It’s nice when Americans exercise their First Amendment rights (freedom ofÂ religion, speech, the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances) with good intentions, and that should be encouraged.
Last Saturday, many in the country were shocked afterÂ March for Our Lives rallies were held all over (more on that in a blog post coming up) and apparently caughtÂ Tiffany TrumpÂ making her political views known â€” and they were against her fatherâ€™s, according to People magazine.
No, the daughter of President Trump and Marla Maples didn’t just support theÂ thousands of students taking to the streets around the world, calling for stricter gun control in the U.S. after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman High in Parkland, Fla., in which 15 students and two teachers were killed.
That would be “relatively” easy.
Instead, People wrote, she “appeared to ‘like’ a photo from herÂ verified Instagram accountÂ showing a protester holding a sign that read ‘Next Massacre Will Be the GOP in the Midterm Elections’ at the New York March.”
Look at the picture below. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Ms. Trump’s ‘like’ there, and neither could others, but People showed somebody apparently did on Twitter and put a red rectangle around her name.
It appears to be true because Ashley Feinberg, with a verified Twitter account, posted the picture from Julia Moshy’s Instagram account (above).
Anyone can see Ashley Feinberg’s Twitter page. I know because I did and I don’t follow anybody I’m writing about here, on any social media.
I also figured out Tiffany Trump follows the picture-posterÂ Julia Moshy’s Instagram account (above), so she must’ve really seen the picture on the account. I didn’t know who Julia Moshy is, but she has 18,500 followers!
Turns out, she has been described as “a fashion instagrammer with some legit street cred” and also “the daughter of â€¦ someone who didnâ€™t believe in spankings” so the follow doesn’t surprise me.
You’ll also notice near the top Tiffany Trump’s Instagram account is tiffanytrump — one word, all lowercase — and the same after “liked by” in the red rectangle. (You should see who else she follows on Instagram!Â Click here, and then click where you see the number of accounts she’s following.)
As for Ashley Feinberg, her verified Twitter account says she works for The Huffington Post and I can see she tweets a lot. (What looks like the latest tweet is really pinned to the top.) I clicked on her website that’s listed, which is a WordPress blog like this one, and got to the most bland page I’ve ever seen — especially for somebody whose Twitter account says “Graphic design is my passion.”
She described herself on her website: “Ashley is aÂ Senior Reporter at HuffPost. Before that she was at Gizmodo Media Groupâ€™s Special Projects Desk, and before Gizmodo Media Groupâ€™s Special Projects DeskÂ she was at Gawker.”
There are several Ashley Feinbergs on Instagram but I got lucky. She was listed first and her web address was a dead giveaway.
I wondered how Feinberg saw Moshy’s picture on Instagram that Tiffany Trump liked there. We established the connection betweenÂ Moshy and Trump, but noticed as I’m writing Feinberg follows Trump but not Moshy.
That may not have been the case earlier in the week. Also, don’t look into Jeb Bush on the list. Feinberg, as a journalist, follows people and groups from both sides of the aisle, and Bush just happened to follow this Trump. (To see who else Feinberg follows on Instagram,Â click hereÂ for her account, and then click where you see the number of accounts she’s following.)
So if Instagram is anything like Facebook (and earlier this week we discussed the repercussions of Facebook owning Instagram), then you will see that friends/connections liked something a stranger posted — which may be how Feinberg saw Trump liked Moshy’s picture. (Of course, Feinberg and Moshy may have dropped their direct connection this week.)
Back to the subject at hand, People wrote “Social media users were happy to welcome Tiffany to their side” and gave various examples. Tiffany, 24, is aÂ Georgetown Law School student right there in Washington, DC, but has kept a relatively low profile. You know with law school and all.
Too bad she may have felt the need (or pressure) to remove her ‘like’ from that picture. It goes against her First Amendment rights but People points out from one of its sources,
“She says she is notÂ guaranteedÂ anything (from Donald Trump’s estate when he dies),Â which is one of the reasons Tiffany and Marla have been so respectful of her dad and tiptoed around so much.”
Speaking of money and Trump,Â Wednesday, I wrote (and published minutes into Thursday), “Sources told AxiosÂ Trump has talked about changing Amazonâ€™s tax treatmentÂ â€“ using antitrust or competition law â€“ because heâ€™s worried about mom-and-pop businesses being run out of business.”
