Politics and censorship: as always, follow the money

Two incidents – one local, one international – have confirmed yet again the ancient and time-honored truth:  if you want to know who or what is behind something, follow the money.  Even if it isn’t immediately visible, the financial story tells the real story, if you can only uncover it.

The first incident involves Attorney-General Barr.  You may recall that last weekend, over a thousand former Justice Department prosecutors and employees signed an open letter calling on him to resign because of his various and sundry misdeeds.  The Federalist, doing its usual good job of digging deeper, uncovers the real motivation for the letter.

Not once in the 800-word article did the [New York] Times address the overwhelming evidence that the thousand-plus signatories were politically motivated critics of President Donald Trump. In fact, to the contrary, the Times claimed “the former Justice Department lawyers” “came from across the political spectrum” to sign the open letter that condemned “President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice.” Those actions, the much-touted letter claimed, “require Mr. Barr to resign.”

. . .

Over the weekend and earlier this week, left-leaning media outlets coalesced on the latest anti-Trump conspiracy theory, using the letter of the former DOJ employees to bolster the appearance of impropriety … Had the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, or any of the other liberal outlets bothered to act like journalists instead of the PR arms of Democratic and anti-Trump outfits, they would have quickly discovered evidence of a partisan bias underlying the letter calling for Barr’s resignation.

First, as The New York Times noted, “Protect Democracy, a nonprofit legal group, gathered the signatures from Justice Department alumni and said it would collect more.” Here’s what the Times and other outlets failed to report: Protect Democracy was founded in 2017 by Ian Bassin, who was the associate White House counsel for President Barack Obama from 2009-2011, and Justin Florence, who also served in the Office of the White House Counsel as a special assistant to the president and associate counsel of the president.

Bassin is also the president of the liberal American Constitution Society and Florence had also served as a senior counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). Protect Democracy also boasts a Who’s Who of the Never Trump resistance as advisors, such as failed presidential candidate Evan McMullin and running mate Mindy Finn.

The media also missed the reality that this latest attack on Barr (and in turn Trump) is nothing but a recycling of Protect Democracy’s earlier outrage over the Robert Mueller report. Shortly after the special counsel’s report issued, the same outfit ran the same “we are former federal prosecutors” who “served under both Republican and Democratic administrations” schtick to argue that Trump should have been charged with multiple felonies for obstruction of justice. As the following snippet shows, the signatories, for the most part, overlapped as well … They spun themselves as apolitical, by stressing they worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations, but a quick visit to the Federal Elections Commission website to search for political contributions, aided by some amazing crowdsourcing, revealed extensive contributions to Democrats and liberal organizations by many of the signatories—so many, in fact, I called off the troops.

There’s more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

Hello, retired DOJ astroturf!  The entire letter – its genesis, allegations, and the relentless publicity accorded to it – is yet another example of how the mainstream news media are, for the most part, unalterably biased against President Trump, and have abandoned fact and fairness in their pursuit of removing him from office.  He’s right to call them “fake news”.  That’s exactly what most of them are.  Even worse, they’re deliberately lying to the American people, seeking to mislead them about the facts.  As Glenn Reynolds has often observed, “Think of journalists as Democratic operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.”

The second incident concerns the Sony World Photography Awards.  (A tip o’ the hat to Cedar Sanderson for bringing this to my attention.)  It seems they’re all about the art and science of photography . . . unless the subject is too sensitive, politically speaking.

Contest organisers, the World Photography Organisation (WPO), removed shots from Hong Kong photographer Ko Chung-ming’s series titled Wounds of Hong Kong. The collection, which features ten images that highlighted the injuries and scars people had sustained from the city’s pro-democracy protests, was one of the finalists in the Documentary category … Ko first discovered the link to his collection was broken last Friday. He told HKFP that he thought the website had been attacked, but later discovered two other shortlisted series related to the anti-extradition law protests had been removed as well.

. . .

In an initial reply to Ko’s inquiry, the WPO said his series was taken down temporarily because there had been concerns about the “sensitive nature” of  some of his images … But the WPO said the list of finalists had not changed, and the contest result will be announced on April 17.

“I don’t know who’s complaining and what their concerns are. But why should any ‘concerns’ not be addressed by the judges at the judging phase?” asked Ko in a response to HKFP.

. . .

News of the collection’s removal spread quickly online. Some netizens left words of encouragement on the photographer’s Facebook page, while others criticised the organiser’s move as damaging.

“Photos taken during a war right in the war zone have won numerous awards, but I’ve never seen any of those labelled ‘sensitive nature’. Anyway, thank you so much for your effort and your truthful recording,” one commenter wrote.

“This is ridiculous, [and causes] damage to the freedom of expression,” another commenter wrote.

Again, more at the link.

If images are considered to be of sufficiently high quality as to be accepted for a top-flight photography competition like the Sony World Photography Awards, what possible grounds could there be for preventing the public from seeing them?  Of course this is censorship!  There’s no other word for it.  What’s more, the pressure to censor didn’t have to be overt.  I’m willing to bet that a conversation (or two, or three) between Sony’s top management and Chinese government officials went something like, “Just how many Sony products do you expect to sell in China next year?”  Money talks, and a nod’s as good as a wink, after all.  A conversation may not even have been necessary.  The directors of Sony aren’t stupid.  They don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

So, there you have it.  In the first incident, important facts were conveniently left out, completely altering the impression left with readers.  In the second incident, images were censored, leading to automatic disadvantage for the photographers concerned and a viewing public left in ignorance of the full slate of competitors.  In both cases, follow the money to find out the real reason for the issue.

Some of my readers may ask, “Why bother telling us what we already knew?”  The reason is simple.  It’s too easy to become accustomed to such censorship and half-baked news.  We can very quickly lose sight of the reality that what we see and hear is being manipulated by powerful interests, all day, every day.  If we want to make clear-headed, correct decisions, we need to be informed about as many such incidents as possible.

Robert Heinlein put it well in the “Notebooks of Lazarus Long” from his 1973 novel “Time Enough for Love“:

What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!

We are betrayed by anyone – individual, organization or nation – that tries to present opinion and innuendo as fact, and/or tries to prevent us from knowing and/or understanding the reality that affect our daily lives.



  1. As for the letter demanding the resignation of AG Barr, all the names in the letter should be permanently blacklisted from government service. If you cannot keep your political bias from interfering with your duty to your profession then you do not deserve that profession.

  2. I had a friend wonder if the Democrats controlled the media, or if the media controlled the Democrats. I told him – they're all the same people, each group reinforcing the other.

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