December 13, 2016

OK folks, time to kick it up a notch. The news seems to be getting more intense as the week progresses. Below are some important news items as well as some actions. If you haven’t reached out to the electoral college yet, in a kind, but heartfelt way, that is honestly the most important thing you can do. Go back to earlier posts for the contact info for each member of the Electoral College. 

Actions:

Tell your senators to oppose Pruitt as the EPA head. And while youa re at it, tell them to oppose Tillerson as the Secretary of State.

Defend the First Amendment.

With just six days until the Electors choose our President, it’s crucial that everyone who signed this petition takes action every day to STOP TRUMP. Today, we’re calling on Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to provide intelligence briefings to the Electors.
Call Director Clapper at (703) 733-8600. You may have to wait on hold for a minute.
“Trump’s ties to Russia and Russia’s meddling in the election are urgent national security issues. Please ask Director Clapper to brief the Electors so that they can fulfill their Constitutional duty to investigate and deliberate.”

Californians: https://act.credoaction.com/sign/ca_immigration?t=2&akid=20821.6549122.TF8s4_

Must Reads:

Some “good news” from the Energy Department.

http://qz.com/846940/a-yale-history-professors-20-point-guide-to-defending-democracy-under-a-trump-presidency/

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-putin-and-exxonmobil-team-up-to-destroy-the-planet-fb88650acfa1#.aru32l9ij

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/08/exxon-climate-change-1981-climate-denier-funding

A great essay by Coates on Obama.

http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/guide-donald-trump-debt

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/trump-revokes-post-press-credentials-calling-the-paper-dishonest-and-phony/2016/06/13/f9a61a72-31aa-11e6-95c0-2a6873031302_story.html?utm_term=.f813015eef50

http://wisconsingazette.com/2016/12/13/monitoring-equipment-failed-to-detect-north-dakota-pipeline-spill/

From Vanessa Otero on Facebook:

“We are living in a time where we have more information available to each of us than ever before in history. However, we are not all proficient at distinguishing between good information and bad information. This is true for liberal, moderate, and conservative people. I submit that these two circumstances are highly related to why our country is so politically polarized at the moment.

Why is it that I can have such different views on the same subject or topic as someone else who lives in the same country? Take the polarizing example of people’s opinions on Hillary. Why do I think she is qualified and inspiring but others think she is literally evil incarnate? I don’t know her personally. And neither do you. We must both admit that our opinions of her are informed by the news sources we read and believe. And news sources vary widely in what they report.

Which news sources should we believe, when there are so many to choose from, and each one is telling you not to believe another one? I put together this chart of which news sources I think you should use and which ones you should not. If you value my opinion as someone who both is reasonable and well-informed, you may find it helpful. If you don’t really care what I think, it will be useless to you. These are my subjective opinions based on having read many news stories from each of the listed sites. The only credibility or authority I can claim in this regard is that I read and write analytically for a living.

Before you look at the chart, I’d like to address the fact that many people object to media sources on the basis that they are “mainstream.” They say “I don’t believe the mainstream media! They are owned by big corporations and do things for money!” But where did they get that idea? From another media source. Remember that each media source has their own incentives (like monetary ones) to get people to listen to them and not to someone else. You have to evaluate media based on something other than the fact that one source told you not to listen to another source.

Remember that journalism is a professional and academic field with a set of agreed-upon standards. People get degrees in it and people who are really good at it get jobs in it at good organizations. Peer review helps ensure mainstream sources adhere to standards; if a story doesn’t meet those standards, other news outlets report on that. Not believing the mainstream media just because it is mainstream is like not believing a mainstream doctor or a mainstream lawyer. Sure, you should question and rate the quality of what the newspaper, doctor, or lawyer says, but you shouldn’t dismiss them out of hand because the paper is big, the doctor works at a hospital, or the lawyer works at a firm.

The chart is pretty self-explanatory. Here are some caveats and reasons for my rankings:

-I am operating out of the assumption that the less blatantly partisan the source is, the more accurate it is.
-I understand that individual reporters, even at the most reputable news sources, have their own personal biases and opinions. The rankings are an overall ranking of each site.
-The “great news sources” are not necessarily ranked in order in comparison to each other one in the same circle. There is just not enough room. Their quality differs very slightly compared to others not in the category at all.
-News sources not on there are omitted solely because of space considerations. There are, after all, so very many sources. I’d be happy to provide my opinion on placement for a particular source if you ask.
-“Sensational” means the article have titles like “So and so DESTROYS so and so with THIS response!”
-“Clickbait” means the articles have titles like “She walked into a meeting. What happened next will shock you!”
-“Conspiracy theories” means shit that is just made up. Like National Enquirer type stories.
-Satire is not included. Those would be completely outside the chart.
-No distinction is made between original news sources and “aggregators” here–that is another important discussion to be had, though.
-I’m sure this will offend some people that typically agree with me politically. Sorry.”

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