I also mentioned his theoryÂ Amazon abusing theÂ U.S. Postal Service.
Thursday morning, the president tweeted this:
Let’s get a reality check, published Friday morning, from FoxNews.com of all places. The author’s bio on the site says, “Peter Morici served as Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission from 1993 to 1995. He is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.”
Morici starts with, “President Trumpâ€™s claimÂ that Amazon is a tax scofflaw, subsidized by the U.S. Postal Service and an unfair threat to small businesses and malls, is absurdly wrong and dangerous.”
He follows immediately with the details, “Amazon is an online platform that markets products for thousands of manufacturers and smaller merchants. Itâ€™s also a retailer in its own right by distributing directly from its own warehouses.”
Then, some background:
“The company has branched into brick and mortar groceries with the acquisition of Whole Foods and is also building out its ownÂ package delivery systemÂ and entering aÂ host of other businesses.
“Amazon may not pay a lot of income tax but a good number of companies donâ€™t because of how Congress chooses to write the tax code. That was a problem long before Amazon came along and will continue after it is gone.
“Generally, online retailers enjoy an advantage over brick and mortar sores by not collecting sales taxes on shipments to states where they donâ€™t have a physical presence. However,Â Amazon has warehouses in 45 statesÂ and collects sales taxes.”
After that,Â Morici goes into the Postal Service.
“Itâ€™s congressionally granted monopoly on your mail box comes with a requirement that it deliver six days a week to every address. …Â No matter how remote the location, the Postal Service charges the same 50 cents to deliver a first class letter. This just about guarantee it will lose money on mail service.Â In recent years, the Postal Serviceâ€™s salvation has been in providing the last mile to large package delivery companies on less than urgent shipments. This means that Fedex, UPS and others can drop packages at your local post office and the Postal Service sends those out with your letter carrier.”
His bottom line: “Taken alone, neither business would be viable. …Â Mail delivery canâ€™t be viableÂ without package delivery, and running the last mile for delivery services would not be possible without mail delivery.”
Finally, he goes off on “What makes Amazon so menacing is that it is so efficient” and describes situations including Amazon beating out other companies, how brick-and-mortar stores and local governments reacted by imposing costs, and how Amazon only has a 4 percent market share of retail sales,Â much less than Walmart,Â according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And then he takes on Trump. A good, short read after getting the background.
Don’t think Amazon treats its employees right? That thought has been around for years, while dozens of locations are competing to be the home of its second headquarters, and offering pots of gold (or rather huge tax breaks) among other things to win.
Are Amazon employees union members? Sure wouldn’t hurt if they’re not!
Look what West Virginia teachers got by striking. Now, teachers in other red states are noticing.
According to theÂ Associated Press, “A teacher rebellion that started in the hills of West Virginia spread like a prairie fire to Oklahoma this week and now threatens to reach the desert in Arizona.”
Good for them, and America’s children! Bad for blindly cutting taxes.
Univision Communications owns satire siteÂ The Onion, and The Wall Street Journal reports editorial and video staffers there and and its sister sites, Clickhole and A/V Club, announced they’re unionizing while Univision “is exploring extensive cost cuts at its digital properties.”
According to Variety, the Writers Guild of America East announced â€œ’an overwhelming majority’ of the staff, comprised of about 100 employees, have signed union cards and called on management to voluntarily recognize the WGA East as the collective bargaining representative.”
Onion Inc. spokesman David Ford told the Chicago Tribune the company started discussions with the guild and they “hope to arrive at an arrangement in short order,” according to the A.P. via U.S. News and World Report.
Good for them! From what I’ve heard, Univision isn’t known as one of the best employers out there. It may be having a huge presence in free-for-all Miami, or the prejudice ofÂ servingÂ Hispanic and Latino Americans, or being non-union — at least for the most part.
Let’s look at its history.
On Nov. 16, 2016, Deadline reported, “A week after most of the staff at Univisionâ€™s Fusion.net voted to join theÂ Writers Guild of America, the company announced sweeping layoffs.”
