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Working in the greater field of media, albeit on a fairly obscure scale, it always makes me a bit angry when a journalist/writer is out there misrepresenting him/herself and deceiving his/her audience, especially when one considers that in September of 2015 trust in the media fell to an all-time low of only 40% among Americans. This is down from a high of 55% in 1999. If we were to look only at those under the age of 50, or the generations that are still working, planning their retirements, trying to get through college, etc., we’d find that only 36% of those under the age of 50 have trust in the media.

A lot of this has probably come about because of how easily information is shared via the Internet, where it’s easy for media consumers to fact check reporters and journalists or to get opposing viewpoints. If you were to read a controversial story on the New York Times’ website, it would take only a minute or two to find a completely contradictory argument elsewhere. Part-time internet sleuths can even get full copies of scientific studies to refute claims made by others online, just within a few mouse clicks. As a result, we’ve begun questioning everything, especially the information being shared by “the media.”

But this is just the background, because we’ve found another instance of a journalist/writer pulling more nonsense that will give even more people pause before trusting anything published or broadcast by a major media outlet. Enter Chris Sosa, a political commentator known for his work on Huffington Post. For the most part Chris seems like an alright guy. He’s progressive, just like me, we’re both non-Christians, care for the welfare of animals (though he’s far more devoted and dedicated to it than I am, based on his Twitter feed and writing), and social welfare is pretty high on our list of priorities. I’d probably like Chris under normal circumstances.

It also just so happens that Chris penned a piece for Salon titled “I’m done with Bernie Sanders: Why this democratic socialist is voting for Hillary Clinton,” which has called into question the amount of credibility he deserves.

After just a few minutes of detective work online, we found out that Chris, despite what he claimed in his piece on his defection from Team Bernie—which we have zero problems with—he actually has been donating to the Hillary Clinton campaign this election cycle, and not Bernie’s. If that’s not misleading, I don’t know what is.

FEC donation record for Chris Sosa

We know this because of the FEC (Federal Election Commission), which allows anybody to search for someone’s name and see to which political campaigns the person is donating, keeps records—unfortunately for Chris. There are two separate donations made, in his name, to Hillary for America this election cycle. The first is for $200 on 6/28/2015, and the second coming in early December for the amount of $103.24. I’m not sure how long or to what degree Chris was supporting Bernie Sanders, but the evidence suggests it either wasn’t a very long period of support or only support that never exceeded that of his support of Hillary Clinton. We hope you want evidence, because we’ve include a screenshot of his donations above.

Chris Sosa Linkedin Profile

We feel incredibly confident that it is the same Christ Sosa who wrote the piece for Salon. If you compare the two images above, you’ll see that the FEC record lists Chris’ employer as Care2, an organization that his Linkedin profile indicates he worked at for 9 months, from March 2015 to November 2015. This means that there were either two Chris Sosas working for Care2 or he’s purposely misleading and deceiving people. We’re going ahead and saying it’s the latter. And please, don’t try to argue that the last donation was made in December when his Linkedin profile says he left Care2 in November, as it’s possible either the FEC was slightly delayed in processing his donations or he never updated his employer in the system through which he donated.

As you can see in the tweet above, Chris claims that he last supported Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign, which, based on the information provided by the FEC, is another lie.

Still not convinced?

I take great issue with that, and it’s people like Chris, confident in their ability to mislead and manipulate their audience, that are giving people working in media a bad name. People like Chris, they’re the reason only 40% of Americans trust anything those in the media tell them. It’s people like Chris who hurt the credibility of people like me, my coworkers and a lot of friends I have working in the same space.

This isn’t about the Democratic Primary. This isn’t about Bernie v. Hillary. This is about media personalities, writers, video producers, news anchors and the executives making the decisions repeatedly doing things that hurt the image of everyone in media. It’s about how all of those people have lost sight of credibility and honesty. They sell themselves out to either the will of their bosses or for clicks on articles with enticing headlines, which is fine, we all have jobs to do, but you don’t have to lie and deceive people to do it.

