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

@EricBoehlert

Media Imposes A Glaring Double Standard On America's First Female Vice President

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

By any traditional measure, Vice President Kamala Harris has enjoyed a productive November:

• While President Biden went under anesthesia on Friday for the routine medical procedure, she became the first woman to assume the powers of commander in chief.

• She traveled to France and helped smooth over relations with a longtime U.S. ally.

• She took part in the public signing ceremony for the recently-passed infrastructure bill, a centerpiece of Biden’s agenda.

• She announced an historic $1.5 billion investment to help grow and diversify the nation’s health care workforce.

So why is she getting buried in bad press by the Beltway media, as they gleefully pile on? Unloading breathless, gossip-heavy coverage that is detached from reality, the press has gone sideways portraying Harris as lost and ineffective — in over her head.

It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.

The recent frenzy of gotcha stories, which perfectly reflects petty, right-wing attacks on Harris, represents an entirely new way of covering a sitting vice president. None of the white men who previously served in that position were put under this kind of a microscope, and certainly not months into their first term. “News outlets didn’t have beat reporters who focused largely on covering Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, or Mike Pence, but they do for Harris,” the Post’s Perry Bacon noted. “Her every utterance is analyzed, her exact role in the Biden White House scrutinized.”

Worse, the premises used to support the steady drumbeat of negative, nit-picky coverage revolve around dopey optics and pointless parlor gossip. (She’s now rivals with Pete Buttigieg!)

“The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she's able to do politically,” CNN breathlessly reported this month, using that as the centerpiece for a hollow and meandering 5,000-word hit piece. (“Exasperation,” “dysfunction,” “frustrating” — and that was just CNN’s doomsday headline.) But of course, every VP in American history has likely made the same observation about feeling constrained, so as to not overshadow the president— that’s been the defining characteristic of the vice president’s office since the birth of the nation. But in 2021, it’s used as some sort of blockbuster development with Harris.

Keep in mind, Trump’s VP is most famous for being chased by a mob that wanted to hang him during a deadly insurrection. But today, Harris supposedly feeling constrained is treated as breaking news.

Politico claimed Harris has been forced out of “the national spotlight” because she’s been given so much work to do by the administration. But A) She most certainly has not been “drawn away from the national spotlight,” as compared to previous vice presidents and their visibility; B) If the administration hadn’t given her weighty issues to tackle, such as voting rights and immigration, Politico would be claiming she was being shunned.

Straining to paint her trip to France as a failure, the Washington Post pointed a single, uneventful question asked by a reporter during a press briefing as proof that her overseas foray had gone astray.

From the Associated Press: “When she delivered her speech on the infrastructure law, there was little sign of Democratic enthusiasm. The crowd of invited guests barely filled one-quarter of a local union hall.” So according to the AP, Harris gave an important policy speech but it was tagged a failure because the attendance was all wrong. The same AP report on Monday claimed, “Harris’ allies are especially frustrated that Biden seems to have limited the vice president to a low-profile role with a difficult policy portfolio.” Of course, not a single Harris ally was quoted making that claim.

Meanwhile, AP reporter Steve Peoples dinged Harris last week on Twitter, noting it had been 90 minutes since the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case had been announced and she still hadn’t issued a statement. As if the vice president is put on the clock every time a high-profile murder trial concludes.

The double standard for Harris has become impossible to ignore. “Media has been more critical of VP Harris for her image than of VP Pence for his propaganda OpEd claiming the COVID wave was a hoax as 600K+ Americans have since died,” tweeted author and attorney Qasim Rashid. “Not saying VP Harris is above criticism—but my God how low is the bar for rich white men who enable mass death?”

Part of the ceaseless critical coverage stems from the media’s beloved Dems in Disarray storyline, where the party has to be perpetually portrayed as being undone by internal strife. It’s also fueled by the media’s need to create drama so they can present current events with a dramatic arc, as a way to keep news consumers tuned in. During the Trump years there was no need to invent White House drama, since it erupted on an hourly basis on many days. But reporters are frustrated by the No Drama Biden approach to governance (the New York Times: He’s “boring”), and have taken it upon themselves to create conflict. Harris has become a favorite prop for that.

Also, note how the D.C. media career game is played. Back in June, The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris, announcing her vice presidency was a failure (“She continues to retreat behind talking points and platitudes in public”), even though she was just four months into her term. The takedown generated lots of Beltway buzz though, and Dovere was soon hired by CNN where this month he helped write … a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris.

