employee Brianna Agyemang.

However, as the movement grew, most people began using the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, and activists urged social media users against using #BlackLivesMatter, saying it will drown out vital resources and information for the unaffiliated movement. 

“If you use the Black Lives Matter hashtag, use it to share necessary resources and information for the movement. If you are not using it for that purpose, please type out Black Lives Matter with no hashtag, so we do not inadvertently mute vital dialogue in a sea of black boxes,” the organizers wrote.

Agyemang and Thomas are targeting the music industry with their campaign as they believe it is an industry “that has profited predominantly from black art.”

“Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of black people accountable,” they wrote.

The demand for the day of pause has been met with widespread support. Major music labels such as Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Atlantic Records vowed to back the movement.

Streaming services such as Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify have also stepped forward. Music giant Spotify pledged to “stand with black creators,” with some playlists and podcasts featuring an 8 minute and 46-second long track of silence to acknowledge the amount of time fired officer Devin Chauvin held his knee on the neck of Floyd.

Artists and celebrities such as Drake, Katy Perry, Mick Jagger, Quincy Jones, Rihanna and many others have posted the black tile in solidarity. “It’s hard to know what to say because I’ve been dealing with racism my entire life,” said legendary producer Quincy Jones. “My team & I stand for justice. Convos will be had & action will be taken.”

While Agyemang and Thomas have addressed the incorrect use of #BlackLivesMatter with their movement, some activists and celebrities have also raised concerns.

“It has come to my attention that many allies are using #BlackLivesMatter hashtag w black image on insta,” wrote one activist on Twitter. “We know that’s it no intent to harm but to be frank, this essentially does harm the message. We use hashtag to keep ppl updated.”

“Don’t use the tag #BlackLivesMatter. It’s pushing down important and relevant content,” wrote comedian Kumail Nanjiani.


If you are participating in this, don’t use the tag #BlackLivesMatter. It’s pushing down important and relevant content. Use #BlackOutTuesday.

— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) June 2, 2020

Grammy Award-winning artist Lil Nas X also chimed in on the debate. “I don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing,” he said. “We need to spread info and be as loud as ever.”

i just really think this is the time to push as hard as ever. i don’t think the movement has ever been this powerful. we don’t need to slow it down by posting nothing. we need to spread info and be as loud as ever.

— nope (@LilNasX) June 2, 2020

The “Old Town Road” artist has joined some activists who have asked followers to use their platforms to post donations and petitions instead of the black square.

The organizers of #TheShowMustBePaused have also encouraged donations for a variety of purposes including the families of victims, bail funds and other campaigns.

“This is not just a 24-hour initiative,” they wrote. “We are and will be in this fight for the long haul. A plan of action will be announced.”

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China Media

China media, Hong Kong government bristle at Trump’s pledge of curbs, sanctions –

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s state media and the government of Hong Kong lashed out on Sunday at U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to end Hong Kong’s special status if Beijing imposes new national security laws on the city, which is bracing for fresh protests.

FILE PHOTO: A pro-democracy demonstrator raises his hand up as a symbol of the “Five demands, not one less” during a protest against Beijing’s plans to impose national security legislation in Hong Kong, China May 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Trump on Friday pledged to “take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory”, and to impose sanctions on unspecified individuals over Beijing’s new laws on the Asian financial centre.

But China’s state media pushed back, saying this would hurt the United States more than China.

“The baton of sanctions that the United States is brandishing will not scare Hong Kong and will not bring China down,” China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, wrote in a commentary. It used the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.

The Global Times wrote, “China has already prepared for the worst. No matter how far the U.S. goes, China will keep its company.”

A Hong Kong government spokesman expressed regret the United States continued to “smear and demonise the legitimate rights and duty of our sovereign” to safeguard national security.

In a sign of diplomatic manoeuvring, the U.S. government said it would put one of its prime Hong Kong properties up for sale – a luxury residential complex worth up to HK$5 billion ($650 million).

A spokesman for the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong said this was part of a global programme that “reinforces the U.S. government’s presence in Hong Kong” through reinvestment in other areas.

China and Hong Kong officials have justified the laws that will be directly imposed by China to restore order to a city that has been wracked by sometimes violent anti-China, anti-government protests over the past year. They said the laws will only apply to a small number of “troublemakers.”

Protesters, however, have said they are railing against China’s deep encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms despite Beijing’s promise to grant the city a high degree of autonomy under a so-called “one-country, two systems” formula since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

More protests are planned in the coming weeks.

Countries including the United States, Canada and Britain have expressed deep concerns about the law, with Britain saying it may grant expanded visa rights to large numbers of Hong Kongers.

Demosisto, an advocacy group led by prominent young Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong, said the security law will be “the death of freedom in Hong Kong”.

A senior Hong Kong official, Erick Tsang, said he couldn’t care less if he were sanctioned by the Washington. “I wouldn’t even go to Canada, just in case they try to catch me” there, Tsang told local radio.

Details of the laws remain unclear, even to Hong Kong officials, but are expected to be enacted by China’s parliament this summer. The laws will outlaw secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong, and will be imposed without any local legislative scrutiny.

Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom and Stella Qiu in Beijing; Writing by James Pomfret; Editing by Christopher Cushing and William Mallard

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Brazil Media

Brazil media boycott Bolsonaro residence after abuse of reporters – The Guardian

Globo among those to suspend reporting owing to harassment by president’s supporters

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro hurl abuse at journalists outside the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília on Monday.

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro hurl abuse at journalists outside the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília on Monday.
Photograph: Eraldo Peres/AP

Some of Brazil’s top news organisations are to suspend reporting from outside the presidential residence in the latest sign of deteriorating press freedoms under the country’s media-bashing president, Jair Bolsonaro.

The decision – the equivalent of British outlets ceasing to report from outside No 10 – follows months of verbal attacks on reporters outside the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília by hardcore supporters of the far-right president.

The harassment reached new heights on Monday as journalists were subjected to a vicious torrent of abuse from Bolsonaristas, with footage showing reporters being called scum, rats, extortionists, rogues, crooks and sons of bitches.

“Communist, sellout media. Bunch of crooks,” one man shouted.

Folha de S.Paulo

Já à tarde, em frente ao Ministério da Defesa, manifestantes voltaram a xingar jornalistas após Bolsonaro deixar o local. Foi necessária intervenção da PM, conta @danielcarvalho_

“Lixo! Filhos da puta! Mentirosos! Vocês são mentirosos! Comunistas! Achacadores da República”

May 25, 2020

The news organisations withdrawing journalists include the television broadcasters Globo and Band, the radio station CBN, the websites G1 and Metrópoles and a trio of leading newspapers – Valor Econômico, O Globo and Folha de São Paulo.

“The lack of security for its journalists outside the Palácio da Alvorada has led Grupo Globo to decide that its professionals will no longer work there,” Brazil’s largest media group said in a statement.

Verbal attacks on journalists have become a hallmark of Bolsonaro’s presidency, with Brazil’s Trump-admiring leader often egging on supporters outside his home.

Bolsonaro’s third son, Eduardo, who is the representative of Steve Bannon’s far-right The Movement in South America – regularly attacks what he calls the “extrema imprensa” (extreme press) .

On Monday, the president suggested Brazil’s overseas image was being damaged by a leftwing media conspiracy, after the British Daily Telegraph described him as “the man who broke Brazil” because of his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Trump suffers a lot with this,” Bolsonaro said.

Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the Bolsonarian attacks on the media.

Alessandro Molon, a member of the Brazilian Socialist party who is leader of the opposition in the chamber of deputies, told Folha de São Paulo: “This just shows the extent to which Bolsonaro remaining in the presidency threatens our democracy and our fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. What we are witnessing is very serious. Either our institutions stop Bolsonaro or he will destroy the country.”

Manuela D’Ávila, from the Communist party of Brazil, tweeted: “It is absurd that [these organisations] … have to suspend their coverage outside the palace because the president disrespects, threatens and incites his followers to attack journalists.”

Vera Magalhães, a prominent political journalist, tweeted: “Brazil no longer enjoys full freedom of the press.”

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cutting Media

Vox Media is cutting pay and furloughing 9% of employees – TechCrunch

Vox Media is making a number of cutbacks in response to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to Vox itself, the digital media company owns properties including Curbed, Eater, Recode, SB Nation and The Verge — and it acquired New York Magazine last year.

In a staff memo obtained by TechCrunch (and others), CEO Jim Bankoff outlined several cost-cutting measures but no outright layoffs.

The measures including furloughing 9% of employees from May 1 to July 31. Bankoff said this will include some employees in sales, sales support, production, events, IT and office operations, along with editorial staff at SB Nation and Curbed. He also said affected employees will retain their company health insurance during this period.

In addition, the company is freezing wages through the end of 2020, pausing its 401K match, reducing hours for 1% of employees and cutting salaries during the same three-month furlough period for employees making more than $130,000 per year — the cuts start at 15%, with Bankoff and Vox Media President Pam Wasserstein taking a 50% salary reduction.

In explaining the layoffs, Bankoff pointed to the broader economic collapse caused by the pandemic, with the dramatic reduction in ad spending, which has led many other media companies to announce layoffs and/or salary reductions.

Bankoff wrote:

We’ve already seen a decline in our business. Weakness in March, driven by the cancellations of SXSW and March Madness, the collapse of travel, sports and fashion-related advertising, and other factors led us to miss our revenue goals by several million dollars in the first quarter; the impact will be significantly greater in the second quarter. While expressing the severity of this decline, it’s also important to know that we will rebound. We don’t know when or to what extent a rebound will occur. I’d be overjoyed if it happened quickly, but we cannot bet our company on these hopes.

Update: The Vox Media Union has been tweeting in response to the news, painting the current plan as the result of negotiation:

While we appreciate Vox Media talking to us in good faith, we don’t agree with the company’s decision to furlough employees — especially after hundreds of us told the company we were willing to take wider pay cuts to save all jobs. So we fought for strong protections. We won a guarantee of no layoffs, no additional furloughs, and no additional pay cuts through July 31, along with enhanced severance for any layoffs that occur in August-December. The company also agreed to reduce the number of furloughs.

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