Corporate media pats itself on the back for ‘solidarity’ in White House press briefing yet ignores progressive question

THE ISSUE

The majority of the corporate media may well be ‘anti-Trump’ but they also take care to make sure progressive issues are at best, ignored or at worst, belittled.

THE MEDIA

Clip by Lawrence O’Donnell in YouTube on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

“…the most perfect of White House press corps teamwork unfolded…”

THE COMMENT

It’s hard to disagree with Lawrence O’Donnell and for the most part I enjoy his MSNBC show The Last Word, particularly in the Trump era.  But much like news coverage by the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, you often have to ask yourself if they are always covering a given topic to its fullest and consider what is being left out.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ press briefings are always contentious occasions, but yesterday’s was always going to be even more so given all that happened surrounding Trump’s Monday meeting with Russian despot/president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and its aftermath.

Of course Lawrence is right when he points out in the above clip that it was nice to see NBC’s Halle Jackson and The Hill’s Jordan Fabian working together to prevent ‘SHuckS’ (why isn’t everybody calling her that????) from dodging important questions, having seen the entire briefing I think it would have been prudent for him to also mention what happened regarding April Ryan from the American Urban Radio Network.

Ryan and SHuckS have had several heated exchanges in the past and on this occasion, I thought her question was not only relevant but also one that was unlikely to have been asked by her fellow journalists in this session.

In her defence of the president’s approach to election security, SHuckS listed a range of measures she claims has been taken by the Trump administration.  Ryan wanted to know if voter suppression, in other words actions taken by mostly Republican state legislatures around the country, was also on the list.

At first, her question was completely ignored.  To be fair, Ryan was eventually allowed to ask it, yet while SHuckS offered some words in reply, none of them could really be considered a ‘straight answer’.

But this post is not about SHuckS, rather O’Donnell and the corporate media for which he works.  If there really was a general sense of teamwork among the White House press corps, then Ryan would have received the same help from her colleagues that Jackson did.

Ryan’s experience wasn’t completely ignored by the wider media.  Josh Feldman of Mediaite wrote of it in his piece : “April Ryan Confronts Sarah Sanders For Not Calling on Her in Briefing: ‘I’ll Keep Asking the Question’” while a more conservative slant was put on it in “April Ryan keeps interrupting Sarah Sanders – Sarah finally loses it” by the Daily Caller’s Benny johnson.

But with Trump finding new creative ways to shoe horn himself into the headlines every day, I can’t see the very real issue of voter suppression coming even close to the mainstream again any time soon.  JLP

#IANWAE

 

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

Rachel Maddow makes a good case for being the most smug about the epic fail that is the Nunes meh-mo

THE ISSUE

In a desperate attempt to help his overlord president thwart the Robert Mueller investigation, Congressman Devin Nunes cherry-picked classified intelligence information and spun it into the form of a memo which, after whipping up a frenzy of curiosity for weeks, he sent to Trump who authorised it for public release on Friday.   The reaction everywhere other than Fox News has been underwhelming to say the least.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by The Rachel Maddow Show on Friday, February 2, 2018

This is what all the hype was about? I hyped that I’d got Donald Trump’s tax returns …for one hour before I actually released…what actually were Donald Trump’s tax returns and for a year now people were telling me that was unconscionable hype”

THE COMMENT

Over in Utrumpia, where this memo is being paraded around like it’s The Ten Commandments, it doesn’t matter what the actual words on the page are.  

The type of person this sideshow was aimed at is never going to actually read the memo.  This White House is counting on that, and it always does, which brings us to the underlying problem in all of this – how do you tell people they’re being manipulated when the people manipulating them have them convinced that YOU’RE their enemy?

Being a smug member of the so-called liberal elite is something Rachel Maddow does better than most – it doesn’t bother me personally but I know her presentation style is way too ‘smart’ for Utrumpia natives.  That said, she did take a lot of flak for the way she hyped the tax returns she received and I was one of the few who stuck up for her at the time.   She is definitely justified in bringing it up.

