Fox News evalutates the opinions of all American students on SCOTUS pick by interviewing five of them

THE ISSUE

Fox News might as well be renamed TrumpTV.

THE MEDIA

Clip by Fox News in YouTube on July 8, 2018

“Every person I spoke to all assumed Trump was going to pick a man.”

THE COMMENT

This clip is Fox News at its best.  Well, I really should say ‘worst’ but since they get such good ratings I suppose you could spin it as a positive.

In what is quite possibly the most unscientific vox pop ever put on the airwaves, a young guy goes on the streets of New York (probably not far from Fox News studio) and clearly gets the answers he wants from random people, with the ‘Students hate the SCOTUS pick that Trump hasn’t made yet’ narrative more than likely determined before he ever set foot on the sidewalk.

The premise of the narrative, of course, is highly disingenuous.  It is widely known that the shortlist for Trump’s Supreme Court choice was taken from a longer list drawn up by the ultra conservative Federalist Society (think Iona Institute and you’re in the ballpark) so no matter which judge Trump goes for, anyone of a progressive or ‘liberal’ mindset would be inclined to oppose the nomination.  For example, there isn’t a single judge on that list which would fail the ‘I will help abolish Roe vs Wade’ litmus test.

But why ruin a good narrative with the facts?  The already-brainwashed Fox News viewership don’t need much of a push to support the stereotype they have already been fed of ‘students’.  Once the answers from the vox-pop are selectively chosen and they spend more time in the studio mansplaining the responses than actually airing them (assuming the overall sample was actually bigger than the one they put on air that is), it only takes a clip of less than three minutes to get the ‘job’ done.

As I always say about entities like Fox News, it’s not its existence that is downright scary, it’s the fact that so many people actually believe content that is so blatantly skewed towards the Republican agenda.  And it has only gotten more blatant under this president.  JLP

#IANWAE

Have the Republicans stolen another Supreme Court seat?

THE ISSUE

The resignation during the past week of SCOTUS justice Anthony Kennedy allows President Trump to appoint a young, healthy, cons replacement who could guarantee pro-corporate and anti-sivil rights rulings for decades to come.

THE MEDIA

Article by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman in New York Times on June 28, 2018

Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening

As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin.

THE COMMENT

A popular refrain whenever a new revelation emerges about ConManDon is : “What would he be saying if Obama did the same thing?”  This could be the most important one of all.

To my question in the title, ‘another’ refers to the fact that when Justice Scalia passed away in February 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote on confirming Obama’s pick as successor on the grounds that it was ‘too close to the election and the American people should decide’.  While this decision certainly did not break any laws, norms or protocols, it certainly established a new one.

Yet despite the fact that Kennedy has resigned much closer to a big election, namely the Midterms, it seems that Senator McConnell is suddenly much less concerned about whether or not the American people should weigh in.  Trump plans to have Kennedy’s successor nominated by the end of the week.

As you can see by the NYT article, there is much evidence that the Trump administration has gone to great lengths to prepare for Kennedy’s resignation, like rewarding all the justice’s clerks with appointments to district courts, and indeed two of his most favoured clerks are front runners to succeed him.

But of all the revelations in the article, the one that takes the biscuit is the fact that Kennedy’s son runs a division of the only bank that would loan money to Trump for property deals after he was turned down by other financial institutions due to his many failed business practices.

Oh and did I mention that Deutsche Bank is considered to be one of the ‘go-to’ banks for Russian oligarchs for money-laundering?

But of course it’s the ‘Failing New York Times’ after all, so I must be all ‘Fake News’.  To be fair though, the article itself doesn’t suggest that any seat has been ‘stolen’, those words are mine.  I still stand by them though.  JLP

#IANWAE

Amid doom and gloom amongst liberals, Rachel Maddow declares the fight for Kennedy’s SCOTUS seat as ‘winnable’ for Democrats

THE ISSUE

Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the US Supreme Court yesterday

THE MEDIA

Clip by The Rachel Maddow Show in YouTube on June 27, 2018

“No vote on a successor to Kennedy until after the November elections, same rules should apply now as applied when the Scalia seat came up…”

THE COMMENT

First things first…yes, we’re back!!!  Things on the rugby site got a little crazy and busy so sadly we had to leave this one idle again, but we’re not giving up on it just yet.

