Sky News Reporter Rummaged Through Passenger Belongings at MH17 Crash Site

by Greg Pollowitz

Via Deadline Hollywood:

Sky News issued an apology after one of its reporters sifted on air through luggage from one of the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, the jetliner shot down earlier this week over the Ukraine by what U.S. officials said were pro-separatist rebels using sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems. All 298 passengers and crew members were killed, their bodies, luggage and other wreckage scattered across several square miles of countryside. One of the reporters covering the resulting investigation, Colin Brazier, was recorded live picking through some of the belongings in a victim’s small yellow suitcase, showing what appears to be a child’s belongings and talking about the enormity of the tragedy. After a few seconds, Brazier can be heard in the clip saying, “We shouldn’t really even be doing this, I suppose.”

The rest here.

An apology was appropriate, and the reporter was in the wrong, but based on the enormity and scope of the disaster, I’ll give anybody a pass for mistakes made in the heat of the moment. 

Piers Morgan: Obama ‘Dropped the Ball’ on MH17

by Greg Pollowitz

Hey, maybe CNN should give this guy Morgan a show. I like where he’s going with this:

WaPost Fact Checks Dem Rhetoric on Hobby Lobby: ‘Overheated’

by Greg Pollowitz

Glenn Kessler of the Post fact-checked a bunch of statements from Dems concerning Hobby Lobby, and concluded:

The Pinocchio Test

The Fact Checker generally does not award Pinocchios for “misspeaking” or for statements of opinion. And we obviously take no position on the Supreme Court opinion. But this collection of rhetoric suggests that Democrats need to be more careful in their language about the ruling. All too often, lawmakers leap to conclusions that are not warranted by the facts at hand. Simply put, the court ruling does not outlaw contraceptives, does not allow bosses to prevent women from seeking birth control and does not take away a person’s religious freedom.

Certainly, a case can be made that perhaps this is a slippery slope (as Ginsburg argues in dissent) or that the cost of some contraceptives may be prohibitively high for some women who need them. But the rhetoric needs to be firmly rooted in these objections — and in many cases the Democratic response has been untethered from those basis facts.

Got that? It’s not Four Pinocchios, but a finding that Dems are “overheated” and “untethered” from the facts is just as good.

Oops: The Nazi’s ‘Perfect Aryan’ Baby Was Jewish

by Greg Pollowitz

The Nazis weren’t known for their fact-checking. Telegraph:

When Hessy Taft was six months old, she was a poster child for the Nazis. Her photograph was chosen as the image of the ideal Aryan baby, and distributed in party propaganda. But what the Nazis didn’t know was that their perfect baby was really Jewish.

“I can laugh about it now,” the 80-year-old Professor Taft told Germany’s Bild newspaper in an interview. “But if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Prof Taft recently presented the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel with a Nazi magazine featuring her baby photograph on the front cover, and told the story of how she became an unlikely poster child for the Third Reich.

Her parents, Jacob and Pauline Levinsons, both talented singers, moved to Berlin from Latvia to pursue careers in classical music in 1928, only to find themselves caught up in the Nazis’ rise to power.

The rest here.

Zimmerman Loses Defamation Suit Against NBC

by Greg Pollowitz

Fox News:

A Florida judge has thrown out George Zimmerman’s libel suit against NBC Universal, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday.

Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson ruled that Zimmerman, a former Sanford, Fla., Neighborhood Watch volunteer, is not entitled to money from NBC following his defamation lawsuit against the media organization.

Zimmerman had filed the suit two years ago, accusing the media giant of falsely depicting him as a racist in a series of broadcasts NBC ran shortly after Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla., in 2012. In the lawsuit, Zimmerman accused NBC of defaming him by airing edited clips of a 911 call he made on the night of the shooting — claiming NBC practices “yellow journalism.”

The rest here.

Facebook’s Huge Psychological Experiment on Users

by Greg Pollowitz

From the Telegraph:

Over 600,000 Facebook users have taken part in a psychological experiment organised by the social media company, without their knowledge.

Facebook altered the tone of the users’ news feed to highlight either positive or negative posts from their friends, which were seen on their news feed.

They then monitored the users’ response, to see whether their friends’ attitude had an impact on their own.

