BuzzFeed News criticizes Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign after affiliate accepts Bloomberg money for Instagram campaign

With former Vice President Joe Biden stumbling in the primaries and the polls and the rise of self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the media struggled to find a candidate to promote or criticize.

As for BuzzFeed News, it chose to blast billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Instagram influencer campaign after its non-news affiliate took advertising money from Bloomberg’s campaign.

BuzzFeed News headlined its criticism of Bloomberg’s online advertising as kowtowing to Bloomberg, “Huge Instagram Meme Accounts Are Shilling For Michael Bloomberg.” It failed to acknowledge in its headline that its non-news affiliate participated in Bloomberg’s online advertising campaign.

As background, Bloomberg’s campaign relies on online advertising as a part of its strategy and it paid several meme accounts on Instagram to advocate for Bloomberg. The accounts were in meme form, written in a fake messaging format between the account holders and Bloomberg and it could reach millions of followers on the social media platform.

BuzzFeed admitted that the Bloomberg campaign paid BuzzFeed’s Kale Salad (a social media account that is not a part of BuzzFeed News) to participate in the Instagram advertising campaign, which forced BuzzFeed to issue a statement on how its social media “Creators Program” does allow “some non-news employees to monetize their own social media channels.” BuzzFeed said, “This deal was done between the campaign and Kale Salad exclusively — which is allowed under the guidelines of our Creators Program.”

BuzzFeed News, after disclosing the conflict-of-interest, criticized Bloomberg’s record as mayor over his policing tactics. It blasted New York City Police Department (NYPD) for routine stops, questioning, and frisking men in minority communities and noted how “it was sharply criticized as racist.” The news arm also alleged that under Bloomberg’s leadership, the NYPD surveilled Muslims on a systematic basis.

Bloomberg spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told BuzzFeed News, “Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world.” She added, “While a meme strategy may be new to presidential politics, we’re betting it will be an effective component to reach people where they are and compete with President Trump’s powerful digital operation.”

Though Buzzfeed and BuzzFeed News attempted to separate themselves from conflict-of-interest and Bloomberg’s online advertising campaign, it opens up BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed News to other questions about neutrality and impartiality. BuzzFeed News criticized Bloomberg, which could demonstrate the independence of the news arm from BuzzFeed, but it placed BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed News in a gray ethical area of whether BuzzFeed News’s journalists would feel pressure to favorably cover Bloomberg. In hindsight, it would have been better for BuzzFeed to decline Bloomberg’s campaign advertising money to separate itself from endorsing a candidate and placing its news arm in a precarious ethical situation.

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Author: Spencer Irvine


NBC News pokes a hole in media’s claim that 2020’s warm winter was due to climate change

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that if currently-mild weather conditions persist in the United States through February, it could be the warmest winter in recorded history.

Multiple media outlets pointed to climate change, but NBC News found that some experts disagreed with the media’s assertions about climate change.

NBC News headlined the discussion, “What happened to winter? Jet stream science explains unseasonable warmth in U.S.,” and acknowledged a jet stream caused much of the warm weather and not climate change.

It debunked the climate change narrative from the start and pointed out that “it may seem like another symptom of global warming, the warmer-than-usual conditions are more directly caused by an Arctic weather pattern that is trapping cold air in the polar region.” In other words, an Artic jet stream weather pattern caused the country’s warm winter conditions.

NBC News asserted that “climate change is not necessarily to blame” because warm weather is not directly caused by climate change. It blamed Arctic Oscillation, which “is currently trapping frigid air in the polar region and preventing it from flowing south.” Due to the oscillation’s waves, polar air brings rain and colder temperatures to the south or could bring hotter weather further north than usual. Scientists told NBC News that it is unpredictable, but it “can have a profound impact on weather systems around the world.” There are concerns whether the Arctic Oscillation will continue to affect the world’s weather in the future and become an annual weather system, but that is purely speculation at this point.

