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Campaigns Say Google Ad Policy Sidesteps Problem of Disinformation

Westlake Legal Group 21googleads-facebookJumbo Campaigns Say Google Ad Policy Sidesteps Problem of Disinformation twitter Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Online Advertising Google Inc Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Campaign Finance

Google’s new restrictions on political advertising, following an outright ban on such ads by Twitter, amount to a one-two punch on 2020 campaigns: The online platforms are creating a big new headache for them, while failing to address a different problem they fear most.

The decision to limit campaigns from targeting users based on political affiliation or voter record, which Google announced Wednesday night, was aimed at addressing concerns about invasion of privacy and the exploitation of voters through hyperspecific targeting.

But the policy will most likely have little impact on the thornier challenge of disinformation, which campaigns and cybersecurity experts say will be the more urgent problem facing the major social media platforms during the 2020 election.

Google’s new policy restricts a tactic — microtargeting of voters — that campaigns heavily rely on, while not aggressively addressing misinformation.

Modern disinformation campaigns that have plagued other global elections like those in the Philippines have not relied heavily on using targeted advertising. Instead, they have focused on creating so-called organic content — trolls posing as ordinary users on sites like Facebook initiate charged discussions, then amplify them through both human and automated networks to sow division and spread falsehoods.

These posts draw far more views than ads on sites like Google and Twitter. Restricting targeted ads, campaigns and experts say, eliminates a crucial tool candidates use to reach voters, but retains a system that hackers and trolls have proved adept at exploiting and that social media sites struggle to adequately police.

“It’s outrageous,” said Tara McGowan, the chief executive and founder of Acronym, a new Democratic super PAC. “Instead of monitoring and taking responsibility for the spread of misinformation on their platforms, Google has chosen to pursue a disingenuous and frankly dangerous shift in their policies so they can claim publicly to be serious about the problem.

“This change won’t curb disinformation,” she added in a text message, “but it will hinder campaigns and (others) who are already working against the tide against bad actors to reach voters with facts.”

On Thursday, two separate groups of digital strategists — a bipartisan coalition from the University of Chicago, and a group of roughly 40 Democratic and progressive strategists — released letters criticizing Google’s new policy. The letters, which were obtained by The New York Times, both fault Google for not adequately addressing disinformation.

“Policy changes by Google, other platforms, and regulators should focus on curtailing bad actors and stopping disinformation,” wrote the digital group from the University of Chicago. “Policy changes designed to limit legitimate political communications and dialogue are not the right approach for a democratic society.”

Google does have policies designed to combat misinformation, and in February it published an extensive white paper on the subject. The policy announced on Wednesday did also state that Google was willing to take down false ads, something Facebook has not been willing to do.

Officials at Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

There are numerous examples of how difficult it is to enforce misinformation policies on such a massive platform. Political operatives and campaigns have maintained that the announcement by Google is a halfhearted attempt to address the underlying issues plaguing political discourse on social media, an issue that has made tech companies a target of withering criticism from Congress, advocacy groups and some Democratic 2020 candidates.

A quick search on YouTube for Senator Kamala Harris, for instance, turns up dozens of videos that are spreading the lie that Ms. Harris isn’t an American citizen, including some with more than 100,000 views. None of these videos are ads.

“Tech companies have a responsibility to combat disinformation, and when their platforms are being abused to promote demonstrable lies, fabrications and racist attacks — some of which could lead to violence — it requires more than Band-Aids,” said Ian Sams, the communications director for Ms. Harris. “This is a fundamental problem that threatens our democracy, and what we’ve seen so far isn’t enough.”

Though Google had sent signals that important changes were coming to the platform, the announcement still sent shock waves through the presidential campaigns. Five Democratic and Republican campaigns all said they were taken aback, especially since employees from Google had been visiting the headquarters of multiple presidential campaigns in recent months, pitching them on their suite of advertising packages and targeting tools.

In 2019 alone, political campaigns and outside groups have spent $44.8 million on Google’s suite of ad platforms, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

Search ads on Google and other platforms are an essential tool for building and increasing small-dollar donations, an important cash source in a year when reaching voters digitally has become more important than ever. The ads are also an increasingly vital tool to remaining on the debate stage, as the Democratic National Committee continues to raise the threshold of individual donors to qualify for future debates.

“Broad targeting kills fund-raising efficiency,” said Rob Flaherty, former digital director for Beto O’Rourke.

“If you can’t use ads to target potential donors based on your own donor data, it’s going to hurt the ability to build a list,” Mr. Flaherty added. “And if you hurt the ability to build a list, you hurt the efficiency of email fund-raising. Everyone thinks about this as a solution to fix scary persuasion ads, but most of digital ad spend is about raising money.”

The decision will also most likely make advertising on Google more expensive and less efficient, a change critics argued would hurt smaller campaigns and down-ballot candidates who do not have the war chests of large Democratic presidential campaigns.

It also removes the ability of campaigns to “re-market” ads, meaning advertising to people who had previously visited their website, an important feature to campaigns. That change is intended to address the privacy concerns that emerged after the 2016 election, most dramatically with Facebook.

Indeed, looming over the announcement from Google is a pending decision from Facebook on whether it, too, would begin to restrict political campaigns from certain aspects of its advertising platform. Facebook is by far the most popular advertising platform in politics, and presidential campaigns have spent more than $60 million during this cycle alone.

The mere hint of changes was enough to ignite the Trump campaign to an aggressive public response on Wednesday night, accusing Facebook’s decision of being more rooted in the company’s financial bottom line.

The policy announcement was praised, however, by Ellen L. Weintraub, the chair of the Federal Election Commission.

“@Google’s plan to eliminate #microtargeting is a move that – if done right – could help make internet political advertising a force that informs and inspires us, rather than isolating and inflaming us,” Ms. Weintraub wrote in a series of Tweets on Thursday.

Some digital strategists also welcomed the policy changes from Google, noting that restricting the microtargeting would cause more ads to be seen by more people, therefore most likely diluting the effect of the more insidious types of messaging.

“What they’re getting at is a lot of the shadiest stuff goes unnoticed because it’s hard to see what’s happening,” said Michael Slaby, a Democratic digital strategist. “Because now you have to buy in larger groups, it’s less easy for someone to just say, ‘Let’s put these voter suppression ads in front of all the African-American voters in Milwaukee.’”

“I think their hope is that with more visibility, people will be less bad actors,” he said.

But David Goldstein, the chief executive of Tovo Labs, a Democratic digital consulting firm in New York, said Google had simply created a new problem. The company, he said, now faces the question of “how will it discern a political versus nonpolitical advertisers?”

“Unless they’re absolutely ruthless, it’ll be a cinch to get around,” he added.

Identifying a campaign ad and restricting how it is targeted will not be a problem. “But PACs? Is that political or ‘issue-based’? And what if I just use an LLC to push political content?” Mr. Goldstein asked. “Are they going to start aggressively regulating content? That’s almost impossible to imagine.”

Nonetheless, those who have been looking for platforms to take a proactive approach considered the policy from Google to be a good opening policy, so long as it wasn’t the only one.

“I think it’s a good first step,” Mr. Slaby said. “I think if there’s no second step, I’m going to be pretty disappointed that they thought this was the magical switch they could flip.”

Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.

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With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164463414_5b38f580-0e53-49fb-abd6-4fccb348e8e0-facebookJumbo With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations twitter Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

WASHINGTON — Heading into Friday’s impeachment hearing, the Republican strategy for dealing with Marie L. Yovanovitch was simple: treat the ousted ambassador to Ukraine with respect during her testimony on Friday and avoid any appearance of bullying a veteran diplomat who had been vilified and driven from her post.

President Trump blew up the plan.

Ms. Yovanovitch had just begun to recount, in powerful and personal terms, the devastation and fear she felt when she learned Mr. Trump had attacked her during a July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that,” she said.

It was just the kind of human moment that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee had anticipated — a political trap they were determined not to fall into. But they apparently didn’t anticipate how Mr. Trump would react.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, sneering at her to his 66 million followers while recounting an earlier posting in her diplomatic career. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”

By repeating the same kind of verbal attack that made Ms. Yovanovitch a sympathetic witness for the Democrats in the first place, Mr. Trump undercut his own party’s best chance at minimizing the impact of her testimony. And he handed Democrats another new argument — that his tweet amounted to nothing less than witness intimidation that itself could become an article of impeachment.

“That was not part of the plan, obviously,” said Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, who clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump before he retired in 2017. “He can’t help himself. You would think every instinct would be to lay off. She’s a sympathetic witness. But he seems just to be incapable of controlling himself.”

The president’s tweet was at once surprising and entirely predictable.

Mr. Trump has used Twitter to attack his adversaries nearly 6,000 times since becoming president. He has repeatedly tweeted that the impeachment inquiry is a “hoax” and has lashed out at diplomats and national security officials calling them “never Trumpers” who are out to undermine his agenda. For weeks, he and his allies have obsessed about the identity of the whistle-blower whose complaint about Mr. Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine jump-started the impeachment inquiry.

But his decision to fling the sharp-edged insult an hour into Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony was the latest evidence — as if any more was needed — that Mr. Trump’s instincts are rarely in sync with the interests of his party.

White House aides insisted on Friday that the president was too busy to watch the hearing, but in fact, he chose to watch Ms. Yovanovitch, who had stuck in his craw because he saw her as an obstacle to his desire to have investigations into Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., people close to Mr. Trump said.

On the first day of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, the president had managed to avoid commenting about the two men who testified — William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official.

But his inability to hold his fire on Friday raised fresh doubts among his allies and White House advisers about what he will do next week, when eight witnesses are scheduled to testify in public hearings over the course of three days.

Mr. Trump did not clear his Friday tweet with top White House aides before putting it out, leaving some of his advisers deeply dispirited. Privately, they acknowledged he had done himself damage.

