Did Chinese President Xi Jinping just blink in trade war stand-off with US?

That exact headline comes from The South China Morning Post, a leading news organization in Hong Kong.

I guess the U.S. media mavens who screamed about the dumb move Trump made against China had already turned their attention to the next round of bashing the president.

Why analyze some important information when you can focus on the salacious statements of a hooker and an FBI hack?

As The South China Morning Post reports:

In his keynote speech at the [economic meeting of the] Boao Forum for Asia—his first to a foreign audience since starting a second term as leader—Xi pledged to open China’s doors ‘wider and wider’ to the world.

The most notable pledges were the easing of foreign ownership limits in the financial and automotive industries, lower tariffs on imported cars, and improved protection for intellectual property rights.

The next day, China’s central bank unveiled a slew of measures to open up its financial sector to foreign investment, including the removal of foreign ownership caps for banks, as Beijing tried to paint itself as an open economy and a key backer of free trade and globalization.

At the beginning of a two-month stay in China, I visited Chengdu, which most people know as the home base for many of the cuddly pandas. But the city is also the home of one of the largest plants that produces Apple products. It is a massive site, where an estimated 100,000 people work.

The plant is owned and operated by Foxconn, which is the largest, private employer in mainland China with about 1.4 million workers. Ironically, the company is actually based in Taiwan, but it is so good at what it does that the mainland government tends to look the other way.

For more on FoxConn, see https://www.recode.net/2015/4/6/11561130/where-apple-products-are-born-a-rare-glimpse-inside-foxconns-factory

But consider this: What if President Trump decided to hit the Apple and FoxConn operations—as well as others like them that ship electronic goods the United States—with significant tariffs? At least, President Xi may not rule out that possibility.

Even though American consumers may complain about price increases on myriad products, the Chinese president knows a trade war would hurt his country a lot more than the United States.

A final note: My complaints about Facebook have nothing to do with privacy. My bone to pick is how the company has ruined any recognition of proper punctuation.

FB puts a period outside of every quotation mark, such as “I like you”.

That’s all right if you’re in the United Kingdom but not in the United States.

I spend countless hours correcting students’ misuse of punctuation in my classes, which is a product of a poor educational system that fails to recognize rules of a grammar and Facebook. Just sayin’.

The CIA has such a lousy record that the country might be better without it.

Let me run through just a few of the examples I know about from years of reporting in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

My all-time favorite happened in Lebanon.

DaTech3.jpgThe pro-Iranian group Hezbollah identified numerous CIA operatives by staking out a Pizza Hut in Beirut. How did Hezbollah figure out that the CIA was meeting with double agents and informants at Pizza Hut? The CIA decided to use the code word “pizza” when communicating with agents.

The code literally meant to meet at a pizza joint for pizza! Ten agents had their identity revealed, and numerous other informants were discovered—some of whom were executed. The CIA was left essentially blind in Lebanon for several months, having to pull the agents out, because agents were lazy and uncreative with their tradecraft.

No. 2 on my list? Iran.

The CIA had little idea that Islamists were going to overthrow the Shah of Iran in 1979.  The religious elements of Iran were gaining power, but the CIA viewed religion as a challenge and threat from another time. There was no way a religious movement could overthrow a powerful, secular leader backed by Western powers, right? Just six months before the revolution, the CIA bluntly stated: “Iran is not in a revolutionary or even a pre-revolutionary situation.”

Tell that to the friends and family of the hostages held for more than a year in the U.S. embassy in Tehran!

Even we journalists had a pretty good idea that something was about to hit the fan. It’s not often that journalists realize that something important is about to happen!

No. 3: The Soviet Union

The CIA missed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later. The agency failed to catch Aldrich Ames, an analyst who was an agent for the Soviets. Ames was a drunk and a womanizer who was heavily in debt. When the Soviets offered him $50,000 in exchange for information, he sold out.

For years, the CIA was unable to figure out that Ames was the mole giving away assets. The USSR even planted fake information through another mole to throw the CIA off Ames’ trail.

An estimated 100 people were compromised, including at least 10 Americans.

There are many others. The Bag of Pigs and 9/11 come to mind.

I’m certain there are many fine people in the CIA. But a record like the one I document here should bring some pause about the effectiveness of the agency.

The FBI has a long history of errors, miscalculations, and outright failures that make the current allegations almost pale by comparison.