Earlier,Â Univision bought unionized Gawker Media and according to its editorial union on Sept. 12, 2016:
“Univisionâ€™s first act on acquiring the companyÂ was to delete six true and accurate news storiesÂ from our archive, because those stories had been the targets of frivolous or malicious lawsuits. This decision undermines the foundation of the ability of Gawker Mediaâ€™s employees to do our work. We have seen firsthand the damage that a targeted lawsuit campaign can do to companies and individual journalists, and the removal of these posts can only encourage such attempts in the future.”
Ah, money over journalism! How many times have I written about that on this blog? (Click here for a pretty good-sized list, just from the search box.)
I think we have an answer for Amazon employees who want more money and better working conditions from a growing company that will be making more money.
The same would be true for Sinclair Broadcast Group employees. (Notice how I didn’t mention that company AT ALL in my last post!)
On March 11, I wrote that awful companyÂ — the largest owner of television stations in the U.S. — trying to buy Tribune Media through unethical methods was forcing news anchors at its 193 owned, or not owned but operated local TV stations in 89 markets (at least the ones that actually produce news) to read a script that offered no news.
Instructions from CorporateÂ (thanks toÂ Esquire):
â€œPlease produce the attached scriptsÂ exactly as they are written. This copy has been thoroughly tested and speaks to our Journalistic Responsibility as advocates to seek the truth on behalf of the audience.â€
Millions of AmericansÂ will soon be watching promotionsÂ that begin with one or two anchors introducing themselves and saying,
â€œIâ€™m [we are] extremely proud of the quality, balanced journalism that [proper news brand name of local station] produces. But Iâ€™m [we are] concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.â€
â€œThe sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without checking facts first. Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control â€˜exactly what people thinkâ€™ â€¦ This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.â€
Then the anchors are supposed to strike a more positive tone and say that their local station pursues the truth.
â€œWe understand Truth is neither politically â€˜left or right.â€™ Our commitment to factual reporting is the foundation of our credibility, now more than ever.â€
â€œAt the end of the promo, viewers are encouraged to send in feedback â€˜if you believe our coverage is unfairâ€™ and â€˜Corporate will monitor the comments and send replies to your audience on your behalf,â€™ so â€˜In other words, local stations are cut out of the interactions with viewers. Management will handle it instead.’â€
Do you think anyone wanted to look into a camera and read that promotional nonsense during newscasts from the media company with must-run conservatively-bent editorials? I think a union would’ve helped the journalists keep the business people in their place, which is out of the newsroom.
Today,Â FTV Live’s Scott JonesÂ showed this example of the anchors at KBOI in Boise following corporate directions.
Jones ended by writing, “How these anchors sleep at night after reading this crap, I have no clue.”
I wonder when it’s time to jump ship, like WMAQ’s Carol Marin did in Chicago in 1997 when Jerry Springer started giving commentaries on her newscast. The New York Times called her “one of that city’s most popular and respected television news anchors.” Her co-anchor also quit.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer — which properly discloses “KOMO News and SeattlePI have a content-sharing agreement” –Â calls that script “the next step in the company’s plan to undermine non-Sinclair outlets.” KOMO-4 is one of Sinclair’s largest stations, after Washington DC, and in a liberal city. Sinclair bought its parent company in 2013.
I’ve had my say in these posts plenty of times — especially hereÂ (with a whole lot more reasons and ending with directions on letting the FCC know the danger that Sinclair poses by its size, power and ethics) but also here, here, here, and a few more if you search — so I’ll let SeattlePI continue:
“The claim of balanced reporting is undermined by must-run segments like the one about the ‘Deep State’ that ran during KOMO’s 6pm newscast last week. In the March 21 segment, former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka parroted a Trump talking point regarding the existence of a ‘Deep State’ attempting to undermine the U.S. government.
“That segment was produced by Sinclair’s Kristine Frazao, who before coming to Sinclair was a reporter and anchor for the Russian-government funded news network RT, described as ‘the Kremlin’s propaganda outlet’ by the Columbia Journalism Review.
“Sinclair also requires stations to run segments from Boris Epshteyn, a Russian-born former Trump adviser who now serves as Sinclair’s chief political analyst. Epshteyn recently produced stories with titles like, ‘Pres. Trump deserves cabinet and staff who support his agenda, yield successes’ and ‘Cable news channels are giving way too much coverage to Stormy Daniels.'”
Also, “Sinclair was fined $13.3 million by the FCC in December for running over 1,700 commercials designed to look like news broadcasts without properly identifying them as paid content on its stations over a six-month period.”
