Raid of lawyer’s office and its coverage


On Monday, Michael Cohen’s offices were raided by FBI officials. Cohen, who is President Trump’s lawyer, was investigated in relations to deals the lawyer may have made to keep women affiliated with Trump quiet about their past relationships.

This unexpected and largely shocking raid was triggered by Stormy Daniel’s accusations she was paid off to keep quiet about her sexual relationship with trump, who was married during the alleged affair, as well as the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tape where Trump makes vulgar comments about women and how he could “do just anything to them” and they would let him.

The warrant, which was issued early Monday, includes everything from financial documents to explore possible payoffs to emails, which would reveal communications between Cohen and President Trump, especially during the period in which Trump cautiously referenced his extramarital encounters.

The coverage of this event is not lacking, for several reasons. First of all, the tension and controversial surrounding President Trump’s affiliates and possible crimes has been bubbling since he entered office. With the rising concern over Russian interference as well as Facebook and Cambridge Analytics bombshells, all eyes have been on the White House to not only see how they react but also how they handle the mounting issues.

Because the raid on an lawyer’s office is so rare, the story with its basic facts is gaining a lot of attention, so news outlets do not feel the need to embellish or add extra details to make it seem more scandalous, though many sites do include links to previous stories that cover Stormy Daniels and the “Access Hollywood” tape mentioned above. The issue with coverage here, to me, is not how much is being covered or if it is being covered truthfully (I believe many, if not all reliable outlets are doing an excellent job with bringing people the true facts) but rather who is covering it.

Fox News as long been recognized as a very conservative, extreme right channel. Their coverage of events differs greatly from others in how it is treated and highlighted. They may cover the March for Our Lives just as accurately as CNN or MSNBC, but follow their facts-based news blurb with an hour of talking heads speaking negatively about the cause, the kids, and/or gun control. We seem some backlash to this, as in the Laura Ingraham case, but overall it just seems to be an extra bit added onto people’s personally sculpted echo-chambers.

However, as far as the FBI’s raise on Cohen, the popular conservative news outlet has been almost silent. There are several tweets circulating all over Twitter showing how almost all major news stations are covering the raid while a screenshot of Fox News sits below with an anchor covering panda’s sex drives.

Vox, an alternative, internet-based news outlet, underlined this in an article “Why Fox News limited coverage of the raid of Trump’s lawyer’s office” alongside several line graphs.

The graphics show how MSNBC and CNN devoted slightly over twenty percent of their airtime to the raid, while Fox News barely jumped above seven percent. The amounts become slightly more even when Fox covered Trump’s rant against the raid.

When it did cover the raid, the coverage was focused on a deeper lying conspiracy against the president and his allies, often called “deep state” by extreme right-wing supporters, instead of why the raid was even happening. It is a mindset that is convinced bureaucrats are controlling the news and elections to try to shame and ridicule conservatives, and it is the rhetoric that Fox News, most notable Sean Hannity, uses to justify Trump’s controversial staffing decisions and anything negative that happens against Trump.

In the end, Fox News as long been a haven for hardcore Trump supporters and they know their base will block out a majority of negative news and commentary about their president. But this is where the journalistic decision between maintaining and audience and covering what is relevant and important comes into play and I believe Fox made the wrong choice.

Teachers stand fast, protests continue


Oklahoma’s teacher walkout in protest of poor state funding of schools started yesterday and shows no sign of slowing down. The teachers, after forming a walkout yesterday that shut down area schools, have now collected in the Oklahoma State Capital and their chanting echoed up and down the rotunda of the building.

The teachers have an allotted budget to travel to the Capitol on school buses for 10 days in protest. They started by presenting a three-pronged demand list to the state that demanded they fill in a $50 million gap left by a repealed hotel tax, allow “ball and dice” gambling to increase state revenue and, most importantly, find additional ways to fund public schools.

Efforts by state Democrats to increase state revenue to about $75 million, which would be directed to the schools, have been blocked and the House of Representatives announced it would be adjourned until the end of Wednesday in interest of the representative’s safety. Many teachers expressed anger over the lack of action, insisting that “there were options on the table, now they just had to hammer the legislators.” The teachers, however, have announced they are in it for the long run.

