The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘2016 Election’ Category

Happy Monday all! Our blithering idiot of a Presnit is off making an *ss of himself over yonder in those parts out there which are not ‘Murca. We’re so very proud, aren’t we?

While the Mango Meerkat bobbles along brainlessly, shedding havoc and treason like orange lint from his head, perhaps it’s now time for the media to admit something we always knew at TW: that the President is supposed to be…well, boring.

Our Hillary is inspiring, brilliant and and amazing, and would have been a great President – perhaps the greatest since FDR. What she isn’t, is a relentless tweeter of nonsense, a boundless gaffe machine, a man who loses his way on a one-way street. She also isn’t in Putin’s pocket, surrounded by sycophants, white supremacists and Children of the Corn. Despite decades of media creating faux scandals around Hillary, Our Girl has only ever been guilty of having a cheating husband, and a private email server.

But the headlines with Drumpf! The eyes, oh, the eyes on their shows and their newsprint and their podcasts and their Twitter accounts! They made so much money in the run-up to the election…so very, very much money. This is a great article from November 14, 2016 on how the media enabled and empowered him to rise.

In 1968 Roger Ailes, the future boss of Fox News, had a problem: how to get Richard Nixon on television without it being controlled and filtered by what he felt was a hostile media.

His solution was to create his own staged Nixon TV specials and offer them to TV stations. Forty-eight years later, CNN was effectively doing the same for Trump – free of charge.

The enthusiasm for Trump at CNN was simple: ratings. Jeff Zucker, the boss of CNN, is also the man who employed him to present The Apprentice when he worked at NBC.

Zucker, perhaps more than anyone else, turned Trump into a TV star.

Nope, there’s nothing to see here! These are not the droids you’re looking for.

And then they make this point:

The need for headlines that bring clicks and stories that get shared has changed everything. Dull, balanced articles (like this one) don’t provoke fury, laughter or much in the way of emotion.

Trump was simply more entertaining and generating more passion. In a news environment moving from a world of subscriptions and long-term appointments-to-view to the vagaries of clicks, friends’ recommendations and Facebook news streams, that makes him a winner.

I do disagree with that last sentence. The Donald has never been a winner. He managed to lose almost a billion dollars on casinos, which are basically like cash registers that are always full. He’s clearly an awful deal maker – so far he hasn’t done a single thing he’s said he was going to do. The arms deal with the Saudis, I’m sure, will turn out to be a disaster, just like the health care bill, “tax reform,” renegotiating NAFTA, and countless other campaign promises I don’t need to elaborate on here.

The media has a great deal of self-examination to do. It’s developed a clear preference for candidates who perpetually campaign and entertain; unfortunately, as we’ve seen, this type of candidate is singularly unsuited to governing. A yelling, lying, treasonous Cheeto in a bad wig does not have the gravitas, intelligence and temperament to do the hardest job in the world. This should have been the message the teevee and print media gave us. But instead, they equivalated this creature’s malfeasance and genuine danger to the Republic, with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while SOS…even though this was neither against the law, nor unprecedented, nor a threat to national security in itself. (It did give the Republicans a chance to investigate a Clinton, though – something they much prefer to the odious task of doing the people’s business.)

As the media continues to awaken, let’s hope that looking at Drumpf with a more objective eye will lead the media to start looking at themselves. Some are already doing so.

This is an open thread.

Good Monday, all! Your friend MadamaB is all in a tizzie today because, well, BECAUSE! What the living f*ck is going on with the Mango Maniac and his cowardly, venal, morally vacant enablers? Der Drumpenfuhrer is wildly waving his tiny hands and firing everyone he can think of, including the man who was investigating his ties to Russia. His “Apprentice” itch apparently not scratched, according to the latest reports, the pResident is going to make his staff go through a major shakeup.

But tra la la, who cares? The Republicans have done a cost-benefit analysis, and they think they’re still better off with the Circus Peanut than anyone else that could replace him. Like an addict who can’t believe the vial is empty, the Paul Ryans of the world, and there are, sadly, many of them in Congress now, cannot believe that their long, LONG dream has ended. Oh, woe is they! Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security shall not, in fact, be transferred to the wealthiest of the wealthy by means of a devastating tax cut masquerading as a health care plan. The blowback at GOP town halls has been so universal and severe, that many of them refuse to show up. Did I mention they were cowardly? Why yes, I believe I did.