We return on the day after the most important event of the Donald Trump presidency.  Yes, it is that serious.

Justice Kennedy’s decision to retire now gives Trump the opportunity to replace him with a hard-line conservative which will leave a majority five of them on the court.  That’s not to say Kennedy was liberal by a long shot, but at least his vote did go our way on occasion.

And it would seem that with a majority in the Senate, albeit the narrowest one of 51-49, there is nothing that can stop Trump and his ‘revamped’ Republican party to get the job done.

But as you can see from the video, Rachel Maddow isn’t so sure.  She puts a lot of pressure on Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to prove their ‘pro-choice’ credentials by blocking any Trump nominee until after the midterm elections, but as always the MSNBC anchor definitely makes a compelling argument.

Again to be clear, this is an issue that supersedes the Wall, North Korea, Iran deal, Paris accord, Charlottesville, even child separation at the border and the Mueller investigation ,in terms of importance.

Very interesting times ahead to say the least.  JLP

#IANWAE

New Iowa abortion legislation shows how Irish political climate might look even if #RepealThe8th campaign is successful

THE ISSUE

Ireland is set to hold a referendum on May 25 to repeal the Eighth Amendment which was added to the Constitution in 1983, and if the Yes vote prevails, provisions can be made via legislation for safe and legal abortions in the jurisdiction.

THE MEDIA

Article by Saeed Ahmed and Isabella Gomez in CNN.com on May 3, 2018

Iowa lawmakers pass the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban — as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected

“By passing an intentionally unconstitutional bill, Iowa Republicans have declared that they do not care about the foundational values of our state, or Iowa’s future,” Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa said.

THE COMMENT

With just a matter of weeks left until the referendum, the focus for all campaigners right now is on winning the vote, which of course is perfectly understandable.

But with ‘Yes’ consistently leading the polls, should they be reflected in the actual vote itself, I wonder if we need to be mindful of what the political climate could be like afterwards?

Removing the Eighth Amendment will allow for legislation to be debated and passed in the Dáil, but that can of course be changed by future governments, and whatever percentage of the electorate votes ‘No’ will become an instant constituency for right-leaning parties to court in election campaigns down the line.

Take the examples in many ‘Republican’ or ‘Red’ states in the USA.  The Roe vs Wade decision of 1973 allowed for safe and legal access to abortion across the country but since that time, state governments have passed a series of laws restricting access to such services that were so severe, particularly to women from lower economic classes, that they might as well have had our 8th amendment in place, and as you can see by the article linked above, Iowa is the latest state to take it further.

My hope is that should Yes win the day, it’s supporters will remain politically active to ensure proper legislation remains on the statute books indefinitely. JLP

www.checktheregister.ie

#IANWAE

The first two quotes in Journal.ie article on ‘Pro-Life’ SaveThe8th launch are from men…

THE ISSUE

The No campaign in the upcoming #RepealThe8th referendum is definitely starting on the back foot and thus it will be interesting to watch it’s media strategy between now and May 25.

THE MEDIA

Article by Rónán Duffy in Journal.ie on Thursday, March 29, 2018

‘Abortion is a licence to kill’- Save the 8th launches its referendum campaign

Speaking at the launch at Dublin’s Gresham Hotel, Save the 8th spokesperson John McGuirk said that it was “an outright falsehood” that “the medical evidence in this debate is tilted in favour of repeal”.

McGuirk was speaking following an address by obstetrician Dr John Monaghan who has long opposed abortion…

THE COMMENT

I have to assume the Save The 8th campaign media people were delighted at the coverage they received from this article in The Journal…’Abortion is a license to kill’ was their main message and there it is, right in the headline.

