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By-Passing the Democratic Nominating Convention

Clinton and the DNC Are Not Just Colluding — They’re Changing the Rules for Superdelegates


Seth abramson

By Seth Abramson, Assistant Professor of English at University of New Hampshire; Series Co-Editor, Best American Experimental Writing

The award for most deliberate and egregious burying of a lead has just been handed out.

It goes to NBC News, for a story entitled, “Bernie Sanders Makes Things Awkward for Hillary Clinton’s DNC Takeover.”

Put aside for a moment that the story’s central premise is the uncritical repetition of a nonsense: the idea that a major-party convention can’t — as in literally cannot be — planned without a nominee being declared at least a month and a half in advance. We know that’s untrue because, up until a week ago, that’s exactly what the GOP was (with minimal public grousing by RNC Chair Reince Priebus) planning to do.

More importantly, in the context of Democratic National Committee rules — which, as DNC officials Luis Miranda and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have both explained to the media repeatedly, dictate that super-delegates cannot be tallied until July — there can be no doubt about which sentence in the above-cited NBC News story is the most important. It’s this one, about what the Clinton campaign and the DNC have been up to since April (more than three months prior to the Party’s late-July convention):

Back-channel conversations have already begun between Clinton’s campaign and the DNC about what role the party will play in the general election. These discussions are happening out of sight for now to avoid the appearance of collusion before the party has formally selected a nominee.

Where does this information appear in the article? In the very last sentence, of course.

That’s the spot in a hard-news article reserved for (assuming there’s no “kicker”) the least important piece of information in the article.

Or it would be, had not some editor at NBC News switched the rules around.

That’s something that’s becoming not just a trend in, but a cancer upon, the 2016 presidential election, so let’s go back in time to find the root of the problem. If you can, cast your mind all the way back to February 19th — less than 90 days ago. On February 19th, only two states — Iowa and New Hampshire — had held primary votes for the Democratic presidential nomination. The results in Iowa (a tie) and New Hampshire (a landslide victory for Bernie Sanders) had at that point made Sanders the front-runner for the nomination.

Sanders was the leader in the popular vote.

Sanders was the early leader in the all-important pledged-delegate count.

And here’s where the super-delegate count stood on February 19th:

Hillary Clinton: 451

Bernie Sanders: 19

Now it’s May, and we’re being told that the sole purpose of the Democratic “super-delegate” has all along been to acknowledge the popular-vote and pledged-delegate leader.

Except that’s nonsense.

Hillary Clinton courted hundreds and hundreds of super-delegates at a time when there was no popular-vote or delegate-count leader, and in 2016, as in 2008, she worked hard to keep her super-delegates even in those times she was neither the leader in the popular vote nor the leader in the delegate count.

The reason for this is that super-delegates have absolutely nothing to do with the popular vote or the delegate count.

And Clinton knows it.

Moreover, plenty of super-delegates — most notably former DNC Chair and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean — have said it loud and clear. Super-delegates are tasked with (a) declaring themselves as early as possible in order to scare from the Democratic primary anyone who hasn’t sufficiently greased the wheels of the Democratic Party machine, and (b) casting their vote at the Party’s summer convention for whichever candidate is best positioned to win the general election. Incidentally, these are both great reasons to abolish super-delegates — as the State of Maine just did, in effect, by forcing their super-delegates to vote along popular-vote lines — but they’re the reality of what super-delegates are (and mean) right now.

So Bernie Sanders saying that he plans to go to the Party’s summer convention and argue that he’s best positioned to win the general election is the veritable dictionary definition of “playing by the rules.” Meanwhile, Clinton and her camp suddenly discovering some unstated principle about the connection between super-delegates and the popular vote, or super-delegates and the pledged-delegate count, is pretty rich — given that Clinton picked up 86 percent of her super-delegates (451 of 523) at a time when she was well behind in both measures. Calling Clinton a hypocrite on the issue of super-delegates would be unkind; it would be more accurate to say that, on the subject of super-delegates, as on so many other subjects, there is no evidence that Clinton has any core principles whatsoever.

While the media can give Clinton a pass on waffling about super-delegates — and they have, in fact entirely — what it cannot do is claim that Sanders’ position is the unprincipled and inconsistent one. Not only has Sanders not changed his unfavorable view of super-delegates, his position on super-delegates tracks with how the Party itself treats these individuals: as people who, per Luis Miranda and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, cannot and do not vote, and therefore cannot and must not be tallied, prior to the Party’s convention in Philadelphia this July.