CNN’s coverage of Harris has been relentlessly negative all year. This spring the network attacked her “defensive” behavior, questioning her “political agility,” stressing her “political missteps,” mocking her “clumsy” and “tone deaf” media performance; her “shaky handling of the politics” surrounding immigration. All of that was to condemn her successful diplomatic trip to Mexico.

Kamala Harris made history this year, the best kind. The Beltway media seems determined to treat her achievement as an opportunity to rewrite to rules on how to cover the first woman VP in a new, hyper-critical way.

Not 'Both Sides': GOP Violence Is America's Biggest Political Story

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

First, some good news.

The New York Times recently ran an important piece about the rising specter of violence within mainstream Republican Party circles. The article was noteworthy not only because it spotlighted the frightening instances of violent rhetoric and actions the conservative movement is eagerly unleashing in America, but because the Times used clear and concise language to tell the story.

Temporarily shedding the lazy Both Sides blanket that so many newsrooms use when forced to acknowledge how reckless today's GOP has become, the Times piece didn't waste time trying to camouflage the trend. "From congressional offices to community meeting rooms, threats of violence are becoming commonplace among a significant segment of the Republican Party," the daily reported unequivocally. "The most animated Republican voters increasingly see themselves as participants in a struggle, if not a kind of holy war, to preserve their idea of American culture and their place in society."

That's the good news — some mainstream media outlets are using succinct language while addressing the most important political story in America today. Honestly, it's one of the most crucial unfolding stories in the country's history as the Trump-led GOP fuels an unprecedented, multi-pronged assault on U.S. democracy and gleefully flashes the threat of overt violence in the process.

That's the bad news, and it's spreading. "I have a hard time seeing how we have a peaceful 2024 election after everything that's happened now," Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America told the Times.

Political hostility is not new to America. The country was rocked by violence clashes, for instance, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the anti-war movement fractured off into more militant factions. But never did leaders of the Democratic Party or members of Congress overtly endorse political violence the way today's Republican Party does, as it continues to actively whitewash the deadly January insurrection, which is now glorified by Fox News.Democrats never used their considerable political muscle to try to demolish free and fair elections in America. That's not true for today's Republican Party, as it actively mainstreams the looming menace of hostility by fanning the flames of civil unrest, including last week celebrating an underage vigilante killer, Kyle Rittenhouse.

After he was acquitted on murder charges, at least three House Republicans said they wanted the gunman to be their intern, including Rep. Madison Cawthorn who urged his followers to "be armed and dangerous," while posting a message celebrating Rittenhouse's acquittal.

"Hard to describe how chilling it is to see members of the GOP and open white supremacists come together to celebrate a vigilante killing two people and getting away with it," Cassie Miller, an extremism researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center, tweeted.

The flashpoints of Republicans and conservatives promoting political violence have become ceaseless, to the point of frightening normalization. After Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) tweeted an anime video altered to show him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and swinging two swords at President Joe Biden, virtually the entire Republican Party rallied to Gosar's side when he faced a formal House rebuke for his violent, dehumanizing outburst.

Despite the GOP's nearly universal support, Politico insisted the episode highlighted the "fringe" side of the party, while the Beltway media outlet Punch Bowl reduced the threatening, unnerving Gosar chapter to Democrats and Republicans just not trusting each other.

The violent virus is spreading to the grassroots level. Polls suggest that as many as 21 million Americans think that the use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency. In Kansas, anti-vaxxers showed up to municipal meetings wearing yellow stars, suggesting they had equal footing with Jewish victims of the Holocaust. White nationalist members of The Proud Boys are showing up at local school board meetings, to lend a menacing air to the proceedings.

At a conservative rally in western Idaho last month, a young man asked local leaders when he could start killing Democrats. "When do we get to use the guns?" he said as the audience applauded. When Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) voted in favor of the recent infrastructure bill to help rebuild roads across the country she was inundated with death threats. One man told her, "I pray to God that if you've got any children, they die in your face."

The welcome Times piece last week on GOP violence stood in contrast to a wave of vague, worthless reporting we've seen this year about how "Americans" are angry, without pinpointing the obvious source of the unbridled, incoherent wrath.

"Americans are angry about ... everything. Is that bad?" read a recent Christian Science Monitor headline. The piece equated right-wing, anti-mask parents storming local school board meetings and issuing death threats with social justice activists taking to the streets to protest police brutality. Those two things aren't remotely similar.

CNN's Chris Cillizza recently bemoaned how "we're all just so damn angry," but could only find examples of far-right bullies lashing out in public.

Sanctioned, Republican political violence will be the most unnerving story the D.C. press faces in coming years.

