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“Trump Bullies The Press — And The Press Yawns”: Same Press Corp That Writes Endlessly About Hillary Clinton’s Relationship

“I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly.” Trump attorney Michael Cohen threatening a reporter.

It’s sad that Donald Trump is normalizing so many unsavory traits with his presidential push this season. He’s normalizing bigotry and xenophobia in the campaign arena, for instance. He’s also mainstreaming the manhandling of the press.

Just ask Trip Gabriel.

The New York Times reporter was tossed out of a Trump event in Iowa last week. He was thrown out by a Trump staff member and a local police officer who suggested he was following the orders of Trump’s Iowa campaign chief. (Days earlier, Grabriel had written a piece that raised questions about Trump’s ground game in Iowa.)

On the surface, that’s a shocking event: the Republican frontrunner’s campaign singling out a Times reporter and having him physically ousted. But since last summer, this type of bullying behavior has become quite common, and the media’s response has become nearly mute. Indeed, Gabriel’s ejection was noted in the media but didn’t seem to set off any loud alarm.

Covering Trump today means being confined to metal barrier press pens at events. It means rarely being allowed to ask the candidate questions and being the target of vicious insults from the candidate and his fans. (One CBS reporter covering a rally was recently asked by a Trump supporter if he was taking pictures on behalf of ISIS.)

Trump and his campaign push the press around at will and they pay no real price. If anything, Trump gets showered with more press attention despite calling out reporters as “scum”; despite denouncing them as liars and cheats at his campaign rallies.

On and on the bullying goes and the pushback remains minimal. This is a profound embarrassment for the national press corps. It’s a profound embarrassment for editors and producers in positions of influence who have voluntarily acquiesced their power in order to bow down to Trump and his campaign road show.

The gleeful bullying of the press meshes with the bullying that often goes on at Trump rallies, where violence percolates. Like those thug rallies, we’ve certainly never seen this kind of behavior from a major party’s political frontrunner.

But like the Trump rallies, where’s the indignation over the constant press intimidation? Where are the outraged editorials? Where are the endless, handwringing TV panel debates about what Trump’s hatred of the press really means; what it tells us about his possible character flaws, and his would-be presidency.

It’s possible the press doesn’t want to make itself the story, that it wants to maintain its role as observers and not newsmaker and that’s why it has refrained from turning Trump’s bullying into a big story. That theory takes a hit though when you consider the same press corps has written endlessly about Hillary Clinton’s relationship with the press and has stressed over and over what a central role reporters play in her White House push.

It’s true that last November, representatives from several news networks banded together and held a call to discuss “how embeds and reporters from outlets are being treated” by the Trump campaign.

But as Huffington Post‘s Michael Calderone recently reported, the Trump campaign seems uninterested in the press complaints: “In recent weeks, journalists have again been ordered not to leave the press pen by campaign staffers and volunteers and even Secret Service agents, according to reporters who were granted anonymity to speak candidly. Journalists also said they were not allowed to approach the candidate to ask questions after events.”

Journalists: We think you’re treating us badly.

Trump campaign: We don’t care what you think.

Consider:

*At a recent Trump rally, a Huffington Post reporter noted, “that a Secret Service agent stepped up to help when a Trump campaign staffer tried to interfere with his reporting.”

*Trump bashed Fox News host Megyn Kelly as “bitter” and “overrated,” called NBC’s Chuck Todd “pathetic,” and announced most journalists are “absolute scum.”

*Asked about allegations from a 1993 book that Trump had sexually assaulted his then-wife Ivana Trump (she later recanted the claim), Donald Trump’s attorney threatened a Daily Beast reporter: “So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?”

*At a South Carolina rally, Trump mocked and mimicked a New York Times reporter who suffers from a chronic condition called arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his arms.

*His campaign barred a BuzzFeed reporter from attending an event in Newton, Iowa, denied Des Moines Register and Huffington Post reporters press credentials to campaign events, and barred reporters from Fusion from covering a Trump event in Doral, Florida.

*Univision anchor Jorge Ramos was physically removed from a Trump press conference.

*A security guard at an Iowa rally threatened to eject any reporter who interviewed Trump supporters: “You talk to people and you leave.”

