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

Trump supporters are violated, Matt Gaetz exposes himself as a peeping Tom. And being racist isn’t racism if you employ at least one black person. Don’t adjust your computer screens. It’s This Week in Crazy!

5. Laura Loomer

Being outed as racists can be really hard on the financial security of Trump supporters, as Laura Loomer can say from experience. With less charisma than a sloth on downers, she whined: “People like myself and Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos and Gavin McInnes and so many others are being de-platformed simply because we support President Trump.”

The Loom went on to say that she and fellow Frat Packers “inspired so many young people and red-pilled so many people to vote for President Trump.” Whoa there, careful what kinda pills you’re poppin’ at those white privilege parties.

Clearly still pilled, Loomer suggested the FBI raid Robert Mueller at six in the morning. She ended on a poignant note: “I think that the way Trump supporters are being treated in this country constitutes human rights violations.” Well, they didn’t violate Article 13, which protects your freedom to move.

4. McCrae Dowless and Mark Harris

McCrae and Marky, gettin’ cray-cray in Carolina. Mr. Dowless is a longtime GOP operative whose most recent task was working on Mark Harris’ 2018 Republican Congressional campaign. Harris was projected to win North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District with 900 votes. But officials discovered that Dowless illegally collected thousands of absentee ballots.

On Wednesday, Dowless was indicted on seven counts related to election fraud: “three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and two counts of possession of absentee ballot.”

North Carolina plans to run a second election to determine the real victor. Sadly for Harris, he lied about his knowledge of any wrongdoing by Dowless to the State Board. This mendacity disqualified Harris from contention. To save face, he claimed he wasn’t going to run again due to medical issues and problems with “memory and recall.” Now, if only he could forget hiring Dowless…

 

3. Matt Gaetz

Not to be outdone by the latest Kardashian clan cheating scandal, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R_FL) went all Real Housewives on Michael Cohen. Gaetz ran the old Tweet-and-Delete, calling out the former Trump confidante:

 

Yeah, that’s tampering with a witness. Suffice to say, House Leader Nancy Pelosi was not impressed.

 

You know what happens when you poke Mama Bear? She threatens to set the House Ethics Committee on you. So, Gaetz handled the situation like a real tough guy and posted a tweet he has yet to delete…an apology to Pelosi.

2. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)

Now it’s time to discuss a Human Right’s violation just one step below the financial woes of Laura Loomer. We’re talking about the sexual abuse of migrant youth. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report on sexual abuse cases against minors in U.S. custody. Alarmingly, there’ve been over 4,500 cases filed since 2014.

The Trump rhetoric is that monsters are trying to come into our country. Yet, it seems the monsters are already here. Congress had an opportunity to respond, where Matt Gaetz (yes, that same Matt Gaetz) chimed in, “are people more likely going to be sexually abused on their way to our country by the cartel” than the would be by every U.S. government official “if every allegation were true?”

After this thought-provoking question, the ORR rep actually became the voice of reason in the room. Jonathon White, Manager of Unaccompanied Minors, dryly stated: “We don’t set ourselves the standard of just doing better than smugglers and traffickers.” Come to think of it, should we just set a This Week in Crazy record and give Matt Gaetz two rankings?

1. Mark Meadows

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows deployed a little racism to prove that Donald Trump isn’t racist. Counteracting the claims of Michael Cohen, Meadows called upon Lynne Patton. Patton was a former event planner for the Trump family and is now a regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Oh, and she’s black!

Almost as if on auction, Patton stood stoically behind Meadows as he deployed the classic “I have a black friend” defense. He spoke up for Patton, who as a non-witness could not speak for herself: “She says that as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way she would work for an individual who was racist.”

Yes, it’s clear the President takes HUD bigly serious:

 

Well, there you have it! Another clear-cut case of non-racism and another seven days until another Week In Crazy!

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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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