February 14, 2012
By Jonathan Allen and John Bresnahan
Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson instructed taxpayer-funded House aides to work on political redistricting last year, sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
Such activities could amount to a violation of prohibitions against lawmakers pressuring aides to do political work, as well as rules against using official resources, including staff, for campaign purposes.
The redistricting work, which has not previously been disclosed, allegedly occurred after it became clear Richardson was under investigation over another set of allegations that she forced House aides to perform political and personal tasks in violation of House rules. Richardson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Sources told POLITICO that Richardson’s congressional aides collected information about communities outside her district, organized a workshop to train constituents in advance of a public meeting of California’s independent redistricting commission, and wrote talking points for those constituents to deliver during the public-comments portion of the meeting at Long Beach City Hall in April 2011.
The redistricting work was done at Richardson’s direction — rather than on a voluntary basis — these sources said.
A spokesman for the Ethics Committee declined to comment on the Richardson case, but several sources indicated that investigators have expanded the probe and are now looking into the redistricting angle.
May 13th, 2011
By: Michael Arrington
Facebook secretly hired a PR firm to plant negative stories about Google, says Dan Lyons in a jaw dropping story at the Daily Beast.
For the past few days, a mystery has been unfolding in Silicon Valley. Somebody, it seems, hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers, urging them to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy. Burson even offered to help an influential blogger write a Google-bashing op-ed, which it promised it could place in outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, and The Huffington Post.
The plot backfired when the blogger turned down Burson’s offer and posted the emails that Burson had sent him. It got worse when USA Today broke a story accusing Burson of spreading a “whisper campaign” about Google “on behalf of an unnamed client.”
The source emails are here.
I’ve been patient with Facebook over the years as they’ve had their privacy stumbles. They’re forging new ground, and it’s not an exaggeration to say they’re changing the world’s notions on what privacy is. Give them time. They’ll figure it out eventually.
But secretly paying a PR firm to pitch bloggers on stories going after Google, even offering to help write those stories and then get them published elsewhere, is not just offensive, dishonest and cowardly. It’s also really, really dumb. I have no idea how the Facebook PR team thought that they’d avoid being caught doing this.
First, it lets the tech world know that Facebook is scared enough of what Google’s up to to pull a stunt like this. Facebook isn’t supposed to be scared, ever, about anything. Supreme confidence in their destiny is the the way they should be acting.
Second, it shows a willingness by Facebook to engage in cowardly behavior in battle. It’s hard to trust them on other things when we know they’ll engage in these types of campaigns.
And third, some of these criticisms of Google are probably valid, but it doesn’t matter any more. The story from now on will only be about how Facebook went about trying to secretly smear Google, and got caught.
The truth is Google is probably engaging in some somewhat borderline behavior by scraping Facebook content, and are almost certainly violating Facebook’s terms and conditions. But many people argue, me included, that the key data, the social graph, really should belong to the users, not Facebook. And regardless, users probably don’t mind that this is happening at all. It’s just Facebook trying to protect something that it considers to be its property.
Next time Facebook should take a page from Google’s playbook when they want to trash a competitor. Catch them in the act and then go toe to toe with them, slugging it out in person. Right or wrong, no one called Google a coward when they duped Bing earlier this year.
You’ve lost much face today, Facebook.
April 12, 2010
GOOGLE CEO and Obama political activist Eric Schmidt declared this weekend that his machines will help decide what news you receive!
News sites should use technology to PREDICT what a user wants to read by what they have already read, Schmidt told the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF NEWS EDITORS, where a few humans still remained in the audience.
“We’re all in this together.”
Schmidt said he doesn’t want ‘to be treated as a stranger’ when reading online, POLITICO reports.
He envisions a future where technology for news editing could help tailor advertisements for individual readers.
And he wants to be challenged through technology that ‘directs readers’ to a story with an ‘opposing’ view.
[An odd suggestion from the CEO of a company long accused of offering little to no conservative-leaning links on its news page, while aggressively promoting left-leaning hubs.]