Beyond just not disclosing his donations to Hillary Clinton, or misleading people about the extent to which he supported Bernie Sanders, Chris fails to provide evidence or data for any of his claims. His writing is nothing more than a comment section on a pro-Hillary article pandering to those who already support her. He’s using the talking points of armchair political analysts and commentators, not someone who is working to bring credibility and support to his arguments. Chris is everything that is wrong with the media today, and it’s really starting to piss people off. His commentary on the issue of race between the two candidates is borderline libel (forgive the hyperbole), and his section on capitalism cherry picks points to make that somehow imply that Bernie isn’t a real democratic socialist or progressive, but rather the left version of a crazy right wing evangelical Christian blaming the gays for all the world’s problems. All of his bold claims, and not once did he link to any evidence to support them, something we at Men’s Trait would never do.

Chris, have some credibility. You’re giving the rest of us a really bad name. You’re joining the ranks of Jonathan Capehart (Pro-Clinton Columnist In Bed With Clinton Staffer — Literally) and MSNBC (Proof That MSNBC And Hillary Are In Cahoots), and that is about as far from a compliment as I can give a fellow media member.

And, for the sake of full disclosure, I’d like to mention that I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Tennessee primary, and I have donated to his campaign. With that out of the way, I would also like to mention that Men’s Trait, despite the funny name, does take accountability and integrity seriously, hence why we link to as many corroborating sources as possible. Each of our writers may have his or her own political preferences, but we also make sure that we support our claims with facts whenever possible. Commentary is ours, but the facts are corroborated by others. If you notice an error, please let us know and we will fix it.

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3 Comments
  • Devilstine

    I searched and searched and knew this dude must be a fraud! It’s faux journalists like him that push me to phonebook and donate more money to Senator Sanders! Screw you SOSA!! #FeeltheBern #StillSanders because no one else compares!!

  • Police State

    Here’s the FEC link to Sosa’s Hillary contributions. http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/qind/

  • Police State

    Really outstanding work Preston!

Movies & Television

Should fans care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?

Deadpool is the first superhero film to be nominated for Best Picture, and that a superhero movie has been nominated for anything other than its effects.

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deadpool-gallery-03-gallery-image

Image: 20th Century Fox

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced Monday night its nominations for the Golden Globes, and amidst the usual gossip of snubs and surprises, the biggest shocker came in the form of nominee for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical, Deadpool. This marks the first time that a superhero movie has been up for Best Picture at the Golden Globes, and honestly one of the few times ever that a superhero movie has been nominated for a major award for anything other than its effects. The question is, should we, as fans, care?

Now first off let’s just say that Deadpool was a hell of a movie. It zipped back and forth between crass and witty in a wonderful comedic ride that stayed true to the heart of the titular character that even the best of superhero films struggle to accomplish. The story of how the film came to be made probably deserves a documentary all it’s own, with the climax, of course, being the moment the test footage was leaked to an adoring public. No one is trying to say that Deadpool didn’t deserve to be nominated as one of the best comedies of the year.

However.

The Golden Globes have been notorious for years as the ultimate “Who Gives a Shit” awards. The Oscars have a voting pool of over 6,000 members, the Emmy’s have more than 18,000 members, and the Screen Actors Guild gives a vote to each of its 165,000 members. And how many people vote on the Golden Globes? 88.

And these are 88 people with some of the most tenuous of credentials possible. To become part of the voting bloc, an applicant must first be sponsored by two people who are already a part of the HFPA, but after that, all they must do is produce four published articles a year. This combination of nepotism-based admission and one of the lowest bars imaginable to maintain membership has always marred the Golden Globes and kept them from being truly respected as an award. Thus, them nominating anything for anything has very little meaning to it.

However.

As we said earlier, Deadpool‘s nomination marks the first time a superhero film has been up for Best Picture. In a way, it is a huge accomplishment for a genre that has always been viewed as merely action spectacles with little substance. Every year superhero films have managed to take a few steps closer towards wide-spread critical legitimacy with recent films beginning to take on serious topics and truly explore the emotional complexities of its characters.

