Fake News Journalism Media Truth

One Last Election Surprise: Pre-Planned Media Hit Piece On Rick Scott

Rod Thomson

With the U.S. Senate in the balance, Florida’s largest newspaper chain published a last-minute hit piece on Gov. Rick Scott, an apparent attempt to undermine his campaign to unseat 46-year Washington politician Sen. Bill Nelson — the man Forbes magazine once famously depicted on their cover with, literally, an empty suit.

The pre-planned package of stories was published by GateHouse Media, which owns 21 newspapers in the state, including dailies in Jacksonville, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Daytona Beach, Panama City, Gainesville, St. Augustine and many more.

The newspapers ran an astonishingly bad piece of journalism out of the Palm Beach newsroom entitled “Florida felon voting rights: Who got theirs back under Scott” with the subhead reading “The governor restored rights to the lowest percentage of blacks, highest percentage of Republicans in 50 years.”

This came just days before Tuesday’s huge election, early enough to influence voting underway and election day, but not enough time to mount much of a pushback by the Scott campaign. It also tied in with Amendment 4, which would amend the Florida Constitution to automatically restore the voting rights of felons once they completed all of the conditions of their convictions.

It’s pretty clear from the “reporting” where the media stands on Gov. Scott and Amendment 4. The days of even pretending to hide partisanship are fading into a distant memory.

The long piece, essentially an agenda-driven package, is truly painful to read through if you are not an ardent Democrat. The reporting team draws conclusions of motivational fact on the part of Scott from nothing more than a correlation or one set of numbers significantly lacking context and the rest of the data.

For instance, one conclusion the piece draws is: “Scott’s system of restoring voting rights has for years discriminated against black felons, boosting his own political prospects and those of other Republicans throughout the state, a Palm Beach Post analysis has found.” [emphasis added]

More Truth On Our Facebook Page

Don’t be fooled by the word “analysis,” as though it means some green eye-shade look at the numbers. It’s not an analysis in any honest sense.

Reporters playing with statistics frequently mistake correlation with causation, sometimes out of ignorance, but often because even minor correlation can be enough for them to build their predetermined storyline.

In this case, the logic is as follows: A higher percentage of blacks than whites are arrested, so cops are racist. A higher percentage of blacks than whites are incarcerated, so the courts are racist. A higher percentage of blacks than whites are denied the restoration of voting rights, so specifically Gov. Scott is racist.

But the numbers do not show “discrimination,” which would be causal, they just show resulting numbers. Never truly asked or delved into in any of those numbers-conclusions scenarios is the bottom line question: Are a higher percentage of blacks committing crimes? That is the golden data point to be mined that the media has very little stomach for even looking at. Further in the data underlying this sentence, how many blacks requested restoration of voting rights?

The story is just riddled with truisms from Will Rogers’ observation, “There are three types of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics.” This story is chockaful of just such “statistics.”

More Truth On Patreon

Let’s bullet point some of their bullet points:

Story: “During his nearly eight years as governor, Scott restored the voting rights of twice as many whites as blacks and three times as many white men as black men.”

Leaving aside what the felond did in the years after release — jobs, marriage, family, church, community involvement, that would suggest lifestyle stability — this bullet point sounds terrible until you read way down into the story and comb through one of the charts. Because the context for this is just during his term, and just between blacks and whites. But it turns out Scott had a higher ratio of blacks to whites than the last Democratic governor of Florida, Lawton Chiles, in the 1990s.

But that does not fit the agenda, so there was no real truthfulness of conclusions.

Story: Scott restored rights to a higher percentage of Republicans and a lower percentage of Democrats than any of his predecessors since 1971.”

By a little. And, by the way, he still restored a much higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans. Again, you have to find the data box to discover this. It’s not in the narrative “analysis.”

Story: Blacks accounted for 27 percent of those who had their voting rights restored despite the fact that 43 percent of those released from state prisons over the past two decades were black.”

This tells us nothing of causation. Again, as in the first bullet point above, what is causal is not the percentages but what each felon did in the years after their prison release — jobs, marriage, family, church, community, etc., that would suggest the sort of stability that a clemency board would be looking for in order to return full rights.

There is simply a lot of bad journalism in this story.

Of course, it was probably never intended to be groundbreaking investigative journalism digging into the truth. The consistently slanted “statistics” suggest the real intent was to sway votes in the midterm elections toward Sen. Bill Nelson. Between Gillum’s nomination and this story blasted across the state, it seems like that succeeded.

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.


Drudge Got You Down? / Try WHATFINGER NEWS


Fake News Journalism Media Truth

EXPOSED: Astonishing Fake News Against Rick Scott in Senate Race

Rod Thomson

I don’t really like the term “fake news” because it has come to mean any story with which the person using the phrase disagrees. That’s not particularly helpful.

But there really is fake news out there, and it is being heavily promulgated by the dinosaur media that is still pretending to be mainstream. It’s not just the big dogs of CNN or the AP or the New York Times. What is going on in Florida media markets is so bad right now as to require equal time if it weren’t newspapers. It’s straightforward Democratic attack ads cast as “news” stories.

The latest came in Sunday newspapers around the state owned by rapidly expanding media conglomerate Gatehouse Media, which publishes 21 newspapers in Florida and has 570 media outlets nationwide. (Gatehouse recently acquired the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper.)