She then goes on to spell out not only how little is in the meh-mo that actually helps Trump, but also how some of it works against him.  Pity Utrumpians won’t be watching, however.

Best quote I have seen about all of this so far has come from Senator John McCain…

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

We’ll see what Robert Mueller has to say about it all.  JLP

#IANWAE

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CNN’s Chris Cuomo uses facts to challenge Trump’s claims of economic success, including the President’s own words

THE ISSUE

President Trump wants us to stop focusing on anything negative to do with his administration and instead heap praise on him for the success of the US economy since he took office.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by CNN on 29 Jan 2018

Trump [in clip from campaign speech]: “When you hear 4.9 and 5% unemployment the number is probably 28 and 29, as high as 35…”

Cuomo [in CNN studio]: “You know what?  I agree with the President!

THE COMMENT

“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” ― Daniel Patrick Moynihan

For me, the health of an economy is far from the only yardstick by which we should be judging our government.  But even if we accept that it is, CNN’s Chris Cuomo has done a great job putting the figures Trump has been crowing about into context.

At best, the economic reports under Trump are basically continuing the success that Obama had after inheriting a disastrous crash of the market.  But as Cuomo points out, in some areas the figures aren’t even that great in themselves.

But the best evidence he has comes from ‘candidate Trump’ who’s words are often found to be in direct opposition to those of ‘President Trump’.

And don’t just take CNN’s word for it…back in August the New York Times pointed out that : ‘Trump Praises the Stock Market at 22,000 That He Said Was a Bubble at 18,000

Let’s be clear…all politicians play fast and loose with economic figures to big themselves up, it’s just that in Trump’s case he has taken it to a whole new level by selectively ignoring his own words from the not-to-distant past.  JLP

#IANWAE

Burger King ad for net neutrality is a good thing though not for the best of reasons

THE ISSUE

The Donald Trump administration has ended net neutrality, meaning corporations can pick and choose what website you can visit by playing around with broadband speeds.  A bit like gerrymandering which we featured last weekend, it’s not the ‘sexiest’ issue yet it is still very important and restoring it should be of interest to all different types of political persuasion,

THE MEDIA

Article by Katie Reilly in Time magazine

Allow Burger King’s New Ad to Explain Net Neutrality to You

“The Burger King brand believes the Internet should be like the Whopper sandwich: the same for everyone,” the fast-food giant added.

THE COMMENT

Hey – I really, really don’t want to be negative about something that helps raise awareness about net neutrality…even if it’s a big business doing it, I really don’t care.

But I can’t help but comment on one small detail…the nature of the business in question.  Basically, it takes flame-grilled burgers to capture the attention of the wider American public even on something as important as this, or to put it differently, the way to their brains is through their stomachs.

Maybe if it was McDonalds with cheesburgers instead of Burger King with Whoppers then even the President himself could be won over?  JLP

#IANWAE

Trump has done nothing but shut down key parts of government since he took office but you wouldn’t know it listening to Democrats and media

THE ISSUE

Whether it’s through stupidity, unwillingness or incompetence, the Democrat leadership cannot get across the simple message that Donald Trump’s agenda of racism, misogyny and pro-corporatism is bad for the American people, and the mainstream media isn’t much better.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by Dan Rather on The Young Turks on January 22, 2018

The Government Shutdown Ends With a ‘Promise’ For DACA Vote From the GOP – The News With Dan Rather

“…if most of the media ignore the year-long slow-motion shut down and if Democrats don’t raise enough stink about it, maybe it’s because too many of us have signalled that we’re on board”

THE COMMENT

Shortcomings with relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Throwing millions off their medical insurance by hacking away at Obamacare.  Going after Medicare and Social Security.  Gutting the staff at the State Department.  Rescinding regulations for the sake of it.

