Thanksgiving news dump: the stories Trump and Facebook tried to bury

Guardian Web |

For government agencies and corporations with bad news they are reluctant to put out, there’s long been a tradition in public relations called the Friday news dump. In essence it’s a way of saying, OK, fine, we screwed up somehow, but let’s wait to admit to it until the last possible moment so fewer people will hear about it.

The problem is now that everyone is constantly connected to their phones, news travels further on a typical Friday evening than it used to. The Trump administration and Facebook needed another way to bury a couple of alarming stories last week. Enter the news dump.

On Wednesday evening, just as large numbers of Americans were traveling for the holiday, punching out of work early, or preparing their homes for guests, Facebook’s head of communications and policy, Elliot Schrage, published a blogpost admitting that the embattled tech giant had in fact hired the right-leaning public relations firm Definers to disparage critics with dirty tricks including alleging connections to billionaire George Soros, a regular boogeyman of the right and subject of antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Facebook heads Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg had previously denied knowledge of the firm’s involvement.

The Eve News Dump! Facebook acknowledges that it did ask Definers to go after Soros. Justifies it by saying Soros was a critic, and was funding anti-Facebook groups. https://t.co/gINAaVSd8ZMatthew Rosenberg (@AllMattNYT)

“Did we ask them to do work on George Soros ?” the memo reads. “Yes.”

Instead of apologizing for the tactics, Schrage instead attempted to justify them as standard business practice and necessary steps after Soros called the social media company a “menace to society” earlier this year. Definers prompted reporters to look into the financial connections between Soros and a group of anti-Facebook movements.

Another tactic employed by Definers was circulating negative articles about other tech companies to try to drown out the increasing slew of bad PR Facebook has dealt with this year. It does not seem to have worked very well.

And on Friday the Trump administration released financial disclosure forms for its communications director, Bill Shine. Shine, the former co-president of Fox News will continue to be paid by the network for the next two years even as he works in the White House.

JUST IN: The U.S. National Climate Assessment is now public.

This is the report that the Trump Administration doesn’t want you to see. Years in the making, released on the day after . #ClimateFriday

Here are some of the main highlights: https://t.co/fTqVopBccR
/1— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus)

While those all sound like serious and important news stories none of them are going to matter if civilization as we know it comes to an end. In a vastly more alarming news dump on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, the Trump administration released the findings of a major climate science report.

Cynics would say that this was done in order to bury one of the most detailed and comprehensive reports of its type.

Trump administration buried a report saying climate change is an urgent threat by releasing it this weekend.

Read more about it here: https://t.co/a3aEENxmgY

As we saw in the Arctic with @NASA, climate change is real, happening, and there’s no debate. pic.twitter.com/PqpX1c4od8Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff)

The 1,656-page National Climate Assessment, which is mandated by the US Congress, is a peer-reviewed report from scientists from 13 federal agencies said. They conclude that the impacts of climate change are already here and are projected to intensify.

Climate change is expected to bring more of the types of natural disasters we’ve seen across the US this year, including deadly wildfires in California and rising sea levels on the coasts, the report says.

The report concludes that “the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.”

On Wednesday evening, Trump, who probably missed the news on the climate report himself, dismissed the idea of climate change once again.

“Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS,” he tweeted. “Whatever happened to Global Warming?”

What happened to global warming is that your administration buried the most ground-breaking report of its impacts by releasing it the day after . Luckily, the Guardian is going to offer five summaries of the report all this week to inform readers of the report they have missed.

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