Tag Archives: journalism

An Op-Ed the New York Times Refuses to Publish: Wolfgang Halbig’s Quest For the Truth

By Alison Maynard

TO:  opinion@newyorktimes.com

(Sent April 7, 2019)

[Editor’s Note: The author concedes that the New York Times typically does not publish pieces in direct in response to, or complaining about, reports which appear in the paper. Still, a perspective defending school safety expert Wolfgang Halbig’s credibility has yet to appear in the Times, or for that matter any other news outlet reporting on the legal actions brought by Sandy Hook parents. Nor have such outlets honestly covered any of the ensuing controversy leading up to these most recent activities. Such one-sidedness more than suggests the increasingly propaganda-like nature of such news media’s “reportage” and commentary.]

Wolfgang Halbig’s Quest for the Truth

The article by Elizabeth Williamson published in the New York Timeson March 29, 2019 (“How Alex Jones and Infowars helped a Florida man torment Sandy Hook families”), is so monstrously full of misinformation—and disinformation–that it deserves a response.

The “Florida man” is Wolfgang Halbig, a 71-year-old school security expert and former state trooper.  Mr. Halbig has been dogged—and uncompromisingly ethical—in his search for the truth about the so-called Sandy Hook shooting, a search prompted initially by horror, giving way to astonishment and disbelief at glaring inconsistencies and falsehoods in the reportage.

At no time has Halbig “harassed,” “hounded,” “pursued,” or “tormented” Sandy Hook families.  He has focused, instead, on obtaining public records from state, federal, and local agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Newtown Police Department; Newtown Public Schools; and Connecticut State Police. Most of these agencies provided no records whatsoeverin response to Wolf’s Freedom of Information requests, despite legal mandates.

For example, Wolf has tried, in vain, to obtain the log created pursuant to a sign that said “Everyone Must Check In” which shows up in photos of the fire station taken Dec. 14, 2012, as well as the transmission log of “Trooper 1,” the state police helicopter in the air that day, purporting to track a suspect in the woods.  Halbig has been denied these indisputably public records.  He subpoenaed witnesses who had presumptive knowledge of conditions at the school for his FOIA hearings, but Newtown’s attorney Monte Frank improperly told them to ignore the subpoenas, and Wolf was provided no relief for this misconduct.  The police at last gave Wolf “dash cam videos” he had requested, which are not, in fact, dash cam videos, since they do not show the hood of the car.  They also show different scenes putatively taken from the same location at the same time, so were clearly faked.

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Alex Jones Media Circus Continues

News Media Carefully Exclude Mention of TracyvFAU

US corporate news media have provided inordinate coverage highlighting specific outtakes of the recent AlexJones deposition in Texas state court. It is perhaps notable how throughout its hullabaloo coverage of the Jones trial same news media have carefully excluded any mention of Professor James Tracy’s pending action against Florida Atlantic University, an arguably more significant free speech case now before the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

As some may recall, this appeal followed an eleven day trial in December 2017 before Obama-appointed US District Judge Robin Rosenberg, whose numerous pre and in-trial motions grossly favored the FAU defendants by stripping Tracy of his right to assert First Amendment claims and keeping vital evidence from the jury.

Despite wall-to-wall, front page trial coverage by the The Palm Beach Post and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the event was almost completely blacked out by national news media–the same media that widely broadcast the case’s commencement in April 2016 and the circus-like antics of Jones’ deposition.* In fact, the Sun Sentinel has yet to even report to its readership the fact that the case has been appealed.

Tracy’s attorneys are still awaiting the court’ decision on the their request to present oral argument before a panel of three appellate judges hearing the case. FAU has argued against the court entertaining oral argument.


*In any self-respecting court proceeding, why is the Jones deposition being so selectively broadcast in the first place. It may well be to try the defendant in the court of public opinion, before his case can reach a jury.

