Monday, January 20, 2020

The GOP Senate Is Hamstringing The Press Corp’s Coverage of Impeachment Trial

Mitch McConnell harps nonstop about how the Trump impeachment trial should follow the parameters laid down by the Clinton trial in 1998 — except where it comes to press coverage, which is tightly constrained, compared to twenty years ago. In fact, as the rules are presently laid out, the press has been relegated to spectators, who may end up watching the trial on television with the rest of us, rather than taking it down first hand. Egregious doesn’t even begin to cover this. Roll Call: When the articles of impeachment are delivered to the Senate, a procession full of pomp and circumstance, just one video camera and no still photographers will be allowed to document the historic moment. No audio recording at all will be permitted, leaving radio reporters empty-handed. During the trial, a single press pen will be set up on the second floor of the Senate, where lawmakers enter and exit the chamber. Reporters will be confined to the pen, unable to move with senators. No movement will be allowed outside the corrals, and reporters and photographers will need to be escorted to and from the pen. […] Journalists’ time-honored practice of “strolling” with lawmakers — the walking, talking and relationship-building considered necessary by many resident reporters in the Capitol — is one that the new security apparatus will squelch during the trial. Credentialed members of the media, who go through security screening to enter the Capitol each day, will be screened a second time to enter the Senate chamber to watch the trial proceedings. Magnetometers will be set up in the Senate Daily Press Gallery, requiring reporters to enter the chamber one by one after being cleared by Capitol Police operating the machine. This has the potential to cause delays and shape coverage of the impeachment trial itself. If reporters cannot enter and exit the chamber swiftly when news breaks or something important happens, it will likely become more convenient to simply watch the trial on television or the internet. Some commentary from Politico Playbook: WE WOULD BE REMISS not to speak out forcefully here about the restrictive rules being imposed on the Capitol Hill press corps for the pending impeachment trial. They are ridiculous. This is a big moment in American history, and the American people are getting shut out. […] NYT’S CARL HULSE, a veteran Capitol Hill reporter for the New York Times, put it this way: “Pretty much an outrage. Either Senate Republican leadership has no interest in recording history or perhaps they just want to play down the coming events altogether.” BEHIND THE SCENES, via Marianne LeVine: Sen. ROY BLUNT (R-Mo.) used a PowerPoint presentation at lunch Tuesday to show how access to the Senate side would work during the impeachment trial, an attendee told LeVine. The presentation had pictures of different entry and exit points, including locations for media. According to the attendee, Blunt joked that based on the information, members who wanted to avoid reporters could do so, while others who wanted to talk to the press would know where to go. Avoiding reporters is precisely what’s wanted here. Republican Senators have a duty to their constituents and trying to skate out of it, rather than face it, is cowardice and it’s just plain wrong. Nevertheless, as you see, this is what they’re trying to pull. — KLOBUCHAR post-debate […]
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Fox News host offers up old-school racist reason for why Booker may have left...

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Stephanie Grisham Lashes Back At Former Press Secretaries Begging Her To Do Her Job