“The results show emotional contagion,” wrote a team of Facebook scientists, in a paper published by the PNAS journal - Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists of the United States.

“When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”

Facebook were able to carry out the experiment because all users have to tick a box agreeing to their terms and conditions. These include “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

Creepy. I wonder how they’re using this information in their pitches to advertisers? 


Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy Gone From The View

by Greg Pollowitz

I guess the stunt where they did the show naked didn’t help with ratings. Details of their departure here.


Nigeria Hires U.S. PR Firm and Gets Big WaPo Op-Ed by President Jonathan

by Greg Pollowitz

The AP had this story yesterday. . .

Amid terror chaos, Nigeria hires US PR firm to shape ‘narrative’

The hapless Nigerian government has finally found a way to deal with the ruthless Boko Haram terror group — hire a Washington PR firm.

Although the Nigerian government has been unable to contain the group’s string of attacks or bring home 270 schoolgirls the group abducted in April, it just inked a $1.2 million contract with DC powerhouse PR firm Levick to boost its perception around the world, the Hill reported.

Under the terms of the contract, the firm will try to put a shine on the image of President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, who is up for re-election in February.

The firm will seek to shape “the international and local media narrative” around Nigeria’s “efforts to find and safely return the girls abducted by the terrorist organization Boko Haram,” according to the contract.

. . . and today, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, has an op-ed in the Washington Post where he attempts to shape the narrative. A coincidence or Levick in action? As for the content of the op-ed, I found it unpersuasive regarding President Jonathan’s actions to date. You see, he was just keeping quiet up until now for security reasons.

I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria’s military, police and investigators to find the girls kidnapped in April from the town of Chibok by the terrorist group Boko Haram. I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness.

My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation. But let me state this unequivocally: My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice. On my orders, our forces have aggressively sought these killers in the forests of northern Borno state, where they are based. They are fully committed to defending the integrity of their country.

Let’s hope the Post fact-checks this op-ed and gives equal space to Jonathan’s critics. 


Sandra Fluke vs. SCOTUS

by Greg Pollowitz

She’s not happy with the ruling today on “buffer zones”:

Sorry, Sandra and the rest of the MSM: it’s settled law, the law of the land, etc., etc., etc.

CNN Asks, “Are ISIS Militants Breaking the ‘Rules of Terrorism’?”

by Greg Pollowitz

This aired during the 3:00 p.m. hour today:

One, if militants are following this hypothetical terrorist rule-book, that makes them terrorists, not militants. CNN needs to pick a noun and stick with it. But more important, terrorists have no rule book, so this is stupid even to ask. 

Rebekah Brooks Found Not Guilty in Phone-Hacking Trial

BBC’s New Diversity Mandate

by Greg Pollowitz

The Telegraph reports:

One in seven BBC presenters and actors is to be black, Asian or minority ethnic within the next three years, it has been announced, as Lord Hall pledges to improve diversity.

Lord Hall, the director-general, has promised 15 per cent of on-air BBC staff will be black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) by 2017, along with one in ten managers.

Critics have already condemned the policy as “absolutely ridiculous”, claiming recruitment should be conducted irrespective of race and without the “PC tokenism that makes people’s blood boil”.

Speaking at the BBC’s Elstree Studios, Lord Hall promised the corporation aimed to be “beyond reproach” on diversity issues, as he announces a new group of advisors including comedian Lenny Henry, athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and broadcaster Baroness Floella Benjamin.

He has now confirmed a set of targets for the BBC, to be fulfilled over the next three years.

Lord Hall said: “The BBC gets much right on diversity, but the simple fact is that we need to do more. I am not content for the BBC to be merely good or above average.

“I want a new talent-led approach that will help set the pace in the media industry. I believe in this and want our record to be beyond reproach.

Maybe the BBC can request data from the cable companies next to make sure viewers are watching a mandated number of minorities on television?

And as for diversity and the BBC, my favorite BBC show was the now-canceled Luther starring the wonderful Idris Elba. The interesting aspect about Luther is that the character wasn’t written specifically for a black man. Here’s the show’s creator Neil Cross on the role and Elba:

Cross also talked about how he created the character – specifically, whether he always intended for Luther to be a black man:

“It was cast as a character, purely and simply, which is one of the aspects that attracted Idris to the role. I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a black man in modern Britain. It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write – and you have to try to imagine the quote marks around the words – a black character because I don’t know what a black character is and we would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a black character, which would have been an embarrassment for everybody concerned. I suspect that there’s a dearth of decent roles for black actors because most writers are white and they try to write their idea of black and it’s an embarrassment.” 