As a young journalist, I trekked back and forth through the FBI “cordon” around Wounded Knee in 1973, where Native American activists had taken over the site in South Dakota of a famous massacre of Indians by federal troops

DaTech3.jpgA few years later, I wrote about the virtual execution of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two Black Panther leaders in Chicago. The duo had been a target of the FBI failed counter-intelligence program of radicals in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Counter Intelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO, was a series of covert and at times illegal, projects conducted by FBI and aimed at domestic political organizations. The program, initiated by Director J. Edgar Hoover, attacked anti-Vietnam organizers, activists of the Civil Rights movement or the Black Power movement, feminist organizations, and others. The program was responsible for the famous recordings of Martin Luther King’s private life.

The murders of Hampton, the deputy chairman of the party, and Clark occurred in a shootout with Chicago police and the FBI. The house where the Black Panthers were staying had nearly 100 rounds of incoming bullets and only one outgoing. Although the City of Chicago coroners ruled the action as justifiable, a court ordered the government to pay nearly $2 million to the families.

But there’s far more than my personal experience with the bureau.

Ruby Ridge, near my birthplace of Boise, Idaho, ended with the death of the son and wife of Randy Weaver and an eventual big cash settlement. The siege started over Weaver’s failure to appear for a firearms charge in 1992.

More important, the rise of the militia movement happened as a direct result of the confrontation. The incident was so poorly handled that the FBI agent-in-charge was sentenced to 18 months in prison for obstructing an investigation into the FBI’s incompetence.

The 51-day confrontation with the Branch Davidians ended with 76 people dead in 1993 in Texas in an ill-conceived assault that led to a massive fire. Again, the incident added fuel to the militia fire.

The FBI and other law enforcement officials failed to understand the significance of Ruby Ridge and Waco to a growing militia movement, which ultimately led to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. So much so that the FBI initially thought Oklahoma City was carried out by Middle Eastern terrorists.

I’m not saying that domestic surveillance was inappropriate, but the illegality of some of the FBI’s actions was extensive. Also, I am not saying Hampton, Clark, Weaver, and others were choir boys. But the use of force was more than excessive.

The FBI had some success in the 1980s and 1990s in bringing down the Italian Mafia, although it took four trials to send John Gotti, the leader of the Mob in New York, to jail. Moreover, a variety of other ethnic groups filled the vacuum.

In the buildup to 9/11, the FBI, like many other agencies, failed on numerous opportunities to foil the attack.

Although the CIA may have been primarily responsible for the failure to realize the deadliness of the blind sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, the FBI didn’t adequate investigate his New Jersey mosque, which provided the foot soldiers for the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center.

I crossed paths with him during the uprising in Egypt that eventually led to the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Everyone in Egypt knew he was a dangerous man and terrorist agitator.

Nevertheless, Abdel-Rahman was issued a tourist visa to visit the United States by the the U. S. embassy in Sudan despite his name being on a terrorist watch list. He even obtained a green card. He ultimately was convicted of conspiracy for his involvement in several terrorist attacks and died in prison.

Furthermore, the FBI failed to recognize the analysis put forward by John O’Neill, who consistently pressed for more cooperation between agencies in fighting al-Qaeda. He was passed over for promotion and eventually took a job as head of security for the World Trade Center, where he died during the 2001 attack.

His story is told in The Looming Tower, a brilliant book about the failures of 9/11, and the subject of a recent television series.

Although there are many dedicated FBI personnel, the agency has not been a shining example of excellence. That’s why it’s not that surprising the FBI is facing yet another round of investigation into errors of judgment.

Here are a few other mistakes: https://www.ranker.com/list/top-10-greatest-fbi-fails-of-all-time/autumn-spragg

DaTech3.jpgIt isn’t exactly a pact with the devil, but a number of Roman Catholic churches and other religious organizations have made a deal with a vitriolic, anti-Trump group that backs illegal aliens.

The group, The New Sanctuary Movement, or NSM, has been around for 10 years, but it has been pushing its agenda more aggressively in recent months. Also, the organization has strongholds here in Philadelphia and cities throughout the country, including Austin, Boston, Denver, New York, Portland, and elsewhere.

For example, here is one of the recent statements of the organization: “Trump’s campaign of hate, racism, and exclusion took the White House. The backlash of white voters was harsh and strong, and Trump’s rhetoric now has the power of the White House behind it.”

But there’s more. “The organization has launched a campaign to recruit 1,000 people to disrupt immigration raids.”

Disruption of immigration raids rather than protests rises to the level of obstruction of justice, a felony under federal law.

The Santa Clara Law Review poses a variety of problems with the pact between the organization and religious groups.

