Hillary Clinton’s supporters often argue that mainstream political reporters are incapable of covering her positively—or even fairly. While it may be true that the political press doesn’t always write exactly what Clinton would like, emails recently obtained by Gawker offer a case study in how her prodigious and sophisticated press operation manipulates reporters into amplifying her desired message—in this case, down to the very word that The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder used to describe an important policy speech.

The emails in question, which were exchanged by Ambinder, then serving as The Atlantic’s politics editor, and Philippe Reines, Clinton’s notoriously combative spokesman and consigliere, turned up thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request we filed in 2012 (and which we are currentlysuing the State Department over). The same request previously revealed that Politico’s chief White House correspondent, Mike Allen, promised to deliver positive coverage of Chelsea Clinton, and, in a separate exchange,permitted Reines to ghost-write an item about the State Department for Politico’s Playbook newsletter. Ambinder’s emails with Reines demonstrate the same kind of transactional reporting, albeit to a much more legible degree: In them, you can see Reines “blackmailing” Ambinder into describing a Clinton speech as “muscular” in exchange for early access to the transcript. In other words, Ambinder outsourced his editorial judgment about the speech to a member of Clinton’s own staff.

On the morning of July 15, 2009, Ambinder sent Reines a blank email with the subject line, “Do you have a copy of HRC’s speech to share?” His question concerned a speech Clinton planned to give later that day at the Washington, D.C. office of the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential think tank. Three minutes after Ambinder’s initial email, Reines replied with three words: “on two conditions.” 

After Ambinder responded with “ok,” Reines sent him a list of those conditions:

From: [Philippe Reines]
Sent: Wednesday, July 15 2009 10:06 AM
To: Ambinder, Marc
Subject: Re: Do you have a copy of HRC’s speech to share?

3 [conditions] actually

1) You in your own voice describe them as “muscular”

2) You note that a look at the CFR seating plan shows that all the envoys — from Holbrooke to Mitchell to Ross — will be arrayed in front of her, which in your own clever way you can say certainly not a coincidence and meant to convey something

3) You don’t say you were blackmailed!

One minute later, Ambinder responded:

From: Ambinder, Marc
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:07 AM
To: Philippe Reines
Subject: RE: Do you have a copy of HRC’s speech to share?

got it

Ambinder made good on his word. The opening paragraph of the article he wrote later that day, under the headline “Hillary Clinton’s ‘Smart Power’ Breaks Through,” precisely followed Reines’ instructions:

When you think of President Obama’s foreign policy, think of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That’s the message behind amuscular speech that Clinton is set to deliver today to the Council on Foreign Relations. The staging gives a clue to its purpose: seated in front of Clinton, subordinate to Clinton, in the first row, will be three potentially rival power centers: envoys Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell, and National Security Council senior director Dennis Ross.

(read the full post »here)

Houston people who like happy hour and brunch

Together with an amazing bunch of women Tameka, Danielle, Akia and Kay. (I dunno why i could only find one of yall’s tumblrs)

we have started a weekly newsletter that celebrates Houston’s black women + our diverse perspectives. Delivering news, art, culture & of course…where to brunch.

It is a collective of our blogs, (if you are in Houston and wanna contribute, hit me up), events in the city, opportunities to serve our community, and the best brunches, happy hours, meetups and concerts in the city. All curated weekly and delivered to your box by a diverse group of black women. 

In the most diverse city in the nation, its important that we fill the silence with our voice and have a publication that black women, particularly black millennial women can relate to and meet each other through. 

SO IF YOU TRYNA GET A WEEKLY NEWSLETTER of meetups, happy hours, social commentary, art shows, single men and women in the city, vinyl music nights, plays, and reflection of the various aspects of black womanhood in houston, like our FB page here, our twitter page here, and sign up for our newsletter through our FB page. 

Sidenote: Our audience is black women. HOWEVER you don’t have to be black, live in Houston or identify as female to join the newsletter (i got a lot of questions on FB about this). Just respect the culture. 

And pass this along if you like the idea. Cool.

No one has any idea of how happy I am today. Finally my dream of being a journalist is slowly starting to come true!! Today was my first happy day in college because, for the first time, I’m studying something that I love, and not something my parents wanted for me. No one cares about this but I really wanted to share 💛
Could Ferguson Win Its Case Against the Justice Department?
Federal officials have twice failed to force reforms on a police department. Will Ferguson be next?

A few weeks ago, it seemed like Ferguson, Mo. might actually enter into an agreement to overhaul its police and city court.

City officials had reached a tentative agreement with the Justice Department in January to implement widespread reforms, including retraining police officers, restructuring the city court and removing rules in the city code that police had used almost exclusively to penalize African-Americans.

Now, change in the city that helped give rise to the Black Lives Matter movement following the police shooting death of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown will come much more slowly, if at all.

