Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Top Republican leaders — from Donald Trump to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — are dismissing a bill from congressional Democrats that would provide economic security to workers most impacted by the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, saying they don’t want to rush a response.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill this week that would give workers 14 days of paid sick leave (the number of days someone with COVID-19 or those suspected to have it must remain in quarantine), as well as provide food security to low-income families that rely on food stamps or free school lunch. It would also make testing for the virus free.

But Trump and McConnell are dismissing the bill, with Trump saying it’s full of “goodies” and McConnell saying offering free testing and economic security for vulnerable communities is “not related to the pressing issues at hand.”

“There are things in there that have nothing to do with what we’re talking about,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “So you know, it’s not a way for them to get some of the goodies that they haven’t been able to get for the last 25 years.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said similarly that Republicans want to take their time with any response — even as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to grow and the economy slows. The stock market has continued to plummet as well.

“We are committing to get this right,” McCarthy said Thursday at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “We’re working with the White House, with Secretary Mnuchin, and with the speaker. We should not just take a rush just because there’s a bill. We want to make sure it works in the process of where we’re going.”

Additionally, a White House official told the Washington Post on Thursday that it opposes covering coronavirus testing for the uninsured. The White House reportedly believes that reimbursing laboratory claims would lead to federal funding for abortion, though it’s unclear on what they are basing that conclusion.

The comments come after Trump himself taunted Pelosi, attacking her for tempering expectations for how quickly legislation can pass to help those impacted by office and school closures, as well as event cancellations that cause hourly workers and those without paid leave to miss out on pay.

“Nancy Pelosi just said, ‘I don’t know if we can be ready this week.’ In other words, it’s off to vacation for the Do Nothing Democrats,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “That’s been the story with them for 1 1/2 years!”

Meanwhile, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, had initially told reporters that Senate Republicans won’t even begin to take action on a coronavirus response bill until after the chamber returns from a planned recess. Senators weren’t scheduled to be back from that recess until March 23.

Given how fast the virus can spread, it’s unclear what the situation in the United States may look like in 11 days.

In Italy, for example, the virus is spreading at a rapid clip, despite drastic lockdown measures to stop it.

The country saw its number of cases double from roughly 2,500 on March 4 to 5,800 on March 7, the New York Times reported. The death toll also soared, jumping from 36 to 233, according to the Times.

McConnell, however, announced Thursday afternoon that the Senate would cancel the planned recess to negotiate on a bill, though it’s unclear when a vote will take place.

“Notwithstanding the scheduled state work period, the Senate will be in session next week,” he tweeted. “I am glad talks are ongoing between the Administration and Speaker Pelosi. I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Blake Neff

Twitter screenshot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On July 10, CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that Blake Neff, the top writer for Tucker Carlson's prime-time Fox News show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson's show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

As Darcy reported, in an interview with the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, Neff claimed anything Carlson read during his show was initially drafted by him. Darcy also found instances where there was "some overlap between the forum and the show," as sometimes the "material Neff encountered on the forum found its way on to Carlson's show."

During a 2018 appearance on Fox's The Five to promote his book Ship of Fools, Carlson mentioned Neff by name, calling him a "wonderful writer." Carlson also included Neff in the acknowledgments of the book.

Before joining Fox News, Neff worked at The Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet that Carlson co-founded. The outlet has published a number of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and bigots.

Carlson has a long history of promoting white supremacist content on his show. His show has featured many guests who have connections to white supremacy and far-right extremism. Carlson has regularly been praised by Neo-Nazis and various far-right extremist figures, and he's been a hero on many white supremacist podcasts. Users of the extremist online message boards 4chan and 8chan have repeatedly praised Carlson.

The manifesto released by the gunman who killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 was strewn with content that echoed talking points from Carlson's show. Days after the shooting, Carlson declared that calling white supremacy a serious issue is a "hoax" as it is "actually not a real problem in America."

Carlson has been hemorrhaging advertisers following his racist coverage of the Black Lives Matters movement and the recent protests against police brutality. Now that we know his top writer was using content from white supremacist online message boards for Carlson's show, it is more imperative than ever that advertisers distance their brands away from this toxicity.