Against the backdrop of sexual scandals and a maelstrom of mistakes in the media, director Steven Spielberg tries to bring a feel-good movie about journalism.

But The Post, which opens later this month, only adds to the milieu of fake news, presenting a storyline that plays fast and loose with the facts.

The Spielberg creation focuses on The Washington Post and its bid to publish The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. Daniel Ellsberg, who worked on the study, leaked 43 volumes of the material to Neil Sheehan, who covered Vietnam for DaTimes.

DaTimes published the first stories and got hit with a lawsuit to stop publication by the Nixon Administration. But Spielberg doesn’t focus on DaTimes but DaPost.

DaPost got a copy of The Pentagon Papers a week later, along with more than a dozen other news organizations, and got hit with a lawsuit.

As The Poynter Institute notes in a review, “the Spielberg version is not close to being true as far as who deserves the real credit.”

Sheehan is one of those heroes—as is James Goodale, Da Times’ lawyer who argued that the press had a First Amendment right to publish information significant to the people’s understanding of their government’s policy. It’s hardly surprisingly that people at DaTimes aren’t happy about the movie that virtually excludes the news organization.

But it is Hollywood, so Spielberg reportedly dropped other projects after Donald Trump was elected. The movie apparently is intended to demonstrate that Richard Nixon, the press hater, has become reincarnated as Trump.

But that is fake news, too. Nixon didn’t want to challenge publication of The Pentagon Papers because they basically showed how John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had mucked up in Vietnam. But Henry Kissinger convinced Nixon to try to stop publication because failure to do so would convince other whistleblowers to leak secret documents.

One of the real stories, which isn’t addressed in the film, is how Ellsberg didn’t cut and run—unlike Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Ellsberg faced trial under The Espionage Act of 1917 for leaking the documents. The charges were dismissed after the infamous plumbers of the Nixon White House stole some of his medical records in an idiotic effort to bolster the government’s case.

Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case against DaTimes and DaPost, allowing them and others to print The Pentagon Papers.

The Post is yet another film about history that gets the facts wrong. That happened in All the President’s Men, which placed too much importance on DaPost’s work and too little on the judiciary and Congress. See my colleague’s assessment at

Unfortunately, many people only remember what they see at the movies, continuing the ignorance about what happens in reality.

The numerous errors and continuing employment of ABC News reporter Brian Ross made me think about what went wrong with investigative journalism.

As a young reporter in the 1970s, I cut my teeth in Chicago, a city where journalism came straight off The Front Page.

Back in 1977, The Chicago Sun-Times bought a bar, The Mirage, to investigate payoffs to local and state officials.

Journalist Pam Zekman and Better Government Association chief investigator Bill Recktenwald purchased the bar under aliases. Reporter Zay N. Smith, who wrote the series, and BGA investigator Jeff Allen posed as the bartender and manager, respectively. Sun-Times photographers Gene Pesek and Jim Frost posed as repairmen and were in charge of photographing the tavern’s activities from a hidden section of the tavern built over the washrooms.

Corrupt practices ran the gamut from shakedowns to tax fraud.

The amounts were small, typically less than $100, or what the team called the supermarket approach to graft: low prices, high volume.

For example, a city electrical inspector agreed to overlook the tavern’s faulty wiring. A fire department lieutenant signed off on the bar’s grand opening despite loose wiring hanging from rafters and a basement piled high with trash. A city health inspector ignored maggots and drains that emptied down to the basement floor. A state liquor inspector ignored fruit flies in the booze. 

The crimes also included illegal kickbacks from pinball and jukebox operators as well as tax fraud. An accountant gave the team lessons on how to keep two sets of books to skim profits without paying taxes. He also advised them what time of day inspectors showed up and how much their shakedowns would typically cost. The only officials he warned against bribing were the police, noting that “if you pay off a cop, they keep coming around every month, like flies, looking for a payoff.”

