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New York Times

New York Times Outs Tucker Carlson As Top Anonymous Source 

The New York Times has outed Fox News host Tucker Carlson as a frequently used anonymous source for information. Carlson is known for regularly attacking and insulting the media on his show for the spreading of misinformation and “fake news.” 

Carlson often names journalists and major media outlets by name in his nightly call outs in which he claims most of the media is made up of liberal individuals who want to discredit former president Donald Trump and his supporters. Carlson and other major figureheads in the media have created a major wave of threats and harassment aimed at journalists simply reporting on the facts; facts that our former president and his supporters were known for ignoring. 

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“Journalists are cringing animals who are not worthy of respect,” Carlson claimed recently. 

Ben Smith is the Times media columnist who wrote that it was an “open secret” in Washington that Carlson frequently shared gossip and information to multiple news outlets that he would go on to insult on his show. 

Several journalist sources and non-Times organizations told Smith about all the information Carlson has revealed to them in the past, including multiple stories about Trump that painted him in an unflattering light. He also would share information about the internal politics of Fox News. 

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“In Trump’s Washington, Tucker Carlson is a primary supersecret source. I know this because I know what he has told me, and I can track his exquisite, too-good-not-to-be-true gossip through unsourced reports and as it often emerges into accepted wisdom.”

Carlson has worked tirelessly to paint himself as a Fox News host with little respect for journalists and opposing opinions. He’s spoken out frequently about his distaste for liberals and their “agenda.” 

Carlson is also one of the biggest media voices to lend his support to Trump throughout the past year. He often supported Trump’s baseless claims of a fraudulent election, as well as crucial information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He recently went on about how the January 6th Capitol riot was a part of an FBI plot to overthrow Trump. He has also continuously spewed harmful misinformation regarding the Covid-19 vaccines which has definitely led to an increase in the anti-vaccination movement.

Wooden Judges Gavel

Federal Judge Rules Voice Of America Executive Violated Journalists First Amendment Rights

A federal judge ruled this Friday that the chief executive of the agency that oversees Voice of America must stop interfering and investigating with the journalists who are employed there. US District Judge Beryl Howell released a 76-page ruling which found that the CEO of the US Agency Global Media, Michael Pack, and his team violated the First Amendment rights of its journalists. 

Judge Howell also ruled that Pack and his team “showed an extensive pattern of penalizing those Global Media and network employees whom defendants regard as insufficiently supportive of President Trump.” The ruling means that Pack and others working for him won’t be able to do anything that could curb Voice Of America’s (VOA) editorial independence.

This includes “taking personal actions against journalists or editors, attempting to influence content by communicating with individual journalists or editors, and investigating purported breaches of journalistic ethics,” according to the ruling. 

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The initial lawsuit was filed by five senior executives at the US Agency Global Media (USAGM) who Pack fired/suspended back in August. The senior executives alleged that Pack and other top employees consistently tried to interfere with their work because it didn’t align with the political interests of President Donald Trump. 

“Defendants’ extensive pattern of penalizing those USAGM and network employees whom defendants regard as insufficiently supportive of President Trump has resulted in the termination, discipline, and investigation of multiple employees and journalists,” Judge Howell wrote in her ruling.

Acting VOA Director Elez Bibera recently spoke with the press about how important it is for the journalism industry in general to maintain its First Amendment rights, but especially VOA which has acted as a sacred American media institution for decades. 

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“83% of VOA’s audience finds our journalism trustworthy. There are few, if any, media organizations that can claim such trust. Our journalists continue to uphold VOA’s traditions of providing accurate, objective and comprehensive reporting.”

Judge Howell described Pack and his co-defendants in her ruling as “individuals with no discernible journalism or broadcasting experience.” She also added that Pack has tried to interfere in the agency’s “newsrooms in violation of their eighty-year practice, enshrined in law, of journalistic autonomy.” 

The VOA was initially created in 1942 to combat Nazi propaganda during WWII. It’s one of many US government funded broadcast outlets that’s available to listeners all over the world. Back in July, a bipartisan group of senators made a pledge to investigate USAGM and their funding after Pack began his mass firings. 

Fast forward to October when the State Department’s inspector general and the US Office of Special Counsel both opened up inquiries about alleged misconduct, abuse of authority, and gross mismanagement within the Agency, according to the lawyers representing the five senior executives.

Reading Book

Rhianna Pratchett Thrilled To Continue Father’s Legacy As Fantasy Fiction Author

Rhianna Pratchett grew up watching her father create a mythical world that fans fell in love with through his iconic Discworld comic book series. Now, five years after Terry Pratchett’s death, Rhianna decided to try her hand at fantasy fiction writing.