And in January, it had some nerve when it “asked employees to donate to its political action committee meant to sway lawmakers.” FTV Live’s Scott Jones leaked the document that called the Sinclair Political Action Committee, “our fund that supports candidates for Congress who can influence the future of broadcasting” — in their interest, of course!
It’s no wonder New York magazine wrote a piece titled “Local news is turning into Trump TV, even though viewers donâ€™t want it” describing — without repeating what’s above — how “Trumpâ€™s handpicked FCC chair, Ajit Pai, spent much of last year dismantling regulatory obstacles to media consolidation â€”Â including two rulesÂ that stood in the way of Sinclairâ€™s desired merger with Tribune Media.”
Then it presumes “Sinclair has repaid this favor with interest” and asks “Why has Sinclairâ€™s programming become more right-wing, even as it has expanded into more left-leaning media markets?”
It answers by saying, “AÂ new studyÂ from Emory University political scientists Gregory J. Martin and Josh McCrain suggests that both of these explanations are wrong: The ideological bent of Sinclairâ€™s programmingÂ doesÂ turn off local news viewers â€” but broadcasting such unpopular, ideological content is (probably) a good business decision for the company, anyway.”
Specifically, “The researchers found that Sinclair-acquired stations became both more right-wing in their ideological orientation (as calculated by ‘text-based measures of ideological slant’)Â andÂ more focused on national politics (as opposed to local politics) than their competitors did over the same period.”
And, “they discovered that the Sinclair-acquired stationsÂ didÂ seem to pay a price for these programming changes â€” but not a terribly large one:
“In ratings terms, the shift towards national politics was costly to these stations: viewers appear to prefer the more local-heavy mix of coverage to the more national-heavy one. Nonetheless, there are very clear economies of scale for a conglomerate owner in covering national as opposed to local politics, thanks to the ability to distribute the same content in multiple markets.Â Given that the ratings penalty we document is fairly small, it seems likely that these cost efficiencies dominate in Sinclairâ€™s calculus.”
So, New York magazine concludes,
“Sinclairâ€™s commitment to substituting pro-Trump propaganda for local news reporting costs the company viewers â€” but that commitment doesÂ notÂ (necessarily) cost the firmÂ profits.”
It continues that this is happening while the United States is “suffering through a crisis of local journalism.Â Regional newspapers are either dead, dying, or hobbling along, shedding resources for local reporting with each step.”
And since “Americans increasingly view national events through an algorithmically customized, ideological filter â€” local TV news has assumed a heightened importance.”
In fact, “‘local news organizations’ remain the most trusted source of information in Pew Research Centerâ€™s polling on trust in media.”
Click here for the long list of Sinclair owned, or not owned but operated stations. The number would reportedly grow toÂ 233 stations if the Federal Communications Commission approves its acquisition of Tribune Media. It should not.
And at the end of this post, let’s mark the end of Don Imus’ radio career. The shock jock left the airwaves after nearly half of a century on the radio, Thursday.
I wrote about him a month-and-a-half ago when sportscaster Warner Wolf sued, claiming he was fired in 2016 for age discrimination.
The Associated Press had reported Wolfâ€™s suit claimed, â€œImus once said it was time to put Wolf â€˜out to pastureâ€™ and â€˜shoot him with an elephant dart gun.â€™â€
TheÂ New York Daily NewsÂ reported the Imus-Wolf troubleÂ really started a few months before when Wolf moved to Naples, Fla., and contributed to the show from there.
Imus — who himself left the Big Apple a year earlier, in 2015, to live on a Texas ranch — didn’t like it. (At least they have the Gulf of Mexico between them!) The rest of the crew worked in New York.
Now, The Daily News quoted the I-Man,
â€œI know in my heart thereâ€™s been nobody ever better on the radio than me,â€ the less-than-modest 77-year-old DJ declared shortly before signing off from his studio in Texas. â€œNobody ever did this.â€
Imus fought back tears while thanking his listeners and saying â€œYou have no idea how much Iâ€™m going to miss you.â€
The paper also said he “appeared to take subtle parting shots at past rivals including the Rev. Al Sharpton and the self-proclaimed ‘King of All Media’ Howard Stern.
â€œImus in the Morningâ€ aired weekdays on 84 stations around the country.