The Mirage resulted in major reforms, including city code revisions, new procedures in inspections, and investigations at federal, state, and city levels. The IRS looked at tax fraud in primarily cash businesses. The Illinois Department of Revenue formed a new investigative team: the Mirage Audit Unit. A federal investigation resulted in the indictments of a third of the city’s electrical inspectors in 1978.

The series was initially nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for general reporting, but the awards board decided not to give the prize to the Sun-Times when Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post led an attack because the reporters used undercover reporting to do the story.

Bradlee made some good decisions in his career. Denying the Pulitzer to the Mirage reporters was not one of them.

I am struck by how  journalists got it right back then even in a city where journalism and ethics may not have been uttered frequently in the same sentence.

ABC’s latest debacle is reminiscent of a growing penchant for bad investigative journalism from Hulk Hogan’s sex life to the University of Virginia “rape” story.

Here is background about the Mirage story:

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The list of up-and-coming media “stars” has me worried.

Forbes recently published its annual list of “30 Under 30 in the Media,” which includes a variety of troubling selections.

For example, the magazine highlighted Jacob Tobia, who has written a memoir, Sissy, and essays that “speak both to the gender nonconforming community” in which he/she “helps demystify the gender/queer divide.”

Huh? That’s what we need in the United States: nonconforming communities!

Clint Smith, a graduate student at Harvard, has written for The New Yorker, Atlantic, and The New Republic. “My goal is to use a range of different mediums and genres to complicate our conceptions of history,” he says, “so that we are more fully able to understand what has led us to this moment of such profound racial and social inequality.”

Huh? Complications about conceptions of history?

As digital editorial director of Teen Vogue, Phillip Picardi “introduced the website’s political and wellness coverage, helping to shift the brand away from just fashion and celebrity and towards themes of gender equality and social justice. He was so successful that he took on the same role at Allure, and this year he launched the LGBTQ focused Them, Condé Nast’s first new brand since 2007.”

Huh? Teen Vogue recently decided to eliminate its print edition.

Alexandra Petri is a humor writer and the youngest-ever columnist at The Washington Post. “We live in a surreal, Dali-esque world where time seems to crawl, everyone’s clocks are melting, and all laws are passed by creepy white bone pelvises standing alone in deserts, and I think we need jokes to get through it,” she says.

Huh? I don’t think that many people believe the world is surreal. Salvador Dali’s painting is called “The Persistence of Memory” rather than “Melting Clocks”–a relatively common mistake. I always thought it was pretty weird, but I guess a 1931 painting resonates with those under 30.

Dali’s 1931 painting “The Persistence of Memory”

Cooper Hefner, the son of Hugh, “recently worked to keep Playboy relevant by bringing back nudity and featuring the first-ever transgender playmate in the magazine’s centerfold.”

Huh? Against the backdrop of a growing number of sexual harassment cases, I am not sure how these actions provide relevance.

Jazmine Hughes is an associate editor at The New York Times Magazine. One of her highlighted credits is editing an interview with California crazy Maxine Walters.

Huh? A good editor would have found a way to toss the interview in the circular file, but I guess those under 30 are unfamiliar with that action.

If you want to feel mad or sad or both, here is the entire list:

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to teach a Pulitzer Prize winner, a Pulitzer finalist, and myriad individuals who have brought honor to their craft. I am glad that none of them ever made this insipid list.

As a first-year student at the University of San Francisco, I arrived just days after Manson and his evil crew had murdered seven people. I still remember the frightening photograph of Manson on the front page of The San Francisco Chronicle that arrived outside my dorm room.

At the time, California was in a high state of anxiety and fear. The brutal murders had scared almost everyone.

Manson and his followers had spent time near USF, which is located just a few blocks from Haight-Ashbury, where the 1967 “Summer of Love” occurred.

Hippies arrived from throughout the country to create a community based on ill-conceived ideas, drugs, and music. During 1967, psychedelic music entered the mainstream. Scott McKenzie’s song “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” became a hit that year. The Monterey Pop Festival in June further cemented the status of psychedelic music as a part of mainstream culture and elevated local Haight bands, such as the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Jefferson Airplane to stardom.

