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Tag: trump impeachment

Chuck Todd And The Myth Of Liberal Media Bias

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Surveying the media landscape and seeing a Beltway press corps that's constantly on the run from Republican attacks, Meet The Press moderator Chuck Todd this week urged his colleagues to stand up to the right-wing bullies, who have spent decades demonizing journalists.

"We should have fought back better in the mainstream media. We shouldn't [have] accepted the premise that there was liberal bias. We should have defended," Todd told The Verge. "We ended up in this both-sides trope. We bought into the idea that, 'Oh my God, we're perceived as having a liberal bias.'"

He added: "Where we did get lost in this, and this sort of happened to mainstream media in particular, is that we did let Republican critics get in our heads, right? The Republicans have been running on, "There's a liberal bias in the media." This has been a 45-year campaign."

Technically, it's been a 52-year campaign, with Vice President Spiro Agnew's "nattering nabobs of negativism" attack on the press in 1969 often cited as the launching point of the choreographed crusade.

The good news is that every 12 or 24 months Todd emerges and makes these types of welcomed, clear-eyed pronouncements about the press, calling out right-wing lies, and urging his colleagues to do better in fighting against dishonest GOP attacks.

The bad news is Todd then goes back to work at NBC and rarely follows his own advice. He makes no structural changes to the programs he oversees to make sure they don't fall prey to GOP tactics. It's easy to view his pronouncements as performative, directed at those who are concerned about journalism and about the state of our democracy in the face of a Republican Party that broke its pact with common sense and instead now worships at the altar of a Mar-a-Lago retiree.

Todd refuses to follow his own lead and produce consistently clear, aggressive journalism, while not fretting about potential GOP pushback.

A quick example.

During Trump's second impeachment trial, Todd introduced a Meet The Press segment in which voters from a toss-up district in Michigan were interviewed about the House proceedings. Touted as a way to take the temperature of everyday voters outside of the "Beltway," the sit-down with six voters from Kent County, Michigan, offered a chance to hear if heartland denizens "cared" about impeachment. Except there was a problem: Every voter interviewed was a Republican, and every voter interviewed opposed impeachment. ("I don't even care. It's just noise.")

This makes no sense. If you wanted anecdotal evidence of the nation's response to impeachment, you'd interview a wide cross-section of voters. Instead, Todd only talked to Republicans even though the Michigan district he focused on is evenly split among Democrats and Republicans. What would explain this type of illogical press behavior other than a fear of upsetting conservatives — of being tagged with the Liberal Media Bias charge?

Todd lamented to The Verge that the press has fallen into a "both sides trope," where journalists strain to place blame on Republicans and Democrats even when it should not be distributed that way. Yet earlier this year, after another deadly gun rampage in America, and after the Republican Party once again categorically refused to support any possible gun safety legislation, Todd went on Meet the Press and blamed Congress — Both Sides — for not doing anything to stop the deadly plague.

In response to my media critiques, PRESS RUN readers often ask, why? Why does the press behave the way it does? Why does it engage in Both Sides nonsense in an effort to water down irresponsible GOP behavior? Why does it view so many news cycles through the prism of Republican talking points? Without question, the overriding cultural reason is the fear of being hit with the Liberal Media Bias label.

I don't mean that's what's driving journalists on an hourly, granular level, or that before filing a story or going on the air they consciously think about GOP attacks. But it does remain the dominant ethos and it's been ingrained in newsrooms for decades. (Being the target of right-wing smear campaigns is no fun and it can damage journalism careers.) Consequently, the press spends an inordinate amount of time trying to prove it's not guilty of Liberal Media Bias.

That institutional fear helps explain the inexplicable, like why so many news organizations refused to call Trump a liar for four years, even as they documented his thousands of lies. That was a deliberate decision to turn away from the truth —and from accurate language — while covering the most dangerous president in American history. Afraid that calling Trump a "liar" in straight news reports would spark cries of Liberal Media Bias, the press capitulated. In the process, Trump used his avalanche of untruths to chip away at our democratic institutions.

Eric Alterman wrote an entire, must-read book in 2003 expertly debunking the bias myth, What Liberal Media? Conservatives "know mau-mauing the other side is just a good way to get their own ideas across–or perhaps prevent the other side from getting a fair hearing for theirs," he wrote. I made a similar effort with my book, Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, where I focused on the media's failure during the run-up to the Iraq War: "To oppose the invasion vocally was to be outside the media mainstream and to invite scorn. Like some nervous Democratic members of Congress right before the war, mainstream media journalists seemed to scramble for political cover so as to not subject themselves to conservative catcalls."

