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The top 10 undercovered news stories of 2017, from the left and right

By Sean Davis and Adam H. Johnson • Jan 1, 2018 at 3:00 PM

There were so many gigantic news events in 2017 that the merely huge, or yooge, got the dog-bites-man treatment. What happened while we were focused on the president’s tweets; the attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act; the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico; the tax bill; and #MeToo? Los Angeles Times Opinion asked two close observers of the media environment, Adam H. Johnson (from the political left of center) and Sean Davis (from the political right of center), to list the top 10 under-covered stories of the year. Read Davis’ contribution first and Johnson’s below.

By Sean Davis

1 “Russian collusion” charges were a dud

Despite a year’s worth of investigation into the matter, zero independently verifiable evidence of alleged illegal collusion between Donald Trump and the Russian government has been offered to the public. In fact, there’s far more evidence that President Obama’s Department of Justice colluded with a shady DNC-funded outfit — Fusion GPS — to cook up a pretext for spying on the administration’s political opponents. The anti-Trump collusion hand played by Trump’s detractors is so far a complete bust. The real story is a journalistic jackpot that for some reason nobody wants to claim.

2 The economy roared

The U.S. economy came roaring back in 2017. GDP growth is strong and steady, and the unemployment rate now approaches lows not seen since the early 2000s. The economy has added over 1.9 million payroll jobs this year. Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high. The 2017 economic recovery is nonetheless a major story widely ignored by the political press.

3 The stock market boomed

It’s not just the economy, though. The stock market, following a lost decade of equity returns, also came roaring back over the last year. Although New York Times columnist Paul Krugman predicted after Trump’s election that the stock market would “never” recover, the exact opposite has happened, with the Dow Jones industrial average repeatedly posting record highs throughout the year.

4 Islamic State was crushed in Raqqah and Mosul

A year ago, the Islamic State wasn’t just on the rise in the Middle East, it was firmly in charge, with wide swaths of the region under its control. But in October, U.S.-backed forces completed the total liberation of Raqqah, the Islamic State’s Syrian capital. That followed the liberation of Mosul, a major Iraqi city captured by the Islamic State in 2014. In less than a year, Trump and his national security team accomplished what the previous administration suggested was impossible.

5 Thanks to James Comey, the FBI’s reputation is in tatters

This year we learned that the FBI’s top ranks were infested with political actors eager to use the agency to settle scores. Not only did former Director James B. Comey abscond with confidential documents, he leaked them to his friends and the press, then refused to give those documents to Congress. In addition, his top deputies — those responsible for investigating both Hillary Clinton and Trump — were sharing text messages about how important it was to defeat Trump. One of these Comey deputies even mused about deploying a secret “insurance policy” to keep Trump out of the White House. Comey’s biggest accomplishment wasn’t equitable enforcement of the law; it was the corrupt politicization of the agency’s leadership ranks and the destruction of its reputation.

6 We still know nothing about what motivated the Vegas shooter

Months after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, we don’t know why a gunman fired on a crowd of innocent concertgoers. If law enforcement authorities have any leads or theories, they’re not sharing them with citizens eager for answers. Perhaps the feds don’t have a clue, either. Either way, it’s shocking that the country is still in the dark about what happened.

7 The Iran deal’s facade collapsed

Despite the Obama administration’s assurances that Iran would be a reliable partner for peace, the opposite has proved true. By deliberately funding and fomenting terrorism against the U.S. and its allies in the region, Iran has shown that it cannot be trusted, and the Obama administration’s claims about the peaceful intentions of the top terrorism sponsor on Earth had no basis in reality.

8 Persecution of religious minorities continues across the globe

In Britain, Jews were targeted in record numbers in 2017. Just weeks ago, a synagogue in Sweden was firebombed. Throughout India, Christians continue to be targeted by violent religious extremists. In North Korea and China, totalitarian atheist governments regularly imprison and torture those who openly worship and proselytize. And in the Middle East, Muslims remain the No. 1 target of radical jihadists hell-bent on purging from the Earth anyone who rejects the authority of the Islamic State’s caliphate.

9 The worldwide leader in sports is in deep trouble

ESPN is in deep trouble, and it doesn’t have cord-cutting to blame. Unaffordable content deals, unpopular programming choices, and seemingly nonstop left-wing politics have severely damaged the network’s financial prospects and its relationships with viewers. The worldwide leader can recover, but only if its executives finally accept responsibility for the network’s mounting woes.