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The FAU Press Advisor Who Came to Dinner

Some Reflections on the Long Lost Chum I Barely Know

By James F. Tracy

I recently noted that an unknown party was linking somewhat inflammatory and misleading articles focusing on this author to my Facebook profile. After doing some modest investigation I came to find that the individual behind the posts was none other than Michael Koretzky, the self-appointed press advisor to FAU’s student newspaper, University Press (UP).

This was not the first time Mr. Koretzky’s blog posts came to our attention. In 2015 a colleague remarked that Koretzky was  attacking me on his various social media sites, sometimes camouflaging the diatribes under various nom de plumes. After being the focus of so many broadsides by major media outlets, however, I dismissed the commentaries out-of-hand as likely ill-informed, amateurish, perhaps even dishonest. Only time would prove me correct.

The Press Advisor Who Came to Dinner

A fitting narrative to describe Koretzky’s two-decade long affair with FAU is Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s 1939 Broadway play, The Man Who Came to Dinner. The story centers on an obnoxious showbiz personality invited to sup with a prominent midwestern family as a publicity stunt.

Upon his arrival he injures himself on the family’s icy front steps and insists on taking up residence in both their both home and lives to recuperate. As the story goes, the radio host never leaves, soon threatening the family with litigation for his fall, or should they dare seek an outright eviction. 

Promotional poster, 1942 film adaptation of The Man Who Came to Dinner

For two decades Koretzky has been the self-appointed press advisor to FAU’s UP,  run out of Florida Atlantic’s student union and funded by student government fees. A self-proclaimed proponent of the First Amendment and press freedom, Koretzky worked as a freelancer, founded a handful of publications, and presently operates a personal finance website, Debt.com. In 2004 Koretzky was accused by FAU’s student government of ethical violations stemming from his involvement with the UP, and fined several thousand dollars. 

Undeterred, he returned to the student paper shortly thereafter. An active member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Koretzky, 53, has become an undeniable presence in the national student press community, further honing his persona as news industry businessman masquerading in Che Guevara chic among student journalists.

From this perch he descends upon various college press conventions to fire off self-deprecating one liners while levying savage critiques of fledgling journalists and their newspapers, a practice comparable to shooting half-dead fish in a barrel. 

 

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JFK, Mass Media, and the Origins of ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Prefatory Note on Censorship in Academe

This study was written in 2013-14 as part of my academic research as Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. I have had numerous papers addressing news coverage of historical events published in academic journals over the past two decades. However, this was the first attempt to offer a scholarly treatment of a research object related to a conspiracy–how the news media “framed” New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s JFK assassination inquiry.

When I presented the paper at the Association For Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Montreal Conference in 2014 the panel respondent congratulated me on what he deemed to be a very well-researched and written manuscript. He further remarked that it was at most a draft or two away from submission for editorial review at a scholarly journal. I was also confident the study would eventually achieve publication. 

The paper was subsequently rejected by five journals out-of-hand. The editors refused to even send the paper out for review, which never occurred to me before. Notably, each editor provided a different reason for not wanting to give it further consideration. What is more, three of the venues had published my work in previous years. The paper nevertheless offers a timely contribution to understanding the historical origins of the term “conspiracy theory” and its development from perhaps the most momentous event in 20th century American politics.

This helped me to further realize how despite celebrated notions of unbridled inquiry and academic freedom, certain subjects so historically central to the nation’s history in fact remain taboo among academics–those entrusted by society to research such matters–vis-á-vis their counterparts in professional journalism, with both camps still proceeding in tacit agreement to police the boundaries of permissible discourse and thought. -JFT


Introduction

“It appears that certain elements of the mass media have an active interest in preventing this case from ever coming to trial at all and find it necessary to employ against me every smear device in the book.” –Jim Garrison (Playboy 1967)

The news media’s failure to interrogate and question the “the lone assassin” theory by the 1964 Presidents Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, otherwise known as the Warren Commission, should be recognized as one of the greatest episodes of journalistic misconduct in US history. The mass media have played a pivotal role in the coverup of the Kennedy (JFK) assassination that they unabashedly practice to this day. New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of the November 22, 1963 event was the first substantial challenge to the official narrative. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) countered Garrison’s efforts by calling upon its media assets to directly attack, defame, even sabotage the inquiry.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

From this episode the CIA developed one of its most potent psychological weapons against political dissent: the “conspiracy theory” label. Over its 50-year lifespan the label has time and again demonstrated its effectiveness in policing the public sphere by calling into question the credibility and even the sanity of journalists, academics, or any other public figure that dares question authorized myths for the masses.

