Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Yesterday, I watched Harris Faulkner’s interview of former NYTimes’ Executive Editor Jill Abramson. This article shows that Ms. Faulkner is a great interviewer because she’s a quick thinker who relies on logic.

Here’s a partial transcript of the key exchange:

“It’s true that material fact was left out and The Times ran an editor’s note explaining that, which is what you do when you leave something out, but it was no conspiracy to leave out that fact. It was, you know, unfortunately, cut from the piece — as I understand it,” Abramson said.

Faulkner responded by asking how the accuracy could be challenged when the alleged victim, and an alleged witness, didn’t cooperate.

“It’s hard to take on something that even the victims doesn’t say happened,” Faulkner said.

“Well, it’s friends of the victim… she has chosen not to talk to the press,” Abramson said, before adding that alleged witness Max Stier went to the FBI over the alleged incident.

Faulkner quickly added that Stier is a “former Democratic operative for the Clintons,” but the ex-Times honcho downplayed his liberal agenda.

“He works for a nonpartisan political group now,” Abramson said. “I don’t know that you can characterize him as a partisan. If he was such a partisan, why didn’t he go public with this right during the confirmation hearing when he could have really dealt a blow?”

Faulkner reminded Abramson that Stier did go to the FBI at the time. Abramson said that proved the investigation into Kavanaugh was a “sham,” to which Faulkner asked, “Then why did it end up in your paper?” Abramson responded that the incident is a “third example of sexual impropriety” by Justice Kavanaugh, to which Faulkner quickly added, “allegation.” “It’s important,” Abramson said.

That’s when Faulkner’s jaw dropped:

“Wow, you really think that, without the evidence from the victim’s own mouth,” a stunned Faulkner said.

There isn’t a court in this nation that would convict a person who was accused of any crime by a witness who didn’t see the alleged crime but who heard about it third-hand. Further, the ‘witness’ (Max Stier) would get demolished on cross-examination because he was part of Bill Clinton’s legal team while Justice Kavanaugh was part of Independent Counsel Kenneth Star’s team. There isn’t an ounce of corroboration in the article. Victims who don’t talk and lawyers who won’t consent to interviews with law enforcement don’t strengthen a case.

When people accuse a high-profile person of a heinous crime, they’d better have everything nailed down 9 ways to Sunday. If they’re only sort of prepared, they’ll get annihilated in court. A legal system that routinely allows hearsay testimony and that lets people get convicted on allegations alone isn’t a nation. It’s a third world dictatorship.

God help us if we’ve descended that far.

Yesterday, I called Eric Eskola, the veteran co-host of TPT’s Almanac, to find out what was happening (and not happening) at the Capitol. As always, Eric was well-informed and a gentleman. While I won’t divulge what Eric said, it wasn’t surprising that neither of us expect Gov. Walz and the legislature to finish their work on time. The only question left to answer is when the special session will be called and whether there will be a government shutdown.

During the conversation, I said that the biggest sticking point might be HCAF, aka the Health Care Access Fund. Recent reports suggest that the HCAF gets raided fairly often, with the excess money going into the general fund. I said that one way of bridging the divide is to cut the HCAF rate, put it off-limits to raids for the general fund and to keep these health care programs around.

Eric thought that sounded reasonable, saying that it sounded like the 2 of us had worked out a reasonable compromise that might avert a special session. I replied that it’s easy doing this because there aren’t partisans around, plus no lobbyists making special requests.

Your job, if you choose this assignment, is to guess a) when the special session will be and b) whether we’ll have a real government shutdown. Post your guesses in the comments. The LFR reader who comes closest wins … hmm — my praise in a future post. Good luck.

It isn’t a secret that Democrats hate President Trump to the point of developing Trump Derangement Syndrome, aka TDS. Byron York’s reporting, like in this article, has highlighted so many facts that the Democrats don’t want out.

For instance, York reports “The warrant application made a three-point argument. Point 1 was that Russia was trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Point 2 was that Page had a history of involvement with Russia and Russians. Point 3 was that Page was a Russian agent conspiring with powerful Russian officials to influence the election. Point 1 was true. Point 2 was true. Point 3 was not, and that is when the application went off the rails.”

Comey would’ve known that Point 3 wasn’t true if he’d taken the time to verify the Steele Dossier before using it in his FISA warrant. At the heart of this fiasco (and other fiascos) is Mr. Comey. All trails seemingly lead back to him. His sloppiness has been mortifying.

Now that he’s left office, Rod Rosenstein is speaking out against Comey:

“Now, the former director is a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul,” Rosenstein said. “That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors. Generally, we base our opinions on eyewitness testimony.”