When viewed from that light, Deadpool‘s nomination for Best Picture, even if only for a Golden Globe, could, in an incredibly optimistic, best-case scenario, serve as a precedent for future superhero films to earn awards beyond Best Visual Effects.

Which brings us back to the original question, should fans of superhero films care that Deadpool was nominated for a Golden Globe?

Sadly, no. While Deadpool is no doubt deserving of the honor, even should it win the award – it won’t, it’s going to go to La La Land, we’re calling it now – the Golden Globes simply aren’t respected enough for their opinions to sway any of the other award communities.

If you are one day hoping to see all of the Avengers (or the Justice League . . . I guess) on stage accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture, then please, don’t hold your breath.

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News

Reasons to take a news break over the holidays

I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.

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donald trump doesn't like this picture

Image: Twitter

Donald Trump has taken up residence in my brain and is making himself at home. And he’s invited Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and all his other white nationalist friends over too. They’re even tickling my brain and invading my dreams. Well, as the holidays approach, I say “NO MORE!”

That’s right. I am determined to take a “Trumpcation” (A portmanteau of “Trump” and “vacation”) during the forthcoming holidays. Chanukah and Christmas overlap and, as a Jew who celebrates both, that means that my Trumpcation will last for a full eight days. That means no reading about him, no talking about him, no going out of my way to check his Twitter to see the latest gaseous explosion that spurted up out of his mind. Now the man is so ubiquitous right now that it’s impossible to completely avoid him, so if he comes up in a conversation or happens to be on TV, that’s fine. But other than that, I am determined to have a Trump-free holiday. I wanna focus on the warmth and fuzziness of family and friend togetherness instead. It will be a total and complete news break.

Of course, that is what I said two days before Thanksgiving. I planned to spend the entire weekend in a Trump-free bubble. I thought I had prepared by blocking his Twitter feed and yet the Twitter feed did not block me. Facebook friends posted screen caps of his latest bilious Tweets. Relatives and friends brought him up in nearly every conversation. His orange visage glowed forth from every TV I passed. And, of course, once somebody brings him up, I’ll be knee-deep in an endless conversation about our rage, our sadness, and our fear. Because I am a hopeless news junkie and I maybe have a masochistic streak where I fill my head up with the scariest news stories I can.

Intellectually, I know that it is high time for a Trump break. Writer Martijn Schrip, of the site High Existence, makes the argument that taking a news break is good for the brain.  He states that too much Facebook checking for the latest horrible newsworthy event makes us neglect the issues in our own lives in favor of the bigger problems facing the world. In addition, too much reliance on news makes us “junkies” looking for our next fix of information. People go to the restroom solely to check Facebook and whip out their phones whenever they see someone else on their phone, as if it’s a Pavlovian response. For me, it gets rough because one of my first acts when I wake up is to check Facebook. Since I have so many friends ( ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) and am following so many pages, my brain gets inundated with a typhoon of information, think pieces, rants, and listicles. And since Trump is everywhere, he is usually the first thing I see every morning. Talk about a great start to my day….

It’s rough, guys. My way of coping with my intense fear of what’s coming is to constantly see what Trump is up to. His Twitter feed gives me a weird feeling of control. I know I don’t actually know what he’s doing but, since he Tweets so often, I trick my brain into feeling like I’m keeping tabs on him. I’m obsessed with seeing what new policies he is adopting or which old ones he’s backing away from. That’s how I cope. I enmesh myself deeply in Trumpism so I don’t forget that he’s out there.

But this may have the complete opposite effect, unfortunately. For all of my posting the hashtag #ThisIsNotNormal, I feel as if my constant obsession with the latest outrage is normalizing him in my mind. And that is not okay because this may lead to me passively accepting whatever horrible thing ends up happening.

I wish it were possible to be on Facebook for even a day and not run across his scowling face. Before Thanksgiving, my thinking was that I can avoid him for a few days and know that he would unfortunately be there when I got back. But, alas, this was not to be. But I am determined to actually do it for the eight days of Christmakkah (A portmanteau of “Christmas” and…oh you get it). If I run across his name or face on social media, I will quickly scroll past. I’ll change the channel if he’s on TV. It’s going to be tough but I think it’s important to try. I need to keep my brain sharp and ready to fight.