*At a South Carolina event, Trump derided NBC’s Katy Tur as “Little Katy, third-rate journalist.” Trump fans then rained boos down on Tur, according to the Daily Beast.

One more, from the Washington Post:

After CNN reporter Noah Gray left “the pen” to document a group of protesters who unveiled a sign reading “Migrant lives matter,” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski turned to campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks and said: “Hey: Tell Noah, get back in the pen or he’s f***** blacklisted,” according to a recording of the incident.

This type of behavior is completely unprecedented. If a leading Democrat were guilty of any of the above transgressions, there would be a roiling Beltway media revolt that would denounce the Democratic campaign continuously. Uninterrupted.

But the Trump campaign has committed all of the above offenses. So why is it mostly crickets from the same press corps?

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America, January 20, 2016

January 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Washington Press Corp | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Classier Of Two Evils”: Cruz Is The Leader Of A Faction; Trump Is A One-Man Band

With less than two weeks till the Iowa Caucus, the shape of the Republican race could hardly be more frightening for the Republican establishment. Both of the two leading candidates, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, carry baggage that would make winning the general election a tough slog. But while some establishment types still hold out hope that one of their preferred candidates—Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or even Chris Christie—can pull off a surprise resurgence, there is a growing acceptance of the reality of having to chose between Cruz and Trump. And the surprise is that all signs are pointing to Trump being the establishment’s favored candidate—or, more accurately, the lesser of two evils.

In an interview with the New York Times yesterday, Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996 and the very epitome of the party establishment, said that picking Cruz as the presidential nominee would be “cataclysmic,” and the party would have better success with Trump. And it’s not just on the electability issue that Dole prefers Trump. Dole denounced Cruz as an “extremist,” but said that Trump has the type of deal-making personality that would allow him to work with Congress if elected. Cruz, he said, would not. “I don’t know how he’s going to deal with Congress,” Dole told the Times. “Nobody likes him.”

Dole is far from alone in making a move toward Trump’s camp. According to a report in the Washington Post, the GOP donor class is increasingly seeing Trump as a better bet than Cruz. “A lot of donors are trying to figure their way into Trump’s orbit,” said Spencer Zwick, who ran the finances for Mitt Romney’s 2012 bid.

On the face of it, preferring Trump to Cruz seems bizarre. After all, Cruz is a more conventional politician. He sits in the Senate, and he has longstanding ties to the conservative movement and speaks their language. Why spurn him and hook up with a wild card like Trump, who has no political experience—and a record of making reckless racist and sexist comments that will damage the Republican brand?

But it’s possible that it is precisely because Trump is such an unusual figure that he might be more attractive to establishment Republicans. Cruz is the leader of a faction; Trump is a one-man band. This means Cruz has the potential to do much more damage to the Republican Party in the long run. “If Trump loses, we wash our hands of him,” a leading GOP strategist told CNN. “Cruz will think we need to be more crazy and be a long-term nightmare.”

If Cruz wins the nomination, that extreme-right faction will dominate the Republican Party not just in the presidential run but for the foreseeable future—even if Cruz loses. Just as the followers of Barry Goldwater held key positions in the party long after 1964, Cruz’s followers will be lodged tight and will be in a stronger position to combat the RINOs.

“If Cruz wins, the Loony Bird takeover of the GOP is complete,” Ian Millhiser, Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, told me by email, sketching out the establishment’s nightmare scenario: “GOP candidates view Cruz’s election as vindication of Cruz’s tactics, and they rush to emulate him. Rank-and-file voters embrace Cruz’s message that the best candidates are belligerent conservatives. And interest groups decide that they no longer need to back the proverbial most conservative candidate who can win, because the very most conservative candidate has just won the presidency. So they use their money to back Cruz clones in primaries.

“Mitch McConnell and possibly even Paul Ryan’s relevance disappears overnight, as does quite possibly their career in politics. And because all of the sitting Republican lawmakers are Cruz clones who view them as traitorous RINOs, the deposed establishment cannot even cash in as lobbyists.”