The media emphasized climate change during this 2020 presidential campaign cycle, but it was incorrect for asserting that this warm winter season was directly caused by climate change. Instead of pivoting back to climate change talking points, other media outlets should have done their due diligence in researching the Arctic Oscillation.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

NowThis News: Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are too white

Repeating a popular progressive political refrain, NowThis News criticized Iowa and New Hampshire’s primary statuses and said that those states’ electorate was too white to be fair and representative of the Democratic Party. The website blasted the two states because the two primaries allegedly rely too heavily on “the whims of about 465,000 voters from states that are 92 percent white.”

NowThis News’s analysis headlined the alleged racism of the first two primaries in the country, “Analysis: The Problem With Iowa and NH Going First in the Democratic Race.”

The analysis compared the demographics of two states to the party’s general primary electorate, which was 92 percent white compared to 60 percent white.

The contention that the two primary states were too white was misleading. Historically, white voters tend to vote more consistently and more often than their minority peers. Also, the following two primaries in Nevada and South Carolina resolve the diversity issue, with Nevada having a robust Latino population and South Carolina’s black American population. Together, the first four primaries represent the diversity of the United States as a whole.

A popular progressive complaint about the Electoral College, and now the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, are that too few voters live in smaller-sized and more rural states. NowThis News emphasized the both Iowa and New Hampshire have “fewer voters than the population of Kansas City, Missouri,” in addition to having fewer voters than Tucson, Arizona, Louisville, Kentucky, and Fort Worth, Texas. The website tore into the media’s electability argument and claimed that Iowa and New Hampshire are “two, small, non-diverse states” which have an outsized impact on the presidential election. It questioned why Iowa was the first primary in the country because “Democrats didn’t even win in the 2016 general election…Should voters there really be picking the frontrunners in the Democratic race?”

There are multiple inconsistencies within NowThis News’s analysis on Iowa and New Hampshire. First, in promoting the anti-rural and smaller-state narrative, the analysis implied that smaller states should not have an impact on elections. Instead, it implied that the larger states should have a bigger role in elections, which was not fair to voters in smaller states. Historically, the Senate was created to balance the power between larger-population states and smaller-population states. The Electoral College also represents this balance in American democracy, as do the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.

Second, Iowa and New Hampshire primaries are less expensive to run than larger states, such as California. Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C., defended Iowa and New Hampshire’s role in presidential elections in 2016 and said, “Early primary states allow candidates, voters and the media an inexpensive, safe place to hold a deep dialogue, beyond soundbites and mass rallies, on issues impacting the entire country.” Additionally, Brookings argued that these early primaries force politicians to get out of their comfort zone, get outside of their typical voting base and improves their political leadership by hearing “directly from voters outside of their home states and come up with answers on the fly, beyond carefully crafted talking points.”

Third, it should not matter if Iowa voted for Trump by ten percentage points in 2016. Iowa voted for Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, in both 2008 and 2012. States like Iowa are swing states and are crucial indicators of whether independent voters buy into a presidential candidate in the primaries and in the general election. It was inconsistent for NowThis News to dismiss Iowa solely based on 2016 election results, while ignoring how Iowa voted for Obama twice.

NowThis News’s political analysis was misleading and dishonest about Iowa and New Hampshire’s role in determining a presidential nominee. The analysis repeated multiple inconsistencies in addition to lacking historical understanding and knowledge about the primary system. It should recategorize this analysis as an opinion editorial, which would better reflect its content.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

YouTube funds liberal group to produce journalism videos

YouTube, which is owned by digital giant Google, has given a grant said to be in the mid-six figures to The Young Turks, one of the largest progressive digital publishers on the platform.

The grant is for an online course called TYT Academy that will focus on the creation of digital-first local news, according to Axios.

The Young Turks was founded in 2002 by former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur –who is currently running for the seat that Katie Hill (D-Calif.) vacated last year and is one of YouTube’s most successful content providers with 4.6 million subscribers.

Uygur has been criticized in the past for making offensive comments about women, Jews, Muslims and other groups as well as for denying that the Armenian genocide ever took place.

