Saturday, August 29, 2020

The dumbest journalists in the world.

 I came to this late after the idiocy had already been scrubbed but, apparently, Ottawa journo Glen McGregor allowed himself to be goaded into childish dumbth by Rebel News hack and self-described oil patch trailer trash Sheila Gunn Reid. As I can piece it together from indirect evidence, Reid called out McGregor for alleged conflict of interest involving McGregor's ex-wife being employed by the WE charity. Rather than knowing how to properly respond to the perpetual sleazefest and deliberate provocation that is Rebel News, McGregor apparently took the bait, made an ass of himself on Twitter, then scrubbed the evidence. Point: Rebel News.

Before I explain what McGregor should have done, first some schadenfreude. It was only a few years ago when the bottom-dwelling scavengers at Rebel News were being refused accreditation to events they wanted to attend (and crap all over) that various Canadian journalistic endeavours, boasting of their nobility and fairness and sense of journalistic solidarity and whatever the fuck they thought they were bringing to the table, stepped up and defended Der Rebel; in return, Rebel has subsequently taken a steaming dump on the lot of them ever since.

Some of us tried to warn them; for our troubles, we were ignored. So ... how's that sense of solidarity working out for you journos? Yeah, I thought so. In any event, to business, and my take on how McGregor should have responded in a way that would not have seen him getting spanked publicly.

There is always a little irony in anyone from Der Rebel accusing others of bias or a conflict of interest, given that Rebel News appears to float on an ocean of conflict of interest, driven by little more than what fills their coffers. Much of this is speculation, but I believe I can paint a compelling picture, so let's go for a stroll.

First, it's all about the mailing lists.Whenever you see an org like Rebel creating and promoting eight zillion fundraisers and twice that number of useless petitions, it's almost a certainty that the goal is to create a priceless collection of contacts that can be used for solicitation/fundraising, especially if one can rent that list out to others for the same purpose. And why do I think this?

It's because I am, in fact, on Rebel's mailing list. No, I did not sign up -- the evidence suggests I was added as a cruel joke, but it turns out that being on that list has been remarkably informative since part of what is dumped on me is clearly campaign material representing the occasional political candidate who appears to have handed over cash in order to have their nonsense spewed forth to Rebel's target demographic of mostly illiterate, racist, xenophobic, hygienically-challenged, mouth-breathing troglodytes. This material can generally be identified as it comes tagged with the phrase "Sponsored Content," which kind of gives away the game, if you catch my drift.

So what's the potential problem with this scenario? I'm glad you asked.

Speculating just a little further, if one simply follows the money (as one is always advised to do), it would seem that there is at least a little conflict of interest in:

  • advertising a clearly right-wing-flavoured mailing list to right-wing political candidates,
  • taking money from said candidates to promote their candidacy or fundraise for them, then
  • subsequently interviewing those candidates, peppering them with softball questions and relentlessly touting their virtues to your viewers.

For Rebel News "Alberta Bureau Chief" and head screech harpy Sheila Gunn Reid to yammer on about someone else's conflict of interest if her own "media outlet" is doing the above would be just a wee bit hypocritical, wouldn't you say? And is there any proof of this? Well, apart from the "Sponsored Content" I've seen, some Rebel coverage does seem more than a little slanted, as some of the recent CPC leadership candidates got fawning coverage, while others got ripped several new orifices. Even now, after the leadership race is over, Rebel still seems to be oddly gushing over losing candidate Leslyn Lewis:

Is one allowed to ask whether this ongoing hero worship involves any quid pro quo? (And, hey, as conservatives love to say, I'm not making any accusations, I'm only asking, right?)

In any event, the next time anyone from Rebel News has the temerity to start slinging around accusations of bias or conflict of interest, it might be amusing to ask if they're taking actual money to promote the very people they end up interviewing and praising on air.

Hey, I'm only asking.

BONUS TRACK: I distinctly remember at least one "Sponsored Content" blast from Rebel on behalf of deranged wingnut Maxime Bernier and, lo and behold, look who Rebel Media is touting today:

What are the odds?

Have I made my point? Yeah, I think I've made my point.

You're welcome, Glen McGregor.

UPPITY DATE: Oh, Good Lord ... as if to prove my point, Rebel News continues to fawn all over failed CPC leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis:

Have I made my point? Yeah, I think I've made my point.

Friday, August 28, 2020

The cottage industry of right-wing fundraisers ... what could possibly go wrong?

It's encouraging to see the constabulary down south finally take a serious look at the burgeoning industry of weird, suspicious and questionable right-wing fundraisers, like the absolute fraud involving former Trump senior adviser and Cryptkeeper stunt double Steve Bannon. However, it turns out there's more here than meets the eye, which is why we're here, so make yourself comfortable and let me explain.

I like to think there are two types of problematic fundraisers -- the first is the eye-rollingly, hysterically fraudulent ones like Bannon's "WeBuildTheWall" rip-off, wherein the organizers simply helped themselves to the dosh, and it's nice to see the cops finally taking stuff like that seriously, which is as it should be.