So, to recap: the DNC has told the media that super-delegates can’t and don’t get tallied for purposes of declaring a nominee until July; Sanders has taken the same view; yet the DNC has since April, we now learn, been working with the Clinton camp behind the scenes to have the Democratic primary declared over on June 7th.

And we have every expectation that the media — despite this video — will comply.

So, to recap: Clinton approached hundreds and hundreds of super-delegates in 2015, before any American had voted or any candidate taken a popular-vote or pledged-delegate lead, and asked for their endorsement on the basis of super-delegates being tasked with supporting the Party’s strongest candidate; Sanders has accepted that view of super-delegates’ role; Clinton, now leading by a large margin among super-delegates and pledged delegates alike, has suddenly changed her view to the “principled” position that super-delegates must support whoever wins the popular vote and the pledged-delegate count; the media has treated Clinton’s about-face as honorable and Sanders’ consistent position as a betrayal of his core principles.

So, to recap: the traditional mechanism for assessing which primary candidate has the best chance to win in the fall is general-election polling, which research tells us hits an “accuracy spike” in April, at which point it’s about as accurate as August polling; Bernie Sanders led Trump by more nationally and in every battleground state in April polling; the media and the Clinton campaign spent April talking about how general-election polling has no value; now that Clinton seems almost certain to be the Democratic nominee, both the media and the Clinton camp have suddenly declared spring polling inviolably predictive and reliable.

So, to recap: the media has consistently reported on Hillary Clinton’s efforts to reach out to Sanders voters; the media is unable to provide any example of this happening other than Clinton gamely refusing to call for her opponent’s concession a month earlier than she conceded in 2008; Clinton’s camp in fact said it planned to “disqualify” Sanders from the presidency, that his campaign was “destructive”, that he could go “fuck himself”, and that its most likely VP nominee was a moderate with no ties to the progressive movement whatsoever.

Quite the olive branch.

I’ve been covering presidential elections for the past four election cycles, and the media coverage for this particular cycle has been so uniformly disgraceful that we can reasonably expect this — in conjunction with Hillary Clinton lately running one of the smuggest, most tone-deaf, and least transparent campaigns in postwar American politics — will lead to one of the lowest November turnouts in recent memory.

Barring a Sanders concession — which the candidate has assured the nation is not forthcoming — if the national media and the Clinton campaign declare victory at any time prior to the July convention, it will not only be a contravention of the rules laid out for the media and the Democratic Party by the DNC but such a dramatic dereliction of journalistic principles that both the Democrats and indeed the nation will deserve whatever they get come November. The media has been slapping progressives in the face for a year now; and the Clinton campaign has gleefully joined in over the last few months; so when young, working-class, and progressive Americans stay home in November, don’t you dare turn around and blame it on us.



Political ReLoveLution

Superdelegate Spin ~ President Bernie Sanders?

Reflecting In Fragments Distorts What We Are



U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a Pearl Harbor Day rally aboard the USS Yorktown Memorial in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, December 7, 2015. REUTERS/Randall Hill


“The Departure of the Prodigal Son”

By Rainer Maria Rilke


To go forth now from all the entanglement that is ours and yet not ours, like the water in an old well, reflects us in fragments, distorts what we are.

From all that clings like burrs and brambles– to go forth and see for once, close up, afresh, what we had ceased to see– so familiar it had become.

To glimpse how vast and how impersonal is the suffering that filled your childhood.

 Yes, to go forth, hand pulling away from hand.

Go forth to what? To uncertainty, to a country with no connections to us and indifferent to the dramas of our life.

 What drives you to go forth? Impatience, instinct, a dark need, the incapacity to understand.

 To bow to all this. To let go– even if you have to die alone.

 Is this the start of a new life?