Still, the Liberal Media Bias myth persists and remains a driving engine of the conservative movement. It's arguably more potent today because Trump made it a centerpiece of his political appeal to hate the press. It would be helpful if journalists like Chuck Todd actually took their own advice and combated the fiction head on.

Flamboyantly Pious Ken Starr Had So Far To Fall — And He Did

Reprinted with permission from Chicago Sun-Times

Perhaps you recall the eminent "Judge Starr" of Republican legend and song, a pious Christian avatar of justice and sexual propriety. Back when he was dutifully investigating President Bill Clinton's sex life — "our job is to do our job," he'd tell TV crews staking out his suburban driveway, a soft-handed househusband obediently taking out the trash — Kenneth Starr posed as a man of firm moral views and unimpeachable integrity.

Fawning newspaper profiles depicted Starr as an uxorious fellow whose favorite pastime was going for Sunday drives with his equally pious wife, singing hymns together. Never mind that said profiles were often written by the same reporters to whom independent counsel Starr's prosecutors had been leaking damning, albeit misleading, tidbits about Bill and Hillary Clinton's impending indictment for "Whitewater" crimes.

Indictments that never came, for the simple reason that bringing trumped-up charges against prominent people endangers prosecutors more than defendants. The same psalm-singing crusader eventually published the infamous Starr Report, narrating in near-pornographic detail each and every one of Bill Clinton's furtive grapplings with Monica Lewinsky.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh mostly wrote it.

Forcing a shamefaced Clinton to face a nationally televised sexual inquisition probably saved his presidency. Millions of sinners in the TV audience cringed to see it, a possibility that never seemed to have occurred to the sanctimonious Starr or his journalistic enablers. Angry with Clinton for being such a damn fool, I never saw it coming myself.

So now comes Starr's professed former mistress to drive what should be the last nail in the rotting coffin of his reputation. Former GOP public relations executive Judi Hershman has published an essay entitled "Ken Starr, Brett Kavanaugh, Jeffrey Epstein and Me" on Medium.

I confess I never thought the man had it in him for motel room romance.

That Starr is a world-class sexual hypocrite has long been obvious. Do you know how hard it was for a name-brand Republican holy man to get himself fired as president of Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university? Covering up gang rapes by the school's football team did it. Even Starr's practice of running onto the field in a cheerleading costume couldn't save him after the truth emerged in 2016.

To hear her tell it, Starr's former mistress is anything but a woman scorned. "Our affair ran its course after a year or so of occasional encounters and a steady exchange of affectionate texts and emails," she writes. "No fireworks, no drama." Rather, it was watching a recorded interview with one of the Baylor victims that "helped me understand how I could have been blind for so long to the pattern of misogyny coursing through Starr's career."

Shedding crocodile tears, Starr made a show of empathy, but then proceeded to do nothing on the victim's behalf. "Shamelessly and effectively," Hershman writes, "he shoved rape allegations under the carpet in the name of Christianity."

Starr's role in helping negotiate a sweetheart deal for serial child rapist Jeffrey Epstein (13 months in jail with daily 12-hour passes) also troubled her. "I confess I did not recognize Jeffrey Epstein's name at the time, but I knew what statutory rape was," Hershman writes, "and I couldn't understand why Ken Starr would be involved with him. 'Is this a church thing?' I asked. 'Are you trying to "cure" him? Why would you do this!"'

"Everyone deserves representation, Judi," Starr responded, adding, "He promised to keep it above 18 from now on."

As the world knows, Epstein failed to keep his promise. A man would have to be painfully naive to think a convicted pedophile ever would. Or deeply cynical to pretend to believe him. Take your pick. Starr's efforts on behalf of the billionaire child rapist also included a covert smear campaign against the female prosecutor who'd prepared a 60-count federal indictment against his lowlife client.

"Somehow," Hershman comments, "Starr's role as the nation's parson always comes back around to sex."

Also money, I'd add. Not for nothing was Starr once a tobacco company shill. I'd also observe that for a woman with no ax to grind, Hershman deploys some awfully sharp edges.

She even recounts a 1998 episode in which Kavanaugh, then Starr's prosecutorial understudy, staged a full-on primate rage display: physically intimidating and chasing her around a conference table over a disagreement she doesn't describe. She says she'd all but forgotten his "feral belligerence" until she watched him go ballistic over Christine Blasey Ford's allegations at his Senate confirmation hearings.

She thinks he's got no business on the Supreme Court.

But at least Starr himself never got there, to his eternal regret and the nation's good fortune. Instead, he ended up in that shyster's purgatory: defending Trump against impeachment.

"It's not just the hypocrisy," Hershman thinks, "it's the damage Starr's sham moral authority has done — to our nation, to our people."

Former Speaker Ryan Raising Funds For Trump Critic Kinzinger

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is one of former President Donald Trump's most outspoken critics in the Republican Party, and Trump supporters would love to remove him from Congress via a GOP primary in the 2022 midterms. But the conservative congressman has some allies on the right, including former House Speaker Paul Ryan — who according to Politico's Shia Kapos, will head a fundraiser for Kinzinger this Monday, May 24.

Kapos explains, "It's a decisive move against ex-President Donald Trump, who has set his sights on Republicans who voted to impeach him. Kinzinger is one of 10 Republicans who joined Democrats to impeach Trump for his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The Illinois Republican has continued to carry the anti-Trump mantle, and it's no surprise that Ryan would back Kinzinger. Ryan, who's had a long-running feud with Trump, criticized Republicans who wouldn't certify the Electoral College results that validated Joe Biden's election as president."

Kinzinger has been a major thorn in Trump's side. Following the 2020 presidential election, Kinzinger called out Trump's debunked claims of widespread voter fraud as total nonsense and acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect. And after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming were among the minority of House Republicans who championed Trump's impeachment.

In 2018, Ryan — who was House speaker at the time and had been Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election — announced that he would not be seeking reelection. Ryan said that he wanted to spend more time with his family, but it was obvious that he was disenchanted with Trumpism and believed that the 2018 midterms would be bad for Republicans.

McCarthy Supported Jan 6 Commission Before He Opposed It

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has made it abundantly clear that he is adamantly opposed to the type of bipartisan commission on the January 6 insurrection that is being proposed by a fellow GOP conservative: Rep. John Katko of Upstate New York. But an old quote from McCarthy, journalist David Freelander has noted on Twitter, conflicts with what McCarthy is saying now, and casts his opposition in a cynical light.

Freedlander points out that when McCarthy, earlier this year, voiced his opposition to Trump's second impeachment, he argued that a "fact-finding commission" would be more appropriate." McCarthy told fellow members of Congress that he considered impeachment premature because "no investigations have been completed" and "no hearings have been held."

McCarthy was calling for the type of January 6 commission that Katko is calling for now and that the House minority leader is now opposed to.

This January 13 tweet from NBC News shows McCarthy voicing his support for such a "fact-finding commission." He also suggested a censure resolution for Trump at the time, another idea he didn't seriously pursue.

At the time, he spoke against impeachment, endorsing the fact-finding commission. Based in part on those kinds of remarks, the Democrats engaged in months-long negotiations with Republicans on such a commission, making numerous concessions to accommodate GOP concerns and input. But then once the compromise was reached, McCarthy abandoned it. In this light, his old remarks look like a cynical excuse not to go along with impeaching Trump, because he was never really serious about a commission all along.

#EndorseThis: Humiliating CNN Supercut Highlights Kevin McCarthy's Flip-Flops

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has performed a dizzying series of flip-flops over the former guy's election lies and theJan. 6 Capitol riot. And with this supercut reel of his contradictory blather, CNN holds him fully accountable..

The flurry of reversals is so ridiculous that CNN anchor John Berman offered several reminders that on each occasion, this was "the same Kevin McCarthy" on their screens.

"Here's how the head-spinning, bumper car evolution has played out since the election," says co-anchor Briana Keilar -- and she's right.

It's laughable.

CNN/Kevin McCarthy www.youtube.com

Trump Left Pence To Hang, But Former Veep Is Still Groveling

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Former Vice President Mike Pence heaped praise on the ex commander-in-chief in his first speech since leaving office, regaling a crowd of evangelical Republicans with stories about their time serving together.

Pence delivered after left him vulnerable in the Capitol as a pro-Trump mob chanted "hang Mike Pence" as they ransacked the building and later attacked him for not having the "courage" to steal the election from now-President Joe Biden.

In the speech before the Palmetto Family Council — an anti-LGBTQ organization that says the country's "social fabric is only as strong as the bond between its husbands and wives" — Pence said he had the "privilege of serving alongside President Donald Trump," and that it was "the greatest honor of my life."

"To know our president is to know someone who is more of a coach than a general manager," Pence said, telling a story of leaving the 2016 Republican National Convention with Trump. "And he's sitting next to me in the car, and we were just starting to get to know each other, and he's giving me the pep talk [saying,] we are going to work and work."

He added, "and then he looked over at me and hit me in the shoulder and said, 'and then it's going to be great.'"

Pence was speaking in South Carolina, a critical early state in the presidential primary process. Choosing the state for his first speech since the insurrection is a sign he is keeping his options open for 2024.

And his embrace of Trump, even though Trump has turned his back on Pence since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is a tell that Pence believes his fate is tied to Trump.

Trump, however, has suggested he would ditch Pence as a running-mate should he choose to wage a comeback bid in 2024.

In an interview Thursday morning with Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo, Trump threw out Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis' name as a possible vice presidential pick, saying he is "certainly" considering him.

"I endorsed Ron and after I endorsed him he took off like a rocket ship," Trump said. "He's done a great job as governor."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

#EndorseThis: CNN Mocks Giuliani, ‘The Guy You Hire If You Want To Be Impeached’

Former President Trump's personal attorney is in a mess of trouble, after the FBI raided his home for further evidence in the eternally unfolding Ukraine scandal.

While Rudy Giuliani has given late night hosts and political satirists plenty of material over the years, the latest bombshell even has CNN piling on.

“Giuliani is the guy you go to if you want to get impeached, right?" CNN host John Berman joked. "If you're a president, [you] need to get impeached, hire Giuliani, and you get there pretty quickly." Legal analyst and ex-prosecutor Elie Honig provides a thoroughly amusing answer.

Click and cackle!

Rudy Giuliani's incompetence mocked: 'The guy you hire if you want to get impeached' youtu.be


GOP Civil War Erupts Again Over  Primary Challenge To Murkowski

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In the minds of Trumpistas, conservative Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska committed an unpardonable sin when, earlier this year, she voted "guilty" during former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial for "incitement to insurrection." Trump devotees are hoping to unseat Murkowski via a 2022 GOP senatorial primary, and Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka is campaigning on an overtly Trumpian platform — slamming Murkowski for failing to honor Trump,

CNN reporters Manu Raju and Alex Rogers explain, "Nearly a dozen years after overcoming a Tea Party-inspired challenge from the right, Murkowski again is facing a Republican seeking to claim the mantle as the most aggressive version of today's GOP — or in this case, the Trumpiest. Republican Kelly Tshibaka, a former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, has offered herself as a vessel for the supporters of the former president, who won the state twice, as she lambasts Murkowski for her penchant for deal-cutting and breaking with Trump."

Raju and Rogers, in an article published by CNN's website on April 19, describe the Murkowski/Tshibaka competition as "the first proxy battle between Trump, whose top political advisers have joined Tshibaka's campaign, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is backing the nearly 20-year incumbent." And they note that the Alaska GOP senatorial primary puts Republican senators and the National Republican Senatorial Committee "in an awkward position as they remain divided about the former president's role in the party" and "try to unify ahead of the 2022 midterms with control of Congress at stake."

In an interview with CNN, Tshibaka promoted the false claim that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election — in contrast to Murkowski, who acknowledged Joe Biden as the legitimate president-elect after the 2020 election.

Tshibaka told CNN, "We don't know the outcome of the 2020 election. In the 2020 election, there were questions raised in several states, and we're not allowed to look into the questions of those allegations to see what actually happened. I still have questions, and I think millions of other Americans do too."

In fact, now-President Biden defeated Trump by more than seven million in the popular vote, and cybersecurity experts for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have stressed that the election was undeniably secure. Even former Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump loyalist, said he saw no evidence of the type of widespread voter fraud that Trump alleged.

Raju and Rogers note, "There was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which President Joe Biden won resoundingly with 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232. And Trump and his allies' many lawsuits contesting the election were roundly rejected in court, including before conservative judges and the U.S. Supreme Court. But Tshibaka's willingness to cast doubt over the legitimacy of the election illustrates how those eager to win over the former president must adopt his baseless claims."

Voting to impeach Trump was not the first time Murkowski infuriated Trumpistas, who were disappointed when — along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona — she voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare. Trump loyalists have never forgiven Murkowski for helping Obamacare to survive or for voting against the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Murkowski has not officially announced that she will seek reelection in 2022, but she filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on March 9. And Tshibaka is obviously looking forward to taking on Murkowski in the primary.

Murkowski told CNN, "We'll see how much is invested in the sense of time and energy and resources by those that think that I should have been a more loyal Trump supporter."