“[The] churches face numerous dangers. First, their activities could be viewed as overly political and their section 501(c)(3) status {nonprofit] could be revoked. Second, their activities are not lawful because the defenses asserted in the 1980s by the Sanctuary Movement will not prevail here. Finally, given that even compromise legislation to provide legal status for all illegal immigrants has struggled to pass, the flagrant approach adopted by the New Sanctuary Movement may do more to fray nerves than to garner support for illegal immigrants facing deportation.”

Perhaps more important, the author argues that the harboring of immigrants in churches is almost certainly illegal under any interpretation of the law.

For more, download the article at https://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/lawreview/vol50/iss3/7/

Not surprisingly, the MSM fawn over the NSM. Here is some nonsense from my hometown paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer: “…the overall goal is still big and formidable: to end injustice against immigrants, express radical welcome for all people, and uphold values of dignity and justice in practice and in policy.”

That reads like a TV commercial for the American military, with a flag waving in the wind and The Star Spangled Banner slowly rising in volume throughout.

But there’s even more. Here in Philadelphia three of the group’s organizers protested against their own leader, calling for his removal because he’s white.

Many Catholics like me voted for Trump. In fact, the vote mirrored the general election results, with whites voting largely in favor of the president and Hispanic Catholics supporting Hillary Clinton.

I don’t go to church to listen to political claptrap; I don’t think I am alone. Let’s leave the sanctuary movement to sort itself out rather than with the support of the church!

As the media applauded the student protests against guns, most reporters failed to understand the nature of constitutional law and the First Amendment.

Simply put, students who are not 18 years old don’t, for the most part, have many rights under the Constitution during the school day. Schools can ban websites and social media. Cellphone usage can be restricted. Free speech is limited. Moreover, those who participated in the recent protests could be legally disciplined.

But most news organizations used an advisory from the “always-ready-to-help-and-misinform” ACLU promoting the protests rather than digging into the legal issues.

DaTech3.jpgMost journalists cited Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1969 that supported a limited right for students to protest during the Vietnam war. In that case, the court found that students in public schools could wear black arm bands in protest against the war.

The court observed, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

But the opinion went much further, restricting a number of rights. School administrators could restrict protests if the actions significantly disrupted or interfered with the normal activities during school hours.

Many people, including me, would argue that the anti-gun protests did exactly that.

But many school administrators, toeing the leftist line, decided to use the protest as a “teachable moment.” A few schools in Arizona, Arkansas, and elsewhere followed the essence of the court decisions, saying that the protests were indeed disruptive.

In a dissenting opinion in Tinker, Justice Hugo Black argued that “if the time has come when pupils of state-supported schools, kindergartens, grammar schools, or high schools, can defy and flout orders of school officials to keep their minds on their own schoolwork, it is the beginning of a new revolutionary era of permissiveness in this country fostered by the judiciary.”

 Since the Tinker decision, the courts have been fairly consistent in restricting the rights of high school students. In Bethel School District v. Fraser,  a 1986 case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a high school student’s speech that included sexual references during a student assembly was not constitutionally protected. In Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, the court ruled that schools have the right to regulate the content of school-sponsored newspapers. In Morse v. Frederick, the court held in 2007 that schools may restrict student speech at a school-sponsored event. Several cases have restricted the display of the Confederate flag in schools.

Somehow the ACLU memo didn’t mention these cases, and journalists, as usual, chose to follow the leftist line rather than dig deeper into the facts of the issue.

A final note: An Iowa journalist wrote an excellent column about rural America, where people blame the shooter rather than the weapon. It made sense to me.

See https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/opinion/guns-gun-control-america.html

 

As the NCAA’s March Madness begins this week throughout the country, the extent of the scandal sweeping throughout college basketball continues to grow.

All four of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds—Virginia, Villanova, Kansas, and Xavier—have been mentioned in some form or another in an FBI investigation. Moreover, about 20 percent of the 68 teams in the competition also have been investigated.

DaTech3.jpgAs The Associated Press’ Eddie Pells points out: “There’s an undeniable chance the team cutting down the nets in San Antonio on April 2 could be forced to forfeit its title a few years down the road after the NCAA sorts through the damage.”

In fact, Louisville recently lost its 2013 title as a result of the FBI investigation, and the coach, Rick Pitino, was fired.

The investigation initially centered on Adidas and college basketball programs associated with the brand. In September, the FBI arrested 10 people, including basketball coaches and Adidas personnel, and charged them with bribery, money laundering, and wire fraud. The schools implicated in the original indictments included Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, and Southern California. But the charges have gone beyond these schools and Adidas.

