“The problem is that people around the country don’t know it’s an act.”

Steve Watson | – APRIL 25, 2018

Fake news reporter Jim Acosta complained Tuesday that President Trump’s consistent slamming of the media and ridiculing networks such as CNN as ‘fake news’ will lead to a reporter being attacked by Trump supporters.

Speaking with Variety along with reporters April Ryan and Ashley Parker of The Washington Post, Acosta suggested that Trump’s rhetoric will lead people to commit acts of violence against journalists.

“The problem is that people around the country don’t know it’s an act.” Acosta said, implying that Trump is disingenuous in his tirades against the media.

“They take what he says very seriously,” Acosta continued.

“They take attacks from Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders and what they do to us on a daily basis very seriously,” he added.

Acosta further suggested that Trump supporters are mentally unhinged.

“They don’t have all their faculties in some cases. Their elevator may not hit all floors,” he exclaimed.

“My concern is that a journalist is going to be hurt one of these days. Somebody’s going to get hurt,” Acosta added.

Related: Associated Press Suggests Criticizing Journalists is “Hate Speech”

“And at that point, the White House, the President of the United States, they’re going to have take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whether or not they played a role in this, whether they created this toxic environment that resulted in a journalist getting hurt.” Acosta urged

The reporter has clashed with Trump a number of times, including most notably when Trump said “You are fake news,” to his face during a press briefing last year, and told Acosta that “Your organization is terrible,” referring to CNN.

Acosta has become increasingly hostile in his line of questioning, and has claimed that he is not being given the freedom to ask questions.

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During the Variety interview, April Ryan chimed in to claim that she doesn’t “travel as much as I used to” for fear of being attacked by supporters of Trump, who she says is guilty of “throwing gasoline on the fire”.

Elsewhere during the interview, April Ryan stated that “fake news” isn’t “a cute little statement” but rather “has tentacles that it’s reaching overseas” that “can really destabilize democracies.”

She also charged that Trump has violated his Oath of Office by not supporting the media, claiming that reporters like herself and Acosta are “pillars of this nation”.

“He’s really being a hypocrite when he’s calling us “fake news” and saying — and it’s undermining us and we are a part of the pillars of this nation, the Founding Fathers. They didn’t know that there was going to be Twitter. They didn’t know there was going to be Ashley, they didn’t know there was going to be a Jim, they definitely didn’t know there was going to be an April asking questions of Presidents, but when we stand on what they laid for us and we — and the First Amendment is still strong — freedom of press and the President is going totally against that.” Ryan stated.

The part she left out was that the First Amendment also gives Americans the right to criticize the press.

MSNBC Russiagater Joy Reid says ‘hackers’ made her blog look homophobic

MSNBC’s JOY REID interacts with the students surrounding the stage at Washington University, site of the second presidential debate between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. © Brian Cahn / Global Look Press

MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid claims her old blog has been hacked and updated to include anti-gay content to make her look bad.

The weekend host apologized last year for a number of homophobic blog posts she wrote from 2007 to 2009 about Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who was married to a woman at the time. Among other homophobic comments, Reid called Crist“Miss Charlie” and suggested he was “ogling male waiters” on his honeymoon.

But this week the story became more sinister. The Twitter user who initially discovered Reid’s homophobic postings has now unearthed some articles which also appear to have come from her old blog, and sound far worse.


Jamie Maz found the old articles through the Wayback Machine — an online archive that stores old content even after it has been deleted — of Reid’s blog as it had been.

Mediaite has reported some of the highlights, including comments about how “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing” and about how finding gay sex “gross” is just “intrinsic” to being straight.

The author of the posts also suggested that anti-gay attitudes were rooted in “concerns” that adult gay men “tend to be attracted to very young, post-pubescent types.”

There has been no apology from Reid this time, however. Instead, she claims her now-deleted blog was somehow hacked through the Wayback Machine, supposedly by people who want to ruin her stellar reputation.

Anumber of experts consulted by the Intercept website said that, although it is not impossible, they were unaware of any instances of the Wayback Machine being hacked and altered before — and that to do something like that would require quite a sophisticated effort.



“That’s an awful lot of work for a hacker to do, and for what end? To make a homophobic person appear MORE homophobic?” cyber-security expert Jeffrey Carr said.

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald has chastised the liberal media for failing to cover the story, given the important issues at hand – including LGBT equality, the security of online information and the dangers posed by hackers.

“One would think that [the liberal media] would be quite interested in this story and the critical questions it raises,” he wrote. Instead, he added, liberal outlets have “steadfastly ignored the story almost completely.”


One of the few liberal journalists who has commented on the story defended Reid by suggesting that “Russians” hacked her old blog to make her look bad.