YouTube’s investment is part of it’s $25 million commitment to news efforts, which is part of the Google News Initiative announced in 2018.

The TYT Academy will produce a two-track video series of eight videos each. Students earn a TYT Academy certificate after taking short quizzes during the tracks and a final exam after completing each track.

The first track will teach journalism tactics and responsibilities and the second track will focus on best practices for online video production.

According to Axios, Steven Oh, TYT’s Chief Business Officer and the creator of TYT Academy, said that TYT is “not interested in cranking out journalists who share our political viewpoint whatsoever.”

Axios has reviewed the videos which have been online for about two months and said they appear to be nonpartisan but found it interesting that YouTube is investing in a course from a group with a progressive bent.

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Author: Don Irvine

Sparse media coverage of Indiana burial of aborted fetal remains

Last year, authorities discovered 2,411 fetal remains in the home of a deceased abortion doctor Dr. Ulrich Klopfer in Illinois. This week, the fetal remains were buried in Indiana, where Klopfer ran abortion clinics in Gary, Fort Wayne and South Bend, but there was sparse media coverage about the burial ceremony and the overall controversy.

The remains were buried in a donated burial plot in South Bend and the majority of which were discovered in the garage of Klopfer’s home. Some of the other remains were found in one of his vehicles at a different location. Klopfer was “one of the Midwest’s most prolific abortion doctors,” as the South Bend Tribune said, and the remains were most likely from abortions performed between 2000 and 2002.

The remains were discovered in plastic medical bags filled with formalin, a chemical preservative, which were then stored in cardboard boxes.

Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill attended the burial ceremony and said the “shocking discovery” of the remains “was horrifying to anyone with normal sensibilities.

“Regrettably, there is no shortage of depravity in our world today, including due regard for the most vulnerable among us.” The state of Indiana is also one of the few states that mandates the cremation or burial of fetal remains after an abortion.

Other than the South Bend Tribune, which is a part of the Gannett USA Today network, only the Associated Press and Washington Post covered the burial ceremony. The articles defended Klopfer’s legacy, noting how he had to operate in Indiana, a strict anti-abortion state. The outlets also quoted a past statement from Klopfer, where he accused Indiana authorities and antiabortion activists conspiring to shut down his abortion clinics.

Yet none of the media outlets or state authorities confirmed why Klopfer stored 2,411 fetal remains in his garage and in a car.

The media’s sparse coverage of recent burial ceremony for fetal remains illustrated the media’s resistance to reporting about abortion news outside of protests, court cases, and lawsuits. It also demonstrated the tendency for the media to blame anti-abortion activists for shutting down abortion clinics and restricting abortion doctors.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

History ignored: Media overlooked Biden’s past presidential campaigns

The media, and some of its sources within the Democratic Party, believed that former vice president Joe Biden was the front-runner presidential primary candidate before his poor back-to-back primary performances in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Now, Biden’s campaign is on the ropes and hopes for good results in Nevada and South Carolina later this month, but to avoid this embarrassment, the media should have reflected on Biden’s past two failed presidential campaigns in 1988 and 2008.

Throughout the presidential primary, the media overlooked Biden’s two previous presidential campaigns and glanced over why Biden’s campaigns failed. After briefly covering Biden’s past presidential bids in June 2019, the media has not brought up his past presidential campaigns within the past three months, which would have been instructive for both themselves and for potential primary voters.

For example, the last time that CNN covered Biden’s presidential ambitions was this video from 2015. But CNN’s video did not go into detail about why his previous campaigns failed and it comprised of TV host John King opining about Biden’s campaign tactics.

In 1987, Biden declared for the presidency and contended against the likes of Michael Dukakis (then the former governor of Massachusetts), Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Miss.), Sen. Al Gore (D-Tenn.), and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. But his campaign quickly fell apart when opponents accused him of plagiarism and for lying about his law school accomplishments. He quoted United Kingdom Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without attribution on multiple occasions, in addition to his false claim that he graduated in the top half of his law school (he ranked 76th of 85 law students). Biden dropped out of the race in September 1987 before any of the presidential primary elections.