TMZ Homepage

When Shock Value Goes To Far; How The Media Thrives Off Celebrity Tragedy

This past Sunday, the world lost one of the greatest basketball legends to ever step on the court, Kobe Bryant. Him, his 13-year-old daughter Gigi, and seven other individuals were on their way to a travel basketball game in Thousand Oaks, California via helicopter when it tragically crashed, killing everyone on board. 

At 2:24 p.m. on Sunday January 26th, the world stopped, as TMZ posted the story covering Bryant’s devastating death, merely one hour after police got the initial report of a downed aircraft. Twitter and social media platforms alike surged with millions of individuals trying to get some further confirmation beyond that of just a celebrity gossip website. Eventually, it was obviously confirmed that both Bryant, his daughter, and seven other innocent lives were taken in the crash, but people were quick to turn on the original outlet, who reportedly released the news before the family had even been informed. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff, and Undersheriff, both have since made public statements regarding TMZ and their inappropriate method of delivering “news” without any regard or consideration of those who would be affected by such shocking information.  

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“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one … perished and you learn about it from TMZ. That is just wholly inappropriate,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva during a press conference

“I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported … Kobe had passed. I understand getting the scoop but please allow us time to make personal notifications to their loved ones. It’s very cold to hear of the loss via media. Breaks my heart,” Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted

What’s especially raising the eyebrows of those against the outlet is the fact that this is not the first time in which TMZ was the first to report on high-profile celebrity-death tragedies. In 2009, they were the first to report on Michael Jackson’s overdose, in 2012 they were the first to report that Whitney Houston died in a bathtub, in 2016 they tweeted out regarding Prince’s death, and recently, in 2018, they were first to report Mac Miller’s overdose. 

Like any other major news network, the individuals who work on the inside have all sorts of connections to people in the industry. TMZ has that, and also connections within Hollywood, considering they’re a celebrity gossip media outlet over anything. Additionally, TMZ has been around since 2005 and was one of the first major online celebrity news sites, so they hold a lot of notoriety, especially in regard to celebrity death. 

According to a 2016 profile of Harvey Levins, the founder of TMZ, the network has a huge network of “tipsters” that they’ve built strong relationships with throughout the past decade. This network includes high-profile celebrity lawyers, court officials, Hollywood service workers, and more. Basically they have a ton of connections to individuals who work very closely with the celebrities they report on. The profile also states that TMZ more often than not will compensate the individuals who deliver tips to them; a practice that most credible news outlets don’t do. 

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While TMZ has definitely built up a solid enough foundation to be considered a “credible news source,” the ethics of it all make them one of the least liked media outlets to date. It’s a fairly new debate, regarding news on celebrities who, at the end of the day, are just regular people with talent that we all can admire. But in an age of influencers and young LA adults making a name for themselves through sponsored posts and fancy trips, it’s hard to care about anything regarding “celebrities.” 

One thing we all can agree on, when it comes to tragedy or death, we must respect the sanctity of privacy and family. LA Police and individuals on social media, are fairly adamant about the disgust they feel towards TMZ and other news sources that thrive off shock value stories with no regard to those involved. In an age of social media and constant celebrity engagement it’s hard to tell, however, if there’s room to ice out those types of outlets to make room for more legitimate and respectful forms of journalism. 

When a tragedy as monumental and culturally impactful as Kobe Bryant’s unexpected death occurs, journalists are quick to throw away any morality they once had in order to get the scoop. The reality is, the public will get all the details one way or the other via confirmation from real officials (such as police or firefighters) but because of how fast information is spread on the internet, the public gets just as greedy as those working in the media. So we can sit and scold TMZ all day long, but we also need to accept our role in actively participating in a culture that exploits tragedy for clicks.

We desire all the information right as it’s being learned, so we demand updates, but hate the invasive means others had to go through to get them. In order to truly move forward as a society, we need to understand that these are people who are put on a massive pedestal, who’s value we equate to how successful they are. Once we collectively agree that we need to focus more on these individuals talents that made them famous in the first place, as opposed to everything happening in their personal lives, we can begin to progress.

Impeachment Trial

Impeachment Trial Begins in Earnest as Senators Clash Over Rules

Although the president’s impeachment trial technically began last Thursday, when House impeachment managers delivered articles of impeachment to the Senate and senators swore an oath of impartiality, the actual substance of the trial did not begin until today at one o’clock, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered opening statements and began debating the rules of the trial. McConnell’s resolution, released late last night, infuriated Democrats as they perceived the proposed rules to be tremendously unfair, as they only give the prosecution and the defense 24 hours to present their arguments over the course of 2 days, do not allow for the production of documents and witnesses, and call for the proceedings to run late into the night, at a time when Americans are likely not to watch the trial.