Those are just some of the actions Donald Trump has taken since being sworn in just over a year ago, yet in recent days he has been able to frame the word ‘shutdown’ as meaning something that is only harmful to the US military, which already receives more funding than any other nation by a long, long way.

At first I was annoyed at myself for not realising that what the President has done since taking office is effectively a massive shutdown in itself, but I’m not involved with politics and government on a daily basis – the point is so simple and obvious that we have to wonder why his primary opposition, namely the Democrats and, as he calls them, ‘The Fake News Media’, haven’t been highlighting it all weekend?

Thankfully we have people like the legendary Dan Rather to get the message out there.  And as he points out, it’s possible that the general public is also complicit to an extent.

As I recently pointed out here on FPP, the likes of Chuck Schumer with his ‘bowl of Jello’ and Nancy Pelosi with her ‘poop Sundae’ simply don’t have the charisma necessary to deliver the kind of soundbites needed to combat Trump’s twitter tirades.  Meanwhile we have Dick Durbin gleefully using the word ‘bipartisanship’ as if it also necessarily means ‘fairness for the American people’.

Besides…if anything should have clinched the message battle for the Democrats re the latest shutdown it should have been that absolutely disgusting ad which suggested they would be responsible for any future murders by illegal immigrants.  That was nothing short of Hitler-esque propaganda [script most likely written by Stephen Miller] which speaks volumes for the intelligence levels of the demographic at which it was aimed.

The party badly needs new leadership.  Whether or not Mitch McConnell keeps to his word on DACA by February 8, the Democrats have left themselves wide open for negative press between now and then for having caved far too easily over the spending bill.

And there I was, very close to writing a post here praising them for finally showing a bit of fight.  Why do I allow myself to get so deluded?  JLP

#IANWAE

PS – As I’m about to publish, Trump has tweeted this :

I rest my case.

 

It may not be a ‘sexy’ topic, but if you don’t fully understand gerrymandering, you don’t fully understand politics/government.

THE ISSUE

Gerrymandering is a process widely practised in democracies across the world [including Ireland] and has been proven to have a significant impact on representative government, yet it is broadly ignored by the mainstream media.

THE MEDIA

Podcast by Best Of The Left on January 19, 2018

#1159 Voters need to pick their reps, not the other way around (Gerrymandering)

“These district lines are the building blocks of democracy and when they get perverted and twisted as this, it leads to deeply undemocratic outcomes…that damages the levers of representative government and that is how elections are rigged and that is the kind of rigged we need to be talking about, not what Donald Trump is talking about.”

THE COMMENT

Packing. Cracking. The Efficiency Gap. Prison-gerrymadering,

IMO it is vital that we fully understand those terms – in fact I only learned about that last one regarding prisons from listening to the above episode of Best of the Left, a twice-weekly podcast which collates snippets from different online media sources on a specific topic.

We need to know every aspect of this process of gerrymandering, as well as how widespread it is.   At the moment Donald Trump is rumoured to be placing a man named Thomas Brunel, known to be heavily involved in rigging several districts in favour of Republicans, in charge of the next US census, which in turn decides most of the electoral boundaries across the country.

Do you think this practise doesn’t happen in Ireland anymore?  Think again.  There are over 150 TDs yet with only 26 counties to cover, many are lumped together in constituencies like Cavan/Monaghan, Sligo/Leitrim and Carlow/Kilkenny making it possible that entire counties can go without representation.

Then we have a practise I call ‘GerryAdamsing’, namely organising your votes to ensure multiple candidates from a particular party win seats.  Sinn Féin are far from the only party to do this but they are definitely among the best and the overall point is that it should not be possible at all.

But I am straying too far into my own personal opinion on the subject of voter suppression.   The point of this post is to encourage everyone to bring themselves up to speed and form their own opinion, and I recommend this episode of BestOfTheLeft as a good starting point.  JLP

#IANWAE