Barr blamed extreme groups of the right and the left!

SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 2020

Except in the New York Times:
Long ago and far away, we coined an award-winning precept.

"The power to paraphrase is the power to spin." Way back when, that's what we said!

At the time, the people we are trained to respect were creatively paraphrasing a particular White House candidate. People are dead all over the world because of what they did—because of the way they behaved.

Yesterday morning, another remarkable paraphrase appeared above the fold on the front page of the New York Times. This time, the people we're trained to respect were paraphrasing a different enemy of the state.

In this case, the people we're trained to trust were paraphrasing Attorney General Barr.

Citizens, can we talk? The paraphrase which appeared in the Times was crazy on its face. On its face, it was an obvious embellishment of what Barr was quoted saying.

When you review Barr'a full remarks—when you review the remarks the Times downplayed and disappeared—the paraphrase becomes crazier still.

When conservatives complain about the Times, this is what they're sometimes talking about. When anthropologists discuss human nature, they may discuss conduct of this type.

The paraphrase was attributed to a trio of Times reporters. Adding insult to injury, their published work almost resembles plagiarism—looks a bit like a rewrite of an earlier, much better report by NPR.

Grading on the curve, that earlier NPR report was much better than the one the Times produced. Judged on its own, the NPR report was also slippery journalism involving some bad paraphrase.

When conservative complain about NPR, this is what they're sometimes talking about. By the way, people are dead all over Iraq because the people we're taught to trust acted this way, very much as a group, all through 1999 and 2000.

The paraphrase by the New York Times didn't seem to make sense on its face. It appeared on page A1 of yesterday's print editions. This is the passage in question:
MACFARQUHAR, FEUER AND GOLDMAN (6/12/20): A review of the arrests of dozens of people on federal charges reveals no known effort by antifa to perpetrate a coordinated campaign of violence. Some criminal complaints described vague, anti-government political leanings among suspects, but a majority of the violent acts that have taken place at protests have been attributed by federal prosecutors to individuals with no affiliation to any particular group.

Even so, Attorney General William P. Barr has blamed antifa for orchestrating the mass protests, which broke out in cities and towns across the country after the death in police custody of George Floyd. “There is clearly some high degree of organization involved at some of these events and coordinated tactics that we are seeing,” Mr. Barr said. “Some of it relates to antifa, some of it relates to groups that act very much like antifa.”
Those are paragraphs 3 and 4 of yesterday's front-page report. In the second of those paragraphs, the paraphrase firm of MacFarquhar, Feuer and Goldman say that Barr has blamed antifa for orchestrating the mass protests which broke out across the country after the death of George Floyd.

That was quite a claim on the part of The New York Times 3! Consider:

They didn't say that Barr has blamed antifa for orchestrating some of the protests. They didn't say that Barr has blamed antifa for being involved in the protests.

They didn't say that Barr has blamed antifa for engaging in (some of?) the looting and arson which threatened to undermine the protests.

They didn't say such things! Instead, they said that Barr had blamed antifa for orchestrating the mass protests which broke out across the country, full and complete total stop.

It wasn't even the looting and arson! According to the New York Times, Barr has blamed antifa for orchestrating everything that went on!

That would have been a very strange thing for Barr to have said. Is that a reasonable account—a reasonable paraphrase—of what he actually said?

Below, we'll show you that it isn't. But just on its face, that looks like a crazy paraphrase, based on the way Barr is quoted.

Go ahead! Just take a look at what Barr is actually quoted saying:

In the first quoted statement, it's clear that Barr is talking about some of the events in question. (To experienced analysts, "some" is widely understood to perhaps be less than "most.")

Based on that first quotation, Barr was only talking about some of the events which took place in the days after Floyd's death. In the second quoted statement, the sweep of his claim is reduced even further:

He says that only some of the organized conduct at some of the subsequent events events can be attributed to antifa. That's what the attorney general says in the actual quotations.

Based on the two quotations provided by the three-member firm, their paraphrase of what Barr said is crazy on its face. That said, their account gets much, much worse when you look at Barr's fuller remarks—when you consider the things Barr said which the paraphrase firm downplayed or disappeared.

The Times' quotations of Barr all come from his recent interview with Bret Baier of Fox News. The interview aired on Monday and Tuesday nights of this past week (links to tape below).

In the interview as it aired, it wasn't Barr who raised the question of antifa's participation. As broadcast, Barr was responding to three questions from Baier, starting with this exchange:
BAIER (6/8/20): There's a lot of people that have been charged with crimes related to the protests that evolved into riots and looting. To my knowledge, none of the criminal complaints have mentioned antifa. Why is that?