Despite traditional news media coverage of protest slanting to make them seem violent or unjustified, especially when preformed by minorities, the treatment of the teacher walkout in Oklahoma carries a sort of justice-empowered respect around it. Outlets are careful to detail both sides, including efforts by legislators to propose and pass helpful changes, but it is overwhelmingly in favor of the teachers. However, this is not a shock. The general opinion about teachers is very positive, with the (correct) idea that they work very hard and very diligently for very little.

The public is also very invested in this story as local Oklahoma parents seek the best for their children, and an end to the sudden “vacation” their walkout gave to students. It also has a broader reach- long has the United States education system, especially public schools, been viewed as underfunded, under-supported, and overstretched. This is perhaps a catalyst for the rest of the nation’s teachers to demand better, which may (hopefully) resolve in a complete overhaul of our public school systems.

Boss of Nasser failed to protect patients


The arrest and conviction of Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor who abused more than 200 women over his career, is one of the largest sex abuse scandals in U.S. history.

William Stampel (Staff photo, Michigan State University).

Now, his boss is under fire.

William Strampel was dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and oversaw the clinic where Nassar worked.

He failed to enforce proper examination room regulations he set in place following an accusation against Nassar in 2014, which required doctors to have a chaperone present whenever they examined “sensitive” body areas.

This allowed Nassar to continue to abuse his patients. Even in the midst of the sexual abuse investigation in 2014 Stampel allowed him to return to work and did not inform the rest of the Osteopathic Medicine Department of his new regulations. He stated in 2017 he did not feel the need to check to see if Nassar was following these new rules because he felt he had been “exonerated” by a investigation by the university and the police.

Strampel’s work computer contained more than 50 photos of female genitalia, nude women, sex toys and pornography, as well as an extensive collection of female “selfies” of MSU students, most likely pulled from social media.

Most worryingly, there was also saved video of Nassar “performing a ‘treatment’ on a young female patient. Forsyth, who was hired by Michigan’s attorney general to investigate the university, would not discuss the photos on the computer or how Stampel may have come in possession of them.

Outside of Nassar connections, Stampel has also been repeatedly accused of sexual assault by young women around MSU.

I am always skeptical when it comes to new coverage of sexual assault and its victims. If the news media aren’t implying blame on the victims, they are often sensationalizing the stories and jumping the gun on accusations.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by this story’s coverage as well, by extension, the coverage of the Nassar case. The news media were mindful when discussing Nassar’s victims and even seems to hold the 200 testimonies against him in high regard. These articles were no different.

There was very little wild speculation over who was a victim and rather drew the lines that prosecutors and investigators had within their statements. They mirror Nassar’s actions against Stampel’s work as dean to create a timeline and connect events. Even articles with pointed tones still lay out the facts and list the defense’s claims, even if it would be easy to immediately condemn him in the wake of Nassar.

Kimmel exposes Trump’s hypocrisy


Popular night time show host Jimmy Kimmel announced he planned to file a federal complaint against the Trump family’s new Trump Store.

A screen capture from Jimmy Kimmel’s show clip on YouTube where he presents the box and letter from the Trump Store.

The talk show host of has been vocal about calling out the Trump administration’s policy issues and controversial political decisions.

On the latest episode of his show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” questioned Trump’s “Buy American!” rhetoric.

It has been a phrase the president has pushed since the beginning of the election and most recently reiterated while moving for high foreign tariffs.

Kimmel expressed agreement with the idea of supporting American businesses and manufacturers, and also stated that Trump’s sons, who run the brand new online Trump Store, seemed to hold the belief t even stronger than he did.

As a test, he ordered several items from their merchandise site and found that all of them were made in China, though several left out the country of origin. Kimmel stated that an omission of such could bring around half a million dollars in fines and he has already filed a federal complaint against the store.

Though he expressed this as a honest move to fix a possible oversight, the action will surely bring to light the two-sided nature of Trump’s words.

One of the items from the online store, a coin bank, with no marked country of origin.

But the most interesting part of this story is not the federal complaint placed but the way Kimmel laid out and physically showed the lack of American-made products from the Trump Store. I

n a way very unique to television he was able to open a box from the legitimate store and show the inscriptions, embroidery and tags (or lack of) describing the Chinese, Peruvian, or Taiwanese origin of the products. He ordered everything from a golf club cover to a baby’s bib and did a simplistically wonderful way of showing the range of places these items came from.

