Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Trump Wants Better ‘TV Lawyers’

May 15, 2018

Trump Wants Better 'TV Lawyers'

Celebrity Apprentice star and U.S. President Donald Trump wants to mount a more powerful legal defense, according to the Washington Post:

“The president vents to associates about the FBI raids on his personal attorney Michael Cohen — as often as ’20 times a day,’ in the estimation of one confidant — and they frequently listen in silence, knowing little they say will soothe him. Trump gripes that he needs better ‘TV lawyers’ to defend him on cable news and is impatient to halt the ‘witch hunt’ that he says undermines his legitimacy as president.”

So, ‘TV Lawyers.’ But who? Rudy Giuliani is no Perry Mason, and Ben Matlock won’t leave Atlanta for DC.

More:

“Trump expresses need for better ‘TV lawyers’ to combat Mueller probe: report,” Joe Concha, The Hill

“It’s Probably Killing Trump That Stormy Daniels’ Attorney Is Attractive And Great On TV,” Michelangelo Signorile, Huffington Post

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Cambridge Analytica Calls It Quits

May 2, 2018

Cambridge Analytica Calls It Quits

Cambridge Analytica and its British parent company SCL Elections are shutting down, according to a company statement. Cambridge Analytica is under attack for the shabby Facebook data mining operation and FB-based targeted advertising effort it mounted on behalf of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, and SCL has been under pressure for its pro-Brexit disinformation campaign, and is the subject of investigations by UK prosecutors and Parliamentary committees.

Cambridge Analytica was set up by UK-based SCL to advance the fiction that foreign citizens weren’t engaged in US federal election work, and was funded by the conservative Mercer family. Steve Bannon, who claimed he thought up the company’s name, was a Vice President. In addition to its UK operations, SCL worked on election campaigns in a number of other countries.

Ironically, the firm blames “the siege of media coverage,” fake news and negative publicity, for driving it out of business.

More:

“Cambridge Analytica closing operations in wake of scandals,” Khorri Atkinson, Axios

“Cambridge Analytica is shutting down,” Emily Stewart, Vox

“Cambridge Analytica Files for Bankruptcy After Misuse of Facebook Data,” By Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times

“Cambridge Analytica: Facebook data-harvest firm to shut,” BBC News

“Cambridge Analytica and parent SCL Elections shutting down,” Reuters

“Cambridge Analytica Parent Company Ceases Operations,” Matt Shuham, TPM Livewire

Update:

“Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata,”  Shaun Nichols, The Register

“The Cambridge Analytica power players set up a mysterious new data firm — and they could use it for a ‘Blackwater-style’ rebrand,” Shona Ghosh and Jake Kanter, Business Insider

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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WHCD Comic Didn’t Insult Sarah Sanders’ Looks, Just Her Lies

May 2, 2018

Someone who never saw the comedian’s act booked Michelle Wolf for the White House Correspondents Dinner, and right now that talent booker is probably looking for a new job. True to form, Ms. Wolf flamed the media and the public figures who are the White House correspondents’ meal ticket. Oddly, it was this relatively light toasting of Sarah Huckabee Sanders that caused the greatest uproar:

“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”

Critics saw it as a gratuitous slam at Ms. Sanders’ looks, which it wasn’t. Why would they think that?

  1. Because that’s the kind of thing that critics expected, Sarah being a woman and all; and
  2. A combination of room echo and Ms. Wolf’s casual enunciation allowed some in the room to hear the word “facts” as “fat” (see #1); and
  3. Men in the audience didn’t recognize the allusion to a Maybelline “smokey eye” ad campaign.

Another joke likening Sarah Sanders to the Aunt Lydia character of the “Handmaiden’s Tale,” the enforcer of the patriarchy’s enslavement of women, was seen as a comparison to the physical appearance of the middle-aged actress who plays her.

The Michelle Wolf gag that really skewered the heart of America’s media, though, was this:

“You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you.

He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off him. And if you’re going to profit off Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.”

Even in past years, when the White House Correspondents Dinner was a politician- and celebrity-infested “nerd prom,” the hoopla of the annual dinner overshadowed the event’s purpose, raising money for journalism student scholarships. Maybe next year’s WHCD (if it happens) will eschew comedy and feature singing, juggling, or mime.