Come on, you knew it was going to be the Russians.


Twitter bots are bad…unless they’re pushing the ‘right’ narrative?

See the source image

In what should be a source of embarrassment to the British government and the journalists who parroted it, a number of prominent Twitter users have recently been accused of being automated Russian bots rather than real humans.

Two of these government-identified “bots” are the accounts @Ian56789 and @Partisangirl — and they are in fact definitely not bots, but real live people. In the case of @Partisangirl, whose real name is Maram Susli, any three-year old could have figured out that she is a real person simply by viewing the multiple videos and interviews she has posted online in recent years.

But Guardian journalist Heather Stewart didn’t do that. Instead she unquestioningly reported the ‘news’ that Susli is a bot.


Challenged on Twitter, all Stewart could say in her defense was that it was the government’s analysis, not her own. Given that the government’s ‘analysis’ is very clearly completely wrong, one would think that Stewart might want to correct her story to reflect that fact, but she has not bothered to do so.

READ MORE: ‘I’ve seen the censorship’: Syrian blogger tells RT how she was labeled a ‘Russian bot’ (VIDEO)

The other user accused of being a bot by the British government, @Ian56789, whose real name is Ian Shilling, has given an interview to Sky News, which also makes abundantly clear that he is a human, not a Russian bot. Stewart has not updated her story to include that information either — and both Susli and Shilling are still identified only as “bots” in her story.

Attacks on @Partisangirl are not new. For years, she has fought off allegations from prominent Western analysts that she is not real, or that if she is, she has had plastic surgery. In 2014, Susli tried to prove she had not had cosmetic surgery by posting a photograph of herself as a child. Responding to the photo of the very young Susli, senior editor at the Daily Beast and CNN analyst Michael Weiss said it looked like her parents raised her as a “streetwalker”.


In 2013, Phillip Smyth, who is a ‘Soref Fellow’ at the Washington Institute —   a D.C.-based think tank which focuses on foreign policy analysis — attacked Susli for her looks, twice accusing her of having plastic surgery. In one tweet, Smyth said the “plastic surgery guy” who “fixed her up” didn’t do a good jo b. Ironically, some time after Smyth posted an article about how men who abuse women online are “literally losers”.


This wouldn’t be the first time Western news outlets and analysts have falsely accused Twitter users of being bots in the employ of the Russian government, either. Last year, the crowdfunded website Byline published “analysis” suggesting that the account @didgery77332nd, which used the nickname “Smoo” was a “foreign-based troll pushing Russian messaging.”

That Russian “troll” turned out to be a security guard from Glasgow. “Smoo has been my nickname since I was six years old. It’s not difficult to track me down. People might not agree with my opinions, but that doesn’t make me a Russian troll,” he told The Scotsman newspaper.

Another Twitter user in the firing line for her “pro-Russia” views is @sahouraxo which uses the name Sarah Abdallah. It is true that little is known about Abdallah outside of her very popular Twitter account, but that does not necessarily mean she is a bot. Although without more information to go on, it’s impossible to say she is who she says she is, either. The BBC has questioned Abdallah’s authenticity and highlighted her as one of the most influential Twitter accounts on the Syrian war.

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian Brian Whitaker has recently attempted to expose Abdallah and her possible “connections” to Hezbollah. But perhaps he is just trying to make up for past mistakes.

In 2011, Whitaker was quick to promote the ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ blog.


The blog was ostensibly run by a Syrian girl named Amina Arraf who documented her struggles as a gay person in Syria. At one point, ‘Amina’ was even kidnaped by Syrian security forces, worrying gay rights activists everywhere. Whitaker and many others were tricked into believing Amina was a real person. In reality, it turned out that she was an entirely fakepersona and ‘her’ blog was run by a 40 year-old straight man from Edinburgh named Tom MacMaster.

When McMaster was found out, the Guardian wrote that the hoax “exposes the power and the unreliability of the internet” — and yet seven years later, the mainstream media spends more of its time attacking real bloggers than it does trying to expose the real “unreliability” of the internet.

For instance, mainstream outlets are happy to parrot blogger Eliot Higgins who publishes ‘analysis’ on chemical weapons attacks in Syria from the comfort of his home in England. Higgins produces “evidence” of war crimes from his couch and is held up as a hero by Western pundits and activists.

Similarly, activists from the pro-regime change White Helmets ‘rescue organization’ are always just around the corner when they need to film the aftermath of a chemical attack and lobby for regime change in front of Western audiences. The group, which is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary and proclaims itself to be “neutral” and impartial, has been exposed by investigative journalists for its links to Jabhat al-Nusra — Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate.