The problem, you see, is that there are more than a few grains of truth to the accusation that Washington politicos have forgotten about their constituents. They have grown used to power and have forgotten that we, the people, can fire them at our leisure. This is especially true of the Republican Party, which, through gerrymandering, purges of millions of Democrats from voter rolls, and mass hypnosis of terrified white people through church and rightwing media outlets, now expects all voters in certain states to routinely vote against their own interests. The Democratic Party’s Obama wing is also shamefully blasé about the needs of their voters (like wimminz! and bizarrely, people of color), but thankfully, there is diversity in our ranks, and not all Democrats follow that model. (You know who doesn’t, Widdershins.)

Shimmy Shimmy HRC!

So the Republicans are in deep, and rather desperate-sounding, denial about the Constitutional crisis the Rancid Cheeto has caused by, well, by being inaugurated! On Day 1, this corrupt cretin violated the Emoluments Clause and invited impeachment. Now, he’s all but daring Congress to do their worst. And so far, that’s what they’ve done, putting Party over Country all day, every day.

My fellow Widdershins, I feel that the time has come, once again, for a massive public outcry. Let’s make the Congress do what it should have done long ago: Throw Der Drumperer under the bus, and all of his Children of the Corn, white supremacists and mild-mannered liars named Pence and Priebus.

There is a new March coming on Saturday, June 3rd, called the March for Truth. It’s for us to go out and show that we believe Drumpf is a clear and present danger to our democratic norms, and he must go in order for our republic to survive.

Time to put our feet on the street again, all. Let’s show our Congresscritters that they have our support to remove this feces-throwing orangutan from office. And we DON’T want to wait till 2018, thank you very much.

This is an open thread.

C_Fw_1KUQAENCNe.jpg-large

As I have written many times, often writing posts in the Trump-age feels like an exercise in futility because by the time they are posted they are already out of date. I fear this post will be the same… so we must stay on top of latest news via the comments!

What we know: FBI Director James Comey has been fired by Donald Trump, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, with Rosenstein writing the explanation. (Rosenstein had previously been viewed as an honest man. He was confirmed just a few weeks ago to the Justice Deparment with a 94-6 vote in the Senate. But as Philippe Reines pointed out, if Rosenstein was an honest man he would have answered Trump and Sessions’ demand that Comey be fired with: “No, I refuse.” Instead, he wrote his own epitaph as a coward.) The administrations explanation for firing Comey is: it’s Hillary’s fault. Also, her e-mails.

I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.

It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement. At most, the director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.

This is, of course, laughable on its face and no one can take this explanation seriously except maybe Fox News, which suddenly shows great concern for how Comey treated poor Hillary Clinton. Even Roger Stone (!) expressed regret: “What Comey did to Hillary was disgraceful. I’m glad Trump fired him over it,” he said to Alex Pfeiffer. We know, of course, the firing had nothing to do with Clinton. It is about the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 Presidential election.

Comey

James Comey has been an enigma for a long time. His press conference announcing that his agency would not recommend charges against Clinton over use of a private e-mail server, while blasting her in such a public manner, seemed inexplicable. Some stories later suggested Comey wanted to reveal information about Russian interference in our election in the summer of 2016, but was stopped by Obama. Then Comey refused to sign on to other agencies’ announcement of this info in the Fall of 2016 because it was too close to the election and he didn’t wish to interfere. But his Letter just days before the election, announcing discovery of new e-mails on the computer of Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin’s husband, did precisely what he claimed earlier he didn’t wish to do: he changed the outcome of an election. What a bizarre story arc for a man who once rushed to the hospital bed of Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop the Bush/Cheney administration from spying on Americans. None of it made sense. Until last week when Comey testified before the Senate. Finally the fog lifted.

I could see two doors and they were both actions. One was labeled speak, the other was labeled conceal. Because here’s how I thought about it, I’m not trying to talk you into this, but I want you to know my thinking. Having repeatedly told this Congress, we are done and there’s nothing there, there’s no case there, there’s no case there, to restart in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning and not speak about it would require an active concealment, in my view.

And so I stared at speak and conceal. Speak would be really bad. There’s an election in 11 days, Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing in my view would be catastrophic, not just to the FBI, but well beyond. And honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team we got to walk into the world of really bad.

In the end, this long term public servant fell for the oldest tragic flaw, the one Greeks wrote plays about: Hubris. Comey just thinks of himself as the last honest man in America. Our own Prolix has written a few times that Comey isn’t corrupt, he is Righteous and his own belief in his Righteousness is where things can get murky. It’s true that his Righteousness is why I think ultimately he could have been trusted with the FBI investigation into Trump/Russia. But his zealotry came with unintended – even by him – consequences: the election of Donald Trump as President. In an honest desire to be seen as non-partisan Comey managed to ruin the reputation of his favorite agency. With his fear of being taken to task by Republicans, who would smear him and the FBI if he did not tell them about the Abedin e-mails, Comey compromised himself as an honest broker of truth. He misassigned the concepts of “bad” and “catastrophic.” He thought not telling Congress about the e-mails would be catastrophic. In fact, not telling Republicans and becoming the target of their wrath would have been bad. Affecting the outcome of a Presidential election was catastrophic.