BARR: We have some investigations underway, very focused investigations on certain individuals that relate to antifa. But in the, in the initial phase of identifying people and arresting them, they were arrested for crimes that don't require us to identify a particular group or don't necessitate that.
As you can see, Barr hasn't yet blamed antifa for orchestrating the mass protests which broke out in cities and towns all across the country. Responding to a specific question about the group, he has merely said that the Justice Department has some investigations going on which relate to that group.

After a perfunctory exchange with Baier about the way antifa is (or isn't) organized, the following exchange occurred. This is the exchange from which the Times drew its pair of front-page quotations:
BAIER: Are there people funding this effort, an organized effort that goes beyond state-specific, that—funding the effort broadly, and are you going after those people?

BARR: There appear to be sources of funding, and we are looking into the sources of funding. And you know, there clearly is some high degree or organization involved at some of these events, and coordinated tactics that we're seeing, and we're looking into that as well. And some of it relates to antifa; some of it relates to groups that act very much like antifa. As I said, there's a witches brew of extremist groups that are trying to exploit this situation on all sides.
Interesting! In that statement, Barr doesn't pin all the blame on antifa, or on groups which behave like antifa. He says there's "a witches brew of extremist groups" involved in the conduct under review—a witches brew of extremist groups "on all sides."

(Barr even seems to say that he's said that before in this interview. Below, we'll show you what he probably meant.)

According to Barr, extremist groups "on all sides" have been trying to exploit the situation! To the (very limited) credit of the New York Times paraphrase firm, they managed to include this quotation later in their report.

That said, this statement by Barr undermines the poisonous paraphrase they proffered in paragraph 3, before quoting Barr at all. And along the way, they chose to omit something else Barr said to Baier:
BARR: You have extreme right groups trying to look like extreme left groups. You have extreme left groups masquerading as extreme right groups. We have players on both sides trying to spin up violence. So it's a—it's a complicated situation.
"It's a complicated situation," Barr said. People on both sides are trying to spin up violence.

According to Barr, groups on the right and groups on the left have been masquerading as each other. According to Barr, extremist right groups and extremist left groups are involved in the violent conduct under review.

That statement aired on Tuesday night, in what Baier called "the second half" of the interview. Three days later, the Times ignored that statement by Barr. They handed us, their loyal subscribers, this manifest bullshit instead:
Attorney General William P. Barr has blamed antifa for orchestrating the mass protests which broke out in cities and towns across the country...
That's a terrible paraphrase. Assuming basic competence, it resembles an act of fraud.

The Times' account of what Barr said appeared above the fold on page A1. They had several days to get it right. Instead, they got it very wrong.

Their paraphrase didn't make sense on its face. Their paraphrase looks like an act of fraud when you consider the statement by Barr which they failed to mention.

On the brighter side, this is the sort of things we Times subscribers like to read. It's right up there with this paraphrase of what Cotton said, offered by a former Times staffer who once won a Pulitzer prize:
NYT has no reason to give a platform to someone making an argument for using lethal force against American citizens exercising constitutional rights. The same constitution that gives him title of senator. Why the NYT stamp of approval?
That simply isn't what Cotton said. On Friday morning, above the fold, we were handed a pleasing account of what Barr hadn't said!

For twenty months, our upper-end press did this to Candidate Gore. They were waging an angry war at that time. Candidate Gore was their last chance to get back at President Clinton. This high-ranking group of rational animals performed their war quite well.

Today, these tribals are waging a different war. Readers of the New York Times are victims all the way.

Anthropologists say this highly tribal human behavior is never going to end. Caveat lector, they have thoughtfully said.

They also say that members of our own flailing tribe will find ways to explain this away. "This is the way the species is wired," these scholars despondently say.

To watch the interview: Baier's interview with Barr aired on Monday and Tuesday nights.

The three-question exchange about antifa aired on Monday night. You can watch that part of the interview here. The questions about antifa start at the 10:30 mark.

The second half of the interview aired on Tuesday night. It starts with Barr's comment about the masquerading groups of the extreme right and left. You can watch that here.

Did Barr really blame antifa for orchestrating the mass protests which broke out in cities and towns across the country after the death in police custody of George Floyd? For orchestrating the protests? Not even the looting and arson?

Actually no, he didn't do that. Unless you're inclined to believe what you read on the front page of the Times!

We advise against such reflexive belief. Caveat lector, we sometimes thoughtfully say.

62 comments:

  1. "Is that a reasonable account—a reasonable paraphrase—of what he actually said?"

    Why can't you accept the obvious truth, dear Bob: every communication produced by your liberal-nazi cult is 100% goebbelsian propaganda.