Members of the White Helmets have been filmed assisting in public executions, helping militants discard the bodies of Syrian soldiers in dumpsters, posing while standing on top of piles of dead bodies and waving Jabhat al-Nusra’s flag while brandishing weapons.

But Susli, an Australia-based Syrian girl with a large Twitter following is the real threat?

Facebook says it tracks non-users but doesn’t ‘sell people’s data’


If you have logged out of your Facebook account – or have never even had one – the US social network giant is still keeping close tabs on you, tracking every virtual move, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

David Baser, the company’s product management director, admitted in a recent blog post that Facebook receives data about visitors to any websites that use the so-called “social plugins,” such as “Like” and “Share” buttons.

“When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you’re logged out or don’t have a Facebook account,” Baser said in the blogpost on Monday. He rushed to emphasize, however, that this is how the modern internet works and that all companies, including Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn operate in a similar way, while Google has a popular analytics service. Besides, Amazon, Google and Twitter all offer plugin features and thus collect user information, he noted.

“These companies — and many others — also offer advertising services. In fact, most websites and apps send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them.”

Facebook collects user and non-user internet protocol (IP) addresses, as well as information about the browser and the operating system they are using. The company also tracks the “identifiers that websites use to know if you’ve visited before,”commonly known as cookies.

“I want to be clear: We don’t sell people’s data,” Baser stressed. The company insists there are only “three main ways” in which Facebook uses the information it gets from other websites and apps: “providing our services to these sites or apps; improving safety and security on Facebook; and enhancing our own products and services.”

Privacy concerns have plagued Facebook after it acknowledged last month that information about millions of users was shared with consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Grilled by US lawmakers for almost five hours on Wednesday, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook collects “data on people who are not signed up for Facebook,”adding that this is done “for security purposes” only.

“You’ve said everyone controls their data, but you’re collecting data on people that are not even Facebook users who have never signed a consent, a privacy agreement,” Zuckerberg’s questioner, Representative Ben Lujan, a New Mexico Democrat, hit back, notingthat the practice creates “shadow profiles.”

Zuckerberg maintained, however, that Facebook does not sell anyone’s data and that users can control who has access to whatever they share via “inline” settings. Facebook is not listening in on users, he noted, after Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana) presented him with several personal anecdotes suggesting otherwise.

“Facebook doesn’t do this, and I’m not familiar with companies that do either,” Zuckerberg said“We’re not collecting any information verbally,” and “don’t have anything that’s trying to listen to what’s going on in the background.”

And yet, critics argue that Zuckerberg has not said enough about the extent of data gathering and its use. “It’s not clear what Facebook is doing with that information,” said Chris Calabrese, vice president for policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a Washington advocacy group.

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(THIS IS WHY THEY WANT OUR GUNS AMERICA) – Former Supreme Court justice calls for REPEALING the 2nd amendment and liberals are loving it…


Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (a ‘Republican’) penned an article this morning in the NY Times that encourages students to argue for repealing the 2nd amendment. And, as you might expect, it’s trending on Twitter near the top.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the article:

Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.

That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Ironically Stevens is making the Right’s argument for us. He’s advocating exactly what groups on the Right have been saying for years that the Left really wants to do, no matter how many times they deny it: They want to take away our guns.

And as I said, liberals are loving it:


That’s an amazing tweet by this MSNBC host. Instead of deriding Stevens article against the need for ‘sensible discussion on guns’, she derides the ‘hysterics’ that will be made because of this article. Perhaps there will be hysterics because the article itself is hysterical!

Here’s a few more:


And the list goes on and on and on. And just fyi, the tweets I provided above are mainly from verified users who are in some cases part of media or political organizations.

As an aside, Stevens isn’t the first ‘Republican’ to push this nonsense. Bret Stephens, who used to work for the WSJ, has been pushing it as well in the NY Times:



The Cambridge Analytica saga is a scandal of Facebook’s own making


This mess was inevitable. Facebook has worked tirelessly to gather as much data on users as it could – and to profit from it

By John Harris

Big corporate scandals tend not to come completely out of the blue. As with politicians, accident-prone companies rarely become that way by accident, and a spectacular crisis can often arrive at the end of a long spell of bad decisions and confidence curdling into hubris. So it is with the tale of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and a saga that vividly highlights the awful mess that the biggest player in billions of online lives has turned into.

Four days after a story pursued for over a year by my brilliant Observer colleague Carole Cadwalladr burst open, its plot now feels very familiar: in early 2014, 270,000 people did an online “personality test” that appears to have resulted in information about 50 million of their Facebook friends being passed to the nasty and amoral men featured in Channel 4’s secret filming, which would be in contravention of Facebook’s rules about data being used by third parties for commercial purposes. In the second act, Facebook failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the data in question. On Tuesday, as Facebook’s value continued to slide, the plot thickened, with the re-appearance of a whistleblower named Sandy Parakilas, who claimed that hundreds of millionsmore people were likely to have had similar information harvested by outside companies, and that while he was working for the company between 2011 and 2012, Facebook’s systems for monitoring how such information was used often seemed to barely exist.