Not long after Mr. Trump’s tweet, his son Donald Trump Jr. fired off his own broadside, tweeting, “America hired ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump‬⁩ to fire people like the first three witnesses we’ve seen. Career government bureaucrats and nothing more.”

Mr. Trump’s congressional allies had largely held back from those kinds of direct attacks on Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent. They had planned to be especially careful with Ms. Yovanovitch.

On Thursday, they met for several hours in Room HVC-215 of the Capitol for a practice session aimed at coordinating their overall message, with members who were not on the Intelligence Committee playing the parts of the former ambassador and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence committee.

One thing they were clear about: They intended to use the same care grilling Ms. Yovanovitch that Republican senators tried to employ during last year’s testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when the two were in high school, according to one person close to the House Republican leadership.

Mr. Trump didn’t get the message — and Democrats seized on the political opportunity he handed them. Not long after the president tweeted his thoughts on Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Schiff read it aloud, to Ms. Yovanovitch and the cameras.

“Now the president, in real time, is attacking you,” Mr. Schiff told her. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”

Her answer was succinct: “It’s very intimidating.”

Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, used his five minutes of questioning at the hearing to decry what he called the president’s “disgusting” tweet.

“He smeared you when you were in Ukraine,” Mr. Swalwell told Ms. Yovanovitch. “He smeared you on that phone call with President Zelensky on July 25. He is smearing you right now as you are testifying. Ambassador Yovanovitch, are the president’s smears going to stop you from fighting corruption?”

“Well,” she answered, clearly not wanting to take the bait of a direct confrontation with the president, “I will continue my work.”

Following the hearing, some Republican lawmakers defended the president’s decision to tweet at Ms. Yovanovitch even as others grudgingly acknowledged that it wasn’t the kind of message they had hoped to highlight.

“We’re not here to talk about tweets,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, told reporters. “This is not the first or last tweet they are going to complain about.”

But under repeated questioning, she added: “I said I disagree with the tone of the tweet.”

Ms. Stefanik and other Republican members struggled to focus on the message they had hoped to deliver throughout the day: that Democrats had put in place an unfair impeachment process that denied Mr. Trump’s defenders their rights. Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said Mr. Trump was just “fighting back.”

But that was not how the week was supposed to go, especially at the White House, where Mr. Trump had scheduled a series of events to highlight what he said he was doing while the Democrats were focused on impeachment.

The idea was to embrace the strategy that former president Bill Clinton used during his own impeachment fight. Mr. Clinton described that strategy on CNN on Thursday. “I would say, ‘I’ve got lawyers and staff people handling this impeachment inquiry and they should just have at it,’” Mr. Clinton said. “‘Meanwhile, I’m going to work for the American people.’ That’s what I would do.”

Early Friday morning, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, issued a statement saying that Mr. Trump would watch the opening statement by the top Republican on the committee. She added, “but the rest of the day, he will be working hard for the American people.”

To illustrate that, the White House had scheduled an announcement for Friday afternoon on new rules to promote “honesty and transparency” in health care prices. But as soon as the event was over, reporters deluged the president with questions — about his Yovanovitch tweet.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition

Westlake Legal Group 15twitter01-facebookJumbo What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition United States Politics and Government twitter Social Media Politics and Government Political Advertising Online Advertising Dorsey, Jack Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — The Alzheimer’s Association, a health care advocacy group, recently spent $84,000 on ad campaigns on Twitter. One campaign had a singular purpose: to persuade people to ask Congress for larger investments in medical research for the disease.

Now the nonprofit is worried about whether those messages will still fly. That’s because Twitter announced last month that it would soon prohibit all political ads from its platform — and, depending on whom you ask, pushing lawmakers for money for medical research could be seen as a political cause.

The Alzheimer’s Association was so concerned that it contacted Twitter this month to express misgivings about the political ads ban. “We’re not really sure how it’s going to impact us,” said Mike Lynch, a spokesman for the group. “A lot of what we do is issue advertising, so it really depends on how they define political advertising.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is one of many nonprofits and organizations that have put pressure on Twitter over its prohibition of political ads, which is set to start next Friday. The problem is that while campaign ads from candidates are clearly political, other messages that deal with hot-button issues such as abortion, school choice and climate change may or may not cross that line.

That has set off a scramble within Twitter to define what constitutes a political ad. Twitter’s advertising executives have held meetings in Washington with public relations and free speech groups to debate the situation. And the company has fended off public criticism about the ban, including from Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts who is running for president. Last week, Ms. Warren said Twitter’s new ad policy would prevent climate advocacy groups from holding corporations accountable.

On Friday, after weeks of discussions, Twitter rolled out a formal definition of what it considers to be a political ad. Under the official policy, Twitter said ads that discuss elections, candidates, parties and other overtly political content would be prohibited. For ads that refer to causes generally and that are placed by organizations and not politicians or political candidates, Twitter said it would place restrictions on them but not ban them outright.

The restrictions included removing advertisers’ ability to target specific audiences, a practice known as “micro targeting.” The ads also cannot mention specific legislation, Twitter said.