10 Due process and rule of law were restored to college campuses

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos finally restored the rule of law to college campuses and put an end to disastrous campus courts. Prior to her much-needed rule change, campuses across the country declared that secret proceedings, bereft of due process, were the best way to handle sexual assault allegations. That kangaroo system, justifiably gutted by DeVos, resulted in predators who were allowed to avoid law enforcement, victims who never received justice, and innocent people who were denied basic rights such as jury trials and access to attorneys.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Sean Davis is a cofounder of the Federalist. He previously worked as chief operations officer for a state-based journalism nonprofit, as chief financial officer of Daily Caller, and as chief investigator for Republican Sen. Tom Coburn.

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By Adam H. Johnson

1 Disenfranchisement of African American voters

While the outrage took place in 2016, the mainstream media’s indifference to voter suppression was deafening throughout 2017. Investigations by academics and journalists alike have revealed extensive civil rights violations on election day, the culmination of a long-term ploy by Republicans to reduce the number of African American voters through ID laws and other devices.

2 The South Korean peace movement

A sustained antiwar movement in South Korea has been pushing back against the Pentagon’s deployment of the provocative Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile system. Populating their stories with pro-THAAD quotes from defense contractor-funded think tanks and Western warmongers, the U.S. media have mostly ignored the fact that the majority of South Koreans oppose the “defensive” system, including their newly elected president who, this summer, suspended its deployment.

3 President Trump’s unprecedented non-Russia corruption

Time will tell the extent of President Trump’s connection to Russian officials and how it may have influenced his campaign but — regardless — Trump has led the most nakedly corrupt administration in modern American history, enriching himself, his family and friends and hiring a Cabinet of political cronies and billionaires. Many journalists have done great work revealing this corruption, but these stories have not turned into full-blown scandals, let alone harmed the president.

4 U.S. helped to starve and bomb Yemen

The U.S. has been fueling, arming and providing political cover to an almost three-year siege of Yemen by Saudi Arabia and others. The conflict has caused more than 10,000 civilian deaths and almost 1 million cases of cholera. But the media downplay the U.S. government’s part. For example, two editorials in the Washington Post and a CBS “60 Minutes” report last month on the bombing and humanitarian disaster left out the U.S. role entirely.

5 Hate crimes against transgender people

Queer activists, including members of the New Orleans-based BreakOUT, have noted an uptick in violence against the transgender community. A recent Human Rights Watch report documented 102 killings of transgender people since January. Eighty-eight of the victims were transgender women, nearly all of them black or Latina. The report suggested two related causes: poverty, which is 30 percent higher in the trans community than the population at large, and a lack of legal protections for trans people in general. (Most states having zero laws prohibiting discrimination against trans people.)

6 Trump’s aggression in Iraq and Syria

Despite dubious pledges to reduce America’s involvement overseas during his campaign, Trump has taken the wars in Iraq and Syria and expanded them beyond what even the most cynical analysts predicted. Trump managed to surpass President Obama’s civilian deaths total in the anti-Islamic State campaign just seven months into office.

7 Dark money to seat a right-wing Supreme Court justice

According to MapLight, a single anonymous donor gave $28.5 million to a dark-money organization, which, in turn, financed the PR campaign to block Obama’s Supreme Court nominee — Merrick Garland — and seat Neil M. Gorsuch. In past years this campaign probably would have caused a stir, but in the Trump era of perma-indignation it hardly registered a blip.

8 Rise in deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border

While U.S. media have covered the rise in missing persons in Mexico, it has mostly overlooked the missing person crisis on the border. A USA Today investigation found that immigrant deaths over the last five years have increased between 25 percent and 300 percent — a range that’s vague because, shockingly, local authorities don’t officially count border-crosser deaths. The groups No More Deaths and La Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, which are working to document the problem, argue that “the known disappearance of thousands of people in the remote wilderness of the U.S.-Mexico border zone marks one of the greatest historical crimes of our day.”

9 Ramping up war in Afghanistan

Other than the fawning over Trump’s use of the Mother of All Bombs on faceless bad guys, the massive increase in U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during the last year has rarely made headlines. The U.S. now has 15,000 troops on the ground — up from 11,000 last year. Additionally, civilians deaths are up 50 percent since 2016.

10 Protester prosecutions

Despite an uptick in coverage since the trial began three weeks ago, for almost 10 months major U.S. media ignored that the Department of Justice was going after more than 200 inauguration protesters — the vast majority for merely being in the proximity of broken windows — with sentences ranging from 10 to 65 years in federal prison. What would certainly be an outrage if it happened in Russia or Venezuela was met with almost uniform indifference by U.S. media when done stateside.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Adam H. Johnson is a media analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and co-host of the Citations Needed podcast.

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©2017 Los Angeles Times

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