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an endless succession of beans and nuts.

What's the difference between encouraging someone and egging him on?

I'm trying to read "Scoop: How Trump's team egged him on during CNN town hall" by Mike Allen (Axios).

The "scoop" is this:

Backstage during the first commercial break, Axios has learned, Trump adviser Jason Miller — as if psyching up a boxer in his corner or egging on a bully — showed Trump moments-old tweets from Democrats blasting CNN and saying Trump was winning.

Trump saw that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had tweeted: "CNN should be ashamed of themselves. They have lost total control of this 'town hall' to again be manipulated into platforming election disinformation, defenses of Jan 6th, and a public attack on a sexual abuse victim. The audience is cheering him on and laughing at the host."

And he saw that Andrew Yang had tweeted: "This #CNNTownhall is shaping up to be a clear win for Trump, certainly in the Republican field and probably overall."

So, that must have been encouraging for Trump. I'm just blogging because I think if Biden had been doing an equally strong town hall and had received the same kind of encouragement, it wouldn't be called "egging on." Let's talk about the concept of "egging on." It makes me think of Melania Trump's reaction to the Access Hollywood tape back in October 2016: "boy talk, and he was led on – like, egged on – from the host to say dirty and bad stuff."

The Merriam-Webster definition of "egg on" is "to urge or encourage (someone) to do something that is usually foolish or dangerous." So it's the end that makes the difference between encouraging and egging on. In the Axios view, therefore, Miller wasn't telling Trump to keep up the good work. He was telling Trump to keep up the bad work. 

Why does this have anything to do with eggs?, you may wonder. Surprising answer: It doesn't! The OED tells us it's derived from the Old Norse word "eggja," which means "edge." We're edging someone on. This meaning goes back to the 1500s:

1586    W. Warner Albions Eng.  iv. xx. 86   The Neatresse longing for the rest, did egge him on to tell How faire she was....
1691    A. Wood Athenæ Oxonienses II. 328   Mathew Hazard [was] a main Incendiary in the Rebellion, violently eggedon by his wife....
1852    W. M. Thackeray Henry Esmond II. x. 171   Schemers and flatterers would egg him on.

It seems to me you need a foundation of expectation before you can declare something a "disappointment."

It's fake-newsy to proclaim that something you wanted to fail has indeed failed when it could just as well be declared a success. 

At a time when CNN has been struggling to turn around viewership decline, the telecast proved to be a ratings disappointment, with Nielsen reporting just 3.1 million viewers overall. That was a big boost over CNN’s typical 8 p.m. telecast, but a smaller audience than CNN’s town hall with President Biden last summer (3.7 million) and six previous Trump town halls carried by Fox News — calling into question both CNN and Trump’s drawing power.

Trump is doing a live "town hall" show on CNN tonight.

Let's see how the major news media are handling this story the morning of:

The New York Times: Media correspondent Michael M. Grynbaum asks, "Should a leading presidential contender be given the opportunity to speak to voters on live television?" Wow. That suggests it could be considered unethical to give air to the horrible man.

Joy Reid, an anchor on rival MSNBC, derided the event as “a pretty open attempt by CNN to push itself to the right and make itself attractive and show its belly to MAGA.” Her colleague Chris Hayes called the town hall “very hard to defend.” Critics asked why CNN would provide a live platform to someone who defended rioters at the United States Capitol and still insists the 2020 election was rigged. Those objections intensified on Tuesday after Mr. Trump was found liable for the sexual abuse and defamation of the writer E. Jean Carroll. “Is @CNN still going to do a town hall with the sexual predator twice impeached insurrectionist?” Alexander S. Vindman, the Army colonel who was a witness in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial, wrote on Twitter.... 

Politico: The headline is "Trump world booked CNN hoping for a big audience. Now, they’re in the thick of it/The former president will fundraise off the E. Jean Carroll verdict. But he also has to get through a televised town hall where it will come up."

That suggests Trump might regret choosing this week for the town hall. I doubt it! He knew the trial was going on and had to know there was a good chance he'd lose. We know exactly how he'll denounce the verdict. I don't see much suspense. Politico seems to be feeding its readers who hope they're going to see Trump collapse. Haven't people learned by now that Trump will bull forward endlessly? 