John Oliver, host of “Last Week with John Oliver,” often directly presents reports, interviews and documents while exposing politicians.

In an age where the public has become less and less trusting of news and entertainment media and gravitates toward sensationalized stories, flashy headlines and personal echo chambers, the earnest and straight-forward way Kimmel presented the physical evidence can not be denied by even the most staunch Trump supporter.

Many late-night talk shows have begun to take this approach when it comes to politics and cite specific phrases from government guidelines and show actual documents of fraud, theft or deceit.

It seems in an age of appeal over quality, this is the only way to keep people from blindly believing whatever Twitter headline they come across next. No one can deny cold, hard presentation like that.

Pepe the Frog creator sues ‘InfoWars’


Matt Furie, creator of Pepe the Frog, is suing Alex Jones’ “news show” “Infowars” after a poster featuring the character showed up for sale on the site’s merchandise page.

“MAGA” poster for sale on the Infowars website

Though it started out as an innocent comic character in Furie’s comic “Boys Club” in 2005, the image and its various versions such as “Sad Pepe” or “Smug Pepe” quickly spread across the web as a popular meme.

Many consider it to be the first major meme and was used by Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and was the most retweeted meme on Twitter in 2015.

However in 2016, as the presidential election began, Pepe was adopted by the republican party after candidate Donald Trump retweeted a version of “Trump Pepe” that featured his blonde hair, suit and stance at the presidential podium.

His son, Donald J. Trump Jr. also retweeted a parody of the movie poster for “The Expendables” that featured Pepe as part of the Trump family on the poster and other popular right-wing and conservative figures.

As the right wing became more and more extreme and radicalized up to and following

A common use of the original Pepe and “Sad Pepe” meme on Twitter.

the election, so did the causes, groups, and alt-right news sources Pepe was associated with, to the point where the Anti-Defamation League, a watchdog group opposed to antisemitism, added Pepe to its hate symbol database.

The image became deeply associated with hate groups and white supremacists and the Trump campaign did not distance themselves from it.

“Infowars,” a sensationalized “news source” hosted by extreme conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, is yet another outlet taking Furie’s image and continuing the misconstrued message now associated with the character.

A screenshot from the ADL website with examples of the hijacked Pepe images

Jones called the lawsuit “frivolous” and insists the suit is part of a larger attempt by news media outlets to make Infowars “public enemy number one.”

This will not be the first time Furie has had to sue over the depiction of Pepe however. A children’s book that used the Pepe promoted “racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes,” according to a federal lawsuit filed by Furie, and the out of court settling required the removal of the book from sale.

Furie also killed off Pepe from his comic as a reaction to the corruption of his character.

This issue brings into consideration the way a meaning can be attached to an image and how quickly it can be propagated as such. Social media’s speed with condemning or supporting an image and inventing the unspoken meaning behind them is a powerful one and is frequently carried over into real life.

Even in the earlier days of Pepe’s alt-right association, news outlets struggled with dividing the comic character frog from the hate symbol he had been painted over as and they raised the unspoken question of where to draw the line between the creators intent and the current usage. I consider it similar to the swastika.

Though it was created and used across many eastern religions as a symbol of good luck, awareness, and even the footsteps of Buddha, today we know it as the symbol of the Nazi party and their acts of hate and genocide. However, Furie’s quick rebuttal to all attempts to use his character and hopes to redefine him could change how we see Pepe five years down the road.

Another Trump Administration departure


Hope Hicks announced Wednesday that she planned to step down from her position as White House Communication Director and leave the White House. Her exit becomes the latest of 18 departures from the Trump White House staff, 15 of which were also result of resignation. She is also the third communications director to leave since the beginning of Trump’s presidency.

Hope Hicks speaks with Donald Trump within the Oval Office.

Hicks has been a long-time friend and confidant of the president and one of the few who could reportedly challenging his standing thoughts on certain issues.