Everything The Press Says About Biden's Economy Is Wrong

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Want an unvarnished, unfiltered view of the U.S. economy, the kind that you're not seeing from the Beltway press today, as they push panicked inflation updates?

It's simple. Worker wages are up this year as employees enjoy unmatched leverage in the marketplace. Job gains are soaring. And companies are printing profits thanks to sky-high consumer demand —Target's sales spiked 13 percent in the last quarter and the retail giant expects double-digit gains over the holiday shopping season. That's crucial because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy. All the while, mortgage interest rates hover around 2.5 percent.

The specifics:

• The government dramatically undercounted the number of new jobs from June through September, so we now know an additional 626,000 jobs were created those months, blowing away the idea of a stymied hiring pattern nationwide. Remember the "disappointing" jobs report from August, with 235,000 jobs? It was actually 483,000 new positions. It turns out there's been a jobs explosion this entire year, and all indications are the trend will continue into 2022.

• Goldman Sachs predicts by the end of next year the U.S. unemployment rate will drop to a 50-year low, thanks to a "red-hot demand for workers." Under Trump, the rate peaked at nearly 15 percent.

• Retail sales surged 1.7 percent in the month of October, as consumers flocked online and into stores, splurging on electronics and home-improvement projects. American consumers spent $638 billion in October, a 16 percent increase from last year.

• JP Morgan upgraded its growth expectations for the economy, raising its forecast for the U.S. gross domestic product to climb five percent in the fourth quarter.

• Biden's pandemic stimulus plan has worked: "Households are sitting on a collective $2.5 trillion in savings built up during the pandemic," the New York Times reports.

It's a royal flush of economic good news.

Yes, inflation is up and it's a problem. Nobody likes spending $90 to fill up their SUV at the pump. That's why consumers say their confidence is down, even as they spend at robust rates. Inflation today is a global phenomenon, created by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, not Democratic fiscal policy. (It's also being driven by companies taking advantage of a chance to raise prices again and again in 2021.)

The reason inflation has sprouted in the U.S. is because consumer demand is booming as the economy has recovered from Covid faster and stronger under Biden than most people ever thought possible.

What's revealing is how the Beltway media remain overly fixated on inflation, while often turning a blind eye to all the signs of a surging economy. In other words, if it's bad news for Biden, then it's treated as Big News.

By constantly doling out sour economic updates in the form of breathless inflation coverage, the press does the GOP's handiwork. The Washington Post this week announced inflation is the "defining" challenge of Biden's presidency. Why inflation? Because the press decided.

CNN insists inflation remains a "political nightmare for Biden" and claims persistent inflation "could make historically difficult midterm elections next November even harder for Democrats by overshadowing their legislative wins." CNN doesn't think that the millions of new jobs likely created next year and a plummeting unemployment rate will have any impact on the midterm election cycle — only inflation.

Here's what's happened: For weeks this fall, the Beltway press joined forces with the GOP to tell an hysterical tale about the state of the U.S. economy. It was an alternate version of reality, where the stagnant, faltering economy was being driven to the precipice by runaway inflation, which stood poised to demolish middle-class savings across the board. All while an ineffective president stood by and watched cash-strapped households suffer.

It was doomsday nonsense actively pushed by Republicans, who are gleefully rooting against America's interests. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) this week told the Wall Street Journal that if inflation pushes up interest rates next year, that would be "a gold mine for us."

The press wasn't holding up a mirror to the U.S. economy. The press painted its own picture. Desperate for a dramatic angle to lure consumers back to TV news and websites, and weirdly anxious to bury Biden, the Beltway media have gone all in on the Doomsday narrative. Remember that corporate media owners benefit from tax breaks when Republicans are in office.

The panicked tale was never true. In recent days, the new data points paint a clearer picture of the economy — it's a surging one that's powering through a stunning pandemic recovery and stands poised to blast off in 2022. An unemployment rate all the way down to 3.5 percent? A stock market sitting at the once-unthinkable 45,000 mark? Both are entirely possible in the next calendar year.

Today's press coverage suggests the economy is an albatross around Biden's political neck. In reality, it's booming.

Heavy Dose Of Theatrics In Media's 'Inflation Crisis' Coverage

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Want to see one of the strange ways the media cover the Biden economy?

When the U.S. jobs report was released for the month of October, showing a surging economy adding 531,000 jobs, as well as revised estimates for September and August confirming that an additional 235,000 positions were created, NBC Nightly News did not cover the economic announcement. ABC World News Tonight buried the story, devoting just two sentence to it, and running the story seventh in the lineup that night. Neither network considered 766,000 new jobs to be among the most important developments of that day.