Strength Immensely Hallucinated



Émile Verhaeren

Les Villages illusoires


The blacksmith

He counted the immeasurable pain:

Dummies advice given to the miserable;

The blind self, leading others;

The language of hardened bile false apostles;

Justice barricaded by texts;

The terror planting his horn at the front of each idea;

The giant arm ardor, also servile,

In the health field or fever cities;

The village, cut off by the huge, dark shadow

Which falls scythe threatening the old bell tower;

The poor people, against whom the poor stubble

To bend their knees before the alms;

The green poison the pure fountain

Diamond, where drinks human consciousness

And then, in spite of oaths and promises,

To those that are feared or that we oppress,

The recommencement always the same distress.

He predicted that this huge rage,

These millions of despair with only one love

Item can ensure that one day,

For another equity, time will begin again

Neither the golden lever that moves things

Do not turn them into clear metamorphoses.

That the clamor and gestures are silent,

Around crazy flags flapping theses;

And we fight less and listen more.

The crowd and the fury that always exceeds

With the strength immensely hallucinated

That darts off the giant forehead destinies –

Will arise, with its merciless arms

The new world of insatiable utopia

The minutes will fly shadow and blood

And the order will hatch sweet, generous and powerful,

Since it will be one day, the pure essence of life.

Love, whose power still is unknown,

Confess perhaps, then, what was God.


Excerpt taken from full poem


Le Forgeron


Sur la route, près des labours,

Le forgeron énorme et gourd,

Depuis les temps déjà si vieux, que fument

Les émeutes du fer et des aciers sur son enclume,

Martèle, étrangement, près des flammes intenses,

À grands coups pleins, les pâles lames

Immenses de la patience.


Tous ceux du bourg qui habitent son coin,

Avec la haine en leurs deux poings,


Savent pourquoi le forgeron

À son labeur de tâcheron,

Sans que jamais

Ses dents mâchent des cris mauvais,



Mais ceux d’ailleurs dont les paroles vaines

Sont des abois, devant les buissons creux,

Au fond des plaines ;

Les agités et les fiévreux

Fixent, avec pitié ou méfiance,

Ses lents yeux doux remplis du seul silence.


Le forgeron travaille et peine,

Au long des jours et des semaines.


Dans son brasier, il a jeté

Les cris d’opiniâtreté,

La rage sourde et séculaire ;

Dans son brasier d’or exalté,

Maître de soi, il a jeté

Révoltes, deuils, violences, colères,

Pour leur donner la trempe et la clarté

Du fer et de l’éclair.


Son front

Exempt de crainte et pur d’affronts,

Sur des flammes se penche, et tout à coup rayonne.

Devant ses yeux, le feu brûle en couronne.


Ses mains grandes, obstinément,

Manient, ainsi que de futurs tourments,

Les marteaux clairs, libres et transformants

Et ses muscles s’élargissent, pour la conquête

Dont le rêve dort en sa tête.


Il a compté les maux immesurables :

Les conseils nuls donnés aux misérables ;

Les aveugles du soi, qui conduisent les autres ;

La langue en fiel durci des faux apôtres ;

La justice par des textes barricadée ;

L’effroi plantant sa corne, au front de chaque idée ;

Les bras géants d’ardeur, également serviles,

Dans la santé des champs ou la fièvre des villes ;

Le village, coupé par l’ombre immense et noire

Qui tombe en faulx du vieux clocher comminatoire ;

Les pauvres gens, sur qui pèsent les pauvres chaumes,

Jusqu’à ployer leurs deux genoux, devant l’aumône ;


La misère dont plus aucun remords ne bouge,

Serrant entre ses mains l’arme qui sera rouge ;

Le droit de vivre et de grandir, suivant sa force,

Serré, dans les treillis noueux des lois retorses :

La lumière de joie et de tendresse mâle,

Éteinte, entre les doigts pincés de la morale ;


L’empoisonnement vert de la pure fontaine

De diamant, où boit la conscience humaine

Et puis, malgré tant de serments et de promesses,

À ceux que l’on redoute ou bien que l’on oppresse,

Le recommencement toujours de la même détresse.


Le forgeron sachant combien

On épilogue, autour des pactes,

Depuis longtemps, ne dit plus rien :

L’accord étant fatal au jour des actes ;

Il est l’incassable entêté

Qui vainc ou qu’on assomme ;

Qui n’a jamais lâché sa fierté d’homme

D’entre ses dents de volonté ;

Qui veut tout ce qu’il veut si fortement,

Que son vouloir broierait du diamant

Et s’en irait, au fond des nuits profondes,

Ployer les lois qui font rouler les mondes.