-Joy Reid Sally Yates comment

(There were also the grave issues that in his testimony to the Senate Comey gave inaccurate information about Abedin’s e-mails, falsely claiming “tens and thousands” of messages had been sent by her to her husband’s computer. It took 6 days, and prodding from ProPublica and Washington Post, for the FBI to issue a correction. The same day Comey was fired. Trump had his bodyguard Keith Schiller deliver the firing letter to the FBI headquarters, but they didn’t realize Comey was not in the office. Comey was delivering a speech and learned he was fired when the news popped up on the screen behind him.)

-COmey fired Petri

This brings us to the present. What does Comey’s firing mean in the larger scheme of things? Many Clinton aides have expressed concern, not joy, at the developments. That Clinton aides, who dislike Comey as much as anyone, are concerned about the firing speaks volumes about the Clinton candidacy and the people who supported her. We are more concerned about the Republic than petty revenge. Because what does Comey’s firing mean for the Russia/Trump investigation and the future of the Republic? It is impossible to know just yet. Some high profile Republicans, like Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, have lined up behind Trump. Collins told Judy Woodruff: “Well, the president didn’t fire the entire FBI.” Graham said: “I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.” This is worrisome because it shows a continued support for the insupportable Trump, his administration and his policies. The good news is that some others Republicans have expressed concerns. (And not just the Nixon Library tweeting an objection to people calling Trump’s behavior “Nixonian.”)

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.32.44 PM

John McCain tweeted that “Removal of Director Comey only confirms need for select cmte to investigate #Russia’s interference in 2016 election.” Tea Partier Justin Amash tweeted: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.” Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who heads the Senate investigation into Trump/Russia, wrote:

I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee.  Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.

Other notable Republicans who have expressed concern about Comey’s firing are James Lankford of Oklahoma, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and Senate Judiciary Committee member Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

I think we are at a cross-roads. What happens next is what history books will say about all of us. Will the firing of Comey bring about Trump’s downfall? Or will Republicans close ranks and save him, kill the investigation… and damn us all to a banana republic?

-History joke

The caption reads: History Repeats Itself – The Robber Barons Of the Middle Ages And The Robber Barons of Today

And there is a bigger copy of the image here

** so said Gordon Gekko in Wall Street

 

Good Tuesday Widdershins!

So have you ever heard that phrase or one similar that goes something like “I know a friend of a friend of…the police chief, the Mayor…” or someone else that implies the person knows the high muckety-mucks and that relationship can help…you.  That’s a pretty good description of an event that was held at the Ritz Carlton in Beijing this past weekend. The event was sponsored by the Kushner crime uh family.

The shindig was an “investment opportunity” for wealthy Chinese citizens to plunk a cool half million dollars into a Kushner luxury apartment complex in Jersey.  And it has the additional sweetener that by plunking down said $500k you can also apply for what’s known as an investor visa.   That program is called the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Process.  I might refer to it as “grease the skids on getting entrance to the U.S.”.

And of course it was all on the up and up.  Of course.  And we know it was on the up and up because it included Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared’s sister.  And of course she was introduced just that way, as Jared’s sister.  And these people knew exactly who Jared Kushner is; the son-in-law of the President of the United States.

The tagline on a brochure for the event: “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at a Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex that would help them secure what’s known as an investor visa.

The potential investors were advised to invest sooner rather than later in case visa rules change under the Trump administration. “Invest early, and you will invest under the old rules,” one speaker said.  [me – I wonder if they ran that line past Col. Cornpone and Steve Bannon?  Those two might now want any of these yellow people getting into ‘Merica.]

Gawd, do these people, any of them, have any shame or is it all about the almighty dollar, regardless of what it looks like.

The event underscores the extent to which Kushner’s private business interests have the potential to collide with his powerful role as a top official in his father-in-law’s White House, particularly when it comes to China, where Kushner has become a crucial diplomatic channel between Beijing and the new administration.

While Kushner has reported divesting from elements of the family business, including the specific project that his sister pitched in Beijing, the session Saturday demonstrated that the company is perceived as enjoying close ties to the Trump administration. Ethics laws prohibit government officials from profiting personally from their public-sector work.