The neighborhood also attracted Manson, a longtime loser who was in and out of prison.

By the time I got to San Francisco only two years later, Haight had become a crime-ridden and heroin-infested place where only those who sought danger and hardcore drugs dared to visit. It’s also where Manson had collected a crew of fellow losers bent on evil.

As The New York Times noted: “To a frightened, mesmerized public, the murders, with their undercurrents of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and Satanism, seemed the depraved logical extension of the anti-establishment, do-your-own-thing ethos that helped define the ’60s.”

Let’s face it. The hippie culture—in which I was once a willing participant—provided the basis for many of society’s ills both then and now, from drug use to sexual deviancy.

Less than a decade later I reported about the deaths of 900 people in Guyana at hands of Jim Jones, another depraved leader who emerged from the same primordial ooze of San Francisco.

Like much of today’s media try to explain “motives” for mass murderers, many news organizations analyzed Manson’s actions as the result of an abusive childhood and a mental disorder.

In a neck-snapping analysis of Manson’s “human” side, The Los Angeles Times’ David Ulin argues: “For those who have faith in an afterlife, I suppose there’s some solace in imagining he will get his karmic comeuppance. But it makes more sense to me to see him as an agent of the hells we create on Earth.

“Manson was a killer, yes, and he was a psychopath, but he was never otherworldly. The violence and the hatred he embodied may be his most human attribute.”

It’s hard to untangle the logical fallacies in those two paragraphs.

But there’s more. Newsweek had this headline: How Murderer Charles Manson and Donald Trump Used Language to Gain Followers.


There’s a far better explanation for Manson. He was the embodiment of evil without any motive other than his desire to control people and to kill others. Unfortunately, he got more than 15 minutes of fame.

Throughout his years in prison, Manson denied having ordered the murders. Neither did he feel remorse about the killings as he said during an interview with Charlie Rose.

“So you didn’t care?” Rose asked.

“Care?” Manson replied. “What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”

May he rot in hell!

My opposition to the new tax bill is selfish. It’s gonna cost me money!

As a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I live in one of the bluest cities in one of the bluer states in the country. I pay city and state taxes—both of which will no longer be deductible under the proposals.

I understand the argument that the tax bill is intended to hold the line on exorbitant government budgets. But Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are not known for their penny-pinching, and the proposed tax bill is unlikely to change that.

Keep in mind, however, that Pennsylvania voted for Trump, and it’s unlikely that I am the only one who voted for the Republicans in 2016 and will lose money.

It’s a risky scenario given the fact that Pennsylvania hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate in decades. Moreover, the margin of victory was only 44,000 votes out of six million cast.

Congress should look at allowing a standardized amount that people should be able to deduct for state and local income taxes—say $5,000 across the board.

Sure, the increase of the exemption for a married couple from $12,700 to $24,000 will help but not enough to swing the tax bill is my favor.

There’s more. The cap on the real estate tax exemption at $10,000 will help me but not the many Republicans in the suburbs who pay much higher taxes than I do in the city.

And there’s more. The elimination of the deductions for charitable contributions will hit my wife and me. I doubt it will cause us to give less. But it does mean we will face higher taxes here, too. The elimination of the tax credit for adoptions makes no sense to me, particularly when it probably saved the lives of some potential victims of abortion.

It appears that my deductions for my home office will disappear. I’ve had outside income for more than 20 years and have reduced the tax exposure with my expenses at home. The tax bill means that I will be unable to deduct some of the costs I spend to do research in China, which I have done over the past three years.

I understand that the GOP needs a win, and I’d be willing to help finance a bit of that. At the moment, however, the cost is simply too steep, probably in the neighborhood of several thousand dollars. Since I don’t think I’m alone in my economic and political quandary, Congress and the president need to come up with some changes to make the tax bill more palatable. Otherwise, I am afraid the plan will lose more votes than gain them.


Despite the attack in New York City an important new analysis demonstrates that the terrorists’ effectiveness has been seriously affected in the past year and is likely to continue to fade as a significant threat.