When Donald Trump decided to run in 2015, he pulled Hicks from Ivanka’s branding and licensing team despite her lack of experience. She was a close adviser during the process and, even after her appointment to Communications director maintained a low public profiles by turning down interviews and not standing at the podium in the White House briefing room.

Hicks announced this just a day after her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee where she reportedly admitting to telling lies for and about the president but nothing related to the investigation into Russia interference with the presidential election.

However, several White House aides explained her decision to leave had nothing to do with her appearance before the House Intelligence Committee and claimed Hicks had made the choice days before the hearing because she did not like Washington, D.C., and did not want to stay and pretend she did.

A Twitter user compares the length of service between Hope Hicks and previous Communications Director Scaramucci.

Hick’s departure caps off a series of high-profile exits — including Sean Spicer as press secretary and James Comey as FBI director — since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and raises questions about the stability and structure of the Trump administration.

Many White House aides expressed hopefulness that now there would be more structure and stability within the administration. Others are waiting to see how President Trump reacts to losing a huge part of his major supports and personal advisers. For a man who relies very heavily on validation from those close to him, how will he react to a staff full of outsiders?

Copycat death threats: Fault of media?


Just a few days following the devastating school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., police have foiled many copycat threats toward schools and their students.

Many of the charges have simply been for written threats to kill, but the message forms have ranged from pictures on Snapchat with guns declaring dates they would attack to a physical written note threatening teachers. The police have arrested and defused these threats, but a majority of the threats made were termed as jokes or seen as “funny” by their perpetrators.

This perception of the national tragedy by high school and middle school students could reflect a much larger issue when it comes to media coverage of major shooting incidents.

A screenshot of the Rolling Stone’s Facebook page following the publishing of their Boston Bomber cover.

The news media came under scrutiny for their treatment of national disasters largely due to The Rolling Stone‘s coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing incident on April 13, 2013.

They chose to put the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s face on the cover of their magazine and caused national outrage for glamorizing and popularizing Tsarnaev rather than respecting and focusing on the victims and the city’s recovery. It was somewhat comparative to young woman who send love letters to serial killers such as Ted Bundy or Jeffery Dahmer.

When it comes to national tragedies, the media has a responsibility to inform as regularly and as accurately as possible. But many people have urged networks and publications to not repeatedly print the accused’s face and name since the popularity and recognition is often what the perpetrators aim for when they do what they do.

Whether these kids wanted to scare their friends or see how their school’s react, a large amount of mass shootings are often inspired by the national attention previous disasters like Columbine or Sandy Hook receive.

The killers are instantly picked apart and their interests, friends, family, and possible motivations are published everywhere and they dominate the news. The Las Vegas shooter was a noted narcissist- what better way to satisfy the need for attention then to be discussed in the news for weeks?

New York Times writer Zeynep Tufekci questions news media treatment of Las Vegas shooting.

This is also fault to the new age of 24-hour news cycle. With networks dedicated to instant, braking news updates every hour of the day, these incidents are rehashed over and over.

No Notoriety, a group that focuses on media coverage of mass killings asks the media to “limit” the name and images of a shooter except for instances where the suspect is at large.  Let’s focus on the event, the victims and the heroes, and not make the killer a household name.

Can AI stop extremists on social media?


A few days ago, the United Kingdom government unveiled a new, $843,834 (600,000 British pounds) technology that would detect and flag videos with extreme jihadist propaganda.

An image from Isis’s Dabiq propaganda magazine.

This is the first major step into improving the automated flagging of inappropriate videos which has become a major concern for both viewers and content creators.

This issue was first brought to light in 2016 which jihadist videos reached hundreds of thousand of views on YouTube.

At this point, the platform would trust viewers with flagging content, which would then go under individual review by YouTube employees. But since the content creation has spiked in recent years, the review process has become inefficient and has fallen to criticism.

In response, the program set up an imperfect algorithm which flagged anything relating to violent acts, tragic events, or inappropriate content in general. As a result, many news-focused pages lost their funding and creators became unable to speak on tragedies or even curse in videos without the risk of losing their income.

ASI Data Science’s new artificial intelligence has proven to accurately flag videos and has only flagged 0.005 percent non-IS related videos and major giants like Facebook and Google are meeting with the developers to see about implementing the technology onto their platforms.

