January 19, 2021

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief. Subscribe for a weekly selection of news stories from journalists operating outside traditional corporate systems.

The Headlines

Our Stories

Nominations Open for the 13th Annual Izzy Award (Park Center for Independent Media)

U.S. Politics

How State Capitals Are Bracing for Possible Violence Ahead of Biden’s Inauguration (Mother Jones)

One Day Until An Unprecedented Inauguration: Live Updates (Talking Points Memo)

When Joe Biden Takes the White House, What’s Next for the Left? (Jacobin)

What Parler Saw During the Attack on the Capitol (ProPublica)

Deplatforming Trump Is Already Having a Huge Impact (Mother Jones)

Trump’s Twitter Ban May Be Justified, but That Doesn’t Mean Tech Giants’ Power Isn’t Scary (FAIR)

Media Criticism 

Even After January 6, Some in Media Can’t Kick Their Addiction to False Balance (FAIR)

Racial Justice

Martin Luther King Jr. Defended Democracy Against Racism and So Must We (Truthout)

Corporate Power

The Corporate Response to Capitol Riot Reflects Growing Culture of Accountability (The Progressive)

Climate Crisis

Global Efforts to Adapt to the Impacts of Climate Are Lagging as Much as Efforts to Slow Emissions (Inside Climate News)

Our Stories
Nominations Open for the 13th Annual Izzy Award

Named after legendary journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, the Izzy Award will be given by PCIM for work published by an independent journalist, outlet, or producer from 2020.

Nominations should be submitted by February 1, 2021, via a brief email that includes supporting web links and/or attached materials to Brandy Hawley at bhawley@ithaca.edu.

PCIM will announce the winner in early spring, with an award ceremony to follow in April 2021.

Find out more on our website

U.S. Politics
State Capitals Bracing for Possible Violence Ahead of Biden’s Inauguration

There were warning signs of possible violence on January 6, and several points of failure in preparing for it. Now, ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, federal law enforcement is trying to course correct by fortifying Washington DC. Mother Jones lists how states are preparing for an FBI warning of possible threats to all 50 state capitals.

Joe Biden will be sworn into office on Wednesday, January 20, alongside Kamala Harris, who will be the first Black and Asian American woman to be sworn in as Vice President. Talking Points Memo will cover each step of the affair over the course of the day.

When Joe Biden Takes the White House, What’s Next for the Left?

Recent years have brought about impressive mobilizations for the Left, including teachers’ strikes, the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, and Bernie Sanders’ presidential runs. Though none fully accomplished their goals, each of these movements brought critical conversations into the mainstream.

Under Biden, the Left will need to keep in mind its remaining weakness and growing strength to organize successfully. The Bernie Sanders campaign made space in the political landscape for the idea of democratic socialism, but it remains a challenge to engage in socialist politics on a mass scale.

For Jacobin, Barry Eidlin explains “the Left will have to organize and fight as hard or harder under Biden as it has under Trump” to spur a mass movement capable of enacting climate action like the Green New Deal and healthcare reform like Medicare for All.  

What Parler Saw During the Attack on the Capitol

As supporters of Donald Trump took part in the violent riot at the Capitol on January 6, users of the social media service Parler posted videos of themselves and others joining the fray. ProPublica reviewed thousands of videos uploaded to the service and compiled over 500 of them into a comprehensive chronological account through the eyes of the rioters.

Viewers can scroll through a color-coded timeline—spanning 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.—to find first-hand recordings taken around D.C., near the Capitol, and inside the Capitol. The videos bring viewers inside the mob’s conversations, chants, and violence.

Deplatforming Trump Is Already Having a Huge Impact

It’s been over a week of “relative calm” since Twitter suspended Donald Trump’s account, and with it a stream of election misinformation. This led to a chain of platforms taking action against Trump, his allies, and others who stoked violence leading up to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Since January 8, when Twitter banned Trump, misinformation about election fraud has dropped 73%, according to research from analytics firm Zignal Labs.

The finding underlines how Trump and influential right-wing figures spread lies: eager supporters retweet the president’s falsehoods and news media use each tweet for an article. Twitter tried in the past to curb misinformation by adding notices below Trump’s tweets, but the current solution appears far more effective for now, writes Mother Jones.

As FAIR notes, the ban may be justified, but we should still fear tech giants’ power.

Media Criticism
Even After January 6, Some in Media Can’t Kick False Balance

Following the January 6 Capitol riot, many in corporate media have accurately applied to people and behaviors labels such as “sedition,” “incitement,” and “white nationalists.” This is uncommon for mainstream media, which often strives for an imagined ideal of balance to “both sides” of an issue.

Washington Post media critic Margaret Sullivan characterized the recent surge in reporting that eschews false balance: “When one side consistently engages in bad-faith falsehoods, it’s downright destructive to give them equal time.” And while some pieces across media have represented this message, others from The New York Times and Politico continued to equate bigotry and misinformation with analysis and insight, reports FAIR.

Racial Justice
Martin Luther King Jr. Defended Democracy Against Racism and So Must We

In May 1961, a racist mob broke church windows and threatened to kill Martin Luther King Jr., because they believed in the Confederacy. “For them, whiteness was more important than democracy.” Nearly 60 years later, Donald Trump rallied to have the Capitol stormed by a mob, some of whom waved confederate flags, who rioted for the same reason.

These right-wing reactions to a working democracy demonstrate the relevancy of King’s life as “the standard bearer of a Black tradition that defends democracy against racism.”

Truthout looks to King’s legacy and writing to combat ongoing threats to democracy, such as attacks on the ballot, the assault of BLM protesters and attempted assassination at the Capitol, and the right-wing spiral towards fascism.

Corporate Power
The Corporate Response to Capitol Riot Reflects Growing Culture of Accountability

In the weeks following the January 6 insurrection, even the U.S. corporate world called for accountability. Starbucks, Axe, Chevron, and others released social media statements denouncing the violence at the Capitol.

More notably, a growing list of business groups and companies—including the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Best Buy, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Verizon—have cut ties with the Trump administration and the 147 lawmakers who voted to contest the results of the 2020 election.

The Progressive asks if this widespread move to cut funding from insurrectionists is “part of a growing culture of accountability, or just another way to pursue positive branding and maximize profits?”

Climate Crisis
Global Efforts to Adapt to Climate Are Lagging as Much as Emission-Curbing Efforts

Alongside the promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow global warming under the Paris climate agreement, world leaders also resolved to prepare for climate change’s unavoidable and mounting impacts: the displacement of people and the destruction of communities and croplands by sea level rise, intensifying storms, drought, wildfire, and famines.

But these adaptation efforts are lagging just as much as the efforts to reduce emissions, according to the UNEP Adaptation Gap report.

Extreme climate in 2020 affected about 50 million people. Natural disasters, many linked to global warming, killed 8,200. Developed countries aren’t fulfilling their pledges to help poorer countries prepare for the effects of climate change that are already hitting them, reports Inside Climate News.

“It’s not about keeping up, it’s about facing reality,” warns UNFCCC chief Patricia Espinosa.

In Other News

1. Biden and Harris mourn nearly 400,000 Covid deaths at memorial as Trump is expected to pardon more loyalists (The Independent)

2. America’s Most Reliable Pandemic Data Are Now at Risk (The Atlantic)

3. Trump Administration Declares China’s Repression Of Uighurs ‘Genocide’ (HuffPost)

4. UK and US fail to do mini-trade deal as Trump exits (BBC)

5. Joe Biden will launch presidency with appeal for unity – but whose unity? (The Guardian

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.