Divest, my backside.  The family will be holding Jared’s share for after he leaves government, ya know…after the impeachment.

Still, it’s the image of what this implies.

Watchdogs and ethics experts on Saturday criticized the Beijing event as an attempt to cash in on Kushner’s newfound proximity to power.

“It’s incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate,” said Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration, who has become a vocal critic of the Trump administration. “They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa. . . . They’re [Chinese applicants] not going to take a chance. Of course they’re going to want to invest.”

And this particular type of visa has become very popular with the Chinese, especially as a way to get their money out of China.

Also, it has become a source of getting dubious investment dollars without really following through on what it was designed for.

The program was launched with the goal of securing investment and creating jobs. But instead, in recent years, many real estate developers have used the program as a source of cheap financing by using foreign investors, especially from China, for flashy projects in Manhattan and other city centers.

A Government Accountability Office report in 2015 found the EB-5 program carried a high risk of fraud, was rife with counterfeit documentation and had “no reliable method to verify the source of the funds of petitioners.”

In other words, a way to finance Trump and Kushner investments and real estate.

 

There’s much more at the link, so check it out when you can.

Lastly, real life issues came up with Prolix so I took today’s post.  I apologize for such an un-Prolix type of post.  It will make us appreciate all the more, the real deal when he has time to post again.  Of course this is an open thread.

 

 

Okay, okay, I know we have been stewing like ceviche in the citrusy juices of the imPOTUS Tangelo for 106 days now, but the allusion to 101 Dalmatians was just too good. If only the birthing of my new googling machine had cooperated, I could have used the title last week.  

The head fake to 101 Dalmatians does serve a purpose though. Taken individually, pups are adorable, even two or three at a time is manageable, but 101 all at once is a herd of pooping madness. It’s like the sophisticated engineering of a single locust, but multiply that evolutionary design by millions and suddenly we are breaking out the Old Testament for gardening tips.

My point is this – no matter if you are an American who sees the daily onslaught of issues as adorable Dalmatians or plagues of pestilence, something alarming is happening in the country.

As disconcerting as yesterday was, with one-sixth of the economy and perhaps 24 million gleefully sentenced to Republican indifference in order to provide the largest historical wealth transfer from the poorest to the richest, it isn’t yet benedictory.

Likewise, it doesn’t even worry me that the poor souls who voted for Dolt 45 are doggedly clinging to him like dung-beetles to an elephant with acute diarrhea.

And not even the extinction level event of me linking to something George Will writes causes my alarm bells to chirp.  Yesterday while describing one of the Trumpanzee’s many disabilities, Will wrote, “[T]he problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something.”

What bothers me most was paraded in full view of the world on Tuesday. It is the reason we were denied the most qualified President in history. We were denied not because of hacking or Putin or Wikileaks or gerrymandering or voter suppression or not going to effing Wisconsin enough.  We were denied our rightful President because we have allowed aberrant behavior to be normalized. Not just normalizing Dolt 45’s behavior, but normalizing the wholesale disregard for shared values and expectations.

Notice in GOP Crazyland, Breitbart is larger than Fox in terms of creating a narrative…

That’s how we are punching the clock in our little piece of history. For the past thirty years there has been unparalleled asymmetric polarization. The Right has gotten more philosophically turgid while the Left has stayed philosophically consistent. When the intellectually lazy say, “Both sides do it,” tell them there are library ranges straining under the weight of sociological studies proving they are stupid and should be castrated to improve the gene pool. Both sides don’t do it. It is the Right that has gone off the page in any diagram of philosophical leaning.

To service and empower this time-reversing way-back machine, an epistemic closed loop has extinguished fact and replaced it with tribal truisms.  Tribal truism is a simple construct: Does whatever is said or heard help my tribe or hurt my tribe? If whatever is said hurts my tribe, I ignore it, deny it, or engage in “whataboutism”. I neutralize whatever hurts my tribe since it can’t be true.

For instance, Paul Ryan didn’t want to hear what the independent Congressional Budget Office had to say about the AHCA so he ignored it, called a vote before the CBO score, and for good measure, the Michelin Man doppelganger, Newt Gingrich, called for the abolishment of the CBO altogether. Protect the tribe!

Used to be the press enforced the rules by shaming offending politicians. Not anymore. There is no longer shame on the Right. When you get to the outer reaches of the philosophical spectrum, there is no longer the gravity of shame.

As DYB has so eloquently pointed out, access journalism has rendered the First Amendment a toothless lap dog. When I see Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Frick Halperin, Frack Heilemann, or “rock hard abs and Employment Whack-a-Mole” Andrew Sullivan, I’m reminded the only appreciable talent these people have is balancing both pen and paper in one hand while they are otherwise engaged on the business end of a journalistic glory hole.