Autour de lui, quand il écoute

Tomber les pleurs, goutte après goutte,

De tant de cœurs, moins que le sien

Tranquilles et stoïciens,

Il se prédit que cette rage immense,

Ces millions de désespoirs n’ayant qu’un seul amour

Ne peuvent point faire en sorte, qu’un jour,

Pour une autre équité, les temps ne recommencent

Ni que le levier d’or qui fait mouvoir les choses

Ne les tourne, vers les claires métamorphoses.


Seule, parmi les nuits qui s’enténèbreront

L’heure est à prendre, ou ces instants naîtront.


Pour l’entendre sonner là-bas,

Haletante, comme des pas,

Que les clameurs et les gestes se taisent,

Autour des drapeaux fous claquant au vent des thèses ;

Et qu’on dispute moins, et qu’on écoute mieux.


L’instant sera saisi par les silencieux,

Sans qu’un prodige en croix flamboie aux cieux

Ni qu’un homme divin accapare l’espace.


La foule et sa fureur qui toujours la dépasse

— Étant la force immensément hallucinée

Que darde au loin le front géant des destinées —

Fera surgir, avec ses bras impitoyables,

L’univers neuf de l’utopie insatiable,

Les minutes s’envoleront d’ombre et de sang

Et l’ordre éclora doux, généreux et puissant,

Puisqu’il sera, un jour, la pure essence de la vie.


Le forgeron dont l’espoir ne dévie

Vers les doutes ni les affres, jamais,

Voit, devant lui, comme s’ils étaient,

Ces temps, où fixement les plus simples éthiques

Diront l’humanité paisible et harmonique :

L’homme ne sera plus, pour l’homme, un loup rôdant

Qui n’affirme son droit, qu’à coups de dents ;

L’amour dont la puissance encore est inconnue,

Dans sa profondeur douce et sa charité nue,

Ira porter la joie égale aux résignés ;

Les sacs ventrus de l’or seront saignés,

Un soir d’ardente et large équité rouge ;

Disparaîtront palais, banques, comptoirs et bouges ;

Tout sera simple et clair, quand l’orgueil sera mort,

Quand l’homme, au lieu de croire à l’égoïste effort,

Qui s’éterniserait, en une âme immortelle,

Dispensera, vers tous, sa vie accidentelle ;

Des paroles, qu’aucun livre ne fait prévoir,

Débrouilleront ce qui paraît complexe et noir ;

Le faible aura sa part dans l’existence entière,

Il aimera son sort — et l’obscure matière

Confessera peut-être, alors, ce qui fut Dieu.


Avec l’éclat de cette lucide croyance

Dont il fixe la flamboyance,

Depuis des ans, devant ses yeux,

Sur la route, près des labours,

Le forgeron énorme et gourd,

Comme s’il travaillait l’acier des âmes,

Martèle, à grands coups pleins, les lames

Immenses de la patience et du silence.



Silence Really Is The Voice of Complicity


Elizabeth Warren


There’s a history of demagogues calling those they disagree with “terrorists” and using that as justification for intimidation and violence – and that history is ugly and dangerous. There’s also a history of people staying quiet for too long, hoping for the best but watching silently as the threat metastasizes. Donald Trump is a bigger, uglier threat every day that goes by – and it’s time for decent people everywhere – Republican, Democrat, Independent – to say No More Donald. There’s no virtue in silence.


Warren echoes the view of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many believe that the nation is in a retrogressive fit of racial hysteria that can only lead to blood on the street.  Trump seems to invite that feeling of inevitability.  I look into the eyes of everyday people and I see fear of the unknown, not preparation for race war.  The 2016 election will go down in history at the edge of reason, as the era that ushered in renewed national commitment to all we hold dear.  Decent people everywhere will make sure of that, no matter who sits in the white house.  The political revolution that Bernie Sanders advocates has already begun.


Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Written 16 April 1963, describes the tragic misconception of time.

[There is a] strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.




The 2016 election year is shaping up to be America’s most serious constitutional crisis since the Civil War — and the most important partisan re-alignment since 1932 or maybe since 1860. To appreciate what’s at work, it’s important to understand these two trends, and how they interact.

The essence of the constitutional crisis is that one of our two parties, the Republicans, has stopped conceding the legitimacy of the Democrats. This has been building for decades, but it went critical under Obama.