I like this approach. Find the right actor for the roll regardless of his or her race, and if it’s a good show, the audience will watch.

The rest here.

Washington Free Beacon vs. The University of Arkansas

by Greg Pollowitz

There is a growing controversy between the Beacon and the University of Arkansas “Special Collections” library over the Beacon’s recent use of archived recordings from the library’s Roy Reed collection. Reed, a former journalist and professor in Arkansas, donated the recordings and other personal papers to the university between 1989 and 2000. 

At issue is this Beacon article from June 15 titled “The Hillary Tapes: Clinton tells of defense of child rapist in newly unearthed recordings.” 

In summary, the university is arguing the Beacon failed to obtain permission to publish the recordings and is demanding that the Beacon remove them from its website. The Beacon is arguing the university never told them of any restrictions and shouldn’t have to comply with them retroactively. Here’s an excerpt from the letter the Beacon’s lawyers sent to the library:

Your letter fails to provide a single reason why the Free Beacon cannot continue to publish this information. Your staff provided the recordings to the Free Beacon without any condition, apprised the Free Beacon of no “policies” limiting their dissemination, and required no agreement to be signed prior to receiving them.

You now assert that the Free Beacon violated the “policies of Special Collections,” yet you fail to quote or cite these “policies,” or explain how they bind my client. You mention a “permission to publish form,” but the Free Beacon never signed this form, nor has it ever agreed to sign it. Your staff unconditionally provided the audio recordings to the Free Beacon and the Free Beacon did not agree to any restrictions on their use. Therefore, the Free Beacon was free to publish this information, and continues to be free to do so.

A couple points to make. One, the “policies of Special Collections” are available on the library’s website and are quite clear regarding the publishing of material from the library:

Note: Publication of any material found in the manuscript collections of the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections is permitted only after a completed “Permission to Publish Request” is approved and signed by the Head of the Department. See “Forms for Requesting from Special Collections” for more information.

But, two, other than this “permission to publish” form, I don’t see any other restrictions on the material used in the Beacon piece. You can see a list of everything that’s in the Roy Reed collection here, and only one box of materials — No. 26 — is labeled as “restricted.” This lone box, according to the description of its contents, doesn’t contain anything related to Hillary anyway. 

At this point, it’s the university that needs to respond and answer why the Beacon would have been denied permission to publish these recordings in the first place. Because from what I’m seeing, there’s no issue with their use by the media or researchers other than that they’re embarrassing to Hillary Clinton.



NYT Ends ‘The Gun Report’ — But Why?

by Greg Pollowitz

Op-Ed columnist for the Times, Joe Nocera, recently announced the end of “The Gun Report” (a daily summary of gun violence in America) writing that it had “run its course” and “was time to bid it adieu.” He added:

Day after day, week after week, there was a numbing sameness to the shootings. And to be blunt, most of those who posted comments were not getting closer to finding common ground than when we began.

Sounds like Nocera was frustrated that he wasn’t changing anyone’s mind, but that’s not the entire story.

Here’s Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of the Times, with some additional information and the suggestion that a pay dispute between the Times and Nocera’s editorial assistant Jennifer Mascia had a role its end:

The Gun Report, begun shortly after the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., consisted of a daily list of all the gun-related deaths in the United States. Written in recent months by Mr. Nocera’s editorial assistant, Jennifer Mascia, it was published five days a week.With its grim recitation of incidents, topped by an engaging introduction, it generated a great deal of reader commentary – typically over 150 comments per post. And normally, the discussion, while passionate and well-informed, was remarkably temperate.

[. . .]

So why did it end, just as fatal shootings in Seattle, Las Vegas and Oregon were dominating the news?

Mr. Nocera told me that the blog had served its purpose. “It felt like the time had come,” he said. “We had made our point.”