Contrast that to last Wednesday, when news broke that inflation had jumped 6.2 percent last month, fueling concerns about spiraling consumer costs. That evening, both NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight slotted the inflation story as the second most important development of the news cycle.

Was it a coincidence that both ABC and NBC didn't care much about massive job gains under President Joe Biden, but were intently focused on the upsetting inflationary news? It was the latest example of the press being eager to push bad news for Biden, while looking away from signs of economic hope.

The recent inflation data certainly gave the press a green light to lean into coverage that has bordered on the hysterical, which no doubt influences news consumers and foments a self-fullfilling prophecy. The inflation news is troubling, which Biden acknowledged last week. But are the media —goaded on by Republicans — rushing past rational reporting and wallowing in theatrics, as they remain committed to their Biden Doomsday narrative?

Press skeptics can point to news outlets that have spent the last three months ceaselessly creating lists of endless "crises" Biden is facing, and time and again they're been solved or melted away. (Remember the U.S-France diplomatic "crisis"? The Colonial Pipeline "crisis"?) Also, Biden White House "crises" compared to what? The previous pathological liar president who was clearly unstable and spent his final months in office waging war on free and fair elections in this country?

Just recently, the Beltway press went overboard with its Covid coverage and how the pandemic represented a political "nightmare" for Biden and for Democrats. Today, that hyperventilating seems absurd, as the number of U.S. Covid deaths continue to plummet, and the vaccination rate climbs, including among children. Politically, the pandemic won't be a key issue in 2022 because it will likely be a memory.

Today, the inflation coverage seems purposely over the top and lacking key context. For instance, prices at grocery stores are up 5 percent this year, which has produced an avalanche of news coverage. Last year under Trump, grocery prices rose four percent and the media mostly shrugged.

Today's inflation, a global phenomenon, is caused by the pandemic, which warped global supply and demand patterns, creating a mismatch that has driven prices higher. "Too much money is chasing too few goods," is how New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman describes it.

Where's all that money coming from? In America, a lot of it is coming from a spike in employee earnings. For leisure and hospitality workers, wages are up 11 percent this year. Traditionally, the end of stagnant wages would be viewed as a good news story, but not under Biden.

Meanwhile, many America families have more cash on hand thanks to extended unemployment benefits, courtesy of Democrats, which were paid out through much of this year. Also thanks to Biden and Democrats, $250 and $300 monthly child tax credits have helped ease economic hurdles this year for millions, but the press routinely ignores that crucial story.

When ABC World News Tonight reported on last week's inflation news, it stressed that rising prices are "costing the average American household about $175 a month." Left out of that report was the fact that for so many families that $175 per-month increase is being covered by the child tax credits they're receiving.

When CNN decided to highlight inflation by reporting on a family that inexplicably buys 12 gallons of milk each week, the story left out all mention of the generous government support the family receives under Biden.

Meanwhile, those family tax credits will likely soon cut childhood poverty in half. And in October, lower-income Americans who receive food stamps saw a 27 percent spike in their government benefits, the largest increase in history, thanks to a new program under Biden. Most of that context has been flushed down the memory hole in recent days, replaced by breathless Biden Doomsday inflation reporting.

That coverage, and the image it creates of the U.S. economy on the verge of the abyss, is divorced from reality. Note that in the two days after the inflation numbers were released on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average was down just 100 points, suggesting investors are far less worried about the state of the economy than are Beltway journalists. The market's still up 2,000 points since June, when the press first started leaning into the excited inflation storyline. (And yes, Fox News went berserk all summer with its inflation coverage.)

Biden has created more jobs in eight months than Trump did in four years, as the unemployment rate continues to shrink and American workers get paid more. There's a lot of economic news, it's not all bad and it's not all about inflation.

Why Is CNN Promoting A Feel-Good Special On Chris Christie?

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

I wonder what CNN host Don Lemon thinks about the network's inexplicable decision to schedule a Chris Christie primetime special for Monday night. Christie still holds the dishonor of being the most unpopular governor in American history while he ran New Jersey, and he famously flamed out as a presidential candidate in 2016, surviving only one primary contest where he finished in sixth place. Despite his record as an established loser who voters now have an allergic reaction to, the mainstream media continue to love Christie and hold him up as an important voice in our political conversation.

So tonight, Dana Bash will host Being Chris Christie. The promotional clip shows Bash and Christie smiling while strolling down a boardwalk on the Jersey Shore, offering a behind the scenes look at the politician. It's astonishing the lengths the network will go to try to appeal to GOP viewers, in this case handing over an hour of programming to a has-been politician.