Trump, on the other hand, is so anomalous a figure that the GOP establishment can console themselves with the knowledge that he leads no faction. Even if he wins the nomination, Trump can be safely relegated to the category of a one-off, a freak mutation, never to be repeated. Trump would be like the character The Mule, in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels. In the schema of Asimov’s far future science-fiction series, The Mule is a galactic conquerer who throws history off the course that it was expected to take, but the changes he introduces are ultimately minor because he has no successor.

From the point of view of the Republican elite, it’s easy to see Trump as The Mule: He’s unexpected, he disrupted their plans to coronate Jeb Bush, but he’s also someone who can’t leave a lasting legacy because the traits that made him who he is are not replicable. There are not that many billionaire reality-show stars who are interested in taking over a political party.

Further, because Trump is much more pragmatic than Cruz, it’s easier to imagine him being tamed if he won the presidency. Already, on the issue of tax cuts for the rich, Trump has reverted to GOP orthodoxy. Unlike Cruz, Trump has no army of ideological loyalists working with him. President Trump would need advisers and policymakers, which the Republican Party could happily provide him.

If this is the gamble the GOP is taking, though, it is not necessarily the right one. Trump is an unstable and unpredictable figure, governed by personal piques that take him in strange directions—like his recent, bizarre twitter feud with the actor Samuel L. Jackson over cheating at golf. As a presidential nominee, Trump would likely continue to be flighty and capricious. If Hillary Clinton is his rival for the White House, it’s a near-certainty that Trump will make sexist tirades that will damage the GOP’s reputation, as he already has with comments on Megyn Kelly and Carly Fiorina. Moreover, unlike Cruz or the other, more polished candidates, Trump does not know how to disguise his racism with dog-whistles. This may not hurt Trump with GOP primary voters, but it would be toxic on the national stage.

The fact that the GOP elite is sidling up to Trump is remarkable—and perhaps the ultimate reflection on Ted Cruz as a man and politician. After all, how wretched must he be that there are people who prefer to stake their money and reputations on Donald Trump?

 

By: Jeet Heer, The New Republic, January 21, 2016

 

January 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Right Only Needs The Presidency”: The Right And Left Both Want Radical Change. Guess Who Is A Lot Closer To Getting It?

One of the subtexts of both the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating contests is how much change can realistically be expected in a political system characterized by partisan polarization and gridlock. Bernie Sanders implicitly accuses the last two Democratic presidents and the Democratic Establishment candidate for 2016, Hillary Clinton, of excessive timidity and an insufficient commitment to thoroughgoing economic and political change. Ted Cruz explicitly accuses his Republican Senate colleagues and presidential rivals of surrendering to liberalism without a fight.

As Paul Krugman notes in his latest column, these demands for boldness are an old story in American politics, and also depend on sometimes-hazy, sometimes-delusional theories of how change happens:

[T]here are some currents in our political life that do run through both parties. And one of them is the persistent delusion that a hidden majority of American voters either supports or can be persuaded to support radical policies, if only the right person were to make the case with sufficient fervor.

You see this on the right among hard-line conservatives, who insist that only the cowardice of Republican leaders has prevented the rollback of every progressive program instituted in the past couple of generations …

Meanwhile, on the left there is always a contingent of idealistic voters eager to believe that a sufficiently high-minded leader can conjure up the better angels of America’s nature and persuade the broad public to support a radical overhaul of our institutions. In 2008 that contingent rallied behind Mr. Obama; now they’re backing Mr. Sanders, who has adopted such a purist stance that the other day he dismissed Planned Parenthood (which has endorsed Hillary Clinton) as part of the “establishment.”

Krugman asks the right question to advocates of Big Change: How, exactly, is it supposed to occur? Progressives certainly do not want more “bipartisan compromises” than Obama contemplated, and for years Republicans have embraced super-lobbyist Grover Norquist’s cynical comparison of bipartisanship to date rape.

One idea, of course, is that inspired by the concept of the “Overton Window”: that you can move the range of acceptable policies and thus the center of discussion by opening the bidding on any given topic with a more radical proposal. To use the most common example, Democrats might have gotten a more progressive health-care law enacted in 2010 if they had first proposed a single-payer system instead of a private system with a public option. The trouble with that example is that it was Democratic senators, not Republicans, who opposed the public option, the Medicare buy-in, and other progressive twists on Obamacare. With Republicans opposing any action at all, that’s all it took. Now some left-bent folks would say this shows why “centrist” Democrats need to be removed from the party. But that takes time, and as 2006 showed, even a primary loss cannot necessarily remove a Joe Lieberman from office.