It’s been over 300 days since the last White House press conference, the job for which taxpayers pay Stephanie Grisham a salary of $180K a year to hold. Must be nice to make that kind of cash just for having a job title and not have to do the job. On Sunday 13 former press secretaries published an open letter to Grisham on CNN imploring her to do her job, because, “In any great democracy, an informed public strengthens the nation,” and “regular briefings generally lead to better and more responsible reporting.” Now these people ought to know. In history, there have been 29 press secretaries and approximately half signed this letter (Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Sean Spicer were not among them.) Grisham’s reply was typically off point and hyberbolic. She ignored her peers and criticized the press — and of course demonstrated Trump sycophancy, the mark of the true believer. Axios: “This is groupthink at its finest. The press has unprecedented access to President Trump, yet they continue to complain because they can’t grandstand on TV. They’re not looking for information, they’re looking for a moment. This president is unorthodox in everything he’s done. He’s rewritten the rules of politics. His press secretary and everyone else in the administration is reflective of that. In terms of the former press secretaries — they can publicly pile on all they want. It’s unfortunate, because I’ve always felt I was in this small club of only 29 others who really know what I deal with each day, and that was always comforting. They may not say it publicly, but they all understand why I do things differently. They know I have three roles. They know my boss has probably spoken directly to the press more than all of theirs did combined. They know the press secretary briefs in the absence of the president, and this president is never absent — a fact that should be celebrated. Like so many trailblazers, history will look back on this presidency with praise — until then, I’m comfortable with how I do my jobs — and my team and I are always available to the press.” This is Trump-speak at it’s finest. The American people are paying a six figure income so Stephanie Grisham can be a talking head on Fox News. Let Rupert Murdoch pick up the check, he’s the one getting the benefit. The woman is a right-wing propagandist, and Monday, she even went so far as to defend Trump’s racist tweet, depicting Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi wearing a turban and hijab, respectively. Grisham defended Trump, saying, “I think the president is making clear that Democrats are parroting Iranian talking points and almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill Americans.” Now if that is not a violation of the Hatch Act right there, promoting a political agenda using one’s government job as a platform, then I don’t know what is. Trump has co-opted the office of press secretary, like he’s done or attempted to do with every other government post. The person is there to serve him, personally, not the office and sure as hell not the people. Stephanie Grisham needs to do her job or get off the government pay roll. It’s obvious that she’s polishing her […]
Stephanie Lawton / Flickr stephen king...

Stephen King Offers $75,000 To Stephanie Grisham If She’ll Just Do Her Job

Two masters of fiction are putting Stephanie Grisham in a corner and it will be interesting to see what her particular character dictates that she do. I’ll match that, making $150,000. But full press corps. https://t.co/ToewY1Qr5J — Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 8, 2020 This is delicious. How can she refuse? And it’s high time that this issue be confronted. The Trump administration’s watch word is “none of your business.” We’re not supposed to hear from witnesses at the impeachment trial, we’re not supposed to know how foreign policy is being conducted, we’re just supposed to sit in the dark, in what amounts to a press blackout. Good for King and Winslow calling bullshit. My prediction? I don’t think Grisham will take the money, because her position is indefensible, like that of her boss. You may recall that Mark Cuban offered Donald Trump $10 Million to the charity of his choice if he would debate him for two hours, on the issues alone. Trump never took his offer. The people in this White House are cowards.  
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2019, the year the press tried—and failed—to stand up to Trump

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Chuck Todd confesses he was naive about GOP disinformation being spread on his program

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Russian Media Calls American President Their ‘Agent’ While Putin Laughs

You know, it’s really high time that we modify the name of the Republican party, from the GOP to the GOPP, the “Grand Old Party of Putin” for that is precisely what it has become. As Speaker Pelosi opined not so long ago, “All roads lead to Russia.” Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is convulsing with laughter over what a lovely hash of things he has made, with Ukraine in knots over American betrayal, while Fox News takes Russia’s side against the Democrats, and Rudy Giuliani trips over his own shoelaces, sabotaging American career diplomats in the service of his true allegiance, Russia. Daily Beast: Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections and pin the blame on Kyiv. Last month, the Russian president smugly remarked “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.” Rossiya-1 reporter Valentin Bogdanov surmised that by now the majority of American Republicans believe that Ukraine interfered in the U.S. elections, with the show airing various clips from Fox News. The absurdity of such claims spawned by the Russian security services puts the hypocrisy of the Republicans on full display. The Kremlin, having argued for years that democracy is a sham and the West is devoid of morals and principles, can now showcase the GOP as its “Exhibit A.” Appearing on The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev in October, political scientist Dmitry Evstafiev argued that Trump has to destroy the Republican Party in order to secure his own long-term survival. The impeachment proceedings seemed to expedite the process, with the GOP’s self-immolation for the sake of its “Dear Leader.” Prompted by the head-spinning swerve of the Republicans, Tucker Carlson of Fox News even argued that, in the Ukrainian conflict, the U.S. should be taking the side of Russia. … Oh yes, Mother Russia is riding high on the Carlson/Fox News hit parade, while Trump supporters continue to sport tee shirts saying, “I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat.” I hope that breaking rocks in a labor camp is something that they enjoy, since they think selling out democracy and living under a guy like Putin is such a keen idea. So while Putin is cackling over his bloodless coup over the idiots in this country, (and like P.T. Barnum, Vladimir Putin didn’t underestimate the number of them, either,) his state media proudly points to the photo of Sergei Lavrov standing next to a grinning Trump — while Volodomyr Zelensky can just go screw, awaiting his invitation to the Oval Office. To add insult to injury, (although Trump is apparently too stupid to notice and his sycophants must be shielding him from the truth,) Russian state media, when not crowing about what a great tool Trump is, is busy laughing at him. They’ve also added a cynical new a narrative filled with half-joking ironies as they look at the American president’s bleak prospects when he does leave office. Appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, Mikhail Gusman, first deputy director general of ITAR-TASS, Russia’s oldest and largest news agency, predicted: “Sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power. The next term or the term after that, it doesn’t matter… I have an even more unpleasant forecast for Trump. After the White House, he will face a very unhappy period.” The host, Vladimir […]
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Media pushes ‘Dems in disarray’ over impeachment—again