That doesn’t mean that the world can be less vigilant, but it does mean that once again the media can create a meme to downplay a major U.S. victory.

The well-regarded Terrorism Analysis & Research Consortium, better known as TRAC, released an analysis of IS attacks, which shows that the organization has been far less effective in recent months.

TRAC reported: “IS’s highlighting of terror attacks against civilians in Western Europe–and the mainstream media’s obsession with those attacks–serves to obscure important aspects of Islamic State strategy. While more than 200 claimed attacks in just over 100 days appears impressive to IS supporters and terrifying to the world at large, a closer look at the claims in their entirety reveals as much about Islamic State’s limitations as its aspirations.” For more information, see

Here are some of the important findings:

• The projection of increasing global reach is inaccurate. Just three countries accounted for 175 of 222 attacks (nearly 80 percent) during last summer: Philippines (99 claims), Afghanistan (43 claims), and Egypt (33 claims). TRAC contends that these places, which receive scant Western attention, represent the narrative of IS future territory.

• To narrow the gap even further, of the three countries that hold 80 percent of the claims, just three areas in those countries accounted for 115 of 222 attacks in the summer (more than 50 percent): Marawi city in Philippines’ Autonomous Region of Muslim Majority or ARMM (67), Nangarhar province in Afghanistan (26), and Egypt’s Upper Sinai (22).

• During the summer, IS could not claim repeat attacks in 10 countries that had been attacked in 2015 and 2016. Bangladesh went from six claims in 2016 to zero in 2017. Saudi Arabia had three in 2015 and no subsequent summer repeats. Germany had just two total claims, coming in summer 2016. The inability to repeat attacks in the same location summer after summer highlights the Islamic State’s lack of sustainability.

• For last summer, the United Kingdom topped the newcomer’s list with three high-profile attacks. These three attacks received massive international attention, especially in the Western media.

• Out of the 32 total countries attacked during the past three years, only four countries—France, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt—were attacked three summers in a row. Even with the recent spate of claims in the U.K., France has been, by far the country hardest hit by IS in Europe.

Simply put, IS has been unable to launch attacks outside the Middle East and the Philippines except in rare instances in Britain and France. The Philippines government recently cleared out an IS stronghold there.

The disruption of the IS financial and geographical power in the Middle East has had a profound effect. Moreover, the destruction of the command-and-control and propaganda centers of IS in Syria and Iraq will make it more difficult to entice followers to launch attacks outside of the Middle East.

Al-Qaeda saw its influence drop dramatically after the United States closed its operational headquarters in Afghanistan. That is what is likely to happen with IS.

Again, that doesn’t mean the West can ignore the Islamist threat, particularly after the recent attack in New York City. It does mean that a continuous and concerted offensive against extremists does work.

After missing the true nexus of recent events in Russia, it should not be surprising that the media have embraced the “good” side of the 1917 Communist takeover.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Communist countries, I didn’t see much of this good side of Communism, which is one, if not, the most evil political philosophy in the history of the human race.

Communist subjugated people, stripped them of their dignity, and killed millions.

Nevertheless, the media have found many positive aspects of this criminal culture in analyses of the 100 years since Lenin and his cronies took control.

Not surprisingly, DaTimes is the most egregious purveyor of fiction about the Russian revolution in its series called “The Red Century.”

Here is an excerpt from one story about how women in Communist countries had better sex.

Some might remember that Eastern bloc women enjoyed many rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time, including major state investments in their education and training, their full incorporation into the labor force, generous maternity leave allowances, and guaranteed free child care. But there’s one advantage that has received little attention: Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure.

Can DaTimes seriously argue that Communist dictators were responsible for major improvements for women, including education, training, child care, and working environment? I suggest that DaTimes assign only one of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn books to its reporters and columnists.

It should be noted that DaTimes still hasn’t returned the 1932 Pulitzer won by Walter Duranty, the newspaper’s hack in the Soviet Union. He insisted the stories of a Ukrainian famine that killed millions were false.