“It’s a big change for us as a company but one we believe is going to make our service, and political advertising in the world, better,” Vijaya Gadde, who leads Twitter’s legal, policy, trust and safety divisions, said in a call on Friday to introduce the policy.

Twitter’s unveiling of its political ads policy did little to mollify its critics, such as conservatives who have said the barring of such ads is an attempt to suppress right-wing voices.

“Whatever they come up with, we fully expect Twitter to continue to censor, block, or to incur ‘bugs’ that will unfairly silence President Trump and conservatives,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director.

Some super PACs and political groups said Twitter’s decision disrupted the political advertising strategy and budget they had already mapped out for the 2020 election.

“Changing the rules halfway through is really dangerous,” said Danielle Butterfield, the director of paid media for Priorities USA, one of the largest Democratic super PACs. “A lot of organizations are going to have to look back at their strategy and figure out how to adjust, especially in the middle of the cycle.”

She said her group had used ads on Twitter to flag stories about the economy under the Trump administration to local reporters in swing states, a key part of its in-state strategy.

Twitter finds itself in a delicate situation because its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, decided last month that the social media service would no longer host political ads. In a series of tweets on Oct. 30, Mr. Dorsey said political ads presented challenges to civic discourse and added that he believed the reach of political messages “should be earned, not bought.”

His declaration contrasted with that of Twitter’s rival, Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said last month that he planned to allow political ads on the social network — even if they are inaccurate or contain lies — because such ads are newsworthy and should remain for free speech reasons. Ms. Warren and others have pilloried Mr. Zuckerberg for his stance, saying he is running a “disinformation-for-profit machine.”

Mr. Dorsey, though, was immediately praised by politicians — including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York — for taking a stand against political ads.

At the time, Mr. Dorsey defined political ads as those sponsored by candidates or that discussed political issues. He said some ads, such as those promoting voter registration, would be permitted as exceptions. Mr. Dorsey, who has since been traveling in Africa, was unavailable for comment on Friday.

His pronouncements quickly kicked up a ruckus among nonprofits, lobbyists and others, who said they feared they would no longer be able to run issue-based ads on Twitter because it was unclear if their messages would be considered political.

“The policy would tilt the playing field,” said Eric Pooley, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group. “Nonprofit organizations need to be able to communicate to the public. That’s what we do.”

The American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group, said that Mr. Dorsey’s announcement had created uncertainties and that it was being unfairly swept up in Twitter’s efforts to clean up its platform. Affiliates of Planned Parenthood added that they already struggled to get ads approved on social media and worried about a ban.

“Digital advertisement is a cost-effective way for small nonprofits to reach their audience. The question becomes, where do we turn next?” said Emma Corbett, the communications director of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, which represents Planned Parenthood in New York State.

Twitter said it held discussions about the policy with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Affairs Council, a nonpartisan organization that advises companies on their lobbying and digital advocacy efforts, last week.

Nick DeSarno, the director of digital and policy communications at the Public Affairs Council, said Twitter was trying to split the difference between limiting politicians from placing ads while allowing advocacy organizations to continue raising awareness about political topics.

“While Twitter’s potential new issues ads policy is more permissive than a total ban, it’s still going to be a challenge for groups who are trying to drive political or legislative change using the platform,” he said.

Twitter’s limitations on targeted ads will prevent advertisers from sending political messages to residents of specific ZIP codes or cities; instead, they can broadcast their content only at a state level. The company said it would also prevent advertisers from targeting their messages based on political leanings or interests of users such as “conservative,” “liberal” or “political elections.”

“We very much believe that cause-based advertising has value, and can help drive public conversation around important topics,” said Del Harvey, the vice president of trust and safety at Twitter. “But we still don’t think it should be used with the sort of primary goal of driving political or judicial or legislative or regulatory outcomes.”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York.

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With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch

Westlake Legal Group merlin_164463414_5b38f580-0e53-49fb-abd6-4fccb348e8e0-facebookJumbo With a Tweet, Trump Upends Republican Strategy for Dealing with Yovanovitch Yovanovitch, Marie L United States Politics and Government United States International Relations twitter Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry impeachment

WASHINGTON — Heading into Friday’s impeachment hearing, the Republican strategy for dealing with Marie L. Yovanovitch was simple: treat the ousted ambassador to Ukraine with respect during her testimony on Friday and avoid any appearance of bullying a veteran diplomat who had been vilified and driven from her post.

President Trump blew up the plan.

Ms. Yovanovitch had just begun to recount, in powerful and personal terms, the devastation and fear she felt when she learned Mr. Trump had attacked her during a July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. She was “shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that,” she said.

It was just the kind of human moment that Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee had anticipated — a political trap they were determined not to fall into. But they apparently didn’t anticipate how Mr. Trump would react.

“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, sneering at her to his 66 million followers while recounting an earlier posting in her diplomatic career. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”

By repeating the same kind of verbal attack that made Ms. Yovanovitch a sympathetic witness for the Democrats in the first place, Mr. Trump undercut his own party’s best chance at minimizing the impact of her testimony. And he handed Democrats another new argument — that his tweet amounted to nothing less than witness intimidation that itself could become an article of impeachment.