But when you actually drill down a paragraph or two, you see a different story.  I’m far from a PR expert, but given this is an issue that is to all intents and purposes one surrounding women’s health, I’d be surprised if having had all this time to prepare their campaign, the Save The 8th people would be happy that the first two people being quoted on their behalf were men named John?

McGuirk is well known on Irish twitter as a right-wing, shall we say, ‘antagonist’ and has been laying the groundwork via his account for quite a while, so it is no surprise to see him front and centre.  You can be sure to find numerous tweets from his account between now and voting day which are designed to provoke vitriolic responses which will then be used as ‘evidence’ against the Yes camp.  This is why my policy is #DoNotEngage.

But although I do feel strongly that men should be involved in this debate, I really think that pushing two of them forward at the very start of a campaign comes across as a massive own goal, once enough people draw attention to it, that is.  JLP

#IANWAE

Irish Independent’s framing of poll suggests ‘Brexitisation’ of #RepealThe8th debate

THE ISSUE

Many feel that one of the factors that contributed to both the Brexit and Trump victories  in 2016 was the mainstream media’s attempts to appear ‘neutral’ [for sales reasons every bit as much as ones involving ‘fairness’] which often led to over-compensating in their coverage of the perceived ‘losing side’ ahead of election day.

THE MEDIA

Article by Philip Ryan in Irish Independent on February 18, 2018

Poll shows strong support in favour of abortion referendum – but ’12 week’ proposal splits public

A total of 40pc said unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks was ‘about right’, while 8pc said it ‘did not go far enough’, a combined 48pc in favour.

However, 33pc said unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks ‘went too far’ and a further 19pc were undecided – a combined 52pc against or unsure.

THE COMMENT

The headline reads ’12-week proposal splits public’.  Actually, any poll result that isn’t 100% in favour of one side can be called ‘split’.  So what is Philip Ryan of the Indo trying to do here?

Well, let’s look at the numbers being presented, starting with the pollsters themselves.  The article calls it a ‘Kantar Millward Brown poll’ which suggests a degree of, pardon the pun, ‘independence’ about the source, though if you actually go to the firm’s website you’ll see that pretty much all of their polls are done for the Indo.

But here is where I want to be absolutely clear…I am not suggesting that the Irish Independent is somehow secretly working on behalf of one side of the abortion debate.  This is something different, yet it is potentially just as harmful to the #RepealThe8th movement.

The article begins by pointing out that as many as 63% of respondents are in favour of Eighth Amendment Repeal.   It then adds that ‘A total of 24pc are opposed and 13pc do not know or offer no opinion.’  That shows a clear separation between the different viewpoints, in favour, against and no opinion…three distinct camps.

But the reporting starts to get a little, shall we say, ‘murky’ when we get to the part about the proposed ’12 week’ provision.  Remember…this post is not meant to debate that issue itself, rather the Indo’s reporting of a poll on it.

As you can see from our highlighted quote above, when it comes to these particular figures, the author has chosen to throw the ‘undecided’ percentage in with those who feel that 12 weeks is ‘too far’.  Why is that?  Surely the fact that they haven’t stated an opinion means the number should be kept separate, just as it was with the overall figures?

The answer is simple, at least in my opinion.

It’s not so much that the Indo wants you to vote a particular way in the referendum…it just wants to be able to write a headline that attracts attention from both sides.  So by ‘cooking the numbers’ to suggest there’s a category where the ‘No’ camp is actually winning, they are effectively ‘throwing them a bone’.

Many use the term ‘clickbait’ for such manipulation in the framing of a headline, but I’m not wild about that as it suggests that it only happens online.  I’d rather call it ‘lookbait’ as not only has it always featured in the print media [mostly tabloids though not exclusively], but also it is essentially uses the same principle employed by advertisers.  That scantily-clad woman holding the beer on the billboard isn’t there because if you buy the product you’ll get to meet her, yet they certainly don’t mind you thinking you will, even if it’s for a split second.