DaTimes also describes New York City’s salad days as a hotbed of Communism in the United States. The New Republic put its criticism of the series well:

…when you read about how American Communists and fellow-travelers had the best of intentions and were on the right side of history, bear in mind that these people were at best noble dupes and useful idiots for an evil empire.


At least Bret Stephens, who seems to have lost his way since joining DaTimes, doesn’t follow the lockstep approach of his news organization.

Although he didn’t point the finger directly at his employer, Stephens wrote last week:

An ideology that at one point enslaved and immiserated roughly a third of the world collapsed without a fight and was exposed for all to see. Yet we still have trouble condemning it as we do equivalent evils. And we treat its sympathizers as romantics and idealists, rather than as the fools, fanatics or cynics they really were and are.

But DaTimes is not alone in its quest to resurrect the good life of Communism. DaPost tries to erase from the map a variety of current Communist countries, such as China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba because they no longer practice “true Communism.” Only North Korea still does.

It would seem that the progeny of the useful idiots who participated in supporting Communism during the Cold War have taken up residence at some of the nation’s news organizations to rewrite history.

I suggest we toss Communism ideology on the scrap heap where it rightly belongs and only remember the evil it did.


The number of police officers killed or injured in the line of duty soared last year, the FBI reported.

Not surprisingly, the findings, which were announced last week, got little coverage in the media.

Sixty-six officers died from “felonious” assaults, an increase from 45 in 2015 and the second-highest total in the past decade.

Additionally, 57,180 officers were assaulted in the line of duty, with nearly 30 percent of those officers being injured in the incidents. There were 50,212 assaults against law enforcement listed in the 2015 FBI report.

Of the 66 officers who were killed in criminal incidents:

  • The average age was 40 years old, with an average of 13 years of law enforcement experience.
  • Sixty-four of the officers feloniously killed were men, and two were women.
  • Nearly all of the officers were killed by firearms—62 out of 66. Of the 62 officers killed by firearms, 51 were wearing body armor at the time they were killed.
  • Four officers were killed intentionally with vehicles.
  • The most common categories of circumstance surrounding officers’ line-of-duty deaths were ambushes (17), followed by answering disturbance calls (13), and investigating suspicious people or circumstances (nine). (For more information on these incidents, see the summaries section of the report.)

The largest number of fatalities occurred in the South with 30, including the highest number in Georgia, which recorded seven.

Unfortunately, the trend seems to be continuing this year. See

Some researchers have disputed the Ferguson effect—the argument that police officers are less inclined to fight crime because of the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. I disagree with that analysis given the overall increase in crime in the past two years.

Nevertheless, it appears that another impact of Ferguson needs investigation. Given the increase in attacks against police, it is possible that people have become more emboldened in confronting cops violently as a result of Ferguson.

The news media tend to focus on the deaths of civilians rather than police officers. The Washington Post, for example, has been tracking such deaths but doesn’t include any mention of cops killed in the line of duty.

 It’s worth noting that 17 African-Americans, who were “unarmed,” were killed in confrontations with police in 2016, according to DaPost’s calculations and definition of unarmed.

When you dig into the facts of the cases, “unarmed” seems rather poorly applied:

–Dyzhawn L. Perkins, an unarmed 19-year-old black man, was shot on Feb. 13, 2016, in a house in Arvonia, Virginia. Buckingham County sheriff’s deputies were investigating reports of an assault. Perkins crashed through a window and attempted to attack the deputies.

–Vernell Bing, an unarmed 22-year-old black man, was shot on May 22, 2016, on a street in Jacksonville, Florida. Bing led a police officer on a pursuit and then crashed into the officer’s patrol car. Police said that Bing ignored commands to stay inside the vehicle.

Any loss of life is tragic, but it appears that the news media are more concerned with so-called “unarmed individuals” than police officers.

Every year I wait for a call from the MacArthur Foundation telling me I was going to receive more than half a million bucks. Alas, I didn’t get one of the so-called “genius grants” again this year.

