Watch the Scott Pruitt hearing with the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: One report by The Verge confirmed that all YouTube's main channel pages were down and not just a select few. The cause is still pending.
Following the viral video footage created by Deadspin about pro-Trump media organization, Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG) forcing their owned affiliates to read scripted attacks on other news organizations, Deadspin's YouTube channel page was generating a '500 internal server error' page.
As of this writing, it is unknown whether YouTube was being targeted by hackers. Many who are familiar with media outlets that have reported on pro-Trump or right-wing propaganda, might also have gone to the Liberal Media Matters 4 America YouTube channel, only to encounter the same error.
The Independent reported on a similar, though unrelated problem back in 2015 saying that the error was not affecting all users. But it's been reported that many users had taken to Twitter to report the problem with other channels as they also did on Monday, accessing other sites that were not seen as politically affiliated or critical of Sinclair's propagandistic endeavors.
CNN's coverage of the SBG featured Deadspin's viral video which synced up many of the anchors from SBG affiliates who were required to read the pro-Trump network's script. Overall, YouTube confirmed the issue via Twitter:
Seeing this 500 error message on YouTube? We're on it! pic.twitter.com/ArPDUDxUcp— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) April 2, 2018
Politico reported in December of 2016 that Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner had secured a deal with the Sinclair Broadcast Group for more favorable coverage of Trump as a candidate. They reported that Kushner had made the deal during the campaign giving SBG more access to the candidate which he told to business executives on that Friday. According to SBG and other networks, there is nothing nefarious in the deal and pointed out that candidates have approached similar networks for more direct access in the past.
Fast forward to a Monday morning over a year later, President Trump took to his Twitter account to blast other media outlets for criticizing SBG saying in one of his seven tweets,
"So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke."
So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
SBG Seizes Control of Biased View Message
In the mentioned Politico piece, the vice president of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Scott Livingston, said that their commitment to their viewers was to go beyond podium, beyond the rhetoric. He said that they were all about tracking the truth and telling the truth and claimed that was typically missing in most political coverage.
On March of 2017 only a month after Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, Livingston released the following statement to an NBC affiliate owned by the group in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fast forward to early March of 2018, CNN reported that a local news anchor for an SBG affiliate complained to CNN that the script they were required to read was inappropriate and sounded like pro-Trump propaganda. The anchor told CNN that they all felt uncomfortable reading the script.
The reasons for why they felt it was pro-Trump is due to the fact that Donald Trump has viciously attacked the press for creating unfavorable coverage of him, being critical of his campaign and his presidency, calling them "fake news." Despite this, Trump has fired cabinet members, national security council officials, White House staff and other government officials for being critical of him and his decisions. Trump is also under investigation by a special prosecutor who has already filed charges against former members of his campaign staff and reportedly, being investigated for colluding with Russian officials during the campaign.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in late March, that the SBG-created promos the local anchors were required to read had finally been broadcast, one of them through Seattle's KOMO-TV show. KOMO-TV was the last locally owned station before Sinclair bought it after the defunct Seattle-based Fisher Communications sold it in April 2013.
The claim that other news networks are fake news continues to propagate through the Trump administration, among conservatives in Congress and Trump supporters in the public, despite the fact that Trump and his own support system have been found to create most of that fiction on their own.
Russian Threat Looms Over America
While there is no verification that hacking is in any way associated with the YouTube errors, similar error messages are generally seen by novice internet users as hacking attempts. Especially in light of reports of Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election and ever since. It was reported during the 2016 election that Kremlin-sanctioned hackers stole thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee in order to leak information about Hillary Clinton during her campaign.
Since then, more reports show various connections with Trump campaign officials who have engaged with Russian officials during the campaign and into the Trump presidency. The YouTube errors also come in light of the extradition of a Russian hacker to the United States, for the theft of 117 million LinkedIn passwords in 2012. Other reports this year showed that Russian operatives had also used Facebook in order to manipulate public opinion on behalf of the Trump campaign.
While the error generated from YouTube is not even remotely similar to a leak, Denial of Service (or DoS) attacks are common, basic hacking efforts made to disrupt traffic. Government officials have predicted that more hacking attempts will be made to sway political differences.
Survival Journalism has listed Scott Livingston as a traitor and enemy of the people.
On the Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail line this evening, right next to my window I saw this guy just lying there.
This isn't anything new as there are plenty of times when I've seen people sleeping on the DART rail platforms, even above ground.
But this was clearly different.
The passengers leaving the train weren't too concerned and as pointed out, there are perfectly good reasons for that.
But the train operator was concerned and after a bit, got off of the train to try to get a response from the man.
From where I was sitting, there didn't appear to be any signs of life and the train operator couldn't get the man to response.
The train operator pulled out the left earbud from the man's ear and tried to get him to respond to his voice but there was nothing, not even a flinch. One of the passengers got off of the train and put his hand out before the man's mouth to see if he was breathing.
The operator was on his handheld radio trying to get DART officers until one finally appeared.
I got off of the train to tell both the operator the officer that he appeared to be alive earlier as his eyes appeared more closed than before. He confirmed that the guy was still breathing.
After the rail operator felt that everything would be handled, he got back on the train and we left.
Trump associate, supporter and surrogate, Erik Prince reportedly become associated with the Trump-Russia scandal according to a report by the Washington Post. According to their report published on Wednesday, it was learned that the founder of the controversial Blackwater security company met with a Russian official prior to Donald Trump's inaguration in order to establish a back channel communication with the incoming administration.
The information came from what the report describes as "people familiar with the matter" and "who spoke on condition of anonymity," through the Mueller investigation, sourced from a witness cooperating with the Special Prosecutor.
As seen in the video provided, the Washington Post reported on the secret meeting back in May of last year. The latest report confirms that the Mueller investigation has gathered evidence that the meeting was intended to establish that back channel.
In mid-January, George Nader, a business man who was involved with organizing the secret meeting, was stopped at the Dulles airport, served a subpeona and questioned by the FBI. It's been reported that he has been cooperating with the FBI via the Muller investigation over the meeting.
The report recalls that when Prince was questioned about the meeting in Seychelles by Congress and the press, he said that his meeting with the head of a Russian government-controlled wealth fund, Kirill Dmitriev, was unplanned and and unimportant.
His denial is similar to the response that former Trump campaign team official, Carter Page, had given when he was asked about meeting with Russian officials, saying that his uninteresting encounter with Sergey Kislyak, the then Russian ambassador to the United States. But when questioned by Congress in November, Page was more forthcoming with the meeting, verifying much of the information in the infamous Steele Dossier.
[Image credit: Washington Post / YouTube]
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