    It doesn't aim to inform and enlighten. Its only purpose is to serve the liberal establishment, your beloved liberal-nazi cult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Hillary wannabe in the White House won't tell who he lent more than $500 Billion in bailout money to.

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  2. Why is the NY Times reporting anything that Bill Barr says?
    Are they afraid THIS is the time he'll make a god faith argument?
    The NY Times is wasting their (and our time). Bill Barr will NEVER make a good faith argument, and the media should stop reporting on anything he says.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Barr is quoted as saying (in part): "some high degree of organization involved at some of these events and coordinated tactics that we are seeing,"

    How is this not "orchestrating"?

    I think Somerby is quibbling too much and I do not believe that Barr has anything to complain about with this paraphrase. He is quoted and people can judge for themselves what he meant, just as I have done.

    Perhaps Somerby is unaware of the calls and emails sent to small town governments and police all of the country warning them that antifa members were being bused in to their localities in order to loot and riot? The existence of a widespread conspiracy of antifa to destroy local businesses is supported by this organized campaign on the right to scare small town America. Barr's statement is in service of the right-wing effort to terrorize people and coopt peaceful protests.

    How do I know this happened? My own home town received such calls. Police were mobilized, a city-council member sat at the local brew-pub with his rifle at hand, waiting for the antifa thugs to materialize (and we are not open carry). Our small downtown was infested by 2nd amendment gun wavers menacing the peaceful protesters from the local community college, drinking and causing their own disturbance. All of this in the name of stopping antifa, who of course never showed up in our town (or anywhere else). We are far from unique in our experience. This played out all over the US in a well-funded rat-fucking campaign orchestrated by the right.

    But here is Somerby, defending Bill Barr's honor, like the good conservative soldier that he is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. corby, there is a fairly huge gap between what you say here and anything resembling reality. The NYT said that Barr claimed Anitfah was behind the protests. What Barr actually said, as TDH points out, is maybe Antifah, and some other radical groups, including right wing ones, were behind some of the rioting/looting. The Times distorted in a really dishonest way what Barr Said. How can you fault TDH for bringing this out. Whenever I read your posts, the impression I get is that there are a lot of bats (figuratively) flying around inside your head.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. "I wonder if the totally moronic comments above - making up crap about the plain meaning of what Barr actually said - aren't the same sort of "dumbass faux-lefty white dude" that is, in fact, responsible for at least some of the mindless violence in at least some cities (like my own)."

      Why don't you take issue with this guy? He has more bats than Corby.

      Delete
    4. They said he said "antifa" was orchestrating the events. That's pretty broad statement.

      Yes, the cartoonishness of it all is why I can't watch MSNBC any more either. I also got real tired of Riverdale-bred Chris Hayes repeatedly telling his viewers for street cred purposes that he was "raised in the Bronx."

      That'd be like someone who grew up in Hancock Park trying to claim that they were raised in "central Los Angeles." Technically, maybe.

      Delete
    5. It is not Antifah, that is a telling misspelling.

      Antifa is not an organization, it is solely a reference to the stance of being anti-facist. Not only was there zero antifa people committing violence, most of the violence was done by the police. Barr's false equivalence only serves to con people like you and to incite Trump fans, the NY Times did not distort what Barr said in any meaningful way.

      Delete
  4. Why isn't Somerby accusing Barr of lying about whether antifa organized the protests, instead of claiming that he was misquoted when he said the protests were organized by antifa?

    The right has not only invented antifa, but they are certainly blaming them for a lot of things they have manifestly not done.

    How is blaming antifa for looting (when antifa doesn't exist) and different than blaming them for protesting? Antifa didn't do either of those things because THERE IS NO ANTIFA. Somerby is making a fool of himself with this essay.

    On the other hand, various alt-right and Trump supporting individuals have been arrested for attempting to commit violence at protests, ranging from the Boogaloo Bois in CO and the Proud Boys in Oregon, to individuals intent on mayhem arrested at protests carrying pipe bombs or trying to drive vehicles into crowds of protesters. This stuff is real and it is coming exclusively from the right. There are also looters with no particular ideology, but no evidence of any armed leftist activity.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Barr calls the extreme right groups arrested a "false flag" (in so many words), because extremists left groups are trying to look like right groups (and vice versa). In other words, he says he doesn't know who is doing what. And he is our Attorney General!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Somerby says: "Barr blamed extreme groups of the right and the left!"

    Actually he didn't. He said he didn't know who to blame at this point. He also said that groups on the left were pretending to be groups on the right. And he said it was complicated.

    This fuels the conspiracy theories on the right and leaves room for Trump supporters to blame whoever they want.