Ms. Mascia sees a different motivation – one tied closely to her recent efforts to receive back pay for work done on the blog on her own time, and to get a promotion, giving her higher wages for her work. She and her union representatives believe the work on the blog is more like that of a reporter, editor or producer than that of a news assistant. The disagreement on back pay has not been settled. (She will continue with The Times as a news assistant to Mr. Nocera and columnist Mark Bittman.)

She told me that she had put her heart and soul into the project for well over a year: “I felt a real sense of purpose, and believed this was public service journalism.”

I asked Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, about the decision to end the report.

“It had run its course,” he told me. “It was repetitive, basically a list. I had been thinking about asking Joe to end it for some time.”

Well, duh. Nocera described the report in a final post as “a daily statement about gun violence in America.” Did Andrew Rosenthal expect something other than “basically a list?” If there was value in starting the list after Sandy Hook, why would that value end after a few years? The short answer is, it doesn’t.

I think if you combine the the two narratives, you get what probably happened. Nocera was tired of the entire project and had passed it off to Ms. Mascia, and Ms. Mascia wanted more money to keep writing it for him. The Times then decided it wasn’t worth it the cost. But that’s just speculation on my part. 

I do look forward to seeing how this ends. Is equal pay for equal work just a slogan that the Times uses to bash Republicans or do they practice what they preach? 


Liberal MSNBC Contributor Brian Schweitzer Has Gaydar

by Greg Pollowitz

Here’s Democrat Brian Schweitzer — former Montana governor, speech-giver at the 2012 Dem convention, potential 2016 presidential candidate, and MSNBC contributor — on Eric Cantor and men from the South:

In an in-depth profile by National Journal’s Marin Cogan, Schweitzer, a Democrat, says that Southern men strike him as “effeminate,” says that ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor set off his “gaydar,” and suggests that Sen. Dianne Feinstein was a streetwalker for the U.S. intelligence community.

“She was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees,” Schweitzer says of Feinstein, “and now she says, ‘I’m a nun,’ when it comes to this spying I mean, maybe that’s the wrong metaphor—but she was all in!”

Cogan called Schweitzer on the night Cantor lost his Republican primary. The former governor had plenty to say about it:

“Don’t hold this against me, but I’m going to blurt it out. How do I say this … men in the South, they are a little effeminate,” he offered when I mentioned the stunning news. When I asked him what he meant, he added, “They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say—and I’m fine with gay people, that’s all right—but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he’s not, I think, so I don’t know. Again, I couldn’t care less. I’m accepting.”

Schweitzer is a frequent guest on MSNBC, appearing on Monday, for example, with Ed Schultz to talk about Iraq and oil prices. Here’s a screenshot from the video to confirm his MSNBC contributor status:

This is a lot worse that Alec Baldwin’s rage at the press, and he lost his show over it. If MSNBC has any integrity, Schweitzer should be gone, too.

Video: Megyn Kelly’s Tough Interview of Dick and Liz Cheney

by Greg Pollowitz

Megyn Kelly to Dick Cheney on Cheney’s blistering op-ed on President Obama’s Iraq policy: “But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong, as well sir.” Would MSNBC ever be as tough on a Democrat? (We know the answer)

Video here.

Watch the latest video at

Dear White House Press Corps: Ask Where Maliki Should Go

by Greg Pollowitz

The WSJ reports the White House is signaling it’s time to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to go.

And it’s the position of the United States that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad must go, too.

But where should these two go? Is there a retirement village for incompetent and genocidal Middle East leaders? Maybe the press corps can ask at the next briefing. 


“Mommy Blogger” Arrested For Murdering Son with Salt

by Greg Pollowitz

Horrific. New York Post:

The 26-year-old mother who documented her sickly son’s health struggles on social media was arrested on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, The Journal News reports.

Lacey Spears of Scottsville, Ky., pleaded not guilty to the charges, which follow an investigation into the death of her 5-year-old on son, Garnett, who died in a Westchester County children’s hospital on Jan. 23 from sodium poisoning. Spears is due back in court on July 2.

Authorities suspect the mother poisoned her son with sodium at least twice. On one occasion, Spears secretly pumped sodium into her son’s stomach through a tube inside a private hospital bathroom, Assistant District Attorney Doreen Lloyd said in court on Tuesday.

“This mother was intentionally feeding her son salt in toxic levels,” he said.

Computer records also show that Spears had turned to the Internet to research what effect salt might have on her son, Lloyd said.