Read more

📷: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
Dying to tell the story: scores of journalists killed each year for doing their jobs
The Philippines, Brazil, Iraq, Mexico and Somalia are still holding up their guilty hands as the most dangerous countries for journalists in 2015. Murder remains a risk free method of censorship and, as INSI's former director Rodney Pinder points out in this podcast, it doesn't help when celebrities like Sean Penn suck up to drug lords in a country where the cartels have killed dozens of reporters. #journosafe #Mexico Many thanks to Chris Zabriskie for the music and AFP for the image.
Click here to support AfroNative Narratives Documentary by Macha Xochiquetzal Rose
The Black Native Narratives is an interactive documentary project with the goal of highlighting the Black Native (also referred to as AfroNative) experience in contemporary America. Usually left to a few pages in history books, this is an identity that is generally overlooked and highly controver...

Help fund our videos!! It takes about $1,500 per video. This includes airfare, rental car, hotel for two from two different coasts. It also includes rental of a 4K camera and better audio equipment. We really want to give these videos the best treatment, because these stories are so valuable. We also need to get to the individuals that want to be interviewed on camera, and they are all over the country (countries now!). 

We are currently both journalism students in our masters programs studying lots of video. The work will only get better. Every interview is a stepping stone to a great online narrative project. 

Your help counts :)

18 Things I Learned by 18

1. Mommy was wrong. You are not the prettiest girl.

There will always be girls who are more physically attractive than you and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. But if you learn to embrace who you are, this shouldn’t have any negative effect on your life. 

2. Time does not heal all wounds.

Some wounds will leave nasty scars that remain painful each and every time you look back on them. You can’t quite understand why this is, but the only thing you can really do is try your best to become stronger from the pain you’ve endured.

3. People won’t always like you.

We’ve all heard the quote “you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world but there will always be someone out there who hates peaches”. You can’t control the fact that your personality, looks, interests, etc. won’t always be appreciated by others. But you should never change to please anyone. If they can’t accept you for who you are, they aren’t worth your time. 

4. In the end, guys will always want the good girls.

I’ve learned this the painful way. I used to be considered the “good” girl until I went through an insanely rough breakup. After taking advantage of my newfound freedom,  I received countless hurtful comments regarding my sexual behavior and my relationship with drugs and alcohol. This made me feel disgusting and worthless, but it’s never too late to better yourself and change your life around.

5. Everyone experiences the fear of missing out.

No matter how old you get, you will almost always fear missing out on the fun and excitement when you miss an event. However, you have to fight this feeling in order to ace that Biology midterm. It’s okay to miss a night out every once in a while if it means studying or just having time to yourself if needed. 

6. Black is ALWAYS the most flattering color. 

Can’t figure out what to wear to that formal? When in doubt, buy a dress in black.

7. How many likes, retweets, etc. you get on social media really doesn’t matter. 

You may be a little jealous when the 13 year old from your hometown gets twice as many likes on her pointless Facebook status than you received on your meaningful post, but then you come to realize that all of her likes probably came from her other 13 year old friends whose opinions are completely irrelevant.

8. Mistakes happen. Sometimes avoidable and other times not. 

Your ex-boyfriend from high school, for example. Or the fact that you completely bombed your calc final. You live, you learn. 

9. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. 

We’ve all experienced the death of a loved one by the age of 18. After losing multiple valued family members and two close friends, I’ve learned how short life really is and how it can be taken from anyone at any given time. But by 18 I’ve learned to embrace the time that I’ve been given and to make the most of it. 

10. You’ll never regret helping a homeless person, but you’ll regret walking away from them. 

I never quite understood my family’s tendency to be repulsed and disgusted by homeless people or even those who were just less fortunate than us. My parents always scolded me for talking to or trying to help homeless people. And I always felt guilty when I walked away leaving them empty handed. Since I’ve become more independent, I’ve always gone out of my way to help others in need. It never fails to put a smile on their face and yours.

11. People who break your heart never even deserved it anyways.

Whether it was your boyfriend or your best friend, the relationship was temporary and clearly wasn’t right for either of you. But something/someone better is in store for you if you just give it some time. 

12. Mom always knows who your fake friends are before you do. 

Don’t forget that your mom endured a lot of the same relationship struggles that you have and that she can spot someone who isn’t worth your time well before you can.

13. NOTHING defines you.

Not your weight. Not your height. Not your grades. Not even your legal or social status. You are your very own person with unique characteristics, beliefs, likes and dislikes, etc. 

14. It’s okay to express feelings of sadness or of anger. 

I spent the majority of my life suppressing all of my negative feelings which consequently led me to tear myself apart; mentally and physically. Once I realized that it’s okay to show feelings of dissatisfaction, I became a much happier and healthier person. 

15. Never make a comment about someone’s eating habits or their weight. 

After struggling with eating disorders off and on since middle school, I realized that telling someone how big/small they are or commenting on how much or how little they eat is actually really hurtful, even if your intentions are completely innocent. When people gave me the nickname “Bones” at the beginning of my senior year in high school, it made me feel like everyone was making fun of my eating disorder. And now, when people make comments such as “you sure eat a ton for someone who’s so skinny”, it almost feels as if they want me to turn my recovery around and go right back into my old ways, regardless of what they actually mean by those words. 