MSNBC: The columnist Jordan Rubin thinks the town hall could be "a platform for self-incrimination in his criminal probes and/or open him up to civil liability if he makes defamatory statements." Yeah, why doesn't Trump just remain silent? His antagonists advise him that it would be in his interest to shut up. 

Mediaite: Columnist Charlie Nash quotes critics of CNN...

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan criticized the network for platforming someone “who has used live interviews to incite violence and tell lies,” while the Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes called it “horrifically bad judgment” and “not journalism.”

... and Trump: 

“I’ll be doing CNN tomorrow night, LIVE from the Great State of New Hampshire, because they are rightfully desperate to get those fantastic (TRUMP!) ratings once again. They made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!!... Could be the beginning of a New & Vibrant CNN, with no more Fake News, or it could turn into a disaster for all, including me. Let’s see what happens?”

I don't watch the TV news shows, and I presume most of what’s on is — to use Charlie Sykes's phrase — "not journalism." But I will watch the Trump town hall. And so I'll be one of the people who appease CNN's rightful desperation to get those fantastic (TRUMP!) ratings once again.

How elite media is covering Elon Musk's dumping of information about how Twitter helped the Democratic Party in the 2020 election.

First, let me say, I would like a well-written, organized, comprehensive piece of writing explaining this material. Alternatively, show me everything — all the raw material.

Instead, Elon Musk directed us to the Twitter account of Matt Taibbi, and we were expected to receive a long series of tweets and to puzzle through it. Was that to drive massive traffic to Twitter? Was it supposed to be better all fragmented like that?

It certainly wasn't a way to get quick updates to news that was suddenly breaking. It's an old story: Twitter was skewed to favor Democrats. Now, presumably, there's impressive proof. Present the proof in a clear organized fashion!

Musk enlisted Matt Taibbi, so why couldn't Matt Taibbi create a readable document and then just tweet a link to that document?

We were all supposed to cobble the story together on our own. I tried, but I couldn't even figure out how to just get a straight line of Taibbi's tweets. I couldn't move all the responses out of the way. The path was cluttered with other people's tweets — memes about waiting for the next tweet, laughs about how this is just what everybody already knew anyway. What a confusing mess!

After a full night's sleep, I want to do a post, and I can't even figure out where to click to get the Taibbi tweets lined up in order! I do see a lot of blue checks homing in on Tweet #10: "10.Both parties had access to these tools. For instance, in 2020, requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honored. However:"

"However:" sets up the next tweets, the ones that (supposedly) show the Democrats using the tools and receiving a sympathetic response from Twitter insiders. Most of this seems to be about the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.

What I'd like to see this morning is a clear presentation of what was dribbled out last night. I look first to my favorite source for half a century: The New York Times.

There's nothing at the top of the home page, so I search the page for Twitter.

I get one article: "Twitter Keeps Missing Its Advertising Targets as Woes Mount." That's been a theme at the NYT: Twitter is doing badly under Musk. Woes Mount! But it doesn't say advertising is crashing or even down at all, just that there were "targets" and then those targets were missed. These were internal targets, so maybe they were very aggressive. I can't easily tell how woeful it is that these targets were missed.

I search the whole site for "taibbi" and "twitter" and easily see that the story I'm looking for is, at least at the moment, nonexistent.

I relocate to The Washington Post. Its home page is loaded with Twitter stories: "Gio Reyna has played seven minutes. This World Cup, he's the talk of Soccer Twitter," "TikTok, not Twitter, is the real menace," "From quitting to blocking: How to protect yourself on Musk’s Twitter," "Elon Musk says Kanye West suspended from Twitter after swastika tweet," "Twitter needs Apple more than Apple needs Twitter." 

Five stories, but not the one I'm looking for. I do the site search for "taibbi" and "twitter." Nothing!

I try NPR, BBC, CNN. Nothing. Nothing. Aha!

CNN comes through for me: "Released Twitter emails show how employees debated how to handle 2020 New York Post Hunter Biden story" by Brian Fung:

For days, Twitter owner Elon Musk had teased a massive bombshell disclosure based on internal company documents that he claimed would reveal “what really happened” inside Twitter when it decided to temporarily suppress a 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden and his laptop.