But to return to the #RepealThe8th movement, it’s very important that they remain mindful of this type of skewed media coverage and highlight it whenever they can, otherwise that 63-24 gap could get a lot closer between now and the referendum itself.  JLP

#IANWAE

Notes from Dáil Leaders’ Questions – Wed Jan 31, 2018

Dail LQ notes

Intro

Leaders’ Questions is arguably the most important weekly event in Irish politics, as the government must give answers on various topics to the opposition parties on live TV.  However, as it is held on a Wednesday just before lunchtime, its effects on the national political discourse is minimal.  Unfortunately we’re far more prepared for discussions on sports, soaps and reality shows than we are political issues.

In this new series on FPP we’ll be taking notes throughout both the Dáil session and RTÉ’s coverage, with much para-phrasing of course…

Pre-game

Host – Sharon Ni Bheolain

Panel – Fergus O’Dowd TD – FG

Michael O’Regan – Irish Times

Michael Lehane – RTE pol corr

ML – FG seems to be rallying around Tanaiste on 12-week

MOR – It’s going to be a long campaign

FOD – I’m in favour of change, when you bring it down to family you’d change your views.  We’ve a lot of persuading to do – HE DOESNT DIRECTLY ANSWER QUESTION when asked which side of LV/SC divide he’s on

SNB – could referendum be passed but legislation not go through Dail?

ML – yes that is a prospect, there might be a ‘compromise’

MOR – Martin reckons legislation could fail – I think the voters understand it’s a complex issue

FOD – We have a big job of work to do in debating the twelve week issue – do we need a bigger majority in referendum that 50%

SNB – the government needs to lead – is there a plan of action?

FOD – We need Harris’ bill to be exactly right

SNB – Is there an added complexity surrounding impending Supreme Court judgement?

ML – Some TDs will be guided by results, turnout and what constituents will say to them

Leaders’ questions

Micheal Martin- A few weeks ago I raised a question about hospices, since govt has excluded them from pay increases.  Funding has been withheld, MoH is now asking HSE to engage with these organisations, but that’s insulting to them, and a joke – I put it to you that they are being treated like second class citizens while govt is looking for credit for disability services.  The issue has been to Labour Court saying pay linking to HSE exists.  This is an issue of funding not industrial relations.  There’s a drop in morale…when is govt going to do the honest thing and pay the organisations properly

Leo Varadkar – Its important to put on the record that there are many different organizations and a gap has opened up between them and HSE bodies.  They’re not govt employees nor have they ever been.  Labour Court stated that it’s a decision for employers, some have met the increases, in others they have not.  It’s a diverse picture and in many cases staff have been caught in the middle.  We still dont know how the exact numbers.

MM – That is unacceptable and dishonest.  We know places are in deep trouble – are you saying nobody bothered to assess this last year?  We dont want to upset the budgetary figures.  It’s obfuscation and needs to be reversed

LV – it’s not fair, I agree.  I can only give you the facts, one of the unions accepted out proposal yesterday evening

John Brady [Sinn Féin] – Study of deprivation in EU countries…lone parents and working age adults with a disability saw the largest gap between them and others in Ireland.  26 and 14 percent higher in Ireland ‘deprivation gap’.  This did not happen in nine other countries.  According to ERSI proactive steps are required.  What specific measures is your govt going to take to lift these people out of poverty

LV – we had a lost decade because of economic crisis and we’re not to blame but we did work very hard to put country right and we were opposed by your party at every turn.  We have turned a corner, we are on the right track.  Your study also shows that the numbers are going down. The best anti poverty policy is creating jobs and we’re aiming at full employment in this country and those numbers are also showing progress.  We’re also increasing social welfare, educational supports, family income supplements and lone parent payments.  On disability we have the Missing Work Pay Report.  That’s a flavour of what we’re doing and I wish we had more time