Rosenstein continued:

“The clearest mistake was the director’s decision to hold a press conference about an open case, reveal his recommendation and discuss details about the investigation, without the consent of the prosecutors and the attorney general,” Rosenstein said. “Then, he chose to send a letter to the Congress on the eve of the election stating that one of the candidates was under criminal investigation, expecting it to be released immediately to the public.”

What’s amazing is that Comey is totally vulnerable but seemingly unaware of his multiple vulnerabilities. If he were a water container, he’d be called a sieve. If he was a type of cheese, he’d be known as Swiss cheese.

If he was a defendant in a criminal trial, the odds are that he’d quickly be called a convict.

Chris Stirewalt’s latest opinion column makes me wonder if he gets paid. It’s that mindless.

Among his most mindless statements is where he states “Now, Trump is going to use his first-ever Oval Office address, the .44 Magnum in the presidential communications arsenal, to lay out this comprehensive plan. He will also, presumably, throw in some bar talk about invoking a national emergency to use extraordinary executive powers to get his way. The intent here is to get Pelosi on defense and cast her as unwilling to deal with a huge issue of major importance to most Americans. It’s not a format that suits the president, who struggles with scripted speeches, but if he can pull it off, could dramatically alter the political moment.”

Apparently, Mr. Stirewalt’s memory is pretty worthless. I recall the turning point of the 2016 presidential campaign. It happened when he started speaking from the teleprompter. This was mostly attributed to Kellyanne Conway.

Let’s remember that Stirewalt was the ‘analyst’ who said that Don Blankenship had the best night of the 3 candidates during the GOP debate. After the night, Blankenship finished a distant third in the primary:

It’s time to admit that Mr. Stirewalt isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

When the NYTimes hired Sarah Jeong, they hired a blatant racist. The only explanations for that hiring is that they don’t vet people or they don’t care if a person is a racist as long as they hate Republicans. Check out this collection of racist tweets Ms. Jeong posted:

What type of sicken human being writes such hateful things? The NYTimes’ reputation has suffered greatly in years past. This hiring won’t help restore that reputation.

Then there’s this:

As you can see, this wasn’t just a one-off mistake. There are around a dozen tweets and retweets from the millennial where she admits how much she hates white people, writing things like: “Dumbass f—— white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants” and “Oh man, it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.”

What’s telling is that the NYTimes hasn’t fired her.

Karin Housley’s optimism is infectious. Reading through this article, it’s obvious that she sees her campaign as the right elixir at the right time. It’s equally obvious that she thinks that Tina Smith is Sen. Schumer’s shill. She’s right about that, BTW. Sen. Smith has opposed everything that President Trump is for. New York already has 2 senators. They don’t need another one.

In an interview with the Brainerd Dispatch Editorial Board, Sen. Housley said “I had been in the Minnesota Senate for the last six years and seen the failures of the Dayton-Smith administration and I thought, ‘There’s no way that woman represents everyone in Minnesota or what we really stand for in Minnesota.’ I decided to jump into the race and fight for Minnesotans.”

Sen. Housley is right. Sen. Smith doesn’t represent Minnesota’s priorities. Contrary to Smith’s beliefs, there’s much more to Minnesota than the Twin Cities. In her brief time in the US Senate, Tina Smith has traveled often outside the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, she’s brought her Twin Cities beliefs with her. Rather than listening to Minnesotans’ worries, Smith has tried selling the Twin Cities’ priorities. That’s disrespectful.

By comparison, Sen. Housley has met with (and listened to) lots of groups from Owatonna to Bemidji to Walker. As she says in this interview, she and her husband have had a cabin in the Walker area for several decades:

That means they understand rural Minnesota. That isn’t all. They know that Washington’s policies have made life difficult for rural residents. Then there’s this:

By replacing Smith, Housley said she hopes to help break the deadlock in the nation’s upper house—750 bills left on the debate floor, undebated and not voted upon because of rigid partisan lines. Sen. John McCain’s absence leaves the Senate in a state of limbo, a razor-thin 50-49 Republican majority.

In doing so, Housley said, she’ll look to restore a kind of representation that actually represents the interests of everyday Minnesotans—not blind dogmatism, not run-of-the-mill Capitol Hill and not an out-of-touch Democrat who favors big government and the big problems that brings.