Even birds are skeptical…

So what does all this have to do with Tuesday’s hearing with the almighty King of the Fibbies? Simple. Comey made a decision to violate DoJ procedure and write his misleading October 28th letter because there were no consequences. The bad consequences for him would have come from complying with the rules and not writing the letter.

The cost/benefit analysis was clear: He would be hounded unmercifully by the Fox/Breitbart/Drudge/Limbaugh/Hannity/PeeWeeHerman infotainment complex if he didn’t write the letter no matter if Hillary won or lost. There were only upsides to feeding the shameless nutjobs of the far, far Right. There were no concomitant upsides from adhering to the shared values and expectations.

Contrary to Comey’s statement, at no point in the criminal justice process, beyond basic fairness, is the reputation of the investigator of any consequence. Comey knew the Democrats would play according to the rules, but he knew the Republicans would not. In reality his contrived self-serving dilemma of “reveal versus conceal” should have been “violate and copulate” since he broke established procedure in order to f*ck the country in order to please himself.

Good government, efficacious policy, and the republic itself is under attack, we will be lucky if it is only 101 predations.

A case of the “bigly sads”…

If you’ve noticed, I’ve purposefully kept the links to a bare minimum today in order to emphasize one superb Vox article:  Donald Trump and the Rise of Tribal Epistemology by David Roberts. It is a few weeks old, but it is a wonderful synopsis of a very complicated web of problems. If you read nothing else today, take the time or bookmark it. It is truly exceptional.

One last thing – thanks to Fredster, DYB, and GAgal for covering during my technological convalescence. I appreciate them.

What are you thinking about today?

Christiane Amanpour interviews Hillary Clinton. | CNN/David Holloway

Another week… another Twitter meltdown at the Clintons. Last week Chelsea was in the crosshairs, on Tuesday it was back to Hillary Clinton. And it’s all the usual suspects who returned into the arena.

Earlier in the day Clinton spoke to Christiane Amanpour in a town-hall interview at the Women For Women International, an organization that helps women in war-torn countries. Amanpour asked Clinton about the 2016 election and Clinton responded:

I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot. I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the short falls that we had. […] I have been in a lot of campaigns and I’m very proud of the campaign we ran. and I am very proud of the staff and the volunteers. It wasn’t a perfect campaign — there’s no such thing — but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me and got scared off and the evidence for that intervening event is I think compelling, persuasive and so we overcame a lot in the campaign. We overcame an enormous barrage of negativity, or false equivalence, of so much else, and as Nate Silver … concluded, if the election had been on October 27, I would be your president. [ …] Did we make mistakes? Yes. [But] The reason I believe we lost was because of events of the last 10 days.

This is where the hyenas descended. Today it was Glenn Thrush’s turn to lead the pack. There were many messages from him over the course of several hours. One tweet read: “Hillary takeaways 1) Loathes Trump 2) blames Comey/Putin 3) the ‘real’ Hillary-funny, hard-edged, unguarded 4) blames everyone but self.”

Thrush’s Times colleague and mentor Maggie Haberman tweeted many messages of personal support for Thrush and critiques of Clinton. At one point Haberman actually said to Greg Sargent of The Plum Line, who posted an article in which he argued the fault  for the loss was not entirely Clinton’s, that one of her – Haberman’s – objections to Clinton’s statement, and the reason she doesn’t believe her, is that the order of Clinton’s statement was all wrong. Haberman argued that if Clinton ended her argument with contrition, it would have made all the difference. Am I the only who thinks this is one of the most preposterous things I’ve ever heard?

Then later in the day Bill Maher told Jake Tapper that he doesn’t understand why Hillary just won’t go away already.

Chris Cillizza also participated in this feeding frenzy, but I won’t even bother you with his nonsense.

To my surprise a number of journalists came to Clinton’s defense. More importantly, a number of them specifically criticized Thrush and Haberman, some times by addressing them directly, for the behavior.

Chris Hayes of MSNBC responded to Thrush: “I find this obsession with Clinton taking full responsibility for her loss from ostensibly “objective” observers really weird.” (To which Thrush answered without any irony: “I don’t care if she takes responsibility.”)

Mark Murray of NBC initially blasted Clinton, but then seemed to change his mind and posted a series of tweets showing poling data: “Just look at the national polls: Pre-Comey, she was up 5-6pts, Post-Comey, 3pts. From outside MOE to inside it.” Perhaps Murray was convinced by actual…data. Data doesn’t lie.

