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The [Thursday] Papers

The autocracy is here. It happened. In America.

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Pragmatism Enables The Autocrat

Impeachment is not a topic up for popular vote, and prioritizing it is not something that ought to be subject to the whims of polling. It's not even a political question in the sense that pundits constantly chirp about; it's a question of the most fundamental structure of our nation, constitutional law. I don't give a squirrel's toot if it's what voters say they want, and journalists shouldn't either.

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Journalists' use of the word "pragmatic" is always interesting, because it inevitably means "status quo" or "let the obviously immoral side win because that's just the way life is" or somesuch. Where is the "pragmatism" in ignoring a president's obstruction of justice - at the very least? It's like saying, "Just be pragmatic and give corporations a $3 trillion tax break. That's just the way it is." Meanwhile, the most pragmatic thing to do - if by pragmatic we mean practical - would be to make corporations pay their fair share. But that's not what they mean when they use the word pragmatic. They mean, just give in to the worst impulses that rule our world - particularly the part of the world we live in. Don't make waves. Life isn't fair - and it's too much trouble to try to make it so. Let the victors keep on victoring.

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Fear of impeachment also gives Trump the win for his strategy of ginning up his base - with appeals to bigotry, violence, retribution, conspiracy theories - and making them something to fear. Trembling Democrats are now afraid of dividing a country that has already been divided by its opposition, and calculating the benefits of appeasing the autocrat, his security forces and his mob instead of taking them on directly in a fight for the country, showing the very weakness the autocrat knew they would show.

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Autocratic Asymmetry
"It's the last week of the 2020 presidential campaign. Donald Trump, running for his second term, is in a close race with his Democratic challenger. Then, shortly before Election Day, hacked material from the Democratic candidate's campaign is uploaded online," CNN posits.

"How will newsrooms react? Will they decline to publish the material, for fear they could be aiding a foreign intelligence operation aimed at destabilizing the Democratic process? Or will they blanket the airwaves and newspapers with coverage because the hack reveals important information relevant to voters?"

Good question - especially now that America is an autocracy and the incumbent's campaign should itself be viewed as an adversarial operation with all the access to intel that implies.

That factor, combined with new hacking capabilities and the distribution networks on the Internet, changes the ethical dynamic. The answer to the question CNN poses used to be: Of course we'll publish and broadcast the information. Sure, it may have been hacked - stolen - but that's not our concern. If we are in possession of information of interest to the public, it's our duty to publish it. Who are we to sit on it?

That shouldn't be the answer anymore - at least not so fast. The problem isn't even necessarily that a media outlet may be aiding a foreign intelligence operation - or an autocratic domestic operation; it's the asymmetry of publishing, say, e-mails from one campaign without having similar material from the other. The media shouldn't simply reward whichever side has access to the best hackers.

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"After the election, The New York Times published a front-page story that conceded the publication of such stories by news organizations, including The Times, had turned newsrooms into a 'de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.'

"But the newspaper has no plans to abandon coverage of stolen data for future elections. When reached for comment recently by CNN Business, Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha said that the newspaper 'thoroughly vets and confirms information it receives from any source.

"'The decision to publish any information, including hacked documents, is made primarily on the basis of whether it is newsworthy and in the public interest, while also taking privacy concerns into consideration. When we publish, we aim to give readers as much context as possible about the information and the motivation for its release.'"

That's mostly a bunch of horse hockey, though I'm glad Rhoades Ha included "motivation for its release." Sometimes the source of oppo research designed to damage a candidate is as important - or even more - than the information itself. Take a release of information designed to spur a racist backlash, for example.

But even absent that, simply publishing, say, somebody's private e-mails should require a high bar. If government business is being done and a media outlet concludes the contents of an e-mail, for example, ought to have been public in the first place, then go for it. If an e-mail contains information about an illegal activity - "Thanks for helping me cover up that murder!" - then, yes. But gossip, trivia, personal details, even intercampaign infighting? No.

That's when transparency turns into a horrific brand of surveillance.

Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, told CNN as much: "[Smith] noted that BuzzFeed revised its standards guide specifically to address hacked material. It now states that the story should 'treat the intention of the hacker as a major part of the story' and 'maintain a high bar for news value and context of potentially embarrassing personal information that is being weaponized.'"

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Meanwhile, "Spokespeople for CNN and CBS both said that their newsrooms would examine incidents on a case-by-case basis. MSNBC, NBC, and ABC all declined to comment for this story. Fox News did not reply to requests for comment."

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ChicagoReddit

ANSWER: Insecurity for not being New York City or Los Angeles from people who feel like they have to continually justify living here.

Why is there so much Chicago pride? from r/chicago

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Shuba Crush Sunday with Décima.

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BeachBook

Navy SEALS Were Warned Against Reporting Their Chief For War Crimes.

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Billy Bragg Was At The Cubs Game Last Night.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood McRibTipLine: Believe the rib tip.



Permalink

Posted on April 25, 2019


MUSIC - Pitchfork Highlights.
TV - Breaking: Trump Still Racist.
POLITICS - Trump & Hitler.
SPORTS - Cubs, Sox At Pivot Points.

BOOKS - Smokey The Controversial Bear.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Tube Packaging Market On Fire.


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