    This is what happens when you don't accept the information provided by your own intelligence services. You don't know anything and can't say anything, and anything is thus possible, even the wildest accusations against those you are motivated to hate or oppose.

    Barr is incompetent and he is fueling right-wing extremism. He shouldn't be anywhere near the office of Attorney General.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "A man charged yesterday with the ambush killing of a police officer also appears to have scrawled a reference in blood to a second Civil War.

    On the hood of a car at the scene of Steven Carrillo’s arrest, witnesses took photos of phrases the alleged killer had apparently written, including the term “Boog.”

    Given the context, “Boog” is likely short for “Boogaloo,” which in recent years has been adopted by extremists on the internet as shorthand for an armed conflict against the government. "

    Those "extremists on the internet" are from the alt-right, not antifa. When the press doesn't identify them as such, it makes it easier for people like Barr to pretend that the left is behind the violence.

    ReplyDelete
  8. https://digbysblog.net/2020/06/bill-barr-vs-the-hippie-circus/

    This is the kind of arrest that confuses Bill Barr and other Republicans. They can't find any real antifa, so they manufacture them.

    The bus was impounded and its occupants had to find their own way home, after sitting on the curb for 45 minutes, while police (who refused to provide their names or badge numbers) looked in vain for something to charge them with. Then social media used this incident to spread the word that antifa was coming!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wonder if the totally moronic comments above - making up crap about the plain meaning of what Barr actually said - aren't the same sort of "dumbass faux-lefty white dude" that is, in fact, responsible for at least some of the mindless violence in at least some cities (like my own).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somewhat responsible, but indirectly. They help incite, but they're too dumb to have any significant effect.

      Delete
    2. Reporting the arrests of radical White Supremacists is biased against the Republican base. Hence, the "both sides" bullshit.

      Delete
    3. ...actually, they've become so unhinged - on all levels, from the lowest dembot to their congressional 'leaders' - that it seems that they, like lemmings, are rushing to their own demise.

      The only question is how much damage this weird episode of mass-psychosis is going to inflict till it's all over.

      Delete
    4. Speaking of mass psychosis:

      https://www.salon.com/2020/04/07/cult-expert-steven-hassan-trumps-mind-control-cult-now-faces-an-existential-crisis/

      Delete
    5. Think about the statements Barr made about nougat. And how conveniently the New York Times disappears them.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  11. Barr is trying to blame antifa as much as he can without actually lying outright. The reporters exaggerate what he actually said, but are probably more informative than the exact quotes as to what is really going on.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Can any good idea be captured in three words? Last night Bill Maher spent a lot of time mocking the "defund the police" slogan, which arose not in a Democratic Party committee meeting, but as a street chant by protesters, because it won't sell Republicans on police reform. He also spent a lot of time deriding the stay-at-home wear-your-mask rules in California, suggesting that if protesters were going to break the rules, then the rules must be stupid and unnecessary.

    Not that Bill Maher is any kind of lefty, but this kind of attitude is unhelpful if you are interested in serious change. Maher had a token expert on policing on screen briefly, long enough to say that defunding the police has worked extremely well and been an unqualified success in places such as Camden NJ. But the street chant is stupid, Maher says, so who cares about the ideas behind it.

    And here comes Somerby, sweeping up the elephant dung, behind Maher's circus act.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eric Boehlert believes the same btw. It's a very dumb slogan.

      Delete
    2. Of course its dumb, but try to think up another one, that can be chanted by a large crowd. It wasn't thought up by a focus group.

      Delete
    3. "Burn the mother fucker to the ground" isn't pithy enough?

      Delete
  13. Bob, you and your fascist and racist cohorts are very clear.
    I hope you all die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They all will die. So will you.

      Delete
  14. I'm carbon neutral on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The right leaning lockdown demonstrators were peaceful and civilized. The left's riots were violent, murderous and savage. The silent majority is more motivated than ever before.

    ReplyDelete
  16. “After a perfunctory exchange with Baier about the way antifa is (or isn't) organized, the following exchange occurred. “

    Somerby is putting his thumb on the scales by describing the exchange as “perfunctory.” What does he mean by that? It is central to the discussion that Baier and Barr are having.

    It is after this discussion of Antifa that Baier asks “Are there people funding this effort?”

    Now, after having discussed Antifa (“perfunctorily”, as Somerby claims), what can “this effort” refer to, except Antifa’s “effort”, Antifa being the sole subject of the entire preceding discussion?

    So far, you have Antifa mentioned almost exclusively and prominently by Barr, Tom Cotton (in his NYT op-ed), and Trump, who just went ahead and said “It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!”