On Sunday, Gatehouse newspapers generally ran the exact same story with the exact same headline as it came out of their capitol bureau in Tallahassee: Rick Scott turns to those he appointed for campaign cash

They used different dropheads below the headline, depending on their layouts and styles: Well-heeled Floridians appointed to state boards are ponying up funding for governor’s bid to unseat Nelson and ‘It smacks of pay-to-play.’

The reason this epitomizes fake news is not that the same story that ran in all these newspapers is a lie. The thrust of it is accurate enough. It’s fake news because it is not newsworthy. There is no news in this breathless, page 1 Sunday story plastered around the state during a highly competitive U.S. Senate campaign between Scott (worth noting, an early supporter of President Trump) and 40-year D.C. incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson — a race that may determine who controls the Senate.

Here’s the gist. The governor of Florida appoints hundreds and hundreds of people to boards, advisory councils and commissions around the state — university boards, water boards, airport authorities, environmental boards, medical boards, building boards and so on. Naturally enough, he appoints people who agree with him on issues, particularly on issues that relate to those boards. In what is perhaps less shocking than the sun rising in the east, many of those people who agree with the governor also support the governor politically. Some even donate to his election campaign. Oh the scandal of it all!

And yet, there it is. That’s the entire story. Some of the hundreds of appointees who all agree with Gov. Scott politically have donated to his Senate political campaign; exactly as has been the case with every single governor ever.

Join Our Fight Pro-American Values

There’s even less to the story than that. Reporter writes: “Scott has collected close to $1.4 million from 127 appointees, their spouses and children, who have given either to his Senate campaign or the New Republican PAC supporting his bid…”

So the 127 number covers three categories, not just appointees. Spouses can reasonably be included. Children means adult children, which may be making their own decision on supporting Scott. But they’re still lumped in to inflate the number. How many are just appointees? 50? 80? The story doesn’t say, and one can reasonably infer that is because that number is pretty small compared to what may be a thousand appointees. But to get the real percentage using the reported 127 number as the numerator, we need the total number of appointees, spouses and children as the denominator. That means this is probably a very tiny percentage. Well under 10 percent. That makes it hard to hide the fakeness of the fake story.

This is a picture-perfect definition of non-news. This is the equivalent of reporting on a plane that landed smoothly, taxied to the terminal and all the passengers deboarded safely — and  making that sound shifty and suspicious if it could be reflected badly on a Republican. It’s just that bad.

And maybe a little worse. I wear three hats in relation to this particular fake news story. One, I am one of those appointees by Gov. Scott — to the Board of Trustees of State College of Florida. Neither Scott nor his team has ever asked me for money or brought up political support of any kind in the interviews prior to appointing me to the position. Twice. And, I’ve not donated to Scott’s campaign.

The second hat I wear is as a former long-time journalist in the mainstream media, spending many years covering politics. And the third hat, I now work with select political candidates running for office. So I have seen up close and personal both sides of equation between reporter and political machine. Based on these experiences, I am about 99 percent sure that this story — and the many like it — are actually opposition research by the Nelson campaign, which is then fed to friendly, gullible, allied reporters within Gatehouse Media, in this case, in their Tallahassee bureau.

Like Us On Facebook

There is plenty to criticize in the fake story on basic journalistic grounds. But this sentence that the reporter included to show balance reveals just how badly the reporter misunderstands basic reality, to put it in the most kind light.

“Those contributors deny that there’s any link between their appointments and the checks they cut for Scott’s Senate bid. But the campaign data shows a remarkable correlation.”

“Denies” is one of those implied guilty words the media loves to use. And then using the conjunction “but” to start the following sentence implies the denials are suspicious. The real problem is the last word. The correlation actually is long before this reporter “discovered” it (again, being generous) in the campaign finances. The correlation is between the type of principled person Scott appointed and the type of principled person who supports Scott’s campaign for the Senate — which is a blindingly obvious correlation with zero nefarious implications.

This is the latest in an ongoing stream of anti-Scott stories emanating from Gatehouse Media’s Tallahassee bureau. Some others include:

Rick Scott’s donors still mostly a mystery, but what’s revealed belies outsider image (July 6, 2018)

Scott’s use of blind trust challenged as illegal (July 17, 2018) (Even blind trusts aren’t good enough if you’re a Republican.)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s investments draw scrutiny (July 21, 2018)

Gov. Rick Scott profits from Hep C drug tied to state prisons, opioid crisis (July 22, 2018)

Low pay casts shadow over Florida’s improving jobs picture (Aug. 4, 2018, as Florida nears an all-time low in unemployment — still negative about Scott.)

These were found quickly in the first couple of pages with a Google search of “Gov. Scott and Gatehouse Media.” A Google search of “Sen. Nelson and Gatehouse Media” does not locate one negative story in the first two pages. But several pieces of puffery.

The point is, this is a glaring pattern with Gatehouse Media; and of course, it is true in the rest of the Florida media, too.

This is why Republicans need to raise so much more money than Democrats to have a level playing field: Gatehouse Media stories such as these, quite possibly planted by the Nelson team, are the equivalent of millions of dollars in free advertising to Nelson. Why spend money on attack ads when you have the media to do it for you?

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.

Drudge Got You Down? / Try WHATFINGER NEWS