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Curt Johnson / Flickr Can Fox News survive Donald Trump...

Trump’s War Isn’t Just With Fox News, It’s Against Democracy and Our Norms Of...

Journalist and satirist H.L. Mencken defined the demagogue as “one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” That is a perfect job description for Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs and the denizens of the curvy couch at Fox News. These demagogues of the airwaves are responsible for the disinformation campaign that got Donald Trump elected. Despite that fact, it’s no secret that Trump and Fox News have a tempestuous relationship, to say the least. Trump demands nothing less than total fealty and Fox appears to be getting less and less inclined to give it to him. Here’s Trump’s latest grievance against the network. Hard to believe that @FoxNews will be interviewing sleazebag & totally discredited former FBI Director James Comey, & also corrupt politician Adam “Shifty” Schiff. Fox is trying sooo hard to be politically correct, and yet they were totally shut out from the failed Dem debates! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2019 Both Commiecast MSNBC & Fake News CNN are watching their Ratings TANK. Fredo on CNN is dying. Don’t know why @FoxNews wants to be more like them? They’ll all die together as other outlets take their place. Only pro Trump Fox shows do well. Rest are nothing. How’s Shep doing? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2019 These comments can be understood on a couple of different levels. First and foremost, they are the immature lashings-out that we’ve come to expect from Trump, another day, another Twitter tantrum. Secondly, and far more troublesome, they are an indication that Trump is only thinking in the short term, of “his” presidency, “his” posterity, all things Trumpian — and he doesn’t give a tinker’s damn if he burns all of our democratic norms to the ground, as long as it serves his selfish purpose to do so. That’s also par for the course with Trump and it has always been terrifying; because preserving our norms is the only way we’re going to remain America and Trump doesn’t care about that at all. He never has. Wired: That tradition and idea of American politics as an ongoing conversation, an endless argument, is key to preserving our democratic experiment. The idea that you will be in power sometimes, and out of power other times, is what preserves norms and traditions, and curbs the worst abuses and impulses; politicians traditionally understand that actions taken in the majority could serve to bite them if and when they return to the minority. Donald Trump, who rose to prominence trumpeting the very “birther” falsehood that McCain once batted away, seems bent on undermining that tradition; he has proven he’s perfectly willing to burn down political norms for short-term gain. Fox News seems intent on helping him—and on a daily basis, they’re telling their viewers he’s right and anyone who disagrees with him is less than human. Trump’s lies are the one constant and consistent position of his presidency (13,000 and counting!), and Fox News has gone all in. We, as a democratic society, cannot survive such consequences-be-damned, winner-take-all, facts-don’t-matter politics. Fox News has upended Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous proclamation that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Its daily programming seems driven by the idea that everyone might be entitled to their own facts, […]

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