More:

“Since when did ‘perfect smokey eye’ become an insult, America?” Jean Hannah Edelstein, The Guardian

“No, Michelle Wolf Didn’t Joke About Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s Looks,” Jen Chaney, Vulture

(more…)

Pruitt & Crapo ‘Put the Con in Condo’

April 25, 2018

Pruitt & Crapo 'Put the Con in Condo'

A new poster plastered around Capitol Hill (above) points out that Idaho’s Republican Senator Mike Crapo used the same energy lobbyist’s condo that Scott Pruitt bunked at for a fundraising event, and he got an even better deal than Pruitt’s $50 a day: It was free. Senator Crapo is on the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure — what a coincidence.

The phone number on the poster’s tear-off tabs belongs to the Federal Election Commission. Since Mr. Crapo didn’t claim use of the condo as an in-kind campaign donation, a complaint has been lodged with the FEC.

More:

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Lobbyist-Owned Pad Was GOP Fundraising Hub,” Lachlan Markay, Sam Stein, Daily Beast

“Complaint claims Idaho senator didn’t report donated time at DC condo,” Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Trump: ‘Scott Pruitt Is Doing a Great Job!’

April 9, 2018

Capitol Hill celebrity Scott Pruitt, spoofed by Friends of the Earth. The tear-off phone number is that of the EPA Public Affairs Office.

In the face of mounting criticism for extravagant personal spending of public dollars and ethical lapses, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt seems to be fighting for his job, but President Trump thinks he’s doing a great job of rolling back environmental regulations:

But it’s actually Scott Pruitt’s PR office that’s doing all the work. In reality, the process of rolling back regulations is as lengthy and difficult as establishing them. You can’t do it by press release.

More:

“The Myth of Scott Pruitt’s EPA Rollback,” Michael Grunwald, Politico

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Photo (“$50 a Night on Capitol Hill”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com. Read about the posters here.

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Scott Pruitt’s DC Bargain Bedroom Guide

April 6, 2018

Scott Pruitt's DC Bargain Bedroom Guide

Let’s say you were an energy state Attorney General who sued the EPA 13 times to reduce clean air restrictions on oil, gas, and coal use. You’d expect energy companies to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to your election campaigns, even in 2014, when you ran unopposed. What you might not expect is for Donald Trump to name you EPA secretary. But he did, Scott Pruitt. Now you’ve got to stay in DC, at least when you can’t jet somewhere else.

Scott Pruitt doesn’t mind spending taxpayer dollars on first-class air travel, a custom soundproof phone booth for his office, dubious raises for his appointees, or a full-time security detail, but spending his own money when he’s in Washington? No way. Mr. Pruitt is the poorest member of the Trump Cabinet, so of course he accepted a sweetheart deal on a Capitol Hill condo owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist, $50 a night, at least half the AirBnB rate for the neighborhood.

Ethical lapses may mean Scott Pruitt is on the way out, but not before he’s destroyed his agency and America’s environmental safeguards.

More:

“Pruitt Had a $50-a-Day Condo Linked to Lobbyists. Their Client’s Project Got Approved,” Eric Lipton, New York Times

“Scott Pruitt’s D.C. Lobbyist Landlord Also Funded His Oklahoma Attorney General Campaign,” Sam Stein and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

“EPA chief Pruitt joined by family in condo tied to lobbyist ‘power couple,'” John Santucci, Matthew Mosk, and Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News

“EPA ethics official says he didn’t have all the facts on Pruitt’s lease,” Cristina Alesci, CNN

“5 lies Scott Pruitt told this week about his mounting scandals,” Umair Irfan, Vox

“Scott Pruitt’s defenses are crumbling,” Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“Scott Pruitt Stiffed Taxpayers for Around $3 Million in 24/7 Security and Expensive Flights,” Tom McKay, Gizmodo

“Top EPA staff who criticized Scott Pruitt were either demoted or reassigned,” Kyla Mandel, Think Progress

“Top Pruitt aide resigns amid growing scandal at EPA,” Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Trish Turner, and Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News

“Inside the EPA: ‘It’s just a slow-motion train wreck,’” Emily Holden, Politico

“Chief of Staff Advised a Resistant Trump to Fire the E.P.A. Chief,” Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Lisa Friedman, New York Times