But on Friday, instead of releasing a trove of documents to the public, Musk’s big reveal pointed to a series of tweets by the journalist Matt Taibbi, who had been provided with emails that largely corroborated what was already known about the incident.

That closely tracks my perception of what happened.

Attracting thousands of retweets, Taibbi’s winding tweet thread reaffirmed how, in the initial hours after the Post story went live, Twitter employees grappled with fears that it could have been the result of a Russian hacking operation.

Grappled with fears? Or did they desperately search for a justification to suppress the story and trump up the "Russian hacking" ground?

It showed employees on Twitter’s legal, policy and communications teams debating – and at times disagreeing – over whether to restrict the article under the company’s hacked materials policy, weeks before the 2020 election.... While some questioned the basis for the decision and warned that Twitter would be inviting allegations of anti-conservative bias, others within the company, including senior officials, said the circumstances surrounding the Post story were unclear and recommended caution, according to screenshots of internal communications shared by Taibbi.

(Then-CEO Jack Dorsey – whom Taibbi said was not involved in the decision – has told US lawmakers that in hindsight, suppressing the story was a mistake.)....

The Taibbi posts undercut a top claim by Musk and Republicans, who have accused the FBI of leaning on social media companies to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop stories.

Musk tweeted Friday night, amid the Taibbi posts, that Twitter had acted “under orders from the government.” Taibbi said in his series of tweets that “there is no evidence - that I’ve seen - of any government involvement in the laptop story.”

That's big! Does Musk not have legal advisers? He was trying to make a giant splash. Why didn't he do it right?

Hypothesis: He didn't really have the story he wanted, so he went all out to churn traffic on Twitter.

Maybe he intentionally gets things wrong so his antagonists will tweet to correct him. And then everyone can fight about that. What a happening place Twitter is! Let's all go tweet little bits and pieces and see who wins or who's funnier or meaner. And that's how Musk wins. It's not about getting to the truth, but getting everyone on Twitter, tweeting one thing after another. 

How wearisome! I'm just hoping this CNN piece — a normal article — will be reasonably organized and professional:

Lawyers for Facebook parent company Meta have made similar comments in recent weeks, disputing claims from Republicans that the FBI coerced Facebook to suppress the laptop stories.

Taibbi said the material he reviewed referenced general FBI warnings about potential attempted Russian interference in the elections, which also dovetails with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public account of Facebook’s handling of the New York Post story and affirms how Twitter was on high alert for possible foreign meddling.

In the wake of the article’s suppression, Taibbi said one Democratic congressman, California Rep. Ro Khanna, wrote to Twitter’s chief legal officer suggesting it was a bad look and a departure from First Amendment ideals to suppress a news report containing details that affect a presidential candidate....

Twitter is a private company, but you can still argue that it ought to behave consistently with free speech ideals. This is a difficult concept for many people to understand, and I appreciate the precision of the language CNN is using here.

The tweet thread also highlighted how officials from both political parties routinely wrote to Twitter asking for specific tweets to be removed.... Taibbi said the contact from political parties happened more frequently from Democrats, but provided no internal documents to back up his assertion. He also did not say that Democrats requested that Twitter suppress the Post story, and his account did not suggest that the US government had ever pressured Twitter to suppress the story.

Thanks, CNN! That strikes me as a clear and balanced summary. If it's wrong, tell me exactly why. It's my touchstone at this point.

And, yes, I've known all along that I could find coverage in The New York Post.

The New York Post is all over it:

How elite media is covering Elon Musk's dumping of information about how Twitter helped the Democratic Party in the 2020 election.  

I had little hope this is going to be the kind of story I want. But the story in writing is not as sensationalistic as the front page graphics, and it helpfully brings out aspects that are missing from the CNN presentation. Highlights:

The chaos and confusion behind closed doors at Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the October 2020 Hunter Biden expose show that a small group of top-level execs decided to label the Post’s story as “hacked material” without any evidence — behind the back of then-CEO and founder Jack Dorsey. ...