The Republican leadership, and most of the 2016 presidential field, basically don’t concede that Obama is a legitimate President of the United States. You see this in charges of his alleged Muslim religion and foreign birth and his supposed radicalism (Obama is basically a centrist and instinctive compromiser — well to the right on key issues of such presidents as Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and even Nixon and Eisenhower.)

The Republican refusal to even consider a presidential nominee to the Supreme Court is only the latest example, and it comes on the heels of several threats to shut down the government or to refuse to roll over the national debt if Obama did not give in to Republican demands, a scorched-earth tactic that dates back to the Speakership of Newt Gingrich in the 1990s.

This degree of permanent partisan obstruction is something new and menacing, and it interacts poisonously with the vision of America’s founders. They wrote a Constitution with lots of checks and balances to promote compromise, not on the assumption that one of the two parties would simply refuse to play. But the checks and balances create paralysis if one of the parties proceeds in bad faith.

In political science, the concept of legitimacy is essential to a functioning democracy — in two senses: Legitimacy means that the authority of the government is accepted as earned rather than being a function of brute force; and it means that one party accepts that the other is loyal. For one party to deny the legitimacy of the other has not happened since the Civil War, when Southern Democrats were literally traitors to the Union, and the South viewed Lincoln’s Republican Party as an occupying army to be resisted by every means including force and assassination.

Republican obstructionism today operates against the long-term erosion of American democracy, and it leaves government paralyzed in the fact of mounting national problems. That further erodes legitimacy and democracy itself.

The hollowing out of democracy is reflected in the loss of confidence in public institutions, in the fact that big money has been crowding out citizen participation. Republicans have contributed to this trend by their money-is-speech ideology and by sponsoring measures that make it more difficult to vote — reversing a two- century trend of expanding democracy. Meanwhile, ordinary people feel more and more alienated from both the economy and the system of government.

So we have a constitutional crisis — one party destroying the ability of the government to govern, combined with a crisis of our democracy at a time when we need government to act.

Republicans, as far-right corporate conservatives, have pursed this strategy knowingly and cynically, in the hope of weakening government and its capacity to regulate and to collect taxes. They have perfected a dog-whistle strategy in which appeals to racism are couched as a rejection of political correctness, producing support by working class voters for policies that don’t really serve their interests.

But be careful what you wish for. This vacuum of functioning democracy in the face of mass frustration was ready-made for the emergence of a demagogue. And for Republicans, the appalling thing about Donald Trump is that he is no conservative.

He is far to the right on immigration and on national defense — well to the right of most of the corporate elite; but he is surprisingly leftwing on trade and on corporate exports of jobs. He doesn’t hate government, and would defend such programs as Social Security. You could imagine him expanding public works. And he is a lot more tolerant of gays and reproductive rights than most of the Republican base. He is also dangerously reckless as a potential commander-in-chief.

The emergence of Trump has so upset the Republican elite that there is serious talk of running an independent Republican against him, with the full knowledge that this would surely throw the election to Hillary Clinton, another centrist Democrat who has more in common with mainstream Republicans than Donald Trump does.

Many Republicans would rather see a Clinton presidency and continue their familiar tactics of obstructionism than a Trump presidency in which they could lose control of their party to a populist. Republicans would still likely control the House, and most governorships. The crisis of government authority, legitimacy and deepening popular disaffection would only deepen, and they would hope to pick up the pieces in 2020.

The great political scientist, Walter Dean Burnham, wrote of “critical elections,” in which major partisan realignments took place because of shifting socio-economic needs and demands that neither major party had addressed. The year 1932 saw such an election. Franklin Roosevelt turned the Democrats into a progressive party, and mobilized large numbers of voters who had either not been participating or who had been voting Republican. To a lesser degree, 1980 was a realigning election, as many white working class voters turned to Reagan, either because of his social conservatism, his nationalism, his optimism, or all three.

But what kind of realignment will we see in 2016? If, say, Elizabeth Warren rather than Bernie Sanders were the prime challenger to Hillary Clinton, we might have seen the Democrats once again as a full-throated progressive party, capturing the broad economic disaffection and turning it into a governing majority. But at this point, Bernie Sanders is fighting the good fight but is a long shot; meanwhile, it is the Republican primaries where turnout is increasing, pulling in large numbers of disaffected people to vote for Trump.