The former Chestnut Ridge, Rockland County, resident surrendered earlier in the day, walking into Westchester County Police Headquarters with her head bowed.

The rest here.

Underreported News: Congress Delayed the Sale of Apache Helicopters to Iraq in 2013

by Greg Pollowitz

Via Josh Rogin and Eli Lake in August 2013:

Obama Administration Pushes for Apache Helicopter Sale to Iraq

In a visit to Washington this week, Iraq’s top diplomat will press for U.S. Apache helicopters, which his government says it wants to fight terrorism. But Congress is against the sale. 

When the Iraqi foreign minister arrives in Washington this week, among his top requests will be for the White House to overcome objections in Congress to selling his country advanced Apache helicopters the Iraqis say they need to fight terrorists within their borders.

Iraq’s top diplomat, Hoshyar Zebari, will meet with Secretary of State John Kerryon Aug. 15. Zebari’s trip comes just weeks after a daring and successful military assault on the Abu Ghraib prison resulted in the release of more than 500 suspected extremist militants. The jailbreak reversed years of work to roll up al Qaeda’s leadership in Iraqduring the U.S.-led counterinsurgency campaign known as the surge.

The U.S. government has notified Congress in recent weeks of its intention to sell Iraq $4.7 billion worth of military equipment, but none of those sales include the top item on Iraq’s shopping list, the Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters. The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have refused to allow the sale of the helicopters to date.

“The committee continues to carefully review all proposed arms sales to Iraq in order to ensure that such transfers support U.S. national security interests in the region,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesman told The Daily Beast. Two administration officials confirmed that until the committees sign off, the U.S. government won’t be able to complete the arms deal.

The rest here.

The sale finally went through at the end of January 2014, via Time magazine:

Congress approved on Monday the delivery of six Apache helicopters to Iraq, the first shipment in what will be a $4.8 billion deal to help Baghdad battle an ever-growing insurgency in the country.

A plan by the Defense Department to sell as many as 24 AH-64E Apache helicopters hit a hurdle in recent weeks, as New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, blocked the deal, pending assurances that the Iraqi government would not use the helicopters against civilians. On Monday, Menendez removed his objections, clearing the way for the Pentagon to proceed with the first phase of the transfer, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been battling al-Qaeda-linked fighters in western Anbar province for weeks and has lobbied for more American weapons and intelligence; however, the Apache deal is not likely to impact the fighting in the near future. The Pentagon first plans to lease six Apaches to Iraq, which they will deliver this summer, to allow for Iraqi pilots to be trained on the aircraft. Then the sale of 24 Apaches and as many as 500 Hellfire missiles will take place over the next three years, according to the New York Times.

So Congress held them up and President Obama and Prime Minister Maliki thought 24 helicopters over three years would be enough. 

As for current news, the New York Times reports that Iraqi “army helicopter gunships” were used yesterday against ISIS terrorists while fighting for control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Baiji. The gunships and the Iraqi army lost

Dana Milbank vs. The Heritage Foundation

by Greg Pollowitz

Here’s a good piece from Dylan Byers at Politico on Dana Milbank and his Washington Post piece accusing a panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation of mocking one of the attendees to the event:

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank set off a flurry of outraged tweets on Monday night after posting a highly critical recap of a panel event at the Heritage Foundation that, he says, “deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.”

Video of that panel has since surfaced and — in my view — Milbank grossly misrepresented the nature of that exchange.

The woman in question, Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, does not seem to have been “taunted.” Both panelists who responded to her accepted the premise of her question entirely. One of them — Brigitte Gabriel, the founder and CEO of ACT! for America — strongly rebutted Ahmed’s concerns, but never dismissed her right to ask the question.

In an email, Milbank explained that he “was there in the room yesterday, and the reaction in the crowd – the long, standing ovation, the cheers for Gabriel, the fingers pointed at Ahmed, the war whoops  –  was intense, and a bit scary. The video captures some but not all of that.”

Milbank is right on that point — the video may not capture everything that took place. However, I do believe that the video disproves or casts doubt on several of Milbank’s assertions.

The rest here.

Heritage is planning on releasing video of the entire four-hour event to let everyone judge the panel’s conduct for themselves. Your move, Mr. Milbank.