“That was not part of the plan, obviously,” said Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator from Arizona, who clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump before he retired in 2017. “He can’t help himself. You would think every instinct would be to lay off. She’s a sympathetic witness. But he seems just to be incapable of controlling himself.”

The president’s tweet was at once surprising and entirely predictable.

Mr. Trump has used Twitter to attack his adversaries nearly 6,000 times since becoming president. He has repeatedly tweeted that the impeachment inquiry is a “hoax” and has lashed out at diplomats and national security officials calling them “never Trumpers” who are out to undermine his agenda. For weeks, he and his allies have obsessed about the identity of the whistle-blower whose complaint about Mr. Trump’s phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine jump-started the impeachment inquiry.

But his decision to fling the sharp-edged insult an hour into Ms. Yovanovitch’s testimony was the latest evidence — as if any more was needed — that Mr. Trump’s instincts are rarely in sync with the interests of his party.

White House aides insisted on Friday that the president was too busy to watch the hearing, but in fact, he chose to watch Ms. Yovanovitch, who had stuck in his craw because he saw her as an obstacle to his desire to have investigations into Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., people close to Mr. Trump said.

On the first day of the impeachment hearings on Wednesday, the president had managed to avoid commenting about the two men who testified — William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official.

But his inability to hold his fire on Friday raised fresh doubts among his allies and White House advisers about what he will do next week, when eight witnesses are scheduled to testify in public hearings over the course of three days.

Mr. Trump did not clear his Friday tweet with top White House aides before putting it out, leaving some of his advisers deeply dispirited. Privately, they acknowledged he had done himself damage.

Not long after Mr. Trump’s tweet, his son Donald Trump Jr. fired off his own broadside, tweeting, “America hired ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump‬⁩ to fire people like the first three witnesses we’ve seen. Career government bureaucrats and nothing more.”

Mr. Trump’s congressional allies had largely held back from those kinds of direct attacks on Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kent. They had planned to be especially careful with Ms. Yovanovitch.

On Thursday, they met for several hours in Room HVC-215 of the Capitol for a practice session aimed at coordinating their overall message, with members who were not on the Intelligence Committee playing the parts of the former ambassador and Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence committee.

One thing they were clear about: They intended to use the same care grilling Ms. Yovanovitch that Republican senators tried to employ during last year’s testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when the two were in high school, according to one person close to the House Republican leadership.

Mr. Trump didn’t get the message — and Democrats seized on the political opportunity he handed them. Not long after the president tweeted his thoughts on Ms. Yovanovitch, Mr. Schiff read it aloud, to Ms. Yovanovitch and the cameras.

“Now the president, in real time, is attacking you,” Mr. Schiff told her. “What effect do you think that has on other witnesses willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?”

Her answer was succinct: “It’s very intimidating.”

Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, used his five minutes of questioning at the hearing to decry what he called the president’s “disgusting” tweet.

“He smeared you when you were in Ukraine,” Mr. Swalwell told Ms. Yovanovitch. “He smeared you on that phone call with President Zelensky on July 25. He is smearing you right now as you are testifying. Ambassador Yovanovitch, are the president’s smears going to stop you from fighting corruption?”

“Well,” she answered, clearly not wanting to take the bait of a direct confrontation with the president, “I will continue my work.”

Following the hearing, some Republican lawmakers defended the president’s decision to tweet at Ms. Yovanovitch even as others grudgingly acknowledged that it wasn’t the kind of message they had hoped to highlight.

“We’re not here to talk about tweets,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, told reporters. “This is not the first or last tweet they are going to complain about.”

But under repeated questioning, she added: “I said I disagree with the tone of the tweet.”

Ms. Stefanik and other Republican members struggled to focus on the message they had hoped to deliver throughout the day: that Democrats had put in place an unfair impeachment process that denied Mr. Trump’s defenders their rights. Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, said Mr. Trump was just “fighting back.”

But that was not how the week was supposed to go, especially at the White House, where Mr. Trump had scheduled a series of events to highlight what he said he was doing while the Democrats were focused on impeachment.

The idea was to embrace the strategy that former president Bill Clinton used during his own impeachment fight. Mr. Clinton described that strategy on CNN on Thursday. “I would say, ‘I’ve got lawyers and staff people handling this impeachment inquiry and they should just have at it,’” Mr. Clinton said. “‘Meanwhile, I’m going to work for the American people.’ That’s what I would do.”

Early Friday morning, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, issued a statement saying that Mr. Trump would watch the opening statement by the top Republican on the committee. She added, “but the rest of the day, he will be working hard for the American people.”

To illustrate that, the White House had scheduled an announcement for Friday afternoon on new rules to promote “honesty and transparency” in health care prices. But as soon as the event was over, reporters deluged the president with questions — about his Yovanovitch tweet.