However, there is a second type of fundraiser that I have been reliably informed is starting to attract the attention of the authorities to the south, and that's the type wherein, technically, the funds collected go to the registered recipient, but the basis or rationale for the fundraiser appears to be at least a little misleading or deceptive. For examples, one need look no further than the online begathons for conservative screech harpies and conspiracy theorists Laura Loomer and Millie Weaver, and it's Weaver's fundraiser we're going to take a closer look at, as it's more recent and it brought in a pile of cash that -- according to every bit of information available -- was totally and utterly unnecessary. But let's do this slowly.

First, the indisputable facts. Weaver, recently given the boot by Alex Jones for being too much of a dingbat even for Infowars (wrap your head around that), was arrested Aug 14, 2020. A shrieky, hysterical fundraiser was immediately registered for her courtesy of none other than Rebel News' Ezra Levant, with the relentless implication that Weaver was the victim of political persection as she was about to release an apparent "bombshell" exposing the "Deep State" "conspiracy" against "President" "Donald Trump." Predictably, this inspired rubes and marks everywhere to pour money into the fundraiser, to the point where it currently sits just north of $175,000.

The truth is somewhat more mundane -- Weaver and two others were arrested for nothing more than assault and robbery for a physical confrontation with Weaver's mother, facts which have been amply documented all over the Intertoobz. Understand: this is incontrovertible -- the indictment was released on Aug 17 and everyone who read it is aware of what happened. (Aug 17: remember that date, as it's important later.) So, how did a simple case of slapping around one's mom and stealing her cell phone transmogrify into a $175,000 windfall for a total loon? Well, let's start at the beginning, where the Millie Weaver fundraiser itself gives us all the clues we need.

The first oddity is that the fundraiser is weirdly short of details in its very title:

It seems awfully convenient that the fundraiser organizer is so maddeningly value about the rationale for this particular begathon ... "legal defense fund"? For what reason? What are the charges? One might almost suspect deliberate vagueness to keep the rubes guessing. And further down that same page, again, a lack of specifics but the definite implication that all this money is necessary in the name of journalism:

In short, while the fundraiser is maddeningly short on actual specifics, it is certainly doing its best to leave a particular impression. In any event, onward.

Here's the very first update, published the very day of Weaver's arrest (it would be impolite to speculate how quickly fundraisers like this magically appear ... so I won't):


And here's the main oddity related to that Aug 14 update. While the indictment against Weaver was not released until Aug 17 (again, remember that date), surely Weaver would have been told the reason for her arrest; I'm fairly sure that's required by law. And if she knew, then it would seem only logical that she would mention that to whoever was about to register a fundraiser on her behalf. And yet ... and yet ... nothing. Ezra talks about "connecting with legal counsel," yet not one word about the actual charges against Weaver. That just seems ... odd. But it gets odder.

Here's fundraiser organizer Ezra Levant the very next day, crowing over all that dosh, and yet ... still no details about the indictment. Surely, a former lawyer with years of experience fundraising and defending barking mad loons like Weaver would have, by now, asked to see the actual charges. And yet ... and yet ... nothing ... while the fundraiser happily leaves donors with an undeniably mistaken impression as to what's happening. But it's the second update from that same day of Aug 15 that is the capper, as you can read this at the very bottom:

I'm sorry ... what? After an entire day, fundraiser organizer Ezra Levant still insists he has no idea what the charges are? Even more appallingly, as you can read, he openly admits to being utterly uninterested: "I do not have any reliable information about the charges against her, but that's irrelevant to me --"

Pause with me for a second -- what you see above is fundraiser organizer Ezra Levant, being grilled by GoFundMe about the details of the fundraiser he's organized, openly admitting that he doesn't know the backstory and, more critically, he simply doesn't care.

The mind reels. But we're not done here, as here is the third update, still from Aug 15:

I draw your attention to Ezra's assurance that Weaver's family friend Matt "gave me a briefing and we talked legal strategy" [emphasis added]. Which raises the obvious question -- how in the name of Mutt does a former lawyer and current fundraiser organizer "talk legal strategy" without knowing any of the details of the indictment? How is that possible? And remember, only earlier that day, Ezra assured GoFundMe that he did not know any of the details of the indictment, but he also had no interest in them. Yet here he is the very same day "talking legal strategy." How does that work? But there is one more point worth making.

Remember that the indictment against Weaver was released on Aug 17, at which point everyone and their ferret suddenly learned about how mundane this whole case was, with many, many, many, many, many, many, many people turning on Weaver and her fundraiser with words like "scam" and "fraud". One need not take my word for it, when Twitter is always happy to help.

At which point we can wrap things up by remembering that the indictment was released to the public on August 17, 2020, which is -- in a weird coincidence -- the date of the very last update on that fundraiser. I mean, it's not like anyone would want to finally admit to all those donors the contents of the released indictment -- probably best to just walk away and let the money keep rolling in, which is apparently just what happened.

So, are we done here? Yeah, we're done here. And if you really want to support legitimate, independent journalism (i.e., me), hey, there's a fundraiser. But you knew that, right?

AFTERSNARK: It's amusing that, even back on Aug 17, people had a good idea of what was up. I'm just saying.

YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING: Having been exposed for the huckster that she is, Weaver sobs inconsolably and plays the victim card. Readers are having none of it.

SOMETIMES, THE JOKES JUST WRITE THEMSELVES: Rebel News will now lecture you on financial irregularities. No, really.

"THE GRIFT THAT KEEPS ON GRIFTING": How delightfully descriptive.