In 2008, he dropped out of the 2008 presidential race after the Iowa caucuses where he placed fifth among the field of candidates. Biden made multiple public gaffes, including his reference of Sen. Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Politico, in a 2008 article, said that Biden got into trouble because “he was also plagued, as he has been for much of his career, by his tendency to be verbose on the campaign trail.”

Similar to his 2008 campaign, Biden’s 2020 primary opponents blasted him for many of his past misstatements while on the campaign trial. Recently, he called a New Hampshire voter a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier.” The voter told the media that Biden’s quip was “king of insulting,” but the campaign suggested that Biden was joking.

For months, the media claimed Biden was the most electable candidate among the multitude of primary candidates, but as Iowa and New Hampshire demonstrated, Biden’s gaffes undermined the electability argument. If the media looked back to Biden’s past presidential campaigns, it could have avoided the embarrassment of being wrong about Biden’s electability. Instead, the media chose to ignore the lessons from history and failed the public because it promoted Biden’s electability narrative.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

NowThis News blasts Attorney General Barr taking action over ‘sanctuary laws’

NowThis News criticized the Trump administration for its crackdown on “sanctuary laws” and state-based immigration laws without providing specific examples about the pros and cons of lax immigration laws and policies.

The Trump administration, led by U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice, is suing state and local governments in Washington state and New Jersey for “sanctuary laws,” which laws limit federal authority over immigration enforcement.

The article headlined the Department of Justice as the aggressor, “Department of Justice Suing Washington State, New Jersey Over “Sanctuary Laws,” which headline was reflected in the article’s text. Although the website treated quotes fairly, quoting U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s statement as well as authorities from New Jersey and King County, Washington, it did not provide enough context for the Trump administration’s “crackdown” on immigration laws.

For example, NowThis News could have cited examples of undocumented immigrants committing crimes, being detained by local authorities, then local authorities releasing them without handing them over to federal immigration authorities for processing. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) published a statement about his state’s “sanctuary policies,” where North Carolina jails released nearly 500 undocumented immigrants “after local sheriffs refused to comply with detainer requests made by ICE.” Tillis added, “These North Carolina counties are releasing illegal immigrants charged with violent crimes like rape and murder without even notifying federal officials, jeopardizing public safety.”

NowThis News ignored public safety concerns and focused on the Trump administration’s lawsuits. It said that the Trump administration consistently “threatened ‘sanctuary cities’ through moves like funding withdrawal.” The website also detailed other administration moves, such as the 2017 travel ban and a 2018 lawsuit against three California immigration laws.

NowThis News criticized the Department of Justice for suing “sanctuary laws,” but it did not fairly portray the views of proponents who want to reassert federal immigration enforcement authority. Instead, the website offered a biased perspective on immigration without providing adequate context about the factors affecting federal, state, and local immigration enforcement.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

Media avoids criticism of Biden’s departure from New Hampshire for South Carolina

Once the media darling early in the 2020 presidential primaries, former vice president Joe Biden faces the brunt of the media’s ire after two disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. The media noted Biden’s decision to leave New Hampshire and make a campaign stop in South Carolina before New Hampshire’s primary results were finalized.

But the media did not criticize his decision to do so, although the decision presented bad optics for his campaign.

Biden decided that he would not attend a New Hampshire campaign party on the night of the primary election and flew to South Carolina. Although Biden did appear on-screen, through a video call from South Carolina, the media wrote about the bad optics of Biden skipping town before primary results were announced.

BuzzFeed News attended Biden’s New Hampshire party, which at its peak had about 150 attendees by its own count. The outlet said that while staffers and volunteers were present, “Joe Biden was elsewhere” on primary night. Biden’s party “was in stark contrast to Biden’s Iowa party, which was buzzing with senior staff, surrogates, and volunteers.” In a veiled shot at Biden, BuzzFeed News wrote, “On Tuesday morning, less than a week after telling voters in Somersworth, New Hampshire, that he was “counting on” their state and several hours before his own primary night party began, Biden announced that he was leaving for South Carolina.” If anything, BuzzFeed News’s article was most critical of Biden’s decision, but it did not directly criticize the former vice president.