What I came to realize many years ago was that the foundation is simply funding a band of social justice warriors, numbering nearly 1,000 since the grants started in 1981.

Let’s look at some of the recipients announced earlier this month:

–Cristina Jimenez Moreta founded United We Dream in 2008 to secure the rights of immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

–Rami Nashabi is a community leader who focuses on poverty in Chicago’s Muslim communities.

–Nikole Hannah-Jones writes about “urban segregation” in education.

Critic Martin Morse Wooster made the point about leftist bias in “The MacArthur Foundation: A donor without a cause spawns a foundation with an agenda.”

“What do the Federation of American Scientists, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arms Control Association, the League of Women Voters, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, and the National Commission on Energy Policy have in common — aside from solid leftist credentials? Each receives funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.” MacArthur is everywhere on the left, openly supporting the progressive policy agenda, including the “climate change agenda — which is often a cover for more nefarious, radical economic change.”

In December 2015, MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch co-authored an opinion piece in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, calling upon “fellow grant makers, advocates, business leaders, government officials, and citizens” to make climate change a priority. In doing so, Stasch used her influence to lead other organizations into a complicated web of progressive foundations, pushing radical economic change.

Some “genius grants” have been known to go awry. Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, was a 2003 recipient who created fictitious documents to discredit a conservative group that attacked climate change. See

The MacArthur Foundation also has a geographical bias that favors leftists, with New York and California leading the pack in getting “genius” grants. Apparently, the foundation has yet to find a “genius” in Wyoming, my family’s home state, and not many in flyover country, where I spent most of my formative years. See

The foundation was set up as a tax dodge by John D. MacArthur, an insurance magnate who often played fast and loose with other people’s money. Maybe the IRS should look at the foundation’s books—as the Obama Administration did with conservative groups. See

Whatever happens, I probably won’t get a call again next year. But Colin Kaepernick, members of Black Lives Matter, and other social justice warriors will likely become so-called “geniuses” some day soon.

The National Congress of the Communist Part of China, which sets the course of the nation’s leadership and policies every five years, opens next week during one of the most critical times in the relations with the United States.

President Xi Jinping, [pronounced she] who will be elected to a second, five-year term, faces some interesting problems, including the probable retirement of some top leaders, the ongoing North Korea nuclear program, and relations with President Trump.

It has been customary for leaders to retire at the age of 68. That would include five of the seven most powerful leaders in China, including Wang Qishan, Xi’s right-hand man and anti-corruption campaign leader.

SupChina, a great source for anyone who wants to follow developments in China, provides as excellent backgrounder at

As SupChina notes: “Contrary to many who have posited that Wang is too important to Xi’s agenda to be sidelined, the Macro Polo initiative at the University of Chicago has come down firmly on the position that retirement norms will be followed this year. The initiative’s experts assigned only a small chance to the ‘norm-wrecking’ scenario that keeps Wang in his position, saying that ‘even with a very strong Xi Jinping, [this] would face significant criticism and pushback at every level of the CCP.’”

Xi is likely to opt for a selection of loyalists that both accelerates the ascension of some people leading to more attention “devoted to focusing on executing the many economic reforms that have stalled or taken a backseat to politics.”

On North Korea, China has initiated steps to implement the latest United Nations sanctions. That doesn’t mean that China and the United States are on the same page, but the relationship is better than most legacy media types would have us believe. An exception is a recent Reuters story at

Only a few weeks after the China meeting, President Trump will visit Asia, where he will travel to five countries from November 3 to 14, attending summits held by both the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Expectations for a shift in U.S.-China relations are high, according to the influential South China Morning Post.

POLITICO also reports that the Trump Administration is conducting an extensive review of policy toward China. See

During the past three years I have spent visiting China, I found that the Chinese, particularly business people, see Trump as someone they can deal with. It may not be a perfect marriage, but neither is it as vitriolic as it was under President Obama. Moreover, U.S.-China relations would have been disastrous under Hillary Clinton. Simply put, China was rather curious and somewhat relieved when Trump became president.