In February, Yahoo Sports published a report, based on documents obtained by the FBI that named more than a dozen more schools and more than 25 current and former players as having been potentially involved in the scandal.

But college basketball is not alone in the cavalcade of corruption.

As The Atlantic noted several years ago: “With so many people paying for tickets and watching on television, college sports has become Very Big Business…. When you combine so much money with such high, almost tribal, stakes—football boosters are famously rabid in their zeal to have their alma mater win—corruption is likely to follow.”

Simply put, with a lot of money to throw around corruption flows through the system. But the athletes don’t get much of the cash. Sure, they get a scholarship and some walking-around money. But the best players spend a year or so in college before jumping to pro ball.

Here are just a few of the football scandals in recent years. In 2010, the NCAA sanctioned the University of Southern California after determining that star running back Reggie Bush and his family had received “improper benefits” while he played for the Trojans. Among other charges, Bush and members of his family were alleged to have received free airfare and limousine rides, a car, and a rent-free home in San Diego, from sports agents who wanted Bush as a client. The Bowl Championship Series stripped USC of its 2004 national title, and Bush returned the Heisman Trophy he had won in 2005. As Auburn University football stormed its way to an undefeated season and a national championship in 2010, the team’s star quarterback, Cam Newton, was dogged by allegations that his father had used a recruiter to solicit up to $180,000 from Mississippi State in exchange for his son’s matriculation there after junior college in 2010. Jim Tressel, the highly successful head football coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, resigned after the NCAA alleged he had feigned ignorance of rules violations by players on his team. At least 28 players over the course of the previous nine seasons, according to Sports Illustrated, had traded autographs, jerseys, and other team memorabilia in exchange for tattoos or cash at a tattoo parlor in Columbus, in violation of NCAA rules. A University of Miami booster gave illicit cash and services to a dozen Hurricanes football players.

The NCAA, the “nonprofit” association that runs college athletics, takes in close to $8 billion a year. According to a Business Insider report, there are now 24 schools that make at least $100 million annually from their athletic departments. In 2015, the most profitable athletic department in the country was at Texas A&M, raking in over $192 million. The University of Texas wasn’t far behind with $183 million.

Champions Way, a new book by New York Times reporter Mike McIntire, is the latest inquiry into the seedy underbelly of college sports. The “corporate-athletics complex,” as he calls it, corrupts universities, skirts federal tax laws, bullies the IRS, relies heavily on private donors, and sets players up to fail after their sports careers are over by pushing them into academically vapid curriculums.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has stated the obvious. “If true, [the charges] point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.”

Don Jackson, an attorney who has worked on numerous college eligibility cases, told Yahoo Sports that the root of the problem is that the NCAA’s model of amateurism doesn’t work.

“This problem can be solved if players are compensated,” Jackson said. “The NCAA is not capable of adequately policing tens of thousands of athletes around the country.”

Some people argue that paying athletes would corrupt the system. That system is already corrupt and getting worse all the time.

A majority of Americans wants the government to regulate technology companies—a significant change after revelations that Russia used online services such as Facebook to influence the 2016 election.

According to an Axios-Survey Monkey poll, concern about government inaction is up significantly—15 percentage points—in  the past three months.

DaTech3.jpg
Says Axios: “That’s a seismic shift in the public’s perception of Silicon Valley over a short period of time. It shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but it also reflects a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, as well as the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.”

In a previous Axios-Survey Monkey poll in November, just after Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified before Congress, only about 40 percent of those polled were concerned that the government wouldn’t do enough to regulate the tech companies.

That number jumped to 55 percent in the latest poll. That includes 45 percent of Republicans, who are usually skeptical about government regulation. Independents showed the biggest shift with an increase of 20 percentage points.

The poll found a variety of other problems those polled see in the tech sector:

–More than eight out of 10, including significant majorities across party lines, blame the technology companies for not doing enough to safeguard their platforms against election interference.

–Fifty-five percent of those polled think social media do more to hurt democracy and free speech.

The online survey was conducted by Survey Monkey from February 21-23, 2018, among 3,574 adults in the United States. They were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the Survey Monkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is 2.5 percentage points. Crosstabs available here.

A recent analysis in The Wall Street Journal described Facebook as “tone deaf.”

