Talking New Media

TIME names ‘The Silence Breakers’ as Person of the Year; Boris Johnson pens column for Rupert Murdoch’s Sun

Morning Brief: President prepares to light a fire under the Middle East when he declares later today that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, despite the pleas of the Pope and warnings from leaders in the region

The president has been unusually quiet this week on Twitter following the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for bank records and his own tweet (later claimed by his lawyer) that he fired Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI. The only two tweets sent out since then have been obvious cases of his press office mentioning events.

On any other day, one might expect the president to respond to the news that TIME magazine has named “The Silence Breakers” — women who have broken silence over sexual harassment and led the #MeToo movement — as the magazine’s “Person of the Year.’

“Like the “problem that has no name,” the disquieting malaise of frustration and repression among postwar wives and homemakers identified by Betty Friedan more than 50 years ago, this moment is borne of a very real and potent sense of unrest,” TIME writes today. “Yet it doesn’t have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet. The hashtag #MeToo (swiftly adapted into #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien, #Ana_kaman and many others), which to date has provided an umbrella of solidarity for millions of people to come forward with their stories, is part of the picture, but not all of it.”

TIME, Edward Felsenthal:

The Choice

The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover—Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift and Isabel Pascual—along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s. Social media acted as a powerful accelerant; the hashtag #MeToo has now been used millions of times in at least 85 countries…

…We are in the middle of the beginning of this upheaval. There is so much that we still don’t know about its ultimate impact. How far-reaching will it be? How deep into the country? How far down the organizational chart? Will there be a backlash? Hollywood and the media—the industries that have thus far been home to most of the prominent cases—live in a coastal, co-dependent bubble. That it popped first isn’t terribly surprising and surely doesn’t mean that the behavior of a Louis CK or a Charlie Rose is any less prevalent in the suites of corporate America. Or the trading floors of Wall Street. Or the backrooms of restaurants, factories and small businesses across the country. Indeed, the biggest test of this movement will be the extent to which it changes the realities of people for whom telling the truth simply threatens too much.

USA Today, Doug Stanglin:

Time’s Person of the Year: ‘Silence Breakers’ speaking out against sexual harassment

It was the 91st year that the magazine has recognized the person or group of people who most influenced the news during the past year.

The shortlist included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the Dreamers, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who launched a national protest against racism and police brutality, special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Speaking of the president, it looks like the US is about to score the biggest own goal in living memory, stirring up Arab hatred by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, something the US has avoided doing for the obvious backlash it would surely trigger.

This, too, feels like a reaction to the Mueller subpoena, a way to shore up the base of the president’s support. Desperate people do desperate things, but it will be others who will have to pay the price for such a reckless action.

The New York Times, Mark Landler and David M. Halbfinger:

U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Trump Says, Alarming Middle East Leaders

President Trump plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the American Embassy there, upending nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and potentially destroying his efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr. Trump’s decision, a high-risk foray into the thicket of the Middle East, was driven not by diplomatic calculations but by a campaign promise. He appealed to evangelicals and ardently pro-Israel American Jews in 2016 by vowing to move the embassy, and advisers said on Tuesday he was determined to make good on his word.

The Guardian, Patrick Wintour:

Trump to plunge Middle East into ‘fire with no end’ with Jerusalem speech

A cacophony of angry and despairing voices across the Middle East and the world have urged Donald Trump not to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel at a planned speech on Wednesday, warning him that any such announcement would destroy the peace process, strengthen the extremists and weaken the US’s standing in the world.

The pope issued an unusually heartfelt plea to the president to respect the status quo on the city, and to conform with UN resolutions. He told thousands of people at his general audience: “I cannot keep quiet about my deep worry about the situation that has been created in the last few days.”

Haaretz: From Bill Clinton to Trump: The Never-ending Story of the Jerusalem Embassy Move
The Times of Israel: Amid outcry over Jerusalem, Tillerson says Trump sees ‘opportunity’ for peace
Aljazeera: Palestinians call days of rage over US Jerusalem plan

Boris Johnson, the UK’s foreign secretary, today penned a column for The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s UK tabloid. What has apparently gotten under the man’s skin is the ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaign which has targeted the UK’s generally pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant tabs — the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.

Of course, calling for a boycott by advertisers is itself free speech, but one guesses that Mr. Johnson is seeing that, with the prime minister flailing around trying to secure a Brexit deal, he will need Rupert Murdoch if he expects to be the next prime minister.

My goodness, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump leading the UK and US. You can’t say we are not getting what we deserve.

Slowly but surely, the major social media outlets are admitting what has been obvious for more than a year: that their platforms have been filled with accounts from trolls, bots, agents of foreign governments.

What is often left unsaid, however, is that these social media outlets have grown their stock prices by being able to claim, quarter by quarter, growth that was based on allowing these fake accounts to exist. Twitter and Facebook have, it would seem clear, carried out a fraud against its shareholders and the public. It is unlikely that the DOJ would pursue such a case, but what about the SEC or other business regulators?

Bloomberg, Selina Wang:

How the Kremlin Tried to Pose as American News Sites on Twitter

The Kremlin-backed Russian Internet Research Agency operated dozens of Twitter accounts masquerading as local American news sources that collectively garnered more than half-a-million followers. More than 100 news outlets also published stories containing those handles in the run-up to the election, and some of them were even tweeted by a top presidential aide. These news imposter accounts, which are part of the 2,752 now-suspended accounts that Twitter Inc. has publicly disclosed to be tied to the IRA, show how the Russian group sought to build local communities of followers to disseminate messages.

Many of the news imposter accounts amassed their following by tweeting headlines from real news sites, while others sought to represent certain communities. They targeted a diverse set of regions across the political spectrum, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston. Several of the accounts were impersonating local news outlets in swing states, like @TodayPittsburgh, @TodayMiami and @TodayCincinnati.

Photo: Israel-06504 – Dome of the Rock by Dennis Jarvis, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic