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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Elizabeth Warren has blown it. In just one speech this week, she may have ended any chance she had to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

When the two took the stage at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal on Monday, they looked like a dynamic duo. Warren is 67, and Clinton is 68, and though that used to be on the verge of old age for presidential politics, it has become the new “seasoned.” (Barack Obama was 47 when he was elected. George W. Bush was 54. And Bill Clinton was 46.)

Both Warren and Hillary wore shades of blue — certainly no accident. They are such a pair they even dress alike! Both have short blond hair. Both looked energetic, vigorous and enthusiastic.

Then they started speaking. And it was all over.

Warren was just too darn good. She went after Donald Trump like a hobo on a ham sandwich. She delivered a barnburner, a blockbuster, a foot-stomper of a speech.

If one purpose of a political speech is to define your opponent, she had that down pat.

Trump, she said, is “a small, insecure money-grubber” who “cares about no one but himself.”

Trump “will crush you into the dirt to get whatever he wants.”

“Trump says he’ll make America great again. … It’s stamped on the front of his goofy hat. You wanna see goofy? Look at him in that hat.”

The audience roared and clapped and held its sides. Oh, that hat! That baseball cap that seems as if it is stapled to Trump’s scalp. (He wears it to keep his hair from getting mussed. You do not want to be around Trump when his hair gets mussed.)

And that “Make America Great Again” motto? When did America stop being great? When it started making such guys as Trump presumptive nominees for president?

Who is Donald Trump anyway? How much do you really know about him except that he actually managed to lose money on a casino? Which takes a special kind of skill.

The Clinton campaign strategy regarding Trump is to continue to get under his skin, continue to poke him with a stick because when he gets angry, which is pretty much all the time, he loses control of his mouth.

He talks about thousands of imaginary Muslim Americans dancing in the streets after 9/11. He talks about how Mexican immigrants are rapists. And he says of John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Trump also likes people who got out of the draft because of bone spurs — people like him.

Warren, the senior Democratic senator from Massachusetts, has been designated an official stick-poker.

Warren summed it all up in a video released last week. “I have to be honest,” she said. “It is hard to talk about Donald Trump. Between his ignorance, his racism, his sexism, his lies — it is actually hard to know where to start.”

Boom! Drop the mic.

But that is the problem. If you want to become the vice presidential nominee, you do not want to outshine the presidential nominee.

True, Clinton seemed to be wowed by Warren’s speech Monday, too.

“You just saw why she is considered so terrific, so formidable. Because she tells it like it is,” Clinton said. “I must say, I do just love to see how she gets under Donald Trump’s thin skin.”

And it would be nice for Clinton to be able to sit back and talk about foreign policy and fiscal policy and all the other policies that Trump knows nothing about and let her running mate do the nasty stuff.

The trouble is, however, voters rarely cast ballots because of who is running for vice president. Clinton has to thread the needle and pick a running mate who can shine, but not outshine.

And nastiness runs both ways. “Crooked Hillary is wheeling out one of the least productive senators in the U.S. Senate, goofy Elizabeth Warren,” Trump tweeted Monday.

On Tuesday, Warren said: “What this is really about is, can they bully me into shutting up? Can they just be nasty enough and ugly enough and throw enough stuff in my direction that I’ll say ‘oh’ and just go back into the shadows? And the answer is, nope, not happening.”

The same is true for Clinton. Last Wednesday, Trump called her perhaps “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

“Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft,” Trump said. “She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund, doing favors for oppressive regimes and many others … in exchange for cash, pure and simple.”

And that wasn’t all. “Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched,” Trump said.

But isn’t this all just name-calling — just another part of the national entertainment, the national pastime that we call a presidential campaign?

Hillary Clinton doesn’t care. This time next year, they can call her whatever they want — just as long as it’s “Madam President.”

 

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo: Hillary Clinton stands along side Senator Elizabeth Warren at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. REUTERS/Aaron JosefczykHillary Clinton stands along side Senator Elizabeth Warren at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

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Rep. Bennie Thompson

Photo by Customs and Border Protection (Public domain)

Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Friday afternoon announced the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack has issued subpoenas to 14 Republicans from seven states who submitted the forged and "bogus" Electoral College certificates falsely claiming Donald Trump and not Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in their states.

The Chairman appeared to suggest the existence of a conspiracy as well, noting the "the planning and coordination of efforts," saying "these so-called alternate electors met," and may know "who was behind that scheme."

Keep reading... Show less

Chris Cuomo

News Literacy Week 2022, an annual awareness event started by the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to making everyone “smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy” has closed out. From January 24 to 28, classes, webinars, and Twitter chats taught students and adults how to root out misinformation when consuming news media.
There’s no downplaying the importance of understanding what is accurate in the media. These days, news literacy is a survival tactic. One study estimated that at least 800 people died because they embraced a COVID falsehood — and that inquiry was conducted in the earliest months of the pandemic. About 67 percent of the unvaccinated believe at least one COVID-19 myth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
It’s not that accurate information isn’t available; people are rejecting reports of vaccine efficacy and safety because they distrust the news media. A third of Americans polled by Gallup said they have no trust at all in mass media; another 27 percent don’t have much at all.
Getting people to believe information presented to them depends more on trust than it does on the actual data being shared. That is, improving trust isn’t an issue of improving reporting. It’s an issue of improving relationships with one’s audience.
And that’s the real news problem right now; some celebrity anchors at cable news outlets are doing little to strengthen their relationships with their audiences and a lot to strengthen their relationships with government officials.
The most obvious example is how CNN terminated Prime Time anchor Chris Cuomo last month for his failure to disclose the entirety of his role in advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on the sexual harassment accusation that unfolded in Albany, a scandal that eventually led to Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
But there are others. Just this month, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol revealed that another anchor on another cable news network, Laura Ingraham of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, texted then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows last January, advising Meadows how Trump should react to reports of possible armed protests at state capitols around the country. This revelation followed the story that Sean Hannity, host of the eponymous news hour at Fox News, also texted Meadows with advice last year.
And while he didn't advise a government official, CNN anchor Don Lemon revealed information not available to the public when he texted embattled Empire actor Jussie Smollett to tip him off about the Chicago Police Department’s wavering faith in his story about an assault. That’s from Smollett’s own sworn testimony.
When English philosopher Edmund Burke joked about the press being the Fourth Estate — in addition to the First, Second and Third (the clergy, nobility and commoners, respectively) — his point was that, despite their influence on each other, these “estates” — bastions of power — are supposed to be separate.
The Fourth Estate will always be an essential counterweight to government. But, since Donald Trump was elected in 2016, we’ve been so focused on stopping an executive branch from pressing the press to support an administration's agenda — either by belittling journalists or threatening to arrest them for doing their jobs — that we’ve ignored the ways that it affects and influences other Estates, and not necessarily through its reporting.
That is, we have news personalities-cum-reporters who are influencing government policy — and not telling us about it until it’s too late.
The United States has fostered an incredible closeness between the Second Estate — which in 2021 and 2022 would be political leaders — and the Fourth Estate. About a year ago, an Axios reporter had to be reassigned because she was dating one of President Biden’s press secretaries. Last year, James Bennet, the former editorial page editor of the New York Times and brother of Colorado Senator and 2020 Presidential candidate Michael Bennet, had to recuse himself publicly from the Gray Lady’s endorsement process. In 2013, the Washington Post reported at least eight marriages between Obama officials and established journalists.
To be clear, there aren’t any accusations that anyone just mentioned engaged in anything other than ethical behavior. But I, for one, don’t believe that James and Michael Bennet didn’t discuss Michael’s campaign. I don’t think the Axios reporter and her West Wing-employed boyfriend — or any journalists and their federally employed spouses, for that matter — didn’t share facts that the public will never know. Such is the nature of family and intimacy.
And as long as those conversations don’t affect the coverage of any news events, there’s nothing specifically, technically wrong with them. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t damaging.
As these stories show, when we don’t know about these advisor roles, at least not until someone other than the journalist in question exposes them, it causes a further erosion of trust in news media.
What’s foolish about the Cuomo, Ingraham, Hannity, and Lemon improprieties is that they don't necessarily need to be the problem they’ve become. Cuomo’s show contained opinion content like 46 percent of CNN’s programming. An active debate rages on as to whether Fox News is all opinion and whether or not it can rightly even be called opinion journalism since its shows are so studded with inaccuracies and lies.
What that means is that Cuomo, Ingraham, Hannity, and Lemon are allowed to take a stand as opinion journalists; Cuomo and Lemon never really worked under a mandate of objectivity and Ingraham and Hannity likely wouldn’t honor it if they did. Indeed, a certain subjectivity — and explaining how it developed for the journalist — is part of an opinion journalist’s craft. To me, little of these consulting roles would be problematic if any of these anchors had just disclosed them and the ways they advised the people they cover.
But they didn’t. Instead, the advice they dispensed to government employees and celebrities was disclosed by a third party and news of it contributes to the public’s distrust in the media. While personal PR advisory connections between journalists and politicians haven’t been pinpointed as a source of distrust, they may have an effect. Almost two-thirds of respondents in a Pew Research poll said they attributed what they deemed unfair coverage to a political agenda on the part of the news organization. No one has rigorously examined the ways in which individual journalists can swing institutional opinion so it may be part of the reason why consumers are suspicious of news.
Cleaning up ex post facto is both a violation of journalistic ethics and ineffective. Apologies and corrections after the fact don't always improve media trust. In other credibility contests, like courtroom battles, statements against one’s interests enhance a person’s believability. But that’s not necessarily true of news; a 2015 study found that corrections don’t automatically enhance a news outlet’s credibility.
It’s a new adage for the 21st century: It’s not the consulting; it’s the cover-up. Journalists need to disclose their connections to government officials — up front — to help maintain trust in news media. Lives depend on it.

Chandra Bozelko did time in a maximum-security facility in Connecticut. While inside she became the first incarcerated person with a regular byline in a publication outside of the facility. Her “Prison Diaries" column ran in The New Haven Independent, and she later established a blog under the same name that earned several professional awards. Her columns now appear regularly in The National Memo.


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