“It isn’t clear whether the Russian activity on Facebook made a difference in the election, a position some Facebook executives still privately maintain, and no evidence has emerged that it tipped the result to President Donald Trump. What is clear, however, is that the social-media giant’s months-long obliviousness to deepening public concern about its social impact has worsened a backlash against it and other Silicon Valley giants,” The Journal wrote. For more, see https://www.wsj.com/articles/tone-deaf-how-facebook-misread-americas-mood-on-russia-1520006034

Moreover, Google, Facebook, and other technology giants have a decidedly leftist tilt. Many top leaders give huge contributions to the Democrats.

A recent analysis found that “a majority of the most-engaged partisan Facebook pages are left-leaning or affiliated with Trump resistance movements, according to NewsWhip, a social analytics measurement company. The firm looked at the engagement (likes, comments, and shares) of partisan pages in Trump’s first full month as president. Even more telling is that most of the left-leaning pages are out-performing some of the most trafficked news competitors in overall engagement.”

Google, Facebook, and Twitter loomed large at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, where participants squeezed into a standing-room-only ballroom for a discussion called “Suppression of Conservative Views on Social Media: A First Amendment Issue.”

Moreover, a new film by Peter Schweizer, a journalist known for his investigations into Hillary Clinton, focuses on technology companies and their role in filtering the news. Even The New York Times noted the upcoming motion picture: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/business/media/paul-schweizer-google-facebook.html

Although I am not a huge fan of government regulation, I just about have had it with the social media giants. I happy to know that I’m in the majority for a change.

The ongoing conflict between an individual’s privacy and the public interest heads to the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices hear oral arguments in a lawsuit in which Microsoft refuses to turn over data in a drug case.

The U.S. Constitution does not include the actual word privacy, but the Fourth Amendment, which prevents illegal searches and seizures, has become the basis for the definition of the issue.

DaTech3.jpg

This case involves Microsoft’s dispute with federal prosecutors over whether it must provide data hosted in a storage facility in Ireland. The dispute focuses on whether U.S. courts can compel a company to turn over an individual’s data when it is held overseas.

Simply put, the decision revolves around where “the cloud” exists. Cloud technology has become worth an estimated $250 billion.

If Microsoft wins, supporters will laud the decision as a victory for privacy. If the government wins, it will be seen as a victory of law enforcement. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. The company knows it will lose business if it cannot guarantee privacy to customers–much like the bankers who house drug money. The government as is its want is likely to overstep the boundaries if it wins.

The case has drawn extensive interest, including numerous briefs to the Supreme Court from abroad.

The showdown is unfolding on several fronts. Legislation in Congress would partially resolve disputes over law enforcement access to private data held across borders. The bills would obligate service providers to turn material over to prosecutors under certain conditions regardless of where in the world the material is stored.

Still, some mystery surrounds the legal dispute that was argued today in Supreme Court chambers. For one, prosecutors have never identified the person who was targeted in a warrant issued by a New York District Court judge in 2013.

Prosecutors demanded that Microsoft turn over all emails and information associated with the subject’s account, and the company responded that it could not be forced to turn over information stored overseas—in this case at a data center in Dublin.

Alternatively, prosecutors outside of the United States complain about obstacles to conducting investigations of criminal suspects using U.S.-based webmail.

“The cops in Brazil and the cops in India and the cops in France, all of the cops in the world, want to issue normal evidence orders in accordance with local law and they are frustrated or stymied by American rules,” Andrew Woods, a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law, told Tim Johnson of the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

Woods cited a hypothetical case in which a Londoner is a suspect in the murder of a fellow Brit, a crime investigated by local police.

“Everything about that case is British,” Woods said, but police “cannot go to Google and compel Google to give them content of the suspect’s email account. They have to go through the mutual legal assistance process. That is not only slow it is also an affront to British sovereignty.”

The U.S. government has struck mutual legal assistance treaties, or MLATs, with about a third of the world’s countries. The mechanism, while useful, has its flaws.

Looming behind the debate is Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who stole secrets about U.S. surveillance programs in 2013 before fleeing to Moscow.

“In the wake of the Snowden revelations, levels of trust around the world in the American government went down,” Woods said. “American businesses ever since have been scrambling to reassure customers around the world that they resist the American government.”

The decision is expected to be announced in June.

For more on the case, see http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/united-states-v-microsoft-corp/ 

If you want an example of the alt-left, The Daily Kos is it.

As the mainstream media criticize conservative websites, Kos generally receives praise.

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I have been monitoring Kos over the past few weeks, and I found a hateful, hysterical example of what’s going on with the left.

Here is a recent example from the website’s front page—a reprise of a commentary from a few years ago.