If Clinton beats Sanders for the Democratic nomination, and Republican elites manage to deny Trump either nomination or election, all of that bottled up frustration still will have to go somewhere. In 1933, Roosevelt managed to turn the economic and political crisis in a constructive direction. In 1860, the constitutional crisis was resolved only by a war, one that many in the white South are still fighting.

In 2016, it’s hard to see a path that will restore either a government with broadly accepted legitimacy, or one capable of governing, much less one capable of solving the festering economic injustices that have brought our politics to such an angry boil. It is a recipe for more demagoguery and more permanent crisis.

Sometimes in circumstances like these, leaders rise to the occasion. We surely need such leadership now.



Co-founder and co-editor, ‘The American Prospect’ Professor Robert Kuttner teaches at Brandeis University’s Heller School. His latest book is Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility.

Dear Cody Cain: What About the Fourth Estate?

Blogging on HuffPost and Salon Cain says that Trump has rattled our foundation and begs the question of whether the: People Can Be Trusted with Democracy.


What about the media?

The media has trounced on Bernie Sanders from day one and given Trump two for one in terms of coverage for every dollar he’s spent on political ads.

Trust? Consider these headlines:

Bernie Blackout? As DNC Accused of Targeting Sanders, Corporate Media Ignores Historic Campaign


CBS Chief Les Moonves Says Trump’s ‘Damn Good’ For Business

“Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”


Cain describes Trump as a demagogue stampeding through victory after victory in the primary elections. Then asks “What has gone so terribly wrong in our system?”  He is mocking in tone and emphasis: Does democracy even work?

Perhaps it does:

When the elites who guide this nation make responsible decisions and not only serve the wealthy few but also provide for the economic security and well-being of every person in society, the common people readily accept this leadership and have no desire or interest in upsetting the applecart. But in this age of deplorable income inequality, the governing elites have failed society by neglecting to protect the middle and lower classes and instead allowing the wealthy to plunder the population mercilessly. The common people have had enough. They may not know exactly how to improve their situation and they may not be acting rationally. But they’re acting. They’ve been forced to act. Perhaps this is a lesson to the elites who guide this nation. Perhaps this is democracy working exactly as it should.



Two reminders:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that the body of Anabel Flores Salazar, a crime reporter for the El Sol de Orizaba newspaper, was found on the Cuacnopalan-Oaxaca road in Puebla state on 9 Feb 16, a day after the 32-year-old mother was abducted from her home in neighbouring Veracruz state.


Identified by relatives, her semi-naked body was found with a plastic bag covering her head. She was the third journalist to be murdered this year in Mexico. RSF reiterates its call to the Mexican authorities to establish effective measures for protecting journalists and guaranteeing their safety.


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is very concerned for the safety of Anabel Flores Salazar, a crime reporter kidnapped from her home in Orizaba, in the eastern state of Veracruz, in the early hours of yesterday, and urges the local authorities to continue their efforts to find her.

The State Commission for the Attention and Protection of Journalists (CEAPP) initiated an immediate alert procedure designed to expedite efforts to locate Anabel Flores Salazar. The Veracruz state prosecutor’s office said in a statement yesterday that it was doing everything possible to find the missing journalist.

Nothing in so far known about the identity of Flores’ kidnappers, armed men in military-like uniforms who reportedly said they had a warrant for her arrest.

“We are deeply shocked by Anabel Flores’ abduction and we call on the local authorities to pursue their efforts to find this journalist as quickly as possible,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

A specialist in criminal investigations, Flores works for El Sol de Orizaba, a local newspaper. She also writes for other publications such as El Mundo de Orizaba and El Buen Tono. Jorge Morales, the CEAPP representative in Veracruz, said she covers “organized crime” and described her reporting as “incisive.”


Ranked 148th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Mexico is the western hemisphere’s most dangerous country for journalists.



Journo Safety College Course Advances in Beirut

By Magda Abu-Fadil[i]

What a fluke! Academics, media professionals and experts met this week to push for a course on safety for journalists as a coalition of concerned stakeholders urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to uphold a pledge he made last year to defend their security.

“This is a reminder that no journalist is safe in our world today,” said George Awad, communications and information program officer at UNESCO’s Beirut office in opening remarks at the conference in Lebanon.