Even if Facebook has since changed its rules to stop third-party apps gaining access to data from people’s friends, all this still goes back to something that remains absolutely fundamental to the company. A lot of its users know, and yet constantly choose to forget: beneath all the bromides about “bringing the world closer together” gushed out by its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the joy of posting your holiday pictures, Facebook’s employees tirelessly work to amass as much data as they can about users and their online friends and make vast amounts of money by facilitating micro-targeting by advertisers. (This has had nasty aspects beyond political messaging: it was only last year, for example, that Facebook decisively stopped housing advertisers excluding certain ethnic groups, and disabled people).

If you use its services as their creators intend and cough out the small details of your life on a daily – or even hourly – basis, Facebook will know all about your family, friends, education, politics, travel habits, taste in clothes, connected devices, and scores of things besides. Its eyes can extend just about everywhere online: to quote from its privacy policy, “We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature … sometimes through cookies.” And though third-party apps can be restricted from scooping up personal information, we all know what tends to deliver their makers what they want: the fact that most people have no idea how to restrict access to their data, and are subtly enticed to ignore such things.

All this stuff defines Facebook’s raison d’etre. Indeed, hinting at its drive for omniscience, Zuckerberg once habitually talked about what Facebook insiders called radical transparency, an idea that partly amounted to an insistence that old ideas about privacy were becoming outmoded. Facebook was leading the way, and this was nothing but a good thing.

“To get people to the point where there’s more openness – that’s a big challenge,” Zuckerberg said. “But I think we’ll do it. I just think it will take time. The concept that the world will be better if you share more is something that’s pretty foreign to a lot of people, and it runs into all these privacy concerns.” (You could write a doctoral thesis about those words: the professed belief in improving the lot of humanity sounding distinctly like window-dressing for the company’s pursuit of endlessly increasing revenues; the seeming impatience summed up in the words “all these privacy concerns”.) In retrospect, talking like that, and encouraging your people to think of a lot of worries about personal confidentiality as increasingly the stuff of the past, was always going to invite disaster.

Facebook’s latest bout of anxiety and what some people call “reputational damage” now dates back at least 18 months. By the end of the US presidential election campaign, its algorithms had ensured that the top fake stories in people’s news feeds were generating more engagement than the most popular real ones. Zuckerberg initially described the claim that Facebook had been instrumental in the victory of Donald Trump as a “pretty crazy idea”, only to recant. Having been scared by Twitter and enthusiastically pushing the idea that Facebook could be a news platform, he then ran in the opposite direction, insisting that its job was to allow people to share “personal moments”. At times, he looks like someone who cannot keep up even with himself.

Facebook sometimes behaves like a government – sending in “auditors” to examine material at the London offices of Cambridge Analytica while the UK information commissioner’s investigators waited for legal permission to do the same thing, and reportedly demanding access to the whistleblower Christopher Wylie’s phone and computer. But at the same time, its bosses defy the most basic expectations of corporate governance. Like Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, Zuckerberg is still nowhere to be seen: a statement issued on Tuesday said he and Sandberg were “working around the clock to get all the facts and take the appropriate action moving forward”, and that “the entire company is outraged we were deceived”, which is most of the way to being laughable. Were it not for his $70bn fortune, he would arguably inspire pity, rather than anger: it looks like he is in way over his head.

Even if the majority of Facebook users still seem content to give it the data it constantly devours, over the past two or three years, a rising chorus of voices has demanded that governments and legislators bring the company to heel. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation represents a step in the right direction; as does the fact that the Cambridge Analytica scandal is being looked into by the US federal trade commission. The work being done by the Tory MP Damian Collins as the chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee is great to see. But even at their most potent, these efforts do not get near questions centred on Facebook’s sheer size, and the possibility of anti-monopoly action that would have to originate on the company’s home turf.

In the US, anti-trust actions only succeed if a supposedly monopolistic company can be found to have affected consumers’ wellbeing in terms of the quality of products and services they can access, the levels of innovation in a given economic sector, and in particular, the prices people have to pay. The fact that Facebook would probably slip free of such criteria surely suggests that the rules are unfit for the online age, and that a different set of considerations ought be introduced, perhaps built around the power a company wields, relative to its collective competence. In those terms, Zuckerberg and his colleagues are guilty of an epic fail, and everything that now happens to them should follow from it.

 John Harris is a Guardian columnist

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