“In the idealized version of the GOP primary, establishment Republicans would curry favor with their Wall Street pals while sending coded dog whistles to their foot soldiers—on race, immigration, reproductive freedoms, etc. Those dog whistles would motivate the GOP base without revealing their true radical nature to the American mainstream. It was a genius system while it worked, one that saw no parallel on the progressive side…. Republicans laugh about electrocuting immigrants who will cut off your head in the desert if they’re not stopped, while passing laws openly hostile to brown people. Attacks on homosexuals have escalated to new hysterical highs as society becomes more tolerant and open to equality.”

Instead of cautioning readers about the hyperbole of Kos, media outlets like The Huffington Post tout the website’s importance. “The liberal site has acquired a new relevance in the era of Democratic resistance to President Donald Trump,” the HP wrote recently.

Markos “Kos” Moulitsas Zúniga started the blog in 2002. Since then, it has become the most important website on the left, with email list of more than three million subscribers and 18 million unique readers every month. Moreover, Kos raised more than $3 million for Democrat candidates last year. He also is a founder of Vox Media, another generally leftist website.

Moulitsas is from the Chicago area and joined the U.S. Army in 1989. A one-time Republican who opposed gays in the military, he switched parties after attending law school in Boston in the late 1990s. He moved to the San Francisco area to work as a project manager for a web development company.

Simply put, Kos makes The Daily Caller look tame. A recent spate of headlines included the following:

–How many times has Trump cheated on Melania?

–Jared Kushner’s finances are in shambles and he’s a threat to national security

–Why are media ignoring the fact that Nikolas Cruz is a Trump supporter?

But there’s more. A recent edition showed a cartoon of Donald Trump eating cheeseburgers and drinking Diet Coke in his bathrobe. Another depicted the president as a supporter of sexual abuse.

Kos, George Soros, and others like them should be taken to task for the hateful outrages they spew. Each of them has done far more damage to the U.S. election process than any Russian troll.

During a visit last year to Vietnam, I made the trek to Khe Sanh, one of the key battles during the Tet Offensive, which happened 50 years ago.

For most of the journey, I bristled at the Vietnamese guide and propagandist, who maintained Tet was a major victory for the Communist forces. I finally had enough and offered some facts to her and the tourists on the bus.

DaTech3.jpgSimply put, the coverage of the 1968 North Vietnamese attack is a startling example of how the U.S. media got it wrong. The media presented Tet as a major loss for the Americans when it actually was a massive defeat for North Vietnam.

The North Vietnamese government launched the offensive during Tet, the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year. The attacks began on January 30 on targets in Saigon and other Vietnamese cities, and ended a little more than a month later when Marines crushed the last resistance in the northern city of Hue.

As The Washington Post’s Saigon bureau chief Peter Braestrup documented in his book The Big Story, reporters systematically used Tet to turn the reality of a U.S. victory into an image of American and South Vietnamese defeat.

For example, journalists reported that that Vietcong had overrun five floors of the U.S. embassy when the VC never got inside the building. Newsweek’s coverage of the siege of Khe Sanh showed 18 photos out of a total of 29 of dead or wounded Marines or Marines huddling under cover, never mentioning that the Marines inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

That campaign of misrepresentation culminated in Walter Cronkite’s half-hour TV special on February 27, 1968, when he told his viewers that Tet had proved that America was “mired in a stalemate.”

Here are some important facts that got lost in the journalistic shuffle. The North Vietnamese Army lost 20 percent of its forces in the South and suffered 33,000 men killed in action for no military gain.

In his excellent book on the battle of Hue, Mark Bowden describes miscalculations on the part of the U.S. command but also the cynicism of the North Vietnamese command that was trying to win a public relations battle rather than a military victory. The Communists told many of their supporters that the goal was to launch a revolution when the government knew many would die. Simply put, the North Vietnam leadership was willing to lose thousands of soldiers to turn the PR tide.

The strategy worked as the international media misinterpreted what happened on the ground. Public support for the war dropped significantly after the misinformation about the Tet offensive.

As The New Republic put it recently: “The American public knew none of this, however. The misrepresentation by America’s most respected newsman and most trusted media outlets of what had actually happened during Tet stunned the American public and the body politic. Popular support for the war took a heavy hit, as the war’s critics now grabbed center stage….

“After Tet, American media had assumed a new mission for itself: to shape the nation’s politics by crafting a single coherent narrative, even if it meant omitting certain relevant facts and promoting other false or misleading ones. standing — just as they had convinced them a year earlier that America’s major victory was actually a major defeat.”

Sound familiar?