16. Be cautious when it comes to who you share your secrets with.

Make sure that this person is a close and trusted friend. You must really trust this person. If your own secret makes its way back around to you, it’s time to cut that former trusted person out of your life for good.

17. School is important, but it’s not that important.

That psych exam is not nearly as important as sleep, your mental health, or eating. When you’re lucky to get two hours of sleep each night, have anxiety attacks at the thought of school work, and find yourself skipping meals, it’s time to let up and give yourself a well-deserved break from all negative stressors. 

18. Don’t tear yourself down, no matter the circumstances. 

I’ve struggled with self harm since middle school and with alcohol dependency since my sophomore year of high school. For a while, I even got into drugs pretty badly. And although those things seem to make everything better at the time; it does far more bad than good. It ruins relationships. It makes you feel 10x worse when you come down from your high or drunken state. And everything seems to fall apart. Whether you’re upset with yourself or with someone else, there’s always something positive that can help you feel better. Long drives on country roads listening to music. Writing. Working out. Drawing. Etc. 

Last October, China ended its 35-year-old policy of restricting most urban families to one child. Commonly referred to as the “one-child” policy, the restrictions were actually a collection of rules governing how many children married couples could have.

“The basic idea was to encourage everybody, by coercion if necessary, to keep to … one child,” journalist Mei Fong tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.

Fong explores the wide-ranging impact of what she calls the world’s “most radical experiment” in her new book, One Child. She says that among the policy’s unintended consequences is an acute gender imbalance.

“When you create a system where you would shrink the size of a family and people would have to choose, then people would … choose sons,” Fong says. “Now China has 30 million more men than women, 30 million bachelors who cannot find brides. … They call them guang guan, ‘broken branches,’ that’s the name in Chinese. They are the biological dead ends of their family.”

How China’s One-Child Policy Led To Forced Abortions, 30 Million Bachelors


The US is killing more civilians in Iraq and Syria than it acknowledges

ISTANBUL, Turkey — In almost a-year-and-a-half of bombing Iraq and Syria, the United States admits to killing just 22 innocent people. That number is impossibly low.

A GlobalPost investigation has unearthed a disturbing truth about the US military campaign against the Islamic State: Many more civilians are dying in American airstrikes than the US government acknowledges. People in Iraq and Syria can see what is happening. And so can the enemy. The Islamic State portrays the conflict as a war on Sunnis and a war on Muslims. When the coalition kills civilians — and does not investigate and apologize — the Islamic State fills the void with propaganda. 

According to the US Department of Defense: “No other military on Earth takes the concerns over collateral damage and civilian casualties more seriously than we do.” Yet our investigation found there has been no honest official estimate of how many civilians the United States has killed in Iraq and Syria. Even if civilian casualties are an inevitable part of war, the American public is being fed the comforting illusion that this war can be fought without shedding much innocent blood.

And that is simply not the case.

Read the full story here.

WashPo: The sexist double standard behind why millennials love Bernie Sanders

It is precisely Sanders’s au-naturel-ness that endears him to his young fans: his unkempt hair, his ill-fitting suits, his unpolished Brooklyn accent, his propensity to yell and wave his hands maniacally. Sanders, it appears, woke up like this.

These qualities are what make him seem “authentic,” “sincere” even — especially when contrasted with Clinton’s hyper-scriptedness. Sanders, unlike Clinton, doesn’t give a damn if he’s camera-ready.

This is, of course, a form of authenticity that is off-limits to any female politician, not just one with Clinton’s baggage.

Female politicians — at least if they want to be taken seriously on a national stage — cannot be unkempt and unfiltered, hair mussed and voice raised. They have to be carefully coifed and scripted at all times, because they have to hew as closely as possible to the bounds of propriety available to both their sex and their occupation. They can’t be too quiet or too loud, too emotional or too cold, too meek or too aggressive, and so on.

But they also can’t appear to be trying too hard, either. At least if they want the kind of enthusiastic millennial support that Sanders enjoys.

In which you take an actual complex issue and write the laziest, most offensive story you can about it. Millennials are not supporting Bernie Sanders because of his “unkempt hair” and “ill-fitting suits”. The authenticity factor has nothing to do with physical appearance, but is grounded in the issues and the way that each candidate speaks to us about them (AKA Hillary “just chillin’ in Iowa” Clinton vs. Bernie “I’m going to speak to you like the adults you are” Sanders). 

Do women in politics and in virtually every profession face unfair and sexist criticisms that men don’t? Yes, of course we do. And Secretary Clinton has been a victim of this double standard, but if you look at where that criticism is coming from it is not “millennials” and this type of half-baked writing does nothing to address the actual issue and only serves to degrade and dismiss young voters.

"Journalism is a voyeuristic vocation that attracts to its employment many people who are often naturally shy and insatiably curious, and each day they are assigned to view the world with a critical eye and a detached sense of intimacy." ― Gay Talese, born on this day in 1932