Sunday, November 17, 2019
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The “Shine-ing”

Anybody remember John Kelly? You know, the last arrogant schmuck who thought that he had the secret sauce for turning The Pampers President into an actual human being? Kelly was the one who was finally going to bring “discipline” to the White House and the feral civet cat in a $4,000 suit. That worked out But lo and behold, someone has finally brought some badly needed discipline to the west wing, and to the part that badly needed it the most, the comms shop. And it’s being provided by probably the best selection Trump has made so far in staffing the people around him. A guy who has long experience in maintaining a coherent message regarding people who have the nasty habit of popping off spontaneously about their rather unsavory actions and words. And the way he does that is by shutting the fuck up, and having no message at all. I am speaking of course about former FOX News exec Bill Shine. You know, the guy who guided FOX through the trials of Bill O’Reilly, the guy with more sex scandals than Silvio Berlusconi? And followed that up by steering the FOX sloop through the shoals of Roger Ailes, who apparently wanted to give Bill-o the Clown a run for his money? He’s the one in charge of White House communications these days. And boy! is there discipline these days. Remember the good old days, when the only people in the White House with less message discipline that Glorious Bleater were the press officers? We are in the second wek back from the holiday break, there is a partial government shutdown, a trade war with China, and the media is openly floating the possibility that the President of the United States is a real life “Manchurian candidate,” and the only place that you’ll see Sarah Hackabee Slanders is on the back of a milk carton.There has yet to be a daily White House press briefing, and if you’re gonna hold your breath for the next one, I hope you look good in blue. And that’s not all. Even when there were no daily press briefings, there was interaction, But under Shines leadership, there is no more thrilling video of Raj Shah, or Sarah Slanders, trudging down the White House driveway to face the music, knowing that at any moment, they could run back up the driveway and hide under their office desk, while the reporters had to go through security at the door. And no more disembodied voices wafting out from behind the bushes, like the voice of the Wizard of Oz filtering out from behind the curtain. Bill Shine obviously got the memo. And he most likely got it the old fashioned way. He turned on the TV and watched a press briefing. And in doing so, he realized how inanely stupid his minions looked, standing there behind the podium and regurgitating the talking points of the Cheeto Prophet, like automatrons in Disney’s Hall of Press Secretaries, realizing that the Disney dummies were more lifelike and convincing than his own. Bill Shine has decided that the only sane way to go is to communicate with the press through written “official” statements. And even those are sadly lacking in comprehension. For instance, in responding to the recent NYT article about the FBI […]
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Bryan Cranston Accepts Tony Award, Defends Free Press – “Demagoguery is the enemy of...

Bryan Cranston, of Breaking Bad fame, last night accepted the Tony Award for best actor in a play for his portrayal of fictional fed up news man Howard Beale in Network by launching into a full-throated  defense of the fourth estate. Unlike fellow actor Robert De Niro he did not call out Trump by name, but then […]

Trump DOJ Lands Low Blow, Charges Julian Assange Under Espionage Act, Raising Serious 1st...

Look out, First Amendment. Thursday, Julian Assange’s charges were escalated to include being charged under the Espionage Act. This is a crucial change, because previously Assange was being charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Being charged under the Espionage Act means that the publisher of leaked secrets, not just the leaker herself, can be held liable. This would put every publisher of leaked material, no matter how well vetted internally, and every media outlet in the world at risk for prosecution. Now, it can certainly be argued that Assange is no journalist, nor a publisher, as those terms are commonly understood. But, hypothetically, if a court would decide that he was, then that would not bode well for journalists and publishers in our democracy, and it would be the end of national security journalism and a blow to First Amendment Rights. And this happened, not only on Trump’s watch, he who hates “the enemy of the people” but also on the watch of his attack dog, William Barr, who heads up the Department of Justice, the governmental entity that  made the decision to charge Assange under the Espionage Act. Simply, if Assange goes down in flames under the Espionage Act, all other media outlets are at risk for exactly the same thing. Daily Beast Insider: The current set of factual allegations underlying the Espionage Act charges essentially state that Assange communicated with [Chealsea] Manning about securing classified documents, encouraged Manning to leak documents to WikiLeaks, published the documents (sometimes without sufficient redactions to avoid harm to third parties), and then continued to encourage Manning to leak more documents for publication. Here is the problem, though: That is similar to what just about every national security reporter and investigative journalist does on a regular basis. They all from time to time have to communicate with their sources about leaking classified information and materials, and do what they can to encourage their sources to keep leaking to them despite knowing that the source is breaking the law. You see the work product of those classified leaks on a regular basis in media reports. Do those actions technically meet the legal requirements for charges under the Espionage Act? Yes. However, with the exception of one instance in the midst of World War II when prosecution of a newspaper was briefly considered, the government has always declined to seek criminal charges against media outlets because of an institutional understanding that it was inconsistent with First Amendment protections for the press. Even under Richard Nixon, no friend of the press, the Justice Department did not seek to prosecute The New York Times or The Washington Post for their publication of the Pentagon Papers. Instead, they limited their actions to civil litigation to stop the publication of the leaked materials, and ultimately lost that argument at the U.S. Supreme Court. Having a governmental department decide that somebody has violated the espionage act by leaking “state secrets” — and that’s a call which is subjective, and open to interpretation — opens up the door for all sorts of totalitarian abuse. What it means, simply, is that criminal liability would be decided at the discretion of the Justice Department and the White House. And with this cabal of thieves in office presently, you can see why journalists everywhere are shuddering and […]

Khashoggi’s Editor Rails Against Saudi Lies That He Died In A ‘Fistfight’

Mohammad Bin Salman has started rounding up the usual suspects. When that’s finished, there will be some kind of a kangaroo court level proceeding and the fall guy of M.B.S.’ choice will serve time — or something. It’s all total nonsense and Washington Post editor Karen Attiah doesn’t mince words. #Khashoggi was a 60 year […]
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