Another thing you hear from Bernie Sanders himself is that the political system is fundamentally corrupt, and that progressive change can only become possible if the moneylenders are thrown out of the temple via thoroughgoing campaign finance reform. But that will require either a constitutional amendment — the most implausible route for change — or replacement of Supreme Court justices, the slowest.

And then, as Krugman himself notes, there are “hidden majority” theories that hold that “bold” proposals can mobilize vast majorities of Americans to support radical action and break down gridlock. Few are as easy to explode as Ted Cruz’s “54 million missing Evangelicals” hypothesis, but the belief of some Sanders supporters that Trump voters (and many millions of nonvoters) would gravitate to Bernie in a general election is not far behind as the product of a fantasy factory.

You could go on all day with left-right parallelisms on the subject of radical change, but progressives should internalize this fact of life: The right is a lot closer to the left in possessing the practical means for a policy revolution (or counterrevolution, as the case might be). Whereas the left needs constitutional amendments and overwhelming congressional majorities to break the political power of wealthy corporations and other reactionary interests, the right only needs the presidency to reverse most of President Obama’s policy breakthroughs. And assuming a GOP presidential victory would almost certainly be accompanied by Republican control of both parties in Congress (which is not at all the case for Democrats), a budget reconciliation bill that cannot be filibustered could briskly revolutionize health care, tax, and social policy without a single Democratic vote.

So if radical change comes out of the 2016 election, it’s more likely to be a wind blowing to the right than to the left. And that’s worth considering as Democrats choose their leadership and their agenda.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 22, 2016

January 25, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Why Weren’t Their Voices Heard?”: The Awkward Question About Flint That No One Wants To Answer

Flint does not look much like the rest of the state of Michigan, or even the average American city its size.

More than four in ten of its residents live in poverty. A majority of them are African-American. Their homes are worth about one-third of typical houses in Michigan, and the families get by on about half as much income.

This picture, the city’s new mayor believes, helps explain why state officials were slow to respond to a long-building water crisis in which thousands of Flint children may have been exposed to toxic levels of lead — even well after residents first began to cry about the city’s murky water.

“Would this happen in a different community?” Mayor Karen Weaver asked, as she attended a national conference of the country’s mayors in Washington on Wednesday, after meeting with the president. Her city, she points out, has high unemployment (9.7 percent). It’s been governed by a state-appointed emergency manager. It’s the kind of place that garners little attention and few favors.

If the poor and minorities tend to wield less political power in America, here was a whole city of them, 70 miles north of Detroit.

“It’s a minority community, it’s a poor community, and our voices were not heard,” Weaver told reporters. “And that’s part of the problem.”

Her comments echoed a provocative jab by Hillary Clinton in the final Democratic debate on Saturday night. “I’ll tell you what,” Clinton said, “if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would’ve been action.”

The problems in Flint began nearly two years ago, in April 2014, when the city began to draw its water from the Flint River to save money. Residents immediately began to complain about the look and smell of the water, and last year researchers at Virginia Tech confirmed that lead was present in water samples at rates that could cause kidney damage and neurological problems in children.

Still, Michigan’s Republican governor Rick Snyder did not declare a state of emergency in Flint until Jan. 5 of this year. He didn’t mobilize National Guard troops to help distribute water until a week later.

Weaver’s question — and, by extension, Clinton’s — is less about whether another community might have similarly fallible infrastructure, but whether the rest of us would be willing to leave it unaddressed for so long. Flint’s health risk has been apparent for more than a year, but equally importantly, people who live there have been asking for help for just as long.

“We have been crying about this for what will be two years in April, and that’s what we want to know: What took so long?” Weaver asked. “Because it didn’t take a scientist to tell us that brown water is not good.”

That’s a fair, if awkward, question to ask. American history is full of environmental injustice: poor communities saddled with landfills or singled out for toxic neighbors next door. It’s not a conspiracy theory to worry they might also get a slower cleanup.