JB – ESRI report shows that vulnerable suffered more under austerity.  We published a report last week showing how lone parents can be lifted out of poverty trap.  Have you had a look at that – if so, can you look at establishing

LV – I haven’t, but I will, what passes for a policy paper in SF is what my party calls a ‘press release’.  The people who have suffered most is those who lost their jobs, that’s why our focus has been on employment.  Employment, Child Care,Education and increase in welfare are the key things and this govt is working on them

Mattie McGrath [Independent] – Provision of home care packages, why is there a discrepancy in the provision of these services in some areas [like South Tipp General] than others?  HSE seems unable to enact change.  Will you commit to establishing the RIG Home Care Package Scheme into law?

LV – I agree that home care provisions needs to be increased to help free up beds.  The budget supplies extra money, here’s some stats, and this is a significant increase.  Most people accept the Fair Deal scheme works, what we suggest is something similar for home care.  It’s a public consultation at the moment.  Plans have been approved for 40 extra beds in South Tipp, it’s up to hospital to put them to best use

MMcG – agreeing with me and doing something about it are two different things. I want investigation that many carers re under 15 years of age???, it seems your spin machine is operating ahead of itself.

LV – I’m advised by MoH that it is under way and it will be in place before next winter.

Catherine Murphy [Social Democrats] – Pat Kenny Show and Prime Time have been talking about Dublin traffic congestion one of the best things we can do is invest in public transport especially with fines imminent from EU on failing to implement climate change provisions.  Irish Rail have not received any new funding before 2020, and it has been eight years with no new capacity.  What about DART underground?  Will you do anything to help?

LV – Yes traffic is getting worse, because the economy has improved and people are working again, amn’t I great.  I’m mentioning the Lost Decade again to have a pop at Fianna Fail.  There have been improvements, Phoenix tunnel, Luad cross city, RTPI, integrated ticketing, even when we had no money….now we’re planning a ten-year investment in infrastructure, Irish Rail are funded to refurbished

CM – ??????????

Post game

They cut off Deputy Murphy’s second question to return to studio but for the life of me I can’t understand why because there was no analysis to speak of – SNB essentially went over the various questions while the panel repeated the answers that were given in the Dáil chamber.  You could say Deputy O’Dowd was put under some pressure by SNB but there were no real answers given, except of course at the very end when he had another chance to respond to Deputy Murphy’s first question.

FPP comment

Really annoyed they cut to the studio before Deputy Murphy could ask her follow-up.  The whole point of having a second question is so that you can respond to the first answer.  And it’s not as though the so-called ‘analysis’ was up to much either.  If you’re going to bother with a studio presence, better to make the show for an entire hour so you can see the entire Dáil session as well as having time for a decent discussion.

Also, I don’t see the point for having Sharon AND the RTE political correspondent.  As Gemma O’Doherty once said of an interview on the Late Late, it’s ‘RTÉ talking to RTÉ’.  Let Sharon represent the broadcaster and get another pundit, preferably another TD, and those in the studio should be from parties who were’t involved on the day.

Then we have the fact that for the second week in a row the Eighth Amendment was discussed in the ‘pre-game’ without it ever being mentioned in Leaders’ Questions.  It seems that often TDs use their time to ask questions they have trouble getting answers during the more specialised Dáil sessions, which means this national spotlight can often be wasted to an extent.

When it comes to my comments on this session itself…it looks like Varadkar is quite adept at taking any challenge put to him and spinning it to make himself and his party look good, which I suppose as a politician is the essence of his job, but it’s a shame the second questions aren’t used more often like Mattie McGrath whose spin machine comment was the highlight of the half-hour.

One final comment on the time limits for both questions and responses…I get why they exist as they can’t be there forever as the Taoiseach has other things to be doing.  However, I wonder if he was talking to one of his party’s donors would there be a ticking clock and a switched-off microphone?  JLP

#IANWAE