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Twitter Lampoons WaPo’s Absurd Characterization of ISIS Leader Abu with Hilarious Submissions for #WaPoDeathNotices

Westlake Legal Group animals-3901900_1280-620x465 Twitter Lampoons WaPo’s Absurd Characterization of ISIS Leader Abu with Hilarious Submissions for #WaPoDeathNotices Uncategorized twitter Terrorism Social Media Middle East Media Islamic State ISIS Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats Culture Allow Media Exception Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

 

 

 

As covered earlier by RedState’s cool Elizabeth Vaughn, The Washington Post noted the passing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by calling him an “austere religious scholar.”

That was after the initial label of the “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief” was lamented by communications manager Kristine Coratti Kelly:

Nice save.

The internet wasn’t impressed, and Twitterers rose to the occasion with their own sarcastic tributes to the tune of the #5 hashtag: #WaPoDeathNotices.

Some of the submissions are pretty hilarious.

Here’s one for the austere cannibal, Jeffrey:

And one for all you Wicked fans:

And of course:

More:

And there was this:

WaPo eventually settled on the description, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State.”

If you’re wondering, he went to Paradise by detonating his suicide vest.

He took three of his children with him.

As for the hashtag, I’m sure you have your own contributions.

And I look forward to reading them in the Comments section.

-ALEX

 

See 3 more pieces from me:

Pro-Communist ‘Revolution Club’ Protests Trump’s Visit By Burning An American Flag In Front Of The Beverly Hills Hotel. Why?

MSNBC Panelist Says He Constantly Fantasizes About Crashing His Car Into Trump Plaza. Maybe He’s Waiting For The 1,000-Year Reich

High School Teacher In Georgia Instructs Students: The Confederate Flag Is A Marry-Your-Sister ‘Save The Date’ Card

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. 

The post Twitter Lampoons WaPo’s Absurd Characterization of ISIS Leader Abu with Hilarious Submissions for #WaPoDeathNotices appeared first on RedState.

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“Journalist” Gets Torched After Demanding Republican SCIF “Invaders” Be Investigated for Foreign Allegiances

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CREDIT: Brandon Morse, copyright RedState.com.

Nick wrote yesterday about how House Republicans who are frustrated by the secretive nature of the so-called “impeachment inquiry” process decided to stop talking about it and took action, storming the SCIF room where Schiff was conducting his show trial witness tampering witness questioning.

High drama, of course, ensued, with Schiff and Co. scurrying away with the witness while the fed up Republicans staged a sit-in, hoping to negotiate with Schiff for full access to witnesses and transcripts. Unfortunately they weren’t successful, but they did eat pretty good while in the midst of the stand-off.

One of the biggest “concerns” for Democrats and reporters who were present for the goings-on yesterday was whether or not any Republicans/Republican staffers who stormed the highly-secured area had taken any audio or video, which would be a no-no since cell phones are not allowed in the room:

One former CBS journalist in particular was enraged, and demanded serious action be take against the Republican “invaders”, including questioning them for possible foreign allegiances:

Leavitt, an “award-winning multimedia journalist” according to his Twitter bio and whose credits include CBS (though he was never an employee), got read the riot act by Twitter users:

CNN national security/legal analyst Susan Hennessey, who is no fan of Republicans, wrote a Twitter thread noting that in the scheme of things, Republicans bringing their phones into the SCIF was not really much of a “security compromise.” That probably won’t be enough for the David Leavitt types, but then again really nothing would be.

——-
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –

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Foul balls? MLB umpire’s pro-Trump tweets under investigation

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It’s World Series time and while we wait to see if the Houston Astros bounce back or if the Washington Nationals sweep the series, politics has reared its ugly head. In an unusual turn of events, a Major League Baseball (MLB) umpire is under investigation for tweeting support for President Trump.

Rob Drake is a 50-year-old full-time MLB umpire and he has some strong opinions about impeachment. On Tuesday he tweeted about his concerns about a potential upcoming civil war in America if President Trump is impeached. He’s triggered the anti-gun mob by declaring he will purchase a semi-automatic rifle ahead of time.

“I will be buying an AR-15 tomorrow, because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL [sic] WAR!!! #MAGA2020” is what he tweeted. That tweet has been deleted and his Twitter account has been deactivated. Earlier Tuesday he tweeted out his frustration with the impeachment process underway in the House at the hands of Democrats.

Earlier Tuesday, Drake reacted to the Democratic-led House closed-door impeachment proceedings in an initial tweet writing: “You can’t do an impeachment inquiry from the basement of Capital [sic] Hill without even a vote! What is going on in this country?”

“We have a political party trying to overthrow a president by lying, hiding, creating and manufacturing crimes. Where do we live? This is the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! This isn’t Russia, Venezuela, Cuba,” Drake also wrote, according to separate unverified screenshots of his account activity posted by a Twitter user. The screenshots also showed that Drake retweeted messages promoting the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon.

Clearly, Drake is a Trump supporter. Supporting the president is his right but things get tricky on social media. He added to the fire by including his intention of purchasing a weapon and QAnon. Speaking to the press before Game 2 in Houston, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said an investigation is ongoing. Drake isn’t working the post-season games this year.