With the reveal of this technology also came British government’s willingness to pass legislation to make this a mandatory part of online technology. Many social media sites have had major issues with violent, terrorist-focused pages and videos using them as a host and even as a place for group recruitment.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have worked to create blanket solutions but still come under fire for the inaccurate and ineffective results produced by algorithmic solutions.

UK man Shafi Mohammed Saleen, a prolific ISIS supporter, who was convicted of spreading terrorist group propaganda on Twitter.

‘Social media companies continue to get beat in part because they rely too heavily on technologists and technical detection to catch bad actors,’ says an expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in the use of the internet by terror groups.

As the popularity of social media continues to grow so does the untraveled “Wild West” of the internet and we continue to question how we should handle it. The improvement in AI recognition seems like a step in the right direction, especially with the compliance of internet giants like Facebook and Google.

UM hockey team looks for big finish


When people think Miami, they rarely picture ice arenas or hockey pucks. But the University of Miami is home to a passionate club men’s hockey team who will wrap up their season this weekend at the Southern Collegiate Hockey Conference championship playoff.

The team is a self-motivated club sport with all the drive and hard work of a typical university varsity team. It started out as a roller hockey team but, after winning the national title in the sport in 2011, it transitioned easily to ice hockey, which most of its players started out on.

Between the travel distance to an off-campus rink and the personal costs of participating, those who hit the ice truly love the game.

The players celebrate on ice. -@MiamiHockey on Instagram

The hockey team is young, with only one senior and two juniors, but the coaches and players only see that as an obvious advantage in the future.

Team captain and lone senior Ben Hoar commented, “The average age for the team is about 18 or 19, which makes it intimidating to go against teams where that number is up around 21. But it also means the team will grow together and it is the start of a great program.”

As the team becomes more established within itself, it also welcomes a new home rink: Pines Ice Arena in Pembroke Pines. After only its first season there, the rink is decorated with University of Miami banners and the signature “U” is painted on the ice.

However, the team will be traveling up to Coral Springs to the Florida Panthers’ Ice Den for the SCHS playoff. On Friday at 4:45 p.m., the team faces off against University of South Florida, and the winner of that bracket will play #2 University of Central Florida on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. As the Hurricanes are 6th and last in their conference, they sit outside the championship bracket but can contend for a final third through sixth ranking through the weekend.

Russian Olympians have ban overturned


On Feb. 1, the International Olympic Committee’s lifetime ban on 28 of the 39 Russian Olympic athletes as a result of anti-doping violations was overturned by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport due to insufficient evidence.

The court upheld the appeals of athletes who had been given a lifetime ban following discovery of “systematic manipulation of anti-doping rules” after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The court ruled that, while doping violations had taken place, the lifetime bans were not justified. Instead, the court ruled to shortened the ban to just the 2018 Olympic Games and the athlete’s scores and medals in Sochi will be reinstated in the record books.

Other Olympic athletes disagree with the decision. Canadian luger, Sam Edney, whose team risks losing a bronze medal as a result of this ruling, called this “a dark day for Clean Sports.”

Edney’s response on Twitter

However, it is still unclear whether these athletes will attempt to participate in the the 2018 games.

The IOC stated that the decision brought “satisfaction on the one hand and disappointment on the other.”

It also warned that the upholding of their appeals did not mean an invitation to 2018 games.

To do so, they would have to pass the Olympic Committee’s Invitation Review Panel and then be selected to join one of the Russian teams competing under a neutral banner.

The Olympic Committee still has the opportunity to appeal the Swiss court’s decision and bring forth significant evidence that these doping attempts greatly impacted the outcome of the game and that their severity warrants a lifetime ban from participation.

Several affected athletes, including Olga Zaytseva, Russia’s most accomplished bi-athlete who retired in 2015, claim they are victims of an overarching, collective punishment against their nation. She claims that not only is she clean but the entirety of the evidence brought against her fellow athletes is “fabricated.”

As a result of this decision, the Olympic Committee’s action on doping violators was brought into question. There is no doubt that doping and use of forbidden performance enhancers deeply violates not only the Olympic rules but also the spirit of the games.

But the question stands on the severity of the punishment and whether the International Olympic Committee struck too broadly, rather than deeply.