As for herself, Weaver says she and her husband stopped drinking the local water back in 2014, as soon as the city switched from the Detroit system (she wasn’t elected until this past November). “It’s sad that I would say ‘thank God my kids are grown and not there,’” she says, “but everybody can’t say that, and we shouldn’t have to say that.”

 

By: Emily Badger, Wonkblog, The Washington Post, January 20, 2016

January 25, 2016 Posted by | Flint Michigan, Lead Poisoining, Rick Snyder | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“America Declines Dinner Date With Jeb Bush”: Most People Seem To Be Washing Their Hair That Night

Nobody wants to have dinner with Jeb Bush.

At least, that’s the sense you’d get from reading the comments on his posts encouraging Facebook users to sign up for a chance to dine with him. The Bush campaign’s official page sponsors a post from time to time that encourages users to hand over their names and email addresses in exchange for a chance to eat dinner with the former Florida governor.

Campaign spokesman Tim Miller said the post does well for Bush, and outperforms most of their other Facebook outreach efforts. But based on the comments, you might not know it. The responses on the most recent available version of the post are overwhelmingly negative—and trollishly so.

“The ‘prize’ seems more like a booby-prize……” says the top comment, written by a user named MrNoam Zsnc, whose avatar features the weird kid from Deliverance. “Winner gets to have dinner with Jeb! Loser gets to have 2 dinners with Jeb!”

MrNoam Zsnc the Deliverance Kid wasn’t the only person to express that uncharitable sentiment.

“Does the loser get two dinners with Jeb!?” wrote user Volodya Shevchenko, whose avatar features a cat wearing a bright red pigtail wig.

Of the 100+ comments appending that post, only 15 were even remotely positive. The rest were a hodgepodge of mean-spirited memes, poorly spelled comments, eye-rolling references to polls, and general crabbiness.

“Nope. Drop out Mr. 3%,” wrote a user called Jace Tobias, whose comment received at least 31 likes—the most of any comment on that particular posting of the ad.

One commenter, a Tennessee college student named Maxwell Bentley Lee, flagged to a group of Bernie Sanders supporters that his anti-Jeb comment was at one point the top response to the advertisement.

“Nobody wants to eat dinner with Jeb,” he wrote in that comment. “The only people who would actually want Jeb as President are other millionaires in Congress who would benefit from going to White House parties if Jeb was elected.”

That comment got 36 likes and appeared in directly under the promoted post.

Reached for comment via Facebook Messenger, Lee reiterated to The Daily Beast that he would not like to have dinner with Jeb.

“I am not interested at all—would be a waste of both our time,” he wrote.

A number of users made jokes about being expected to pick up the check if they dined with the former governor. One posted a weird photoshop of Bush’s face over the Little Debbie logo, titled “Little Jebbie.” The poster did not respond to a Facebook message politely requesting explanation as to whether the pre-packaged bakery snack image was an allusion to any of Bush’s particular policy goals. (Anonymous Facebook posters aren’t the only political observers with a penchant for unsettling photoshops; Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump recently tweeted a picture of Ted Cruz’s mug photoshopped onto what appears to be a likeness of notorious Sen. Joseph McCarthy.)

“Hey can I throw tamatos at him,” wrote another.

The Huffington Post’s poll tracker shows that Bush’s favorables have gone largely gone down and unfavorables have gone up since he entered the race. Currently, he’s at 53.8 percent unfavorable and just 31.5 percent favorable. A Quinnipiac poll in November gave him the worst net favorability rating of any presidential candidate. And earlier this month, a Gallup poll indicated that his net favorability with Republicans is 10 percentage points lower than it was this summer.

And while there are a panoply of explanations for this, it’s unwise to write off the impact of Internet comments. A study published in The Journal of Advertising early last year indicated that people take Internet comments seriously if they perceive the authors as credible. And being perceived as credible, on the Internet, isn’t too darn tough. So a constant drone of persistently negative commentary on every ad that Jeb promotes doesn’t do him any favors.

It also wouldn’t make for very pleasant dinner conversation.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, January 22, 2016

January 25, 2016 Posted by | Campaign Advertising, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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