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Opinion

Real talk about identity politics

This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.

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Image: oneinchpunch / Shutterstock

The term identity politics inhabits a similar space that political correctness did in the 90s when some people were like, “Oh shit! Words matter!” and other people were like, “I am confused and resistant to change.” This piece is a quick and dirty run down of what identity politics is and what it’s about.

First of all, while the rise of the term “Identity Politics” in popular discourse is relatively recent, the idea that groups of people will have shared perspectives and experiences based on aspects of their identity, which will then affect their political goals and positions, is pretty old. The Civil Rights Movement, suffragettes, even the Huguenots incorporated aspects of identity politics. Of course, this is also true of the Nazis, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the KKK. However, most of the time you will see the term used is in regards to those who are marginalized in some way: minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, women, and more.

To understand how identity politics function, you need to understand what I mean by marginalization. Marginalization doesn’t mean that the people in these groups are never wildly successful, never assholes, or don’t contribute to oppressing others. Indeed, many suffragettes were racist AF and the Civil Rights Movement had issues with sexism. What marginalization means is that it is culturally acceptable in large and small ways, consciously and unconsciously, to limit how certain people interact with the world. This can mean fewer opportunities, curtailing of civil rights, the threat of violence, or discounting and/or appropriating their contributions.

Another factor of marginalization and how identity politics function is that individual achievement alone does not erase problems with marginalization. Female Olympic athletes are still picked apart for not being properly made-up or skinny enough, despite exemplifying physical prowess. President Obama still faces racism as one of the most powerful men on earth. Yes, gaining power, wealth, PhDs, sponsorships, etc. may lessen the ways an individual is affected, but they do not make a systematic problem go away.

So if you are a marginalized person who is ignored, not taken seriously, or threatened, you can find people with similar backgrounds and views to organize and create coalitions. You figure out how to best get your interests taken care of, whether it’s through piecemeal legislation, all out protests, lawsuits, awareness campaigns, etc. Several people whose individual concerns were deemed unimportant become a larger political entity that demands attention and creates change.

Sometimes people take action organically without a ton of planning, and sometimes they are highly organized. That doesn’t mean everything always goes smoothly, of course, because shared perspectives do not translate into everyone in a group having the same beliefs. People will have different ideas about how to get things done; the classic example in the U.S. is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X. People within a group will also have their own prejudices, which can limit their effectiveness and cause further conflict.

If it sounds like identity politics is flawed, messy, and uncomfortable that’s because it is. There are also people who consider it the purview of the frivolous, overly sensitive, and divisive. So why bother with identity politics? Especially when they apparently need a whole article to explain the basics without a single gif or picture?

via GIPHY

For one, people engage in identity politics all the time; it’s just usually considered less controversial if they say, “as a parent,” or “as a small business owner” when explaining their perspectives, indeed if they note their identity at all. We may as well talk about our politics accurately instead of pretending some people are objective and neutral while others who have different views are advocates of special interests or worse, maliciously divisive.

This brings me to my second point. Those who believe that talking about marginalization causes societal fractures are usually those who haven’t had to deal with it. The fractures were already there; it’s just that these people weren’t aware of them. No amount of playing nice, conforming, or achievement protects you. Think of the sexual harassment of female Fox News anchors, or the treatment of Tim Scott, the only black GOP senator. Having an education, good job, and loving family did not save Sandra Bland.

To assume that party politics and platform building is neutral or more serious when they do not include different perspectives is disingenuous at best and bigoted at its worst. (Think of Gov. Mike Pence’s policies targeting the LGBTQ community and punishing women who have abortions.)

Identity politics isn’t some kind of silver bullet against every ism or injustice. Like I said in the beginning, identity politics are also at play in hate groups and dangerous nationalism. Who you are and what’s important to you shouldn’t overtake the rights and liberties of others. But identity politics can help us recognize and address problems even when they don’t directly affect us, and help us make an impact in our own society.

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