Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.”

It’s seeking a contractor that can help it monitor traditional news sources as well as social media and identify “any and all” coverage related to the agency or a particular event, according to a request for information released April 3.

The data to be collected includes a publication’s “sentiment” as well as geographical spread, top posters, languages, momentum, and circulation. No value for the contract was disclosed.

“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers,” according to the statement. DHS agencies have “a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners,” it said.

The DHS wants to track more than 290,000 global news sources, including online, print, broadcast, cable, and radio, as well as trade and industry publications, local, national and international outlets, and social media, according to the documents. It also wants the ability to track media coverage in more than 100 languages including Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, with instant translation of articles into English.

The request comes amid heightened concern about accuracy in media and the potential for foreigners to influence U.S. elections and policy through “fake news.” Nineteen lawmakers including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month, asking whether Qatar-based Al Jazeera should register as a foreign agent because it “often directly undermines” U.S. interests with favorable coverage of Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

The DHS request says the selected vendor will set up an online “media influence database” giving users the ability to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence. For each influencer found, “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

A department spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

Responses are due April 13. Seven companies, mainly minority- or women-owned small businesses, have already expressed interest in becoming a vendor for the contract, according to the FedBizOpps web site.

[Bloomberg]

Trump Mocks ‘Crazy Jim Acosta’ By Misquoting Him: ‘Thank You For Your Honesty Jim!’

President Donald Trump took a victory lap over the end of the government shutdown early Tuesday morning, making sure to include a bizarre jab at CNN’s Chief White House correspondent “Crazy” Jim Acosta in a tweet.

It’s not his best nickname, but then again the president has been slacking on those as of late, so that’s to be expected.

“Even Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN agrees,” Trump wrote, quoting the reporter:

“Thank you for your honesty Jim!” the president added, perhaps signaling a turning point in the pair’s frosty relationship?

Trump seems to be misquoting this Monday tweet from Acosta, in which he reported that his White House sources were “dancing in end zone,” before quoting sources as claiming that Democrats “caved…gambled and lost” in their negotiations:

It’s not clear (it never is) whether Trump understands that Acosta’s tweet is composed of quotes, or if he’s deliberately trolling the White House reporter.

The government shutdown came to a close after a solid 69 hours on Monday, after Trump signed a bill to fund the government through February 8.

[Mediaite]

Trump renews call for internet tax, making a veiled threat against Amazon

President Donald Trump repeated an earlier call for an internet tax, in a thinly veiled shot at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post.

“The internet — they’re going to have to start paying sales tax because it’s very unfair what’s happening to our retailers all over the country that are put out of business,” Trump said Wednesday.

Trump also reiterated concerns about Amazon’s effect on the U.S. Postal Service as it struggles to keep up with online orders.

The comments mirror tweets from the president in December that named the e-commerce giant.

“There’s always been a fear for players like an Amazon or a Google that something like this could actually get through,” Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights, told CNBC. “We believe it’s more noise than a real threat.”

There’s been speculation that the president’s shots at Amazon are aimed at Bezos, whose newspaper has published stories critical of the president.

Amazon already collects sales tax on products it sells directly to consumers, but has faced challenges from states over its policy of allowing third-party vendors to charge varying levels of sales tax.

In June South Carolina filed a complaint against the online retailer, and Amazon agreed in November to take on additional third-party tax burden in its home state of Washington.
The issue has garnered more attention as Amazon continues to take a bigger share of overall retail sales. Amazon celebrated its “biggest holiday” shopping season at the end of last year.

There is an underlying movement among traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to more heavily tax Amazon, Ives said, so the discussion is “something you have to keep an eye on.”

But the likelihood that an internet tax would pass is small, he said.
“Listen they’ve [Amazon] significantly changed the retail landscape across the world,” Ives said. “I think it’s more of the same where they’re getting in the crosshairs.”
Trump spoke before media and members of the administration Wednesday evening during the signing of the Interdict Act, which seeks to reduce drug smuggling through the purchase of opioid sensors.
Amazon did not immediately return a CNBC request for comment.

[CNBC]

Trump Calls For ‘Strong Look’ at Libel Laws to Stop People Saying ‘Knowingly False’ Things

Before holding a cabinet meeting earlier today, President Donald Trump sat in front of reporters and delivered a series of remarks.