Schmidt said GOOGLE is working on new ways to push adverts and content for consumers, based on what stories they’ve read.
What stories his machines have selected.
February 10th, 2010
By Bret Baier
The blizzard conditions here in the nation’s capital have shut down most area federal government activity. A scheduled Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing discussing the impacts of global warming had to be postponed because of the snow and frigid temperatures.
Meantime, Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry tells The Hill newspaper, those who think climate change legislation is dead for the year because of the harsh winter weather are “dead wrong” and guilty of what he calls “inside the Beltway thinking.”
Oklahoma Republican Senator and vocal global warming skeptic James Inhofe used the winter wonderland to have a little fun at the expense of climate activist Al Gore. Inhofe posted on Facebook photos of his family building an igloo near the Capitol, with a sign that read “Al Gore’s new home.” Liberal blog Think Progress didn’t find the joke amusing with Brad Johnson writing: “Scientists have been warning for decades that global warming would increase the severity of winter storms.” More about this in the panel.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent about five minutes at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast talking about helping the late Mother Teresa open an adoption ministry here in Washington, D.C.
But a Christian publication reports the Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children is no longer operating and may never have actually facilitated any adoptions. World Magazine says the ministry’s building was sold in 2002.
Philippe Reines from the State Department tells Fox: “[Hillary Clinton] remains very proud of her work with Mother Teresa in opening this home in 1995. Their partnership is a success story to be emulated.”
And finally, it seems the White House press briefings have been no laughing matter in recent months. Politico reports that instances of laughter, as indicated in official transcripts, have decreased from 179 per month in the first six months of the Obama administration, to 89 per month in the second half of the year.
American Urban radio reporter April Ryan noticed the change: “There are lots of serious questions begging for serious answers. Those questions do not meld with laughter and light banter.”
October 7, 2009
New York Times
By Brian Steltar
Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, met with the White House adviser David Axelrod last month.
And it is a testament to Fox’s influence that that the meeting is newsworthy at all. Politico broke the news Tuesday afternoon, prompting speculation about the nature of the conversation.
A Fox press representative confirmed that the two men met over a cup of coffee last month during Mr. Obama’s visit to the United Nations. The representative called it a “cordial conversation.” Details of the conversation have not dribbled out yet.
“I’ve known Roger for a long time,” Mr. Axelrod told Time magazine in an e-mail message. “We chatted from time to time during the campaign. I was going to be in N.Y., so we got together for a cup of coffee.”
The highly popular Fox News is a perplexing channel for the Obama administration, given its propensity for political commentary by conservatives like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. In June, Mr. Obama said, “I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration,” adding, “You’d be hard-pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front.” The Fox host Bill O’Reilly and others assumed that he was speaking about Fox.
TVNewser notes that Fox News chose not to carry a couple of Mr. Obama’s speeches last month, but that “on the Saturday following the Axelrod-Ailes Manhattan chat,” Fox carried the president’s entire speech at a Congressional Black Caucus event “while MSNBC and CNN did not.”
June 23, 2009
by Michael Calderone
In what appeared to be a coordinated exchange, President Obama called on the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney near the start of his press conference and requested a question directly about Iran.
“Nico, I know you and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming out of Iran,” Obama said, addressing Pitney. “I know there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?”
Pitney, as if ignoring what Obama had just said, said: “I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.”
He then noted that the site had solicited questions from people in the country “who were still courageous enough to be communicating online.”
“Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad, and if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of the — of what the demonstrators there are working towards?”
Reporters typically don’t coordinate their questions for the president before press conferences, so it seemed odd that Obama might have an idea what the question would be. Also, it was a departure from White House protocol by calling on The Huffington Post second, in between the AP and Reuters.
CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller, a veteran White House correspondent, said over Twitter it was “very unusual that Obama called on Huffington Post second, appearing to know the issue the reporter would ask about.”
According to POLITICO’s Carol Lee, The Huffington Post reporter was brought out of lower press by deputy press secretary Josh Earnest and placed just inside the barricade for reporters a few minutes before the start of the press conference.