He added that journalists had an obligation to stay safe and that the event aimed at empowering would-be reporters and correspondents to get a better grip on safety issues while providing academic institutions with a road map through a course to be incorporated in their respective media-related curricula.

The conference is a follow-up to last year’s launch in Jordan of the initiative in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

“Students of journalism must understand the risks they confront when they work,” noted IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

The IFJ produces an annual report of media casualties, added Boumelha, saying most of those targeted are local journalists whose names get tepid reactions and don’t resonate in the media, unlike the spotlight shed on foreign correspondents and the attack on the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo that caused worldwide condemnation.

The Beirut conference dovetails with the goals of the “U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. It came 10 days after UNESCO held a conference on “News Organizations Standing Up for the Safety of Media Professionals” at its Paris headquarters that drew some 300 international media leaders focused on safeguarding their staffers and ending impunity for attacks against them.

UNESCO reissued its safety guide for journalists in English, Arabic and French for that gathering. The Beirut event coincided with a letter the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) sent to Secretary Kerry in which the signatories wrote:

“We welcome the commitment you made to create a “roadmap” for the State Department’s work on journalist safety and the additional resources that have been provided to the S.A.F.E. Initiative for safety training for local journalists. However, we are concerned about progress on the three other commitments that the State Department made in the conference summary and next steps document: more fully integrate the issue of impunity against journalists into the U.S. bilateral and multilateral agenda; develop worldwide protocols within the U.S. embassy community on when and how to provide assistance to journalists working in conflict zones or other hostile environments; and coordinate with relevant countries on possible exemptions for accredited journalists carrying protective gear across international borders. We would welcome an update from you on the status of these initiatives and actions that have been taken over the past year.”

Meanwhile, academics from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco and Oman went over a draft of a semester-long course to be taught as one required unit, as an elective, or, from which they can select components to incorporate in other relevant media courses.

Educational systems differ across the Arab world where public and private universities exist and the language of instruction is mainly Arabic, but where professors also teach in English and French, depending on the country.

The course syllabus includes an overview and raison d’etre for safety as well as content on planning and personal safety, risk assessment, travel security, health and health care in hostile environments, demonstrations (and riots), natural disasters, gender safety, digital security, ethics, international humanitarian law, and safe investigative reporting.

“We can build on this and add workshops as supplements to the course,” said Hassana Rasheed from the state-run Lebanese University’s Faculty of Information.

Speakers included a security expert as well as four noted Lebanese journalists – two who work locally and two whose international track record in covering conflict zones is legend. “News organizations should train journalists and insist on safety measures and the use of proper equipment,” said Yazbeck Wehbe, a veteran of LBCI TV News who also teaches journalism at several Lebanese universities.

But given the turbulent nature of events in Lebanon, students and professionals are often better off not wearing gear or signs identifying them as journalists so as not to be targeted, he explained recounting some of the close shaves he’s had with danger.


Patrick Baz (a/k/a “Boom Boom” Baz), a world-renowned photojournalist whose career is linked to Agence France-Presse (AFP), offered valuable insights on how he covered some of the hottest spots in the Arab world and what lingering impact it’s had on him.

On one occasion in Baghdad in 2013, he was told he couldn’t use his professional camera to shoot in a public place but that it was OK to snap away with his iPhone, which seemed less threatening. Little did his interlocutors realize he could take professional quality shots that got equal billing on the news wire.

“Being a correspondent is going to places and sometimes bearing witness to war crimes,” said Samia Nakhoul, a Reuters veteran and Middle East bureau chief who was seriously injured and almost died when U.S. tanks lobbed shells into the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad where foreign media were based during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She was on the balcony of the Reuters office and went from being a correspondent to being a victim. Her cameraman was killed.

“I can’t stop thinking about all those who died in the line of duty. The risk is there and we need to raise awareness,” she said of the resultant trauma, which in the past was a taboo subject. News organizations should provide trauma counseling as well as safety training while universities should equip their students with the requisite knowledge and skills to face all manner of hazards, Nakhoul said.For Karma Khayat, the vice chairman of Al Jadeed TV, there’s an urgent need for cooperation among all institutions to lessen the dangers journalists encounter.