The president of the MLB hasn’t commented.

Joe West, the president of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association, declined comment when reached by phone.

Drake, 50, made his major league debut in 1999 and has been a full-time major league umpire since 2010. He worked postseason games in 2010 and 2012 through ’15, and was on the crew at the All-Star Game in 2013.

There are ten prohibitions listed in the official MLB social media policy. Reading through the list, it seems the only rule Drake’s tweets would violate has to do with “threat of violence”, though I’d argue that Drake didn’t make a specific threat. His tweet was more about self-protection, which is why people purchase guns. Take a look at the list:

Players can’t make what can be construed as official club or league statements without permission;
Players can’t use copyrighted team logos and stuff without permission or tweet confidential or private information about teams or players, their families, etc.;
Players can’t link to any MLB website or platform from social media without permission;
No tweets condoning or appearing to condone the use of substances on the MLB banned drug list (which is everything but booze, right?);
No ripping umpires or questioning their integrity;
No racial, sexist, homophobic, anti-religious, etc. etc. content;
No harassment or threats of violence;
Nothing sexually explicit;
Nothing otherwise illegal.

That is all pretty basic stuff, right? There isn’t anything about inserting personal political opinions into a Twitter timeline. If we use the guideline above, Drake should be in the clear unless the main problem comes from the AR-15 reference. He didn’t tweet any threats, though. I’m assuming he doesn’t even own one if he’s tweeting about going to buy one if Trump’s impeached. I guess we’ll find out if the MLB organization caves to the delicate gun-grabbers who are triggered by the mere mention of a weapon. The leftists are already describing Drake’s tweets as a call for violence.

I enjoyed this tweet, which lightheartedly mocks all the idiocy of today’s hyper-polarized political atmosphere:

To be perfectly clear, I don’t want politics to seep into sports. I love watching my Houston Astros and the team is loved in Houston. The team won its first ever World Series just two months after Houston was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the lift to everyone’s morale provided by that win will never be forgotten. I know I’ll never forget it. I don’t even want to know the political opinions of the umpires working the games. I just want them to call balls and strikes. That’s their job. Though I think I have watched at least some of every televised game of the Astros this season, I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the umpires.

I’ll end with a little video clip of superstar Olympic gymnast, Houstonian Simone Biles throwing out the first pitch Tuesday night. The Astro player who receives the pitch is Jake Marisnick.

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Maxine Waters Just Proved Democrats Want Facebook to Be Their Propaganda Arm

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House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., asks a question of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton, during a committee hearing, Tuesday Sept. 24, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

If you really want to know what the end game is for Democrats, I’ve always found that listening to California Rep. Maxine Waters grill someone during a congressional hearing is a good way to find out. This is the same Waters that told an oil and gas CEO that the end goal was for the government to take over their companies, after all.

In the case of the hearing featuring CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, we learned a few things. For instance, we know that Democrats don’t know what the purpose of a social media network is, but we also know what they want it to be.

Waters was asking Zuckerberg about what kind of fact-checking Facebook does when it comes to political ads. The social media CEO told Waters that they do no fact-checking themselves, and find it important to allow politicians to display their ads because they believe it is important for politicians to be heard plainly.

Waters continuously interrupted, seeming to drive the point home that Facebook does no fact-checking itself. Zuckerberg kept attempting to explain that it does occur thanks to third-party fact-checkers that activate whenever a post is flagged by the Facebook community, or by its technical systems.

Waters didn’t seem to be interested in the answers Zuckerberg was giving and cut him off to say that her time had expired.

What can this tell us?

We know that Democrats view the mainstream media as their territory, and mainstream media tends to agree. Much of what we see from major news networks tend to look more like propaganda than actual news, with an ever-present slant constantly giving the left the high ground.

It’s why ABC News attempted to pass an event at a gun range in Kentucky off as Turkey attacking Kurds in Syria after Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. military out of the region. It’s why they’ll breathlessly report on the heinous racism of a smirking high school student wearing a MAGA hat without looking for any more details.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are some of the most highly trafficked websites in the world, with a constant stream of news and opinion floating through it thanks to its users. Left alone, this could be really bad news for Democrats, who rely on throwing out talking points in a vacuum for a narrative to thrive.

It would behoove people like Waters to ask questions that create a narrative about the nature of Facebook itself. They need to paint it as unreliable and dangerous to the public. This, in turn, does one of two things. It makes people wary of anything they may see on the platform that runs counter to their narrative, and it also sets up the possibility for government regulation with public support.

The end goal is simple. Make Facebook a publisher and not a platform. If they can do that, they can likely make a social media company another propaganda arm.

Judging by the amount of censorship, blacklisting, shadow banning, and punishing that we know occurs on social media platforms against right-leaning people already, they pretty much are publishers already. But it’s much more lucrative and less dicey for Facebook to claim platform status than admit they’re a publisher already. It results in less government oversite and intervention.

