WJLA

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  • Trump Calls On Only Right-Wing Outlets, Again Avoiding Questions About A Top Adviser Possibly Breaking Federal Law

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    For his second straight press conference, President Donald Trump called on only conservative reporters, this time during a joint presser with the Canadian prime minister. By responding solely to friendly press, Trump avoided answering any questions about reports that national security adviser Michael Flynn may have violated federal law.

    Reporters have been questioning whether Flynn can retain his job after multiple current and former American officials told The New York Times that he discussed lifting Russian sanctions with the country’s ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration -- a potential violation of the Logan Act, “which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in disputes involving the American government.” Vice President Mike Pence previously denied that Flynn had discussed this topic, but his assurance relied solely on Flynn’s recollection of the conversation.

    During Trump’s February 13 press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reporters had a chance to ask the president about this pressing issue, but Trump skirted that possibility by calling on only reporters for conservative outlets friendly to Trump -- Scott Thuman of the conservative Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s WJLA, the Washington, D.C., affiliate of ABC, and Kaitlan Collins of The Daily Caller, a pro-Trump outlet founded by Trump shill Tucker Carlson.

    During the election, Sinclair reportedly struck a deal with the Trump campaign to “secure better media coverage” in exchange for “more access to Trump and the campaign.” Thuman, who is also a political correspondent for conspiracy theorist Sharyl Attkisson’s Full Measure, asked Trump about how his philosophical differences with Trudeau would affect cooperation on trade and terrorism:

    The next question came from Collins, who also failed to ask about Flynn but did question Canada’s security measures surrounding refugees. Her previous work on refugees includes an article about Syrian refugees who she dubbed “Syria-sly hot,” suggesting governors opposed to allowing refugees into the country would change their minds if they saw these women:

    Many journalists criticized the selection of these reporters. Even Fox News’ national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, asked if the queries were “planted questions”:

    On CNN, Wolf Blitzer immediately followed the end of the presser by highlighting the lack of questions about Flynn’s future, explaining, “Presumably that’s what the White House wanted.” CNN’s Gloria Borger also questioned whether “they arranged that in advance.”

    The press conference with Trudeau followed a similar one from February 10 featuring Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where Trump also took questions from only two reporters representing a couple of conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets, the New York Post and Fox Business Network. Those reporters likewise avoided asking about Flynn, even though the reporting on his possible violation of the Logan Act had come out the previous day.

  • Conservative Tilt Of WJLA On Full Display With Recent Benghazi Report

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    The Washington Post reported this week that WJLA, ABC's Washington, D.C., affiliate, has taken a "subtle but noticeable turn to the right" since being taken over by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. This conservative tilt was on full display this week when the channel ran a news package promoting a baseless conspiracy theory about Benghazi from reporter Sharyl Attkisson.

    The Washington Post piece highlighted the concerns of some staff members of local ABC affiliate WJLA, that following the finalization of the sale to Sinclair in August 2014, "some of the stories ordered by Sinclair on a 'must-run' basis don't meet the station's long tradition of non-partisan reporting." One factor in this shift to conservative partisan reporting was announced in July prior to the sale, when Sinclair hired discredited journalist Sharyl Attkisson as an "independent freelance reporter" to "focus on stories that follow the money and waste watch type of investigations."

    However, prior to the September 17 opening hearing of the House Benghazi Special Committee, Attkisson ran a dubious report for Sinclair that appeared on WJLA highlighting the unverifiable claims of former State Department employee Raymond Maxwell alleging that some documents were intentionally withheld from the Accountability Review Board investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi:

    The same day Attkisson's report ran on WJLA, Attkisson appeared on Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends where she reiterated the report's unsubstantiated accusations. Host Steve Doocy lamented that only a handful of outlets such as Fox and the Daily Signal -- the Heritage Foundation website to which Attkisson occasionally contributes -- were covering this latest so-called "Benghazi bombshell." Attkisson concluded the segment by mentioning that her report was also broadcast to "maybe 30 million local news viewers" through Sinclair's affiliate stations.

    Although Sinclair's support of right-wing misinformation has been widely documented and criticized for many years, its increasing influence in local media bodes ill for objective journalism at stations like WJLA.

  • Modeling Apples And Oranges

    Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    Charles KrauthammerDuring a climate change discussion on Inside Washington, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer acknowledged that "we're pumping more CO2 into the air than ever before, much higher than a natural rate and it's having an effect on the atmosphere." Krauthammer, who calls himself "a global warming agnostic," went on to dismiss the computer models scientists use to project future climate change:

    KRAUTHAMMER: Our models are extremely incomplete, as we see in weather predicting. We can predict up to about a week and after that, it's a mess. So predicting, 20, 30, 50, 100 years into the future -- and our predictions are constantly changing, which ought to tell you that the models are at least incomplete and deficient.

    I'm glad that Krauthammer, unlike so many of his colleagues at Fox News, acknowledges that humans are changing the climate. But his argument about climate modeling is wrong.

    For one, models of any sort are by definition "incomplete." Scientists use models because we don't have a second Earth to experiment on. The question is, do the models know enough about the climate system to provide a useful picture of how it might look under a given scenario?

    Climate experts say yes, but Krauthammer seems to disagree, noting that weather forecasts aren't reliable beyond a week into the future. It's a common argument: If we can't predict next month's weather, how can we say anything about the climate in 2100? In reality, invoking the limitations of weather predictions is a terrible way to evaluate climate models.

  • Politico/WJLA forum hosts claimed McCain has "regularly" "stood up" to Republican Party

    ››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN

    During interviews with Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Politico's John F. Harris and ABC 7's Leon Harris each claimed that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) has "regularly" "stood up" to the Republican Party. But McCain has altered his positions on significant issues, such as taxes and immigration, to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican Party, and has been one of the most constant and forceful proponents of the Iraq war and its continuation.