    Barr did include other groups, but did not name them, and the bulk of his discussion with Baier was about Antifa. He is clearly trying to get people to associate the violence with leftist groups.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Trump deserves enormous credit for discrediting the media.

    Aside from the Bush v Gore election, the media has tilted favorably toward Democrats for decades. Back in 2004, Newsweek said media bias was worth 15 points.* It got worse with Mr. Obama and got worse yet with Trump. The media no longer even pretends to be fair. How can Republicans prevail against massive media bias?

    Denying or defending against false and biased reporting is not effective. As some wise man said, "When you're defending, you're losing."

    Instead Trump did something amazing. He stripped the media of their credibility. Now, their bias doesn't matter as much. This job was made easier, because the media really is inaccurate and biased. Still, if this plan had been proposed 10 years ago, it would have seemed wild and fanciful. On this issue, as in the issue of Chinese misbehavior, Trump had the cojones to face a real, underlying problem and deal with it.

    *http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1173689/posts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did he strip Fox or OAN of their credibility? They are part of the “media”.

      How did he do it? By lying all the time?

      How did this so-called “bias” affect elections: of the last 14 House elections, 10 were won by Republicans. For the Senate, 9 were won by Republicans.

      President: out of 7 presidential elections, republicans won 3.

      I don’t see it.

      Delete
    2. The media isn't on the side of Democrats that's a stupid myth. They are on the side of corporate power. Sometimes, like the the New York Times, that means pretending to be liberal which is just a business decision. And the liberals who read it are too naive to understand the what they are reading is in service of corporate power and not any true liberal agenda.

      Delete
    3. David,
      Why do YOU think the NY Times spent 2016 pretending to care that Republicans were pretending to care about Hillary Clinton's email protocols?

      As an aside, do you think the corporations, which own the media, are run by Marxist/ Socialists biased towards the Democratic Party?

      Finally, who do you think you are fooling?

      Delete
    4. @11:48 the behavior of so-called "limousine liberals" is worth a psychological study. For whatever reason, some wealthy people support causes that would appear not to be in their personal interest.

      Delete
    5. It is in their interest, dear David. The liberal cult serves the global finance, hedge funds (the Soros fund is the most obvious example) and such. Moving US industries offshore and bringing cheap laborers of all kinds in.

      ...well, to be fair, not exactly all kinds: no lawyers and no doctors. Those are protected. For a price, obviously.

      Delete
    6. Mao,
      Bullshit. Trump made some phone calls in January 2017, and put a stop to that.
      i, for one, am getting a little tired of your shitty TDS. Seek help.

      Delete
    7. "...some wealthy people support causes that would appear not to be in their personal interest."

      So people don't act in their own best interests in a capitalist society?
      What part of capitalism isn't a lie?

      Delete
    8. Mao is a dembot zombie who hates Trump.

      Delete
    9. "The liberal cult serves the global finance, ..."

      Speaking of cults, here's the Glen Greenwald Chapter (Mao's group):

      https://www.tierneyrealnewsnetwork.com/post/the-truth-about-george-floyd-antifa-cair-keith-ellison-s-minnesota

      David's just a mark.

      Delete
    10. David, discrediting the press is Fascism 101. Nothing original here.

      a broad consensus develop regarding certain ineluctable traits that are uniquely and definitively fascist: its populism and ultranationalism, its anti-intellectualism, its carefully groomed culture of violence, its insistence that it represents the true national identity, its treatment of dissent as treason, and what Oxford Brookes scholar Roger Griffin calls its "palingenesis" -- that is, its core myth of a phoenix-like rebirth of the national identity in the mold of a nonexistent Golden Age. And, of course, it has historically always been vigorously -- no, viciously -- anti-liberal.

      Sound like anyone you know?

      Lugenpresse – the concept of "lying press" made famous by the Nazi party in Germany during Adolf Hitler's rise to power -

      Delete
    11. Sounds a lot like you and your liberal-zombie cult, dear Hillary.

      Delete
    12. William Bedford Forrest calling mm "Hillary" is the smartest thing a Right-winger will do this century.

      Delete
  18. Here is some actual media criticism of the NY Times, that doesn't hinge on trivialities about paraphrasing:

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/6/13/1952148/-Journalism-101-fail-NYT-article-lets-Republicans-lie-and-attack-but-can-t-find-Democrat-to-respond

    ReplyDelete
  19. Scant evidence of antifa, MSN says:

    https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142514191

    But Somerby is upset because Bill Barr is wrongly paraphrased?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm usually with you on these things but this is a quibble too far.

    ReplyDelete
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