Waters wants that intervention. She and the Democrats want to drag Facebook under the control of the state so that they can then decide what is and isn’t proper conduct when it comes to news dissemination. Like she admitted to the oil companies, Waters’s goal is to have the government run the show.

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Facts First: CNN’s Jake Tapper Dishonestly Insinuated Josh Hawley Is an Anti-Semite and It Did Not Go Well

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Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, for Attorney General nominee William Barr. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On Monday, Kira Davis wrote about an appallingly snobbish opinion piece written by former USDA research economist Andrew Crane-Droesch criticizing what he says is the Trump administration’s poor treatment of the agency and their decision to move it to Missouri.

In the article, which was published by the Washington Post, Crane-Droesch stated, without evidence, that the department “didn’t need to sit next to a corn field to analyze agricultural policy, and [agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue] knew that.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) blasted the piece in a tweet, saying “surely nobody could be that condescending & elitist” to think working in Missouri should be considered “punishment”:

This legitimate criticism started a bizarre series of tweets that ended up with CNN anchor/journalist Jake Tapper insinuating that Hawley was … an anti-Semite. Here’s how it got started:

Greg Sargent, a longtime blogger who writes for the liberal Plum Line page at the Washington Post, chimed in and snidely responded to Hawley’s tweet about Crane-Droesch’s piece by attacking the person instead of the substance of his argument:

Hawley clapped back, continuing to hammer home the point about liberal elitism, and noting that Sargent basically was proving his point:

Sargent was so fauxfended by Hawley’s remarks to him that he wrote a post at the WaPo explaining how he was right and the Senator was wrong.

Tapper retweeted the piece, and for some reason thought he’d be performing a public service by adding that Sargent was Jewish – which apparently no one knew but him (not even Sargent noted it in his piece):

Hawley did not let up in the face of the smear attempt:

Tapper actually thought he was helping himself in a follow-up tweet responding to Hawley, but all he did was insult the intelligence of everyone reading him who knew exactly what he was hinting at with his original tweet:

Twitter users, including some who are Jewish, ripped Tapper for making the insinuation Hawley was an anti-Semite:

I should note for the record that one thing Tapper conveniently left out of his tweet about Sargent is that Sargent is actually a liberal opinion writer, not a “journalist” in the sense that Tapper is. Tapper would have you think Hawley was just another Republican attacking a supposedly objective member of the mainstream media for writing something he didn’t like.

Sargent is technically a “journalist” only in the sense that he does original reporting here and there. That’s why the Washington Post lists him as an “opinion writer” instead of a journalist.

Tapper would never refer to a conservative writer as a “journalist” – he’d label them a conservative opinion writer to clue people in on their angle. That he simply referred to Sargent as a “journalist” without noting he was someone who was liberally biased and who typically attacks politicians from that angle was also dishonest by omission.

——-
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –

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Hillary stole Jimmy Kimmel’s bit — and all sides lambasted her for it

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Hillary Clinton is the party guest that does not get the hint when her host starts yawning. She doesn’t grab her jacket and head for the door with everyone else. She won’t leave.

Hillary had quite the weekend in social media. First, she said on former Obama adviser David Plouffe’s podcast that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is being groomed to launch a third-party challenge in the 2020 presidential election. And, oh yeah, Tulsi is a Russian asset. So is Jill Stein who ran as the Green Party’s candidate in 2016, she said. She offered no proof to back up any of this nonsense and Plouffe sounded as though he agreed with her. With Hillary, it’s Russia, Russia, Russia all the time. Her obsession with accusing others of being under the influence of Russians rings a bit hollow, given the money that former President Clinton commanded for delivering speeches in Russia ($500,000) and Russian donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Sunday afternoon Clinton tweeted a phony letter from President Kennedy to former Premier of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev. She was trolling President Trump, as she frequently does on Twitter. The fake letter was a response to Trump’s letter to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Found in the archives? Really? Naturally, plenty of positive responses rolled in from Hillary-land but we are starting to see some frustration among the liberal media types. The Washington Post’s fact-checker tweeted what we all think at this point.

One tweet noted the incredibly stupid times in which we live. He’s not wrong.

And then the truth emerged. Hillary Clinton (or a staffer) is not nearly clever enough to produce such a tweet. She took it from a bit on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night talk show. There is no attribution.

Hillary Clinton was a horrible candidate. Nonetheless, she has reached levels of success in politics that others envy – First Lady, U.S. Senator, and then Secretary of State. She was the first woman to be nominated by a major party as the presidential candidate. She has a horrible record from her time as Secretary of State, though. Remember the embarrassing reset with Russia? Remember Benghazi? And, there is the demise of Gaddafi. He was a bad guy but he did do as the United States demanded as far as eliminating his nuclear weapons program. During the Obama/Clinton reign, he was rewarded for his cooperation with death. The eighth anniversary of that event just passed. Who can forget Hillary’s boasting in an interview – ““We came, we saw, he died!” ?

Libya is a mess. Perhaps instead of trolling President Trump’s foreign policy decisions in social media she should spend a little time on self-reflection. And, for heaven’s sake, find a hobby.

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