The President and his Intelligence Chiefs: When Breaking News Falls Short

President Trump’s attack on his intelligence chiefs following their worldwide threat briefing to Congress last month wasn’t supposed to be a comedy skit.  Intended or not, the performance ranks among the best Laurel and Hardy impersonations in years.  As National Intelligence Director, Dan Coats, playing the guileless Laurel, briefed Capitol Hill, Trump, the mercurial Hardy, lambasted the spies as naïve, passive and seriously under-trained.  The only thing missing was Hardy’s classic line: “Well, Coats, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me in.”

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Donald Trump

Dilemma of Chinese Censorship: Hollywood's Problem Isn't Only in China

China demands Hollywood moviemakers toe the political line when they create their blockbuster candidates for the Chinese market and for their part, the studio bosses comply.  But kowtowing to Beijing’s censors seems highly likely to become a requirement outside China as well.  How far will Hollywood go? 

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The Propagandists and their Enablers: The News Media's Parallel Universes

It takes an unusual mind, the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once wrote, to undertake the analysis of the obvious.  Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics -- a book that explains how the media are accelerating the country's spiral into national crisis -- actually is the work of three unusual minds.  Their thinking couldn't be more relevant or troubling in demonstrating how news coverage of the Trump presidency is deepening the divisions among Americans by the day.

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Kent Michael Harrington

Analyst, Journalist, Author and National Security Affairs Expert

China's Billion Dollar Bet on Remaking the News: It's Not Just Slicker Propaganda

In 1958 the late Harold Isaacs, a foreign-correspondent-turned-political-scientist, wrote a book about American views of China and India examining popular attitudes toward the two societies.  His research, an imaginative use of surveys and interviews, found that, from the man on the street to foreign policy experts, impressions of both countries lagged far behind their realities.  As he considered future relations between the East's rising powers and the West, Isaacs worried about the effects of outdated perceptions, calling them, poetically, "scratches on our minds."  A new study on the expanding international reach of China's news media by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Paris-based NGO that defends freedom of the press, suggests his worry is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.

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What #MeToo Tells Us About National Leadership

#Metoo is dramatically affecting how people understand sexual harassment and power.  But it isn't only about courageous women and abuses.  It also carries a message about national leadership, particularly when CEOs seek to claim the nation's top job.

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When Lies Metastasize: A Meditation on the Media and Democracy

The effects of lying and misrepresentation aren't limited to their source.  Coming from the Oval Office, they can effect not only how issues are understood, but also how politics works.  The Trump White House is a prime example.

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"Dark Money," the Media and the Integrity of American Democracy

As a case study of Montana politics, the documentary "Dark Money" explores the impact on the state's elections of the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United.  It also raises a question: What role do the corporations dominating the American media landscape have in maintaining the integrity of our democracy?  

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What's Next After Singapore? Ask TV Critics, Not the Foreign Policy Experts

Washington's foreign policy experts are struggling to explain President Trump's foreign policy.  In a White House that has substituted reality TV for real politique, it's time to bring in the media critics who are far more likely to understand what happens in an administration that is all show and no substance.

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Donald Trump and the Press: Somewhere Old Bolsheviks are Smiling

"The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator," Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov wrote in 1901, "but also a collective organizer of the masses."  Ulyanov, also known as Vladimir Lenin, couldn't have penned a better description of Donald Trump's media strategy today.  

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Kremlin Oligarchs and Silicon Valley: It's Not Only About the Money

The testimony by U.S. intelligence chiefs before Congress in their worldwide threat briefing last month made no bones about it:  Following its successful covert political attack on the 2016 election, Moscow's effort to subvert American democracy is continuing full steam.  The threat assessment was unambiguous.  Social media is in Russia's bulls-eye.  It's hardly a surprise.

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Covering the Presidency as Performance Art: What Price Are We Paying?

Survivor, The Bachelor, Real Housewives, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Jersey Shore.  Cringe-worthy or not, reality TV hits continue to pull in viewers.  So does White House in Chaos, President Trump's latest show.  It's available on every news network 24/7.  What's more, Americans don't need to buy a premium subscription to watch, although at this point it should be clear the price the country is paying.

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Divine Providence for Fools, Drunkards and the United States of America

God has a special providence, Otto von Bismarck once purportedly said, for fools, drunkards and the United States of America.   Apocryphal or not, the 150-year-old quote attributed to Germany's famed Iron Chancellor conjures the kind of divine help that anyone paying attention to current events could only wish for today.

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