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Truth Is Evaporating Before Our Eyes

Does anyone notice?

By Paul Craig Roberts

On September 17, I posted my column, “Evidence is no longer a Western value.” I used as an example the blame that has been put on Russia for the shot down Malaysian airliner. No evidence whatsoever exists for the accusation, and massive evidence has been presented that the airliner was shot down by the neonazis that seized power as a result of the Washington-organized coup in Ukraine.

Blame was fixed on Russia not by any evidence but by continuous evidence-free accusations that began the moment the airliner was shot down. Anyone who asked for evidence was treated as a “Putin apologist.” This took evidence out of the picture.

Wherever we look in these times, we see evidence-free accusations established as absolute facts: Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” “Iranian nukes,” “Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the Trump/Putin conspiracy that stole the 2016 US presidential election, Syrian use of poison gas. Not a scrap of evidence exists for any of these accusations, but the truth of the accusations is established in many minds worldwide.

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Bob Woodward: The Story He Won’t Tell

Editor’s Note: Tis the preseason of the 2018 midterms. This past week saw the release of Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House to much fanfare from the corporate “news” media. Unsurprisingly, Trump administration officials argued that Woodward’s work included made up quotes wrongly attributed to them.

Long ago Woodward and his Washington Post cohort Carl Bernstein’s “breaking” of Watergate reached mythic status in US journalism and political history. Yet myth is usually divorced from fact, and for a reason. When one of the principal figures in this storied saga has long-established ties to the political establishment and intelligence community, as the article below by investigative writer Russ Baker demonstrates, the myth is intended to reinforce a specific agenda, in this case the taken-for-granted suggestion that Woodward is a disinterested writer and the paragon of integrity. 

Is America’s favorite investigative reporter a government operative? Political commentator Russ Baker offers intriguing evidence!

By Russ Baker
(HUSTLER MAGAZINE July 2011)

Woodward at the LBJ Library in 2016. Image Credit: Wikipedia

In June 2009,Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward traveled to Afghanistan with General Jim Jones, then President Obama’s National Security Advisor, to meet with General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of forces there. Why did Jones allow this journalist to accompany him? Because he knew that Woodward could be counted on to deliver the company line—the military line. In fact, Jones was essentially Woodward’s patron.

The New Republic’s Gabriel Sherman pointed out that when Sally Quinn and Ben Bradlee hosted a 50th-birthday party for Woodward’s wife, reporter Elsa Walsh,“Jones was a guest of Woodward. ”According to Sherman, one attendee told him, “Woodward and Elsa were glued to Jones at the cocktail party before the dinner started.”

In September 2009, McChrystal (or someone close to him) leaked a document to Woodward that essentially forced Obama’s hand. The President wanted time to consider all options on what to do about Afghanistan. But the leak, publicizing the military’s “confidential” assertion that a troop increase was essential, cast the die, and Obama had to go along. Nobody was happier than the Pentagon—and, it should be said, its allies in the vast military-contracting establishment.

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National Public Radio Questions Mass Shooting Statistics

Calls Out US Department of Education

On a August 27th broadcast National Public Radio announced its finding that the US Department of Education’s most recent mass shooting figures at US public schools appear to be grossly inflated. This is especially significant since there are public misconceptions toward such events that stem in part from dubious statistics. These numbers are then often taken by gun control advocacy groups to mislead and frighten the public on the scope of the problem.

NPR reports:

How many times per year does a gun go off in an American school?

We should know. But we don’t.

This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The number is far higher than most other estimates.

But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.

“When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin, a researcher and program director at Child Trends.

The remainder of the story is available here.

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