CNN, in its New Hampshire primary analysis, also pointed out Biden’s decision to leave New Hampshire for South Carolina. The cable news network said, “The Granite State became another stumbling block for both Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, who made the telling decision to abruptly abandon his election night party in favor of heading to South Carolina.” Although there could be some veiled criticism, it was a far cry from directly criticizing Biden’s decision.

NBC News added, “Aware of a poor showing, Biden had already left New Hampshire for South Carolina, the site of the next primary.” NBC’s take was tepid compared to BuzzFeed News and CNN and did not offer the reader much insight into the 2020 campaign.

The media criticized Biden’s electability argument after his poor showing in the Iowa caucuses. However, after Biden left New Hampshire for South Carolina, the media did not criticize Biden’s decision nor did it explain how the bad optics could negatively affect his campaign. If the media wants readers and viewers to believe it is impartial, it should criticize all candidates regardless of party affiliation.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

Media continues to ignore Sanders’ past after he wins New Hampshire primary

Amid Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ media victory lap after winning the New Hampshire primary, there was no mention of his past statements and actions as a politician.

The media discussed the ramifications of his primary night victory but failed to dive into his policy proposals.

CNN praised Sanders’ “hard-fought victory” in New Hampshire and how Sanders escaped a “surprisingly close race” between his campaign and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. CNN pointed out Sanders’ “extraordinary comeback for a candidate who was all but written off by many pundits after he suffered a heart attack in early October.”

But CNN had one glaring omission in its article: it did not mention Sanders’ promise to release his medical records to the public for transparency reasons and his reversal on the promise.

NBC News noted Sanders’ “raucous crowd” at his election night event and highlighted his speech, which speech blasted “wealth campaign contributors” and promoted his socialist ideals. Its article lacked any mention of Sanders’ reversal on releasing his medical records, past praise of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and other similar statements. NBC News ignored Sanders’ past and looked ahead to the next primary states, without providing context on his campaign.

The mainstream media ignored Sanders’ past and chose to praise his primary victory in New Hampshire. It failed to provide context about Sanders’ presidential campaign, his socialist politics and policy proposals. Both CNN and NBC News failed their readers and audiences due to omitting important and relevant information about Sanders’ campaign.

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Author: Spencer Irvine

NowThis News criticizes Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg

Billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s entrance into the 2020 presidential primaries brought the ire of NowThis News, which published an article citing one of Bloomberg’s past public statements on the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing policies he encouraged while serving as mayor.

NowThis News avoided injecting opposition research into its article until it published an article about Bloomberg’s past, headlined, “In 2015 Speech, Bloomberg Defended Racial Profiling And Stop-And-Frisk.” The piece criticized Bloomberg for supporting stop-and-frisk policing policies as late as 2015.

Opposition research is the practice of publishing negative information about political opponents, such as Fusion GPS’s opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 and its findings of possible Russian involvement in Trump’s 2016 campaign.

A progressive activist named Benjamin Dixon tweeted an audio recording of Bloomberg’s 2015 speech, in which Bloomberg said that the policy prevented crime in New York City. Bloomberg told the audience, “Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities 15 to 25.” Adding to that statement, Bloomberg said that he supports placing police officers “where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods” and that the stop-and-frisk policy was “the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the walls and frisk them.”

NowThis included Bloomberg’s apology, which said, “I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologized—and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on black and Latino communities.”

Although NowThis News also published Bloomberg’s apology, the article demonstrated the website’s bias against Bloomberg. It has not published opposition research-based articles on the other Democratic Party presidential candidates, such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

For example, it did not publish any of Sanders’s past statements about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, in which Sanders praised the Cuban communist regime.

NowThis News should publish opposition research on the other primary candidates in the field to provide fair coverage of all candidates.

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Author: Spencer Irvine