According to Taibbi, Twitter’s former head of legal, policy, and trust Vijaya Gadde played a “key role” in the censorship decision. Damning emails and comments from former Twitter employees showed that “everyone knew” the social media giant’s suppression of The Post’s scoops about Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop. “was f—ed.”...

Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it,” the ex-employee added. “They just freelanced it,” a former employee told Taibbi about how the decision came about.

The decision left high-level executives puzzled. “I’m struggling to understand the policy basis for marking this as unsafe,” Trenton Kennedy, a communications official wrote in an apparent internal email to colleagues.

To which former Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker responded that it is “reasonable” to assume materials were hacked and that “caution is warranted.”

“Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?” former Twitter Vice President of Global Communications Brandon Borrman asks in another missive.

“Everyone knew this was f–ked,” a former worker told Taibbi about Twitter’s official stance of on the Hunter story. According to Taibbi, the social media company “took extraordinary steps to suppress”...

Twitter’s censorship of the story led to then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany getting locked out of her account with just weeks to go before the 2020 election.... 

Taibbi also tweeted: “Both parties had access to these tools. For instance, in 2020, requests from both the Trump White House and the Biden campaign were received and honored.” But the former Rolling Stone writer said the “system wasn’t balanced” and “was based on contacts.”

"In case you're wondering, as I did, how my punishment for tweeting about Toobin compares to Toobin's suspension for his offense...."

"He was off air for eight months; I was off for seven. One month was the difference between punishment for jacking off at work versus commenting on the inadvisability of jacking off at work. On one hand, the people who made this call about me are gone from the network, so maybe I could let it lie. But on the other hand, many of my colleagues no doubt knew about my banning from air, but not the reasons behind it, thereby leaving the impression I must have done something tantamount to Toobining. I did not. I was told it was Jeff Zucker, now gone, who put this order in place and a deputy, also gone, who kept it there. I was also told I wasn't informed of the network's displeasure because I had just had a baby and someone in the old leadership thought I might be a 'loose cannon.' Not as loose as Toobin's.... In the #MeToo era, I have been asked to make public comment on basically every errant penis in the media, government, sports, and entertainment worlds, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else in the news, and at the expense of some amount of professional dignity. It is ironic that in shining a light on bad behavior, which is the right thing to do, you're still a woman on TV talking about penises...."
"I know very well I'm in the ideological minority in many of the places I speak, and certainly in the Zucker era at CNN, that made me dispensable....  ... I've been invited back by the new guard to do the job I was prevented from doing by the old guard. Clean slate, as if nothing happened. But something did happen. I have never been great at being quiet, and it’s not in my nature to start. So, that’s where I’ve been. I determined it was impossible for me to come back without saying why I’d been gone."
ADDED: Let me say 2 things about the difference between Toobin and Ham's entanglement with the penis.
1. Though Ham only talked about the penis and Toobin exposed his erect penis — both were on camera and seen by others and Ham was choosing to speak, repeatedly, while Toobin made a terrible mistake, once.

2. Ham's joking belittled the penis, and — in a phallocracy — that is a grave offense. The penis is supposed to be immensely imposing and intimidating. In that light, Toobin's mistake served the interests of the phallocracy. He erred in carelessly and vainly brandishing his penis. But those who saw did not say, oh, that poor man, it's so embarrassing. They treated it — even in a lame display — as a very very frightening.

"New ‘objective’ CNN appears to be making itself objectively rightwing."

That's the headline for a column in The Guardian by Arwa Mahdawi.
Earlier this year Chris Licht became the new CEO of the cable network and... met with lawmakers who had become wary of cable news and promised them that CNN was moving away from “alarmist” programming towards more neutral, objective reporting.... 
The way CNN is going I wouldn’t be surprised if they make Trump their new election integrity analyst next week.

CNN's new president Chris Licht wants staff to staff to stop saying "big lie" and just say "Trump election lie" or "election lies."

Mediate reports.
On a Tuesday conference call with management and show executive producers, Licht was asked for his thoughts on 'the big lie'.... According to a source, Licht argued that using “the big lie” makes the mistake of adopting branding used by the Democratic Party, thereby weakening the objectivity of the network....