Because of data, Nate Silver has been one of the strongest voices in the “blame Hillary” debate: “We’ll have a piece out on this tomorrow. Issue is that some of the competing explanations for Clinton’s loss implicate the media’s judgment… / Did they jump the gun on Comey letter? Drop the ball on Russia? Cover email too much? Not fact-check Trump enough? / What were ethics of Wikileaks coverage? What role did Clinton’s gender play? Tough questions! Easier to say Clinton durg her own grave.”

Michael Cohen (no, not that one) of Boston Globe: “Genuinely fascinating that so many NYT reporters are so focused on Hillary Clinton’s self-flaggelation / I mean it’s never true that a single candidate is personally responsible for losing a presidential campaign. It’s a confluence of factors / So it’s mystifying how many reporters are adamant that Clinton must take personal responsibility for her loss… / did reporters insist that Romney take personal responsibility for losing? McCain? Gore? The media obsession w/HRC’s self-flaggelation is such an obvious case of diverting responsibility I can’t think of another explanation. / I mean it’s ok to say “we made some mistakes in how we covered the 2016 campaign.” None of [us] are perfect; pencils, erasers etc / and every time reporter tweets “it’s Hillary’s fault” it only serves to highlight how obvious this effort at diverting responsibility is.”

I was stunned when even Bernie Bro with serious case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome Matthew Yglesias of Vox wrote in response to Matt Viser of Boston Globe (Viser: “Clinton in one breath: “I take absolute personal responsibility.” Clinton in the next: “I would have won if not for Comey and Wikileaks.”). Yglesias’ response: “Despite the valiant efforts of many in the press these are not really contradictory statements. / To take responsibility for something is an ethical stance not a causal analysis. / When Harry Truman said “the buck stops here” he was not saying that all events in American life were under his total personal control.”

There is a “mean girls” quality to Thrush/Haberman/Cillizza/Barro/etc. attacks on Hillary (and Chelsea) Clinton. One person starts, the others jump in, sharks sensing blood. Or the last person standing in dodge-ball. The same names come up time and again. But I was encouraged to see several people – especially surprised by Yglesias – break with the pack and directly argue with them. Is this change temporary? Or a new awareness on the parts of some reporters that perhaps, maybe, just possibly they are not infallible?

But… back to Thrush and Haberman. On Tue they published a piece in the Times about Ivanka Trump, who has a book out, which she is not supposed to promote. Former Fortune publisher and current digital director of Columbia Law School Pamela Kruger tweeted at Haberman: “Ivanka gave this in depth interview just as her new book comes out. The book she isn’t promoting.” Haberman, who often reveals herself in spontaneous responses to others, fired back: “We were doing a profile and we went to them.” Kruger retorted: “Timing worked out pretty well for her.”

When I say Haberman often reveals herself in spontaneous tweets, the following may be one of the most revealing messages Haberman ever sent. After stories came out about in-fighting between Bannon and Kushner, Breitbart wrote an article attacking Kushner’s staff. To which Haberman tweeted: “Do folks there seriously believe hitting the president’s family, even by extension, is going to help their access?” I think this message needs to be framed because it reveals everything about not just Haberman specifically, but reporters generally who survive on the need for access.

I also ran into this tweet from Thrush that really made me cringe: “Anyone who thinks [Trump] is ‘incoherent’ has it exactly wrong. Every speech is 100% coherent. Every speech is 100% about Trump.” This message that Trump is a genius is something Haberman has stated in the past as well. A few months ago I followed her arguing with NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen. Rosen wrote that the idea that Trump is some sort of media genius is nonsense. Haberman responded that she’s been following Trump for many years and he is, in fact, a master manipulator of the media. I recall responding that just because Trump manages to masterfully manipulate her, doesn’t mean he is a master at manipulation.

Eric Boehlert summed up the day’s events fairly well: “for those keeping score, NYT reporters who typed up Ivanka puff piece today, spent the afternoon trolling Hillary on Twitter /



 but the newsroom gets very very mad when anyone threatens to cancel subscriptions.
 / 



keep in mind, same day WH press secretary Refuses To Take Any Press Questions, reporters spent afternoon attacking private citizen.”

Joy Reid

As I was finishing this post, I ran into an astonishing piece in WaPo by Dave Weigel. It shows how somebody in the media can take a single statement, misrepresent it, and create a tornado of attacks. In this case, no surprisingly, it was a statement by Hillary Clinton to Amanpour that was misrepresented by Phil Elliott of Time – creating a storm of attacks on Clinton.

