For those who like their newz with a right wring tryst, there’s… yellow reporting via @YHN YellowHammer News.
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, July 25, 2015
from a journalistic perspective, it’s colorizing a news report to fit the opinion of the reporter. It’s the polar opposite of hard news reporting, and is more akin to OpEd, or even News Feature writing.
More than likely, only the erudite would be aware of the differences. The average Joe is clueless about it, and only knows “where the gas and keys go,” which is another way of saying “if it’s on the Internet, it must be true.”
A one word description for that is “gullible.”
And face it, not everyone is a brainiac… and that’s okay.
What it boils down to is integrity, and truth-telling, which is precisely why journalistic integrity is of paramount importance in a free society like ours. Lack of it is what got “Lyin’ Brian Williams” canned from being the anchor of the NBC Nightly News. It wasn’t “colorful” reporting, it was blatant fabrication of a material fact. In plain language, he lied – and not just once, but several times – about events he reported, including Hurricane Katrina and being under enemy fire while flying in a Blackhawk helicopter.
Such phenomenon is not just limited to teevee news, but journalistic integrity also covers the written word. And there have been some doozies, such as:
• Janet Cooke‘s totally fabricated 1981 story about an 8-year-old heroin addict in the DC metro area published in the Washington Post for which she was awarded a Pulitzer prize, then in disgrace, later returned
• Sabrina Erdely‘s December 2014 Rolling Stone-published fabrication entitled “A Rape on Campus” alleging a gang rape by University of Virginia fraternity members as part of a hazing/initiation event
• Rick Bragg‘s 2003 suspension, and eventual resignation from the New York Times for not crediting work from a volunteer intern/stringer about the life & culture of oystermen in Florida’s Apalachicola Gulf Coast area
• Gary Webb‘s 1996 Dark Alliance series in the San Jose Mercury News which alleged CIA involvement in Nicaraguan Contra rebels Los Angeles-area cocaine trafficking to fund their efforts
It’s also one reason many have decried Fox News as “Faux Newz,” and criticized other news organizations. Witness as evidence the proliferation of sites like Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact.com, and other websites that sort through the garbage frequently proffered as news, truth, and fact.
And face it… everyone has a perspective. Recognition of that fact, and with an eye toward manipulation, is why the “we report, you decide” ideological ethos is flawed. It simply ignores the reporter’s natural or intentional bias, and pretends it’s non-existent. In essence, it is not merely “spin” personified, it is promotion of spin.
With the abundance of voices – print (newspaper, magazine), radio & television, (satellite, terrestrial & cable), and the confluence of them all via the Internet often available on a smart phone – one would imagine that truth could be parsed, and often it is. However, the greatest problem is ignorance. For the greatest part, stupid and ignorant people don’t know they’re ignorant and stupid. And when the gullible meet the loudmouthed, it’s a veritable match made in idiocy. Then, conspiracy theories abound, out come the tinfoil hats, and somebody gets elected.
British comedian John Cleese put it this way when he said, “I think the problem with people like this is that they are so stupid, that they have no idea how stupid they are. You see, if you’re very, very stupid, how can you possibly realize that you’re very, very stupid? You’d have to be relatively intelligent to realize how stupid you are. There’s a wonderful bit of research by a guy called David Dunning at Cornell – who’s a friend of mine, I’m proud to say – who’s pointed out that in order to know how good you are at something requires exactly the same skills as it does to be good at that thing in the first place, which means – and this is terribly funny – that if you’re absolutely no good at something at all, then you lack exactly the skills that you need to know that you’re absolutely no good at it. And this explains not just Hollywood, but almost the entirety of Fox News.”
There again, the case for integrity – truth-telling – is reinforced, not merely because stupid people abound (though they do), but because it’s the right thing to do, because otherwise, you’re just a liar… even among geniuses.
Such is the recent case with YellowhammerNews.com, a website that says of itself, “Yellowhammer: We know Alabama. We know news,”
“From politics and business to sports and culture, Yellowhammer is all things Alabama.”
Yellowhammer writer Elizabeth Beshears authored an article published July 16, 2015 entitled “Alabama taxpayers are about to foot the bill for a giant bankrupt company, here’s why,” which was on its face (at least to the reasonably well-informed and reasonably intelligent), a blatant falsehood that obliquely purported that the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) led by longtime CEO Dr. David Bronner, was verging upon bankruptcy and insolvency.
In her article she mentioned that RSA owns a minority percentage (47%) of the firm Shipyard Signal International LLC (SSI) which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to USCourts.gov, Chapter 11 bankruptcy “provides for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time.” From what is written, clearly, Chapter 11 provides a means to “to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time.”
She also wrote that “Alabama taxpayers on the hook this time,” because she asserted that “RSA is not able to meet its obligations to fund the retirements of Alabama state employees, (then) taxpayers are the ones left holding the bag.”
She purposely identified the plaintiffs in the case as “Indian citizens” which ambiguously and obliquely could refer to Native Americans… although accurately, in context of this story it does not, and instead, refers to residents of the nation India, who were so-called “guest workers” under the H-1B visa program, though she also clearly failed to mention that fact. That abusive labor practices were part and parcel of a Mobile, Alabama-based firm, in and of itself ought to be an exceedingly newsworthy event, if not for the human rights violations, but for violations of Federal Law (labor trafficking), and for matters of abusive immigration practices contrary to the public good, and the overwhelming opinion of many – if not most – Alabamians. But apparently, gross violations of Federal Law by an Alabama-based company are of no interest to her, or YHN.