“Let’s Meet Scott Pruitt’s Potential Replacements,” Brian Kahn, Earther

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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‘Local’ News: Sinclair’s Soldiers in Trump’s War on Media

April 3, 2018

Nearly 200 TV stations across America are owned by a single company, the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Headquartered in the Baltimore area, the firm is owned by the conservative Smith brothers (no, not them), David, Frederick, J. Duncan, and Robert. Sinclair Broadcast HQ forced local news anchors at its stations to read a script echoing Donald Trump’s dismissal of major media as ‘fake.’ Videos from Think Progress and Deadspin (above) capture the scope of this truly phony ‘local’ editorial item. Right-wing rival Fox News said the Sinclair TV anchors “looked like hostage victims.”

Sinclair’s $3.9 billion deal to buy an additional 42 TV stations from Tribune Media is awaiting FCC and antitrust review. If approved, Sinclair broadcasts could reach 72% of American households.

More:

“How America’s Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump’s War On The Media,” Timothy Burke, Deadspin

“As Sinclair’s sound-alike anchors draw criticism for ‘fake news’ promos, Trump praises broadcaster.” Paul Farhi, Washington Post

“CNN: Local Sinclair Staff Trash Must-Run ‘Propaganda’ Segments,” Matt Shuham, TPM Livewire

“Sinclair Chairman Claims Entire Print Media Has ‘No Credibility,’” Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine

“Sinclair-owned TV station chooses not to air media bias promo,” Avery Anapol, The Hill

“Public Shaming Won’t Stop Sinclair,” April Glaser, Slate

“The nation’s biggest conservative broadcaster is putting words in its anchors’ mouths. Critics blame the FCC.” Brian Fung, Washington Post

Related:

“Local news hurt by broadcast media conglomerate,” Chloe Reichel, Journalist’s Resource

“Sinclair says asking news directors for PAC contributions isn’t a conflict of interest,” Al Tompkins, Poynter

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Steve Bannon is ‘Fascinated by Mussolini’

March 20, 2018

Steve Bannon is 'Fascinated by Mussolini’

Steve Bannon granted Nicholas Farrell an interview because he liked Mr. Farrell’s book on Mussolini:

“He was clearly loved by women. He was a guy’s guy. He has all that virility. He also had amazing fashion sense, right, that whole thing with the uniforms. I’m fascinated by Mussolini.”

Benito Mussolini was a populist tabloid newspaper editor before he became Italy’s fascist dictator, and Steve Bannon can relate to that. On the hand, Mr. Bannon isn’t exactly known for his fashion sense.

More:

“‘I’m fascinated by Mussolini,'” Nicholas Farrell, The Spectator

Related:

“Steve Bannon to French far-right: ‘Let them call you racists,'” Jakob Hanke, Politico

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Persuasion

March 19, 2018

“One reason it’s so hard to reach across the ideological divide is that people tend to present their arguments in a way that appeals to the ethics of their own side, rather than that of their opponents,” says Atlantic writer Olga Khazan. “If you can’t reframe your argument, just get off Facebook.”

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Trump Porn Partner Response to the State of the Union Address

January 30, 2018

Trump Porn Partner Response to the State of the Union Address

President Donald J. Trump will deliver his first State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress tonight at 9:00 PM Eastern Time. The event will be carried live on every TV channel and Web platform in the known universe. We can expect the same kind of dubious, vacuous, self-aggrandizing sales pitch Mr. Trump recently delivered to real world leaders and business titans in Davos, with a dab of “Build the Wall” (billed as “security”) added to appease his base supporters.

Things will get more interesting after the speech, during the inevitable GOP spin sessions and Democratic responses by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D, MA-4), Rep. Maxine Waters (D, CA-43), and Virginia State Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William). But more Americans will be watching the response of adult film star Stormy Daniels, who will be a guest on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live following the State of the Union. Ms. Daniels received $130,000 in hush money from Trump in 2016, one month before the election, for staying silent about her affair with Mr. Trump. For the record, Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) is a Republican and a working Mom.

Related:

“Why Trump and the porn star is newsworthy,” Carl M. Cannon, O.C. Register

“State of the Union guests to highlight sexual harassment, assault debate,” Elise Viebeck, Washington Post

“Alleged payment to porn star was illegal donation to Trump campaign, watchdog says,” Josh Gerstein, Politico

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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