I wonder about Don Lemon because last year the CNN host mocked Christie for his attempted image recovering campaign, which at the time took the form of an interview with the network's Chris Cuomo. "He's on reputation rehab right now," said Lemon. "That's what he's doing. I didn't believe a word that he said to you." Will Lemon believe a single word Christie tells Bash when the Monday night special airs?

When the "Being" series was first introduced this summer, CNN announced, "Throughout the series, Bash spends time with individuals affecting American policy, politics, and culture to give viewers an understanding of the human being behind the public face." Its first installment featured Rep Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), who's among the most influential members of Congress. Christie though, currently has no national standing, he has no constituency, and he has no voice or vote in public policy. He does have a runaway ego, however.

"He is a person of irrepressible ambition, without limits or guard rails," noted New Jersey political columnist Charles Stile. "And an essential component of that ambition is an obsessive quest to be relevant." Now CNN wants to help.

Keep in mind, Christie wasn't merely unpopular when he left office in New Jersey, he rewrote the book on being despised by local voters. Can you imagine CNN even caring about a failed Democratic governor who left office with an approval rating in the teens, let alone shining a spotlight on him or her for an hour? Traditionally, a politician who had been branded with an L like that would slink off into the shadows and be ignored by the press.

Republicans, The Beltway Press, And The 'Education' Charade

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Within hours of Republican Glenn Youngkin's victory in the Virginia governor's race, the political press began churning out analysis about how the GOP had seized upon education as a savvy "wedge issue" as the New York Times put it. Compounded with frustration over the pandemic, the press was sure that Republicans had taken hold of a potent issue, swiped it away from clueless Democrats, and produced a "roadmap" for 2022, according to CNN.

"School closures, not Critical Race Theory, paved the way for Glenn Youngkin's victory in Virginia," Yahoo News announced. "And if Democrats don't grasp the deep reserves of anger parents feel over Zoom school, they face much more severe losses in 2022." CNN breathlessly claimed that Youngkin's win "raises questions about whether Democrats have taken seriously enough parents' concerns on a range of issues about education."

But the storyline is a charade. Not only haven't Republicans mapped out a new pro-education blueprint to win over suburban and swing voters nationwide, Republicans and conservatives have become even more proudly anti-education during the pandemic. They've voted against nutrition programs, universal pre-K, they've disrupted school board meetings, and this week Big Bird emerged as GOP Public Enemy No. 1.

As for frustration over "Zoom school," that's been over for most American students for months because classrooms coast-to-coast that had been closed under the Trump administration have reopened under the Biden administration.

The current analysis among the Beltway media makes no sense. That might be because it's being crafted and told almost exclusively by Republican operatives, not educational professionals. Schools opened up under Democrats — they've returned to "normal" —but parents are mad at Democrats for last year's school closures?

Note that the Yahoo article that hit Democrats for being out of touch with angry parents lead off with an anecdote of a screaming father at a school board meeting in Virginia berating members about pandemic-era Zoom classes. But that specific outburst took place ten months ago, back in January, before Virginia schools re-opened September and Zoom classes ended.

Yahoo insisted, "Even as schools stay open, a new round of closures remains an all-too-real possibility," which is news to me. Are there any major public school systems seriously considering closing down in-person learning anytime soon, at a time when Covid cases in the U.S. are falling and children can now get vaccinated? There are just a handful of schools in the entire country today that have temporarily shifted to remote learning. (Context: There are nearly 100,000 public schools in the U.S.)

Still, the Beltway press has coalesced around the idea that Democrats paid a political price for school closures even though schools are no longer closed. When they were shuttered, Republicans ran the federal government most of that time and offered up an incompetent response to the public health crisis.

I think the press rallied around the "education" angle in Virginia, and specifically the issue of school closures, because journalists did not want to tell the truth about how Youngkin spent the entire campaign lying about critical race theory being taught in Commonwealth schools. The press certainly didn't want to linger on the notion that his race-baiting tactics are why he won. (The campaign "wasn't really about critical race theory," The Atlantic assured readers.) Instead, the media narrative emerged that Democrats misread the mood of parents.

When CNN recently held Youngkin up as a new breed of Education Republican, aside from his made-up claims about critical race theory, they couldn't point to a single serious education initiative he had championed during the campaign or would focus on as governor. For the record, a new CNN poll this week shows just three percent of Americans select education as the most important issue facing the country today. (The economy is first, at 36 percent.) Nationwide, there's very little backlash to how schools handled Covid, according to a new Axios poll.

Still, the illogical coverage gets worse. The first legislative act Biden undertook as president was