Thursday, July 02, 2020

What Pundits Get Wrong About the Facebook Ad Boycott


“Yes, but …”

That’s the opening refrain of many media pundits when asked to comment on the phenomenal success of the #StopHateForProfit boycott, which now counts more than 750 companies pausing their Facebook advertising in July to protest the spread of racism on the platform.

Yes, but the monthly advertising budget of these companies is only a sliver of the ad revenues Facebook takes in each year.

Yes, but Facebook’s stock price, which dropped some eight percent at the outset of the campaign, will rebound soon.

Yes, but this is only a temporary public-relations stunt; these companies will return to advertising on Facebook as usual.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Hoboken Bricks and Mortar


Many of you have heard about a demonstration planned for Friday in Hoboken. You may have also seen some of the disinformation and fear-mongering on social media regarding this event. Today, I did something about that.

But first some background.

One of the most common online memes during the nationwide protests is the mysterious bricks conspiracy. It’s not just being repeated by random trolls and bots but has captured the social media accounts of the Trump White House, too.

It goes something like this: “Professional anarchists” are leaving pallets of bricks and stones at demonstration sites. The purpose is to incite protesters to wreak havoc, hurling the projectiles at police and breaking the windows of nearby businesses.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Democracy's Frontline Workers

Early last month, Amy Brothers was busy at The Denver Post covering the most significant news event of her career: the fallout across Colorado from the rapid spread of COVID-19.

But on April 17, without warning, the Post let the video journalist go. She was laid off with 12 other newsroom colleagues in response to the plummeting ad spending that has struck local-news operations across the country.

"I really loved my job," Brothers tweeted later that day. "Going out into our community and telling your stories, on your best days and your hardest always inspired me." Brothers later told me that her workload had increased significantly during the crisis: "I want to keep telling these stories, but I'm also tired. I was working really hard before I was laid off."

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The FCC’s First Amendment Pretenders

Donald Trump’s latest assault on the media’s free-speech rights comes in the form of a defamation lawsuit against a Wisconsin television station that ran liberal political ads that the president’s campaign didn’t like.

A Trump campaign spokesperson said they had “no other option than to use the force of law” to stop WJFW Channel-12 from airing the ads.
Donald Trump’s latest assault on the media’s free-speech rights comes in the form of a

But don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr to intervene on behalf of this local broadcaster’s rights.

It wouldn’t be the first time these Trump appointees have ducked their duty to defend the First Amendment against Trump’s unceasing attacks on the press.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Trump, the Airwaves, and the Broadcast-Hoax Rule

As COVID-19 spreads from city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood and house to house, misinformation is being spread over the public airwaves by syndicated right-wing personalities and the media conglomerates that air their programs.

In many cases, radio and TV hosts like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh are simply following President Trump’s lead as he convenes daily press briefings to boast about his supposed expertise, attack those he sees as political foes, demean the press corps, blame the disease’s spread on immigrants and foreigners, and make false claims about the federal response to the global pandemic.