“If there’s a course, there are things we can mitigate, or avoid, but it’s not 100% guaranteed,” she said. The course will undergo revision before being made available to all Arab universities and the public at large.Follow Magda Abu-Fadil on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MagdaAbuFadil

[i] A foreign correspondent and editor with international news organizations such as Agence France-Presse and United Press International, is director of Media Unlimited. She headed the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut, which she founded. She wrote for Arab dailies Asharq Al-Awsat and Al Riyadh, Washington-based Defense News, was Washington bureau chief of Events magazine, and was Washington correspondent for London-based The Middle East magazine. Abu-Fadil served as director of the Institute for Professional Journalists at the Lebanese American University.


The Beginning of a Political Revolution Led By Young Women By Robin Barnes

Parsing Talk of Danger, Targets, Hell and Bimbos

This blog is largely devoted to media analysis, featuring original posts or those written by others that speak to issues surrounding media influence in public debate.

The 2016 Election coverage offers the more grist for the mill than nearly any other source, as it provides a first-hand look at all aspects of national reporting: coverage, blackouts, orchestrated attacks, ownership, regulation, corruption, abuse of power and the most contentious arena (ascribing motive). The missing link is analysis of the extent to which all of these issues affect the lives of real people.

Another title for this post might be: Threats, Warnings and Crisis: He Said, She Said, And the Insults Just Keep Coming!

revolutionBernie Sanders is sweeping the democratic primaries.

Iowa was a draw: technically which translates into a HUGE WIN for Sanders.

New Hampshire was a landslide victory for Sanders that included 82% of women under the age of 30.[i]

He assured the masses:

Together we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California,” said Sanders in his victory speech. “And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their super PACs.[ii]

Sanders’ message resonates: He cited Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein as a prime example of corporate greed that is harming the US.[iii]

Goldman Sachs Executive, Lloyd Blankfein said of Sanders’ attacks on Wall Street:

It has the potential to personalize it, it has the potential to be a dangerous moment. Not just for Wall Street not just for the people who are particularly targeted but for anybody who is a little bit out of line.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren responded: Blankfein “thinks it’s fine to prosecute small business owners, it’s fine to go hard after individuals who have no real resources, but don’t criticize companies like Goldman Sachs and their very, very important CEO — that’s what he’s really saying.” Is it? Sounds like a garden path sentence (perhaps a none-too-subtle threat). What of danger, targets and those who step out of line (even just a little)?

According to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll, Democratic and Independent women ages 18 to 34 prefer Sanders to Clinton, 50 percent to 31 percent.

Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said of young female millennials, on the subject of the broader fight for women’s equality:

We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done. It’s not done: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”[iv]

Gloria Steinem quipped that younger women were just backing Sanders so that they could meet young men. “When you’re young, you’re thinking, ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.

After a vicious backlash…, Steinem issued an apology.

Failure to focus on the power of Wall Street during the 2016 election could be dangerous to the economy. Too big to fail, jail, or prosecute is not a message that resonates with Sanders. Might it could represent a chorus for Clinton? Goldman has showered her with $675,000 worth of speaking fees, $930,000 in campaign contributions from the Goldman Sachs network both as Senator Clinton and Secretary of State, on top of the quarter million donated to the Clinton family’s foundation, altogether approaching the $2 million mark.

Senator Warren reminds us that the financial crisis cost an estimated $14 trillion: it cost jobs, it cost homes, it cost retirement funds. “And Lloyd Blankfein stands up and says ‘Don’t even criticize me, I ran a company that was right at the heart of some of the biggest financial frauds in history and made money off it, but don’t you dare criticize me’. “That’s why we need voters to get really engaged.”

See more at:


[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-a-goodman/new-hampshire-women-chose-bernie-sanders_b_9200174.html

[ii] https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/02/09/sanders-defeats-clinton-new-hampshire-primary/QhrFO8eUZ6frFZoisXbDfN/story.html?p1=Article_Recommended_ReadMore_Pos1

[iii] https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2016/02/05/warren-blasts-goldman-sachs-ceo-defends-sanders/grFPoPsPrfsnoLE55NAYgK/story.html

[iv] https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2016/02/07/albright-and-steinem-scold-young-women-backing-sanders/i8K8EE3UgBNOPOFRCC7QSL/story.html?p1=Article_Recommended_ReadMore_Pos19