For the most part, he touted all of the accomplishments he pulled off throughout the past year, including passing that tax bill, getting rid of Obamacare’s individual mandate and, oddly, even repeatedly stating that multiple news anchors sent him “letters of congratulations” for yesterday’s immigration meeting.

It wasn’t all 2017 naval-gazing. Trump did, eventually, discuss his administration’s plans for 2018.

Great! Did he dig into infrastructure, long thought to be the GOP’s tentpole issue for the rest of the year? Nope.

Instead, he talked about libel reform. Wait, libel reform?!

Yeah.

“We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts,” he said.

“If somebody says something that is totally false, and knowingly false, that person that has been abused, defamed, libeled will have meaningful recourse.”

“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness.”

One wonders what got libel reform in his head. It couldn’t possibly have been Michael Wolff’s abusive, defaming and libelous tell-all, right? Right.

In other news, according to The Washington Post, Trump just hit 2,000 lies told since taking the oath of office.

There’s also a problem with his idea: Trump can’t actually change libel laws. Not even Congress can. Why? They are state laws, thus having been shaped by a series of state courts and state legislatures. He can’t touch them.

[Mediaite]

Trump tweets he will announce awards for most “dishonest” and “corrupt” media of the year

President Trump on Tuesday night claimed he will announce awards for the most “dishonest” and “corrupt” media of the year. “Stay tuned!” Mr. Trump ended his tweet about the subject.

“I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!” the president tweeted.

The details of the president’s announcement about such unprecedented awards was unclear, and came in between tweets threatening the use of a big nuclear button against North Korea and touting Fox News’ Sean Hannity’s 9 p.m. show.

Mr. Trump has continued to attack mainstream outlets like the “failing” New York Times, even while he gives them interviews. The president gave an exclusive, 30-minute interview, with no aides around, to The New York Times’ Mike Schmidt last week while at his club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.

Other than his 11 a.m. daily intelligence briefing and a lunch with Vice President Pence and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, the president had no events scheduled for the first official work day of 2018. He spent some of the morning tweeting about Pakistan, North Korea’s “rocket man” Kim Jong Un, and taking credit for the lack of commercial airline deaths in 2017.

[CBS News]

Trump Taunts Press Before Cabinet Meeting Prayer: ‘You Need it More Than I Do’

Because he’s Donald Trump, one slam against the political press per day is never enough.

Trump held a cabinet briefing where he gloated about his first year in office and the imminent success of the GOP’s tax bill. During his round table, Trump invited HUD Secretary Ben Carson to say a prayer for the room…and the president turned that into an opportunity to swipe at the media again.

“I’m going ask Ben Carson, you can stay if you want, because you need the prayer more than I do, I think. You may be the only ones. Maybe a good solid prayer, and they’ll be honest.”

You can probably expect more of this when the president holds his press conference on tax reform later today.

[Mediaite]

White House threatened CNN reporter to not to ask Trump questions at bill signing

CNN reporter Jim Acosta said Tuesday that the White House warned him not to ask President Trump a question during a bill signing event, claiming that press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested his access at future events could be revoked if he did.

Acosta’s claim comes a day after he clashed with Sanders about media accuracy during a press briefing.

The White House press pool rotates print and broadcast reporters from different outlets on a schedule to cover events at the White House. Reporters, during the events, are allowed to ask the president and other officials questions.

At the Tuesday event, Acosta asked the president about his attack against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) earlier in the morning in which he suggested the New York senator would “do anything” for a campaign contribution.

The question, which Trump did not respond to, took place after he signed off on the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year. In his remarks about the measure, he touted that his administration has accelerated “the process of fully restoring America’s military might.”

Acosta has repeatedly clashed during the administration with White House officials during press briefing, including Sanders and senior aide Stephen Miller.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Acosta’s tweet.

[The Hill]

Donald Trump Celebrates Matt Lauer Firing On Twitter, Demands NBC News Be Investigated

President Donald Trump took time out this morning from “taking care of” North Korea’s Tuesday intercontinental ballistic missile launch, as he promised, cutting taxes for corporations, and killing Obamacare to tweet about NBC News’ bombshell announcement it had fired longtime Today show anchor Matt Lauer.

“Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for ‘inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,” tweeted Trump, who is now questioning the authenticity of NBCUniversal’s Access Hollywood tape in which he got caught on a hot mic boasting he was so famous he could grab women “by the p*ssy,” and for which he went on national television to acknowledge and apologize for. Trump, as a candidate, also vowed to sue the dozen women who came forward saying he sexually harassed and/or assaulted them.

In his morning tweet, the President of the United States said executives at NBC and at parent Comcast should be fired for “putting out so much Fake News, adding “check out Andy Lack’s past!”

A couple hours later, Trump appeared to have remembered MSNBC is an operation of NBC News, and tweeted again, to ask if, now that Lauer is gone, the news operation will cancel “low rated Joe Scarborough” and fire MSNBC chief Phil Griffin.

“Investigate!” our country’s commander-in-chief demanded.

CNN already has said it will not attend the White House Christmas Party on Friday, to which the press traditionally is invited, because it would be inappropriate for the cable news network to be the guest of a man who has so ferociously attacked the First Amendment and CNN individually. We will keep you posted as to whether NBC News follows suit.

[Deadline]

Trump: Media should compete for ‘FAKE NEWS TROPHY’

President Trump took a shot at the news media on Monday ahead of a busy week that could help determine the fate of his agenda.

“We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me),” Trump tweeted. “They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”

Trump also mocked NBC’s “Morning Joe” for airing a pre-taped segment the day after Thanksgiving.

“The good news is that their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!” he wrote.

The president’s messages come one day after he returned from South Florida, where he spent Thanksgiving with his family.

Trump made five trips to his golf courses and took repeated jabs at the media on Twitter over the holiday weekend.

His latest shots come just hours before he is set to meet with members of the Senate Finance Committee to discuss their push to pass a major tax-reform bill.

Senators are hoping to approve the legislation in the coming days in an effort to send a finished product to Trump’s desk before Christmas. But some Republicans in the upper chamber are not yet satisfied with the bill.

Congress must also race to pass a funding bill before Dec. 8 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

[The Hill]

Trump lashes out at CNN, calls Fox News ‘MUCH more important’

President Donald Trump on Saturday blasted CNN, calling it a source of “fake” news and comparing it unfavorably to its competitor Fox News.

“@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly,” he said on Twitter. “The outside world does not see the truth from them!”

CNN’s communications team fired back minutes later, tweeting, “It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S to the world. That’s yours. Our job is to report the news. #FactsFirst.”

Trump’s remarks come at a significant time for the media outlet, whose parent company Time Warner is merging with AT&T in an $85 billion deal. The Department of Justice has sued to block the merger, and legal experts have speculated that Trump’s previous comments about CNN may be brought up during the litigation.

CNN is a frequent target of Trump’s ire, and he has labeled the network “fake news,” “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “ratings challenged” in the last several months alone.

Trump’s Saturday tweet also marked the second time in as many days that Trump lashed out at a major media outlet on Twitter. On Friday, he went after TIME Magazine, claiming he “took a pass” at being named its “Person of the Year.”

“Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year,’ like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot,” Trump tweeted. “I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”

The magazine shot down at Trump’s claim shortly afterward, tweeting that “the President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6.”

[AOL]

Reality

What Donald Trump did today was give dictators around the globe validation on their own attacks on a free and open press.

No, really. This is what dictators do.

While almost every dictator from Mao Zedong, to Joseph Stalin, to Adolf Hitler has branded some part of the population as an enemy of the people, its specific application to the free press has more recent examples.

  • In September 2014 the head of the military junta that rules Myanmar said the media was constantly: “condemning and providing false information again, with some truths omitted, some issues exaggerated, and some news reported without scrutiny.”
  • In 2007, Hugo Chavez shut down the RCTV and then made a televised address, on all channels, in which he branded the media group Globovision his next ‘enemy of the state.
  • In 1997 Russian state media named Noyaya Gazeta-Mir Ludei (The New Newspaper-World of People), a small 15-member of staff paper that scrutinised the actions of the regional government, was called ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘enemy of the state’.

 

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