Trump may be the first president whose plunge to 40 percent approval was marked by stories about the voters who still loved him. And Clinton may be the only politician who can talk about the need for rural broadband — at this point, an almost banal priority of rural politicians — and be accused of snobbery.

For a final laugh, see this from the NY Times, trying to explain Trump’s comments about Andrew Jackson:

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And then this:

Chelsea Handler

Our Fearless Leaders…

THE SCENE: A conference room at the DNC’s Washington headquarters. It’s clear that a long meeting is in progress, from the various soda cans and coffee mugs on the table, scribbles and diagrams on the whiteboard, and the generally exhausted and disheveled air of the 6 participants. At the head of the table is TOM PEREZ, the newly-elected head of the Democratic National Committee. Sitting to his right is KEITH ELLISON, his second-in-command. There are four other people around the table: BERNIE SANDERS, loser of the Democratic Primary by 4 million votes; BILL MAHER, mansplainer extraordinaire; CHUCK SCHUMER, head of the Senate Democrats; and The One, former President BARACK OBAMA. There are, of course, no women present. 

As the curtain rises, we see PEREZ and ELLISON in earnest and quiet discussion. SANDERS’ head is down and his eyes are closed; gentle snores issue from his nose. SCHUMER is gazing raptly into OBAMA’s eyes, while MAHER is on the phone, pacing, at the other end of the table. PEREZ and ELLISON decide to bring the group back in.

PEREZ: Guys, hey! (The men in the room reluctantly begin to shift into “pay attention” mode.) I know it’s been a long day so far. But I think we’ve made real progress. Let’s take a look at the whiteboard one more time. Keith, can you give Bernie a nudge?

ELLISON (checking his watch): Yeah, I guess it’s still light outside. (goes over and gently shakes SANDERS, who unelegantly snorts awake.)

SANDERS: Oh! Sorry about that. I must have napped for a minute there.

OBAMA (muttering) More like the past 90 minutes, man. (SCHUMER snickers.)

MAHER (on the phone): Crap. I’ve gotta go, Ann. Of course I’ll have you on my show again. I don’t care how conservative you are; you’re my kind of woman. (Hangs up) Sorry about that. It’s hard for me to say no to a hot blonde, even if she talks a lot of sh*t sometimes. Am I right?

(SANDERS is the only one who laughs.)

PEREZ (into the awkward silence): Uh. Right! So, to recap: we want to rebuild the Democratic Party to prepare for 2018 and beyond. We can’t just focus on the Presidency every four years. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place!

OBAMA: Hey!

SCHUMER (smoothing it over): Sorry, Mr. President, but you have to agree that we should have spent more money and time building up Congress, the governorships and state legislatures. Now look what’s happened! The lunatics are running the asylum, and we don’t even have the option to impeach the schmuck squatting in the Oval Office to get his d*mn kids and that Breitbart wacko out of there. I feel like I’m living in Bizarro World!

SANDERS (standing up): I couldn’t agree more, Chuck. If it weren’t for that d*mn woman losing the election, we would be in the catbird seat right now. Thankfully you guys took over from that idiot Schultz, so we can take the Party back from the millionaires and billionaires! (sits down, self-satisfied)

(OBAMA rolls his eyes.)

MAHER (snarkily): Catbird seat?! How old ARE you?! (goes back to his phone and stops paying attention)

SCHUMER (politely): Uh, Bernie, that wasn’t actually what I said. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. And I think it would be just terrific if you would stop obsessing about the primaries now. You know that 4 million more Democrats voted for Hillary. There was no rigging, except what the Russians did for Trump!

OBAMA: That’s right, Chuck. I knew those Russians were up to no good! But it shouldn’t have mattered. They should have come out for her the way they came out for me. (shaking his head) D*mn! I can’t believe my inspirational speeches didn’t work.

PEREZ (muttering): You mean those condescending lectures? Yeah, shocking.

ELLISON: (standing up and going to a whiteboard that turns around) Guys, guys! Come on now. We’re all on the same side, trying to do the same thing. Right? Let’s focus on beating the Republicans in 2018! Take a look at my strategy. I think we can all agree it’s a winner!

(ELLISON dramatically turns the whiteboard around. There is a picture of two people: one woman and one man. The man has unexpectedly sprouted a cartoon p*nis, and the woman has grown very large cartoon breasts.)

MAHER (grinning): Hey, Keith baby. I improved on it a bit.

PEREZ: Oh my God. (puts head in hands)

ELLISON (furiously erasing the offending bits): Bill, what are you even doing here? You’re not a politician. I don’t even know if you’re a Democrat!