An Associated Press story on the case dated 19 February 2015 stated that “A federal jury has awarded $14.1 million to five Indian guest workers who claimed they were defrauded and made to live in squalid conditions after being lured to work for an Alabama-based marine and fabrication company following Hurricane Katrina.” Along with numerous other reputable news reporting agencies, The Wall Street Journal covered the subject. Even Business Reporter Kelli M. Dugan of the the AL.com website – a subsidiary of the Newhouse News/Condé Nast/Advance Publications conglomerate, which owns and operates the Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register, and The Huntsville Times – wrote a brief story on the matter. There are literally hundreds of stories detailing the matter, some with more detail than others.
From Beshears’ writing however, there is an unmistakably ignorant intimation that the company SSI is going belly-up, will forever close its doors, and therefore, will be a total loss.
Beshears never bothered to interview CEO Dr. David Bronner – in fact, she neither mentions, references, or hints at his name, nor his title in the article – nor did she interview anyone at RSA. Neither did she interview or confer with any other financial analyst of any variety. And apparently (as evidenced by the failure to mention any fiscals), she never bothered to read any readily available report on RSA from any source.
NOTE: Morningstar, Inc., a publicly traded investment research and investment management firm, released a study authored by Rachel Barkley, Municipal Credit Analyst, November 2012 entitled “The State of State Pension Plans: A Deep Dive Into Shortfalls and Surpluses.”
The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College similarly has briefs, working papers, special projects, and data on state and local pension plans at their website.
The Urban Institute, which performs economic and social policy research, is described by the Los Angeles Times as a “leading liberal think tank,” has a collection entitled Public Pension Project which contains numerous items of research, and analysis on the same, including interactive graphics such as “The State of Retirement: Grading Americas Public Pension Plans.”
Another study on Public Employee compensation & Retirement Programs may also be found in an April 2014 study – Overpaid or Underpaid? A State-by-State Ranking of Public-Employee Compensation – authored by Andrew G. Biggs and Jason Richwine of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. The AEI (though they claim to be nonpartisan) is “one of oldest and most influential of the pro-business right-wing think tanks” which, in a “neoconservative” fashion similar to the ALEC, seeks to influence legislation on numerous public policy matters.
Instead, she went directly to Dr. Daniel J. Smith, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Troy University’s Johnson Center for Political Economy. His website’s autobiography states he is “the Book Review Editor for The Review of Austrian Economics.” The Johnson Center is named for Manuel H. Johnson, a Troy, Alabama native who also graduated Troy State University, and in his capacity as economist, was Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1986-90.
Ironically, many in the Johnson Center adhere to a well-known right-wing extremist school of thought that teaches impressionable youth ideas promulgated by – among others – the Mises Institute, which is well-known in some circles as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit tax-exempt organization promoting the ivory-towered philosophies, ideologies, and theories of Ludwig von Mises, whom is considered to be the father of the so-called “Austrian school of economics.” It should be borne in mind, that the Mises Institute is purely an ivory-towered organization whose solitary and exclusive purpose is to argue about the “Free Market” and vehemently promotes a quietly violent overthrow of the United States government by and through a fiscal starve-the-monster diet because they – as did late, former president Ronald Reagan – hold that “government is the problem.” Such is clearly an anti-American and anti-Constitutional perspective, and is therefore clearly and purely treasonous. However, the deepest irony is that the Mises Institute considers the Federal Reserve System Johnson Center anathema to the so-called “Austrian school of economic theory.” Yet the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy is named for a Troy, AL native and Troy University-educated economist Manuel H. Johnson (b.1949) who was the 13th Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1986-90. Johnson, it should be noted, also held the Koch Chair in International Economics at George Mason University. And yes, that would be Koch of the Koch brothers, Charles and David of Koch Industries.
The RSA’s CEO Dr. David Bronner wasted no time defending the organization from Beshears’ scurrilous, reckless smears by writing a detailed response which was published July 17, 2015 at 4:13PM CST and entitled, “Bronner: Troy University study is wrong about RSA’s health, state employees’ retirement is safe.”
Later, in response to perceived criticism, Cliff Sims, Principal and Owner of YHN, responded online via Twitter to defend the right-wing mouthpiece of work by Beshears, which is essentially Yellow Journalism under the moniker YellowHammer News.
The assertion Sims’ makes by writing “posted an article, the allowed someone who disagreed to rebut. Isn’t that how it works?” is clearly evidence that he does NOT know “how it works.” Neither The New York Times, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, Kansas City Star, Times-Picayune, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Plain Dealer, Star Tribune, Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution nor any respectable news gathering & reporting agency so operates.
To put it simply, it would be like claiming Cliff Sims is bisexual misogynistic vegetarian transgender woman (who had a sex change operation to become a man)… and awaiting a reply.
Let’s just lay it on the line, and call a spade, a spade – YellowHammer News is a right-wing slanted mouthpiece for the right-wing views of it’s owner, Cliff Sims, and can’t be trusted.