Left Justified

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Fact-Checkers Want Facebook on Their Side

December 12, 2016 by Gail Nussbaum in Culture, News and Media

Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Facebook, USA, captured during the session ‘The Next Digital Experience’ at the Annual Meeting 2009 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 30, 2009. Courtesy of the World Economic Forum.

It has been a rough year for facts, as fake news has been spreading through the media with little restraint and serious consequences. Three of the largest fact-checking organizations, Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact; FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center; and Fact Checker, a Washington Post project, joined together and send a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook, asking him to do what he can to reign in and stop propagating false stories and fake news.

Right after election day the “Big Three” called on Zuckerberg to “start and open conversation on the principles that could underpin a more accurate news ecosystem on its News Feed.”

The fact checkers admit that the burden is too big for them to handle alone, especially now that Donald Trump, known for disseminating misinformation himself has won the election. Facebook was highly criticized during the election season and immediately following it for allowing some of the most egregious lies to circulate freely, giving legitimacy to such blatant falsehoods as: the endorsement of Trump by Pope Francis; the murder-suicide of an FBI agent who was investigating the Hillary Clinton email controversy; and more.

At first Zuckerberg laughed off the criticism, but later said that he would “take misinformation seriously.”

The fact checkers continuously pointed out the exaggerations and out and out lies circulating around the social media world, but their objections were often overrun by false headlines. They say that only Facebook has the reach and influence that can truly cripple the spread of fake news. The fact checkers would like to see Facebook take real action now, before the new president is inaugurated.

“Facebook has completely turbo-powered fake news sites,” says Alexios Mantzarlis, director and editor of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network. “But it’s also probably the first platform that could measure how these things spread, and how we could push back.”

Pence Outlines Early Goals for Trump Administration

November 21, 2016 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media
Mike Pence speaking at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

Mike Pence speaking at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump in Phoenix, Arizona. Both photos courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

One of Donald Trump’s top priorities after he takes over the White House next year will be to give a major facelift to the ethics laws guiding the government, says Mike Pence, the vice-president elect.

Pence was a guest on the political news talk show “Face the Nation.” He did not say that Trump would refrain from hiring lobbyists to serve in the new administration, a campaign promise Trump made when he often spoke of “draining the swamp” of Washington insider politics. Trump has taken criticism for defying his promise and placing lobbyists in prominent positions on his transition team.

“I can tell your viewers that the president-elect is determined to move ethics reform in the next year in the Congress,” Pence said. “A lot of people want to see us drain the swamp. They want to see fundamental ethics reform. That’s going to happen starting Jan. 20.”

He also re-affirmed the Trump promise to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, legislation that allowed many millions of people to acquire health insurance who could not afford it before.

Pence said that Republican leaders in Congress, along with Trump, agree that “repealing Obamacare will be the first priority in a session that will be characterized by tax reform, rebuilding the military, infrastructure and ending illegal immigration.”

Dukakis says Tear Down the Electoral College

November 14, 2016 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media
State population per electoral vote for the 50 states and Washington D.C. States are ranked from left to right based on total population. Chart courtesy of Fzxboy.

State population per electoral vote for the 50 states and Washington D.C. States are ranked from left to right based on total population. Chart courtesy of Fzxboy.

Michael Dukakis, who ran against. and lost to George H.W. Bush in the 1988 race for president, is once again calling for the dismantling of the Electoral College in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump despite her having won the popular vote.

“Hillary won this election, and when the votes are all counted, by what will likely be more than a million votes. So how come she isn’t going to the White House in January? Because of an anachronistic Electoral College system which should have been abolished 150 years ago,” Dukakis wrote.

“That should be at the top of the Democratic priority list while we wait to see what a Trump administration has in store for us. So far, all we know is that dozens of lobbyists are all over the Trump transition — a strange way to drain the swamp.”

Dukakis, who was once the governor of Massachusetts, is not alone in this sentiment. Even Trump voiced his own opposition to the Electoral College in 2012. Before the vote count was completely in and it appeared that Mitt Romney was going to take the popular vote but lose the Electoral College, Trump tweeted: “The Electoral College is a disaster for a democracy.”
Hillary Clinton also called for the abolishment of the Electoral College during the recount during the presidential election of 2000:

“I believe strongly that in democracy we should respect the will of the people, and to me that means it’s time to do away with the Electoral College and move to the popular election of our president,” she said soon after she was elected to the Senate. “I hope no one is ever in doubt again about whether their vote counts.”

Dukakis lost the Electoral College and the popular vote, by 7 million, to Bush in 1988. But since that time the Democratic contender has won the popular vote in six out of the last seven presidential elections. As the votes are continuing to be counted it seems that she will have bested Trump by close to, or even more than, one million votes.

Polls Show Clinton, Trump in Tight Race in Florida

October 31, 2016 by Gail Nussbaum in News and Media
The battle for president is raging in Florida

The battle for president is raging in Florida. Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey.

With just a bit more than a week left until election day, there are still some states which are hard to call, one of them being Florida.

Two independent polls in that traditionally battleground state show the two candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, running neck and neck.

One poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal revealed that in a four-way race Clinton just edges out Trump with 45 percent versus 44 percent of voters. Gary Johnson won 5 percent and Jill Stein winning 2 percent. In a two-way vote the candidates are ties with 46 percent each.

A New York Times Upshot/Siena poll in Florida Trump leads in a four-way race with 46 percent to Clinton’s 42 percent. If just two candidates were in the race Trump still leads, but to a lesser extent: 48 percent to 45 percent.

The polls were both done while early voting was being conducted in the state, and before the email-server revelations concerning Hillary Clinton made by FBI Director James Comey.