That is, the problem is not the blithe evocation of Hitler, but the similarity to Democratic Party branding. To denounce the Hitler analogy would be to impugn the Democratic Party. Licht apparently just thinks CNN is better off looking less partisan.

“It’s worrisome that we’re being told how to talk about one of the worst things that ever happened to American democracy,” a CNN insider told Mediaite. “We have to call lies, lies, whether they’re small lies or big lies. Is there any lie bigger than that lie?”

But Licht endorsed the use of the word "lie," and this insider is acting as though "big lie" isn't a term of art.

Here's how Joseph Goebbels put it:

The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

And here's the what Goebbels is often said to have said:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. 

Whether he actually said that or not, that is what the term of art "the big lie" has come to mean. In that view, what Trump has been saying about the 2020 election is obviously not an example of the big lie. It's important to maintain the distinction, because we ought to worry that he might have wanted to do something like that. But don't just assert that he did.

"CNN's new boss, Chris Licht... wants to give personalities that may appear polarizing a chance to prove they're willing to uphold the network's values..."

"... so that they don't tarnish CNN's journalism brand.... Licht doesn't want to necessarily shy away from personality programming, especially in prime time, but he wants to ensure that partisan voices don't dominate in a way that harms CNN, a source notes.... Licht said he agrees with complaints from 'people both inside and outside the organization' that the network overuses the 'Breaking News' banner. 'We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers,' he said...."

Says Axios.

It still sounds as though journalistic values are a means to an end, the end being profit. If the overheated sensationalism and Breaking News!!!! alarms were working, would they perceive a problem to be solved?

What TV news do I watch? That's easy: None. I read the news, and if there's a video clip I need to see, I find it on line. No change to the programming could bring me back. I wouldn't even notice it.

"The shutdown is a stunning and ignominious end to an operation into which CNN had sunk tens of millions of dollars..."

"... from an aggressive nationwide marketing campaign to hiring hundreds of new employees to recruiting big, high-priced media stars, including the former 'Fox News Sunday' anchor Chris Wallace and the former NPR co-host Audie Cornish."

From "CNN+ Streaming Service Will Shut Down Weeks After Its Start/The new corporate owners of CNN are moving to end the new streaming service after a splashy debut" (NYT).

I don't think "tens of millions of dollars" sounds like such a big investment. It seems to me they didn't do enough. The biggest thing they did was entice Chris Wallace. That's a tiny thing to do. Let's not overdo what a failure it was. I wouldn't say "a stunning and ignominious end." I'd say a predictable and dumb fizzle.

What's tens of millions when Elon Musk is offering $45.5 billion to buy Twitter?

ADDED: Here's the top-rated comment: "Speaking as a retiree on a fixed income, how many streaming services is it possible to afford? Ordinary people with modest incomes are being shut out of good content due to affordability. For 40 years I paid for delivery of The Boston Globe and watched TV using an antenna. That was fine. Now everyone wants their money to read or watch anything. It is unsustainable."

"On the flip side, CNN engages in this partisan coverage filtering as well."


ADDED: Here's the WaPo opinion piece on that segment: "CNN’s Brian Stelter blindsided by co-author of Fox News study" by Erik Wemple. CNN's Brian Stelter was "blindsided" because the researchers who were expected to criticize Fox News proceeded to say CNN does it too.

Stelter said: “And basically, you’re proving what we’ve sensed for a while, which is that Fox viewers are in the dark about bad news for the GOP” [said Stelter].

But the professor, Joshua L. Kalla, said: “On the flip side, CNN engages in this partisan coverage filtering as well as that we find. For example, during this time, the Abraham Accords were signed, and these were the agreements where Israel, the UAE and Bahrain signed a major peace agreement. And we see that Fox News covered this really major accomplishment about 15 times more than CNN did. So we established both networks are really engaging in this partisan coverage filtering. It’s not about one side, it’s about the media writ large.” 

As Wemple puts it: "Stelter objected that this was a venture in bothsidesism."

How elite media is covering Elon Musk's dumping of information about how Twitter helped the Democratic Party in the 2020 election. "On the flip side, CNN engages in this partisan coverage filtering as well."

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