Smith is a not-so-bright radical. Don’t forget, she’s a Berniecrat:

People can’t seriously think that Tina Smith isn’t a Twin Cities-centric socialist. Further, let’s ask this simple question: Are you better off today than the day before President Obama left office? Honest people would emphatically say they’re better off today. Business investment is improving quickly. Consumer confidence is sky-high. Unemployment for blacks and Hispanics are at all-time lows. Unemployment for women is at a 65-year low. The energy sector, which President Obama tried to intentionally kill, has turned around so dramatically that we’ve gone from importing oil to being a net exporter of energy. We’re so strong with energy that President Trump struck a deal with the EU to export Liquefied Natural Gas to them.

Tina Smith is a closet environmentalist who hates fossil fuels. She’s also (quietly) anti-mining. She has to pretend that she’s pro-mining because she needs lots of Iron Range votes but she isn’t a big fan of mining. By comparison, Karin Housley is enthusiastically pro-mining. This is the type of straight talk that Minnesotans insist on:

Since 2003, Housley has been a small business owner and is also a real estate agent by trade—though, she admitted, she almost closed up shop in 2010 because of restrictive policies by the state at that time. “It got to a point where you’re working so hard and everything you’ve earned is going to the government, but the government is spending your hard-earned money not on things you want it spent on,” Housley said. “That’s the reason I ran. We’re just starting to reverse that. People are keeping more money in their pockets, and so are our business owners, so we just have to continue that trend.”

Tina better buckle up for a tough campaign. Thanks to her mistake-riddled campaign, she’s earned a tough campaign.

The first interview on today’s Outnumbered Overtime program was New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Sen. Shaheen sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The interview got a bit contentious when Harris Faulkner pressed Sen. Shaheen on why Shaheen is calling for the interpreter at the Helsinki Summit but she didn’t speak up about the side deals made to the Iran Deal. Early in the interview, Faulkner asked Sen. Shaheen why she’s pressing for the interpreter to testify. Sen. Shaheen replied, saying “I think we need to know what happened in the meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. There’s been a lot of information put out by the Russian government and their Ministry of Defense, by their ambassador but we haven’t gotten any kind of a readout from President Trump about what happened there and I’ve had the chance to ask some of our State Department officials about what they know about what he might’ve agreed to on Syria, on Crimea, on Ukraine and none of them have been able to answer what went on at that meeting.”

In other words, Sen. Shaheen wanted to know tons of details about the Trump-Putin Summit. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what oversight is about. What happened later, though, was quite telling:

HARRIS FAULKNER: You know, Senator, I’m patiently listening for that turn to, because there was so much that went on between the former president and Iran. There’s still side deals that we haven’t seen with that dictatorship for lack of a better term and what we’ve agreed to we’ve now pulled out of. I wonder if there isn’t a double standard and I ask it, with all respect and fairness, because I didn’t hear the same pushing back then. Well, what did President Obama agree to from Democrats?
SEN. SHAHEEN: Well, we saw what he agreed to. It was called the Iran Nuclear Deal.
FAULKNER: I still haven’t seen the side deals.
SHAHEEN: There aren’t any side deals that we’ve seen because those side deals didn’t exist. Those side deals have been made up by people who didn’t agree with that Iran deal.

At the 2:59 mark of the interview, watch Harris Faulkner’s facial expression when Sen. Shaheen said that:

Harris Faulkner’s facial expression is priceless. I’m betting that she couldn’t believe that Sen. Shaheen was trying to run that BS past her. It’s one thing to spin information. It’s quite another to pretend the information doesn’t exist.

Finally, it’s worth betting that Sen. Shaheen will think twice before appearing on Outnumbered OT another time.

According to the St. Cloud Times’ editorial board, the legislature’s responsibility is to keep students warm, safe and dry. According the Editorial Board, Devinder Malhotra, the newly-named chancellor of the Minnesota State system, told their editorial board that “Asset preservation is our top priority. We need to give our students a quality educational experience. … We also need to keep them warm, safe and dry.”

With St. Cloud State’s on-campus enrollment shrinking annually and with the University running multi-million dollar annual deficits, you’d think that getting St. Cloud State’s financial and enrollment situations turned around would be high on Malhotra’s list. Despite the fact that Dr. Malhotra once was St. Cloud State’s provost, turning around the University isn’t part of his focus.

Then again, straightening out the University hasn’t been a priority for MnSCU in years. They ignored the mismanagement of the University’s finances. They didn’t intervene when the University’s enrollment problems became chronic. They didn’t bother to inquire as to why St. Cloud State sent $1,000,000+ checks to the Wedum Foundation each year.

To be fair, though, MnSCU wasn’t the only institution that failed the University. The St. Cloud Times did little more than publish St. Cloud State’s press releases. Investigative journalism was left to LFR and, occasionally, to MPR.