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Despite these restrictions, McConnell argued that the trial would be fair, raising objections from TV pundits as well as Democratic politicians. In response, Schumer decried the rules, pointing out McConnell’s hypocrisy as he previously said that he wanted the rules of the trial to resemble the ones that governed the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial. Additionally, reporters are complaining about the strict rules that limit journalistic access to the proceedings; while reporters are allowed to sit in the Senate gallery and observe the trial, they are not allowed to bring any electronic devices, including cameras, into the room. Instead, the camera that will film the trial is controlled by the government, and will only record the person who is speaking at the moment. What’s more, reporters are not allowed to ask questions of the senators as they walk through the halls of the Senate, which is a time-honored tradition on Capitol Hill. As such, cable networks are limited in their capacity to broadcast the event, and journalists have expressed fears that such rules prevent reporters from doing the job of recording momentous political occasions for the historical record.

Though McConnell characterized his proposed rules as “fair,” they break with Senate tradition and precedent as they seem to be engineered to prevent the discovery of new information and to limit the American people’s exposure to evidence in the case against Trump. Unfortunately for Democrats, McConnell’s resolution is likely to pass, as Republican senators are known for falling in line under McConnell’s direction. A simple majority of 51 votes is required to pass trial resolutions in the Senate, and as there are 53 Republican US Senators, it’s likely that the resolution will pass with few, if any, amendments. While Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial, if he chooses to keep with precedent, he will do virtually nothing. In the Clinton trial, Chief Justice Rehnquist made almost no contributions to the trial, later commenting that he did very little and did it very well. However, the situation in the Clinton trial was very different, as senators agreed in a 100-0 vote on the rules that would govern the trial.

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American public sentiment does not match the proposed rules in the trial. According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post, more than 70% of Americans want the impeachment trial to include witnesses, and a slim majority, 51%, believe the evidence that has been unearthed in advance of the trial is sufficient to warrant the president’s removal from office. Republican senators have already signalled that they will vote to acquit the president, and virtually nobody believes that Trump will be removed from office via the impeachment process; however, many are disappointed by the restrictive and precedent-shattering nature of the rules that will likely govern the trial.

Notably, some of the senators who will act as jurors in the trial are also running for president, meaning that they are unable to campaign during the duration of the trial. These senators include two of the Democratic frontrunners, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Senators Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennett. According to the rules of the trial, senators are not allowed to speak at all throughout the duration of the proceedings, which may prove difficult for some. Additionally, senators will not be allowed to leave the room to use the bathroom or eat, which may prove difficult for some as the proceedings are expected to start at one PM and continue well past one o’clock in the morning.

Update: After this article was written, Republican senators changed their proposed rules to allow arguments to be held over three days, not two, reducing the logistical challenge for participants in the trial.

Health Quote

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Uncovering the Secrets to a Happier, Healthier Life

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has proven that the occupations of journalism and medicine can have very much in common.

Sports Team

Mass Staff Exodus at Deadspin as Writers Defy New Owner

While ostensibly a sports-focused website, Deadspin has maintained a loyal readership base over the years by weaving social commentary and cultural criticism into its reporting, earning a reputation as a publication unafraid of speaking truth to power. However, after a private equity firm bought the website’s parent company, G/O Media, a rift emerged between the site’s new owners and the editorial staff, who strongly objected to various changes they were making at the publication. In keeping with their rebellious nature, Deadspin’s staff writers published posts criticizing their company’s new owners, revealing the extent to which managerial changes offended not only the website’s core staff but also the bulk of its readership. Though writers objected to changes like the introduction of auto-play ads and the prioritization of quantity over quality, the final nail in the coffin was a broad editorial edict to “stick to sports,” which writers understood to be code for “don’t write anything that will get anyone in trouble.”

The site’s writers initially reacted to this order with strong defiance; the site’s editor-in-chief, Barry Petchesky, featured a number of articles that did not concern sports but were nonetheless popular with readers on the Deadspin homepage, leading to his being fired. On Tuesday, October 29th, Petchesky announced his firing on Twitter. The following day, one by one, various other writers for the site announced they would be resigning in solidarity with Petchesky and in a total rebuke of the new management. As of this morning, more than half of the writing staff had left the company, and Deadspin has not been updated with any new stories, even in the aftermath of the Nationals’ historic win at the World Series. As such, the future of the website looks bleak; the Deadspin adored by a broad, loyal, and engaged readership is no more, and the brand is likely to be transformed into a clickbait farm or some other form of low-quality publication.

