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Essential Reading

Sign of the times

trump arabic signIn the third and last presidential debate Donald Trump asserted that US election laws are being violated left and right, a claim for which he has been near-universally criticised. What he might better have said is that US election laws are a farce -- and he could have pointed to the sign pictured atop this post as his proof.

The billboard, erected by a Chicago political action lobby group that goes by the unlikely name of the Nuisance Committee, purports in its official filings to be "non-aligned". Directed at Arabic speakers in Dearborn, Michigan, the translation reads:

"Donald Trump, he can't read this, but he is afraid of it."

Clearly intended to deliver an anti-Trump message to Dearborn's large Middle Eastern population it is, however, entirely within the law. As the Nuisance Committee's most recent filing with the Federal Election Committee states

"This committee will not use those [raised] funds to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind or via coordinated communications to federal candidates or committees."

Technically speaking, it has honoured that pledge by not explicitly urging Dearborn's Arabs to vote for Hillary Clinton, yet that message comes through loud and clear. It was certainly not lost on the NBC television network, which bannered its story about the billboard beneath the headline

"Anti-Trump Billboard in Michigan Taunts Candidate -- in Arabic"

That story can be read in full via the link below. Nowhere in it will you find the thought that a "non-aligned" PAC's money is very much aligned with the cause of Trump's opponent.

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The worst of Times

NYTSherlock Holmes knew the significance of dogs that don't bark -- a skill that would have seen him spot in an instant what is so wrong with the New York Times "fact check" of the candidates' claims, counterclaims and tossed-off assertions during yesterday's third presidential debate. As an example of an event viewed through the distorting prism of partisanship it is hard to beat. Consider the very first entry:

Mr. Trump said that health insurance premiums were “going up 60, 70, 80 percent,” and “next year, they’re going to go up over 100 percent.”

This was rated "overstated", yet the Times' explanation actually agrees with Trump's appraisal (emphasis added):

"Increases of 25 percent to 45 percent or more have been approved in some states. But increases of 80 percent or more are rare."

Rare they may be, but evidently they do happen. So Trump was correct. More than that, the Times' "fact check" supports his contention that Obamacare is a disaster, yet makes no comment on increased premiums of between "25 percent to 45 percent". Should Times reporters be afflicted with salary reductions of that size, one can imagine annoyance in the newsroom being widespread.

How could this be? How is it that a news organisation which purports to be America's journal of record gets it so wrong?

Well, part of the explanation resides in the Times' opinion of itself, best summed up by a former editor who arrogantly quipped that "it hasn't happened until the Times reports it." So, if Hillary lies and the Times looks the other way, she's blameless. If an upstart news organisation gets the wood on dirty tricks, as Steve Kates notes, those revelations won't count for a hill of beans when the Times ignores them.

And there is one other factor to explain such selective blindness --  a factor the Times itself touched upon in a recent profile of Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser and a lead architect of much of Obama's foreign policy. Here it is:

"The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

For what it is worth, the Times' fact-checking can be read via the link below. Oh, and do notice the biggest dog that didn't bark: no examination of Trump's assertion that Mrs Clinton's operatives and Democrat associates are in the business of voter fraud, ballot-stuffing and making sure the dead vote early and often. It didn't bark because the Times declined to let that matter out of its kennel in the first place.

-- roger franklin

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