The St. Cloud business community were enablers for St. Cloud State, too. As long as President Potter stayed engaged in the community, the business community turned a blind eye towards St. Cloud State. Other institutions that let SCSU down were the IFO and the Faculty Association.

The problem within the Faculty Association is that too many of them want to be administrators. That’s caused some in FA leadership to turn a blind eye towards the University’s health in the hopes of getting that last high-paying job of their professional career.

The IFO, the union representing the professors at MnSCU’s 4-year universities, has done little in terms of putting pressure on the legislature. As a direct result of the IFO’s inaction, dozens of faculty have either gotten laid off or have accepted early retirement packages.

What’s stunning is that Chancellor Malhotra hasn’t offered a plan to turn St. Cloud State around. He hasn’t even insisted that St. Cloud State’s next president have a specific plan to turn St. Cloud State around. I know this because the ‘finalists’ for the job don’t have much of an understanding of the University’s difficulties. For that matter, the University doesn’t even have a CFO who can tell the next president just how awful of shape the University is in.

Technorati: , , ,

First, I’ll admit that Charlie Cook is one of my favorite political number-crunchers/analysts. That’s why I’m disappointed with Charlie’s article about the 2018 election campaign.

Charlie’s theory apparently is that President Trump’s ego will get in the way of the Republicans’ message. It’s summed up perfectly when Cook wrote “The idea that this president and this White House would not step on their own message and not cut short what should be a post-tax-bill victory lap is laughable. Look at the last two days alone—the president’s braggadocio that his nuclear button is ‘Much bigger & more powerful’; the suggestion of jail for former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and former FBI Director James Comey; Michael Wolff’s tell-all book on the Trump White House palace intrigue and former Trump intimate Steve Bannon’s accusation of ‘treasonous’ behavior on the part of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort; and various threats of lawsuits.”

What Cook didn’t notice is that the people who will receive the bonus checks or who received pay raises or saw their employers increase their contribution to their 401(k)s don’t care about political messaging. They care that their lives just improved during President Trump’s watch. This fall, when people start tuning into politics in earnest, people will see ad after ad after ad reminding them that every Democrat voted against the tax cuts that led these corporations to hand out bonuses or raise their pay or increase the employers’ contribution to these employees’ 401(k)s.

Yet even 39 percent still amounts to the lowest of any first-year elected president and equals his Gallup approval rating for the whole year. And SurveyMonkey reports that “over the last two weeks of 2017, President Trump’s approval rating rose from 39 to 44 percent in SurveyMonkey’s tracking, largely as a result of better marks from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.” While up is up, anyone looking for a big boost for the president from the bill’s passage is likely to be disappointed.

I won’t say that polls are irrelevant. I will say their importance isn’t what it used to be. Polls used to shape public opinion. These days, I’d argue that social media has a greater impact on shaping opinions than polls have.

The other flaw in Cook’s thinking is that people are smart enough to notice their lives improving, whether it’s through lower electric bills, higher wages or more take-home pay.

It’s kinda sickening to watch the media’s coverage of Franken’s demise. This article is about as bad as it gets. It quotes Hamline Professor David Schultz saying “It becomes hard to figure out if he is known as Al Franken the comedian, Al Franken the senator or Al Franken who has to leave the Senate in disgrace because of sexual harassment claims.” Honestly, this isn’t that difficult. Franken’s legacy will be that of a pervert who thought he was funny but was actually just creepy.

Schultz also said “He became noted for issues such as net neutrality, he was a very strong critic of Donald Trump, became an advocate for women’s rights.” Actually, he became known as an obnoxious lefty bombthrower. This might’ve been his most famous moment:

Even after that incident, lefty pundits in Minnesota still wrote about him rolling up his sleeves, learning policy and just keeping his head down while working hard for his constituents. They couldn’t bring themselves to talk about the fact that women on Capitol Hill did everything possible not to get into an elevator alone with him. This article displays the disconnect between Franken and the women he tormented:

Menz said she decided to come forward after she learned of Tweeden’s story and said she hopes sharing her story will help change the culture. She said she felt sorry Franken had to resign. “Instead of being able to own mistakes and move forward and make things right, he’s having to resign,” she said. “I feel sadness that he’s having to leave a job because of the actions that he’s taken, but it’s unfortunate he’s left a wake of women in his path that have had bad interactions with him.

“It isn’t surprising that Franken felt entitled to continue being a jerk. His Twin Cities media protectorate treated him with kid gloves. People like Dr. Schultz kept his personal life out of the spotlight, thereby enabling Franken to be a pervert.

Good riddance.