The collapse of Deadspin at the hands of an indifferent corporate class speaks to the negative impacts of a philosophy of putting profit above all else.

The mass exodus at Deadspin, which effectively killed the website, speaks to the importance of maintaining editorial independence in a media publication. In the article during which the site’s former editor-in-chief announced her resignation, Megan Greenwall described her understanding of the motivations of Jim Spanfeller, the company’s new CEO, thus: “he believed he could simply turn up the traffic (and thus turn a profit), as if adjusting a faucet, not by investing in quality journalism but by tricking people into clicking on more pages.” According to Greenwall, Spanfeller ignored evidence, both in the form of comments and traffic figures, that readers appreciated Deadspin for the variety of topics it covered. As such, Greenwall argued that the fundamental business model whereby writers and editors publish content that readers actually wanted to read, rather than maximizing volume in a narrow subject matter at the expense of quality, lead to the company’s financial success in the first place, which was jeopardized by decisions made by people who didn’t fundamentally understand the industry.

The widespread resignation of Deadspin’s staff is particularly notable in light of the reality of the current media landscape, where journalists are prone to fear of sacrificing their livelihoods for their principles, as it can be difficult to find work in the industry. Moreover, the collapse of Deadspin at the hands of an indifferent corporate class speaks to the negative impacts of a philosophy of putting profit above all else, and the self-destructive forms in which this philosophy, motivated by greed, can manifest. Ultimately, the loss of Deadspin is a loss to the broader world of sports journalism; the website was initially created as a response to the apolitical and at-times superficial ESPN and other sports media giants, and was founded under the belief that politics and cultural criticism are inextricably intertwined with sports, as they are with all aspects of life.

Layoff

New Owners Of Sports Illustrated Cut 25% Of Employees

It’s no surprise that the art of print journalism is dying. With technology being as advanced as it is now, newspapers and magazines are trying to keep up with the multitude of digital sources out there. Sports Illustrated magazine is the latest victim of this journalism epidemic. The magazine has seen an extreme decline in readers/subscribers, within the past year especially, causing higher ups in the company to make a serious amount of layoffs. 

Sports Illustrated themselves declined to give a comment to any news source about how many layoffs would be occurring, however, according to the Wall Street Journal, the magazine is laying off 25% of its staff, which would total around 40 individuals out of 160 employee’s. The move came shortly after TheMaven Inc. licensed the rights to all Sports Illustrated digital and print publications. The layoffs are a part of a larger plan to get the magazine back on the right track and avoid the quickly dying field of print media. Another part of the plan includes TheMaven hiring 200 contract writers to cover current sports events and news, also according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Meredith Corporation owned the rights to the magazine before hand and recently sold it to Maven in June, telling its employees that with this transition would come layoffs, and they didn’t disappoint on their promise. Writing employee’s were nervous walking into the office this Thursday as a meeting with the new editors in chief was supposed to take place to inform employees who still has a job and who doesn’t, however, that meeting was delayed until the late evening. Writers weren’t the only group that should’ve been nervous though, as they soon learned Maven was replacing Christian Stone, the editor and chief of seven long years, with Steve Cannella and Ryan Hunt from Maven Inc. 

This major transition sparked a lot of outrage within the Sports Illustrated employee’s. Long time writers and higher ups were being fired after years of service and dedication only to be replaced by less experienced individuals just because it’s cheaper, unfortunately not uncommon in the sphere or corporate America work. In response, many Sports Illustrated employees wrote, signed, and sent a petition to Meredith Inc. According to the Wall Street Journal, the petition called on the companies to “drop TheMaven and save Sports Illustrated.”

“TheMaven wants to replace top journalists in the industry with a network of Maven freelancers and bloggers, while reducing or eliminating departments that have ensured that the stories we publish and produce meet the highest standards,” the petition said. 

Unfortunately this isn’t an uncommon issue, and Sports Illustrated has already seen major cutbacks made before, the economy for writers is just not what it used to be. With the current war on journalism and “fake news” epidemic, more and more individuals are choosing to turn to social media platforms for their news source. No one goes out and buys a physical magazine or newspaper when they can have the same article on their phones within seconds if they wanted and while companies like Sports Illustrated have completely digitized, there’s still a major struggle to get actual clicks. The clicks that articles get gives them views which increases advertising and pays for the publications. Until there’s more of a boom in the click business, major company changes such as the one Sports Illustrated as endure will continue.