MAHER: (standing up) Yeah? Well I figured you’ve got Bernie here, and he’s no Democrat. So what the f*ck, why shouldn’t I weigh in? After all, I know why you liberals always lose – it’s because you focus on the wrong things, like political correctness, instead of appealing to normal people like me.

SANDERS: YEAH!

OBAMA (finally a bit exercised): Oh – you mean we should cater to arrogant white guys who think they’re all that? I was President of the United States, you jackass. Have a little respect!

THE MEN GO SILENT, CHASTENED.

MAHER: Mr. President, I apologize. I got a bit carried away. It’s been a long day. (smarmily) Keith, why don’t we get back to your whiteboard. I promise I won’t touch it again.

ELLISON (not at all mollified, but willing to play along): All right. I cleaned up Bill’s mess, and here we are. These, gentlemen, are our new targeted Democratic voters.

First, we have Brenda. Brenda is an affluent white woman in the suburbs, who usually votes Republican. Our message? We feel your pain. You don’t want to think about the environment, or foreign policy, or how your vote affects people less fortunate than yourself. You just want lower taxes and an easy life for you and your family. And Brenda, you deserve it!

SANDERS (interrupting): Uh, Keith, I’m sure that’s not the message you want to send to Brenda. Don’t you want to talk to her about millionaires and billionaires taking over the country?

OBAMA: (interrupting): Nah, she’s a woman. Talk to her about taking care of her children!

SCHUMER (interrupting): What about abortion? Why can’t we talk to her about that? That’s the main issue for all women.

MAHER (interrupting): Women care about only one thing – a big schlong and a nice house. Why do you think I get so much action? (pointing) Hung like a horse, my friends.

(The meeting dissolves into chaos and yelling.)

PEREZ (commandingly): STOP! (The chaos calms.) Team, this is a mess. I forget, why are we targeting affluent white women again? And the man, isn’t he white too?

ELLISON (sheepishly): Uh, yes, Tom, yes he is. But remember, white people swung the election to that creep. We’ve got to get them to vote for us so we don’t lose again in 2018!

SANDERS: Yeah!

ELLISON (gaining confidence): I mean, look over here at the map of the United States. Come on, everyone, gather round the other whiteboard!

(Everyone gets up and dutifully looks at the whiteboard.)

SANDERS: Wow, is that Vermont? Huh. I thought it was bigger.

OBAMA (sarcastically): We know, Bernie.

ELLISON (clearing his throat): Ahem! Right. So look where the Democrats have all their support…in the East, West and some areas of the South. There’s very little in the middle of the country. That’s where we have to focus our efforts!

(The group murmurs in agreement, except PEREZ, who is scratching his head.)

PEREZ: So, uh…not to be a party pooper here, but…what about our base? African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, etc.? Shouldn’t we focus on turning them out rather than trying to convert people who never vote Democratic? And what about making sure people can vote in 2018? I heard that voter participation dropped 2-3 percentage points because of all those restrictive voting laws in those middle of the country states. If that hadn’t happened, plus all the Russian hacking and the Comey letter, Hillary would have won in a landslide!

SANDERS (getting red in the face): Oh please. She’s a loser! You should all listen to me. I would have won! It would have been YUGE!

ELLISON: I agree with Bernie. She only won by 3 million votes, and that’s mostly because of California. Who cares? It’s the middle of the country that counts.

SCHUMER: Wait a minute. What about New York? The greatest state in the nation!

(The room starts to get contentious again.)

OBAMA: Hey, hey, everyone. Look, it’s clear that we have some differences of opinion, but I’m confident we can work it all out. The notion that somehow Republicans could win in 2018 is patently absurd. Let’s all reconvene tomorrow, when we’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, and look at everything with fresh eyes. Okay?

(The men mutter and shake hands reluctantly as OBAMA ushers them out. PEREZ lingers behind and takes out his phone.)

PEREZ (quietly, making sure no one is around): Hello, Hillary? It’s me, Tom. (pauses) It was rough today. We really need you back. These guys have no clue! Obama does nothing but talk about himself. Maher makes dirty jokes and snarks. Bernie just yells “millionaires and billionaires” and says you’re a loser, then falls asleep.

(A hearty laugh issues from the phone.)

PEREZ: (chuckling) Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous. Meanwhile, Chuck is too afraid of making enemies to stand up to the others, even though he knows they’re on the wrong track. And Ellison backs whatever Bernie says. It’s a disaster!

(PEREZ pauses for a long moment as CLINTON talks.)

PEREZ: Really? You think it’s time you came out of the woods? Tell me more…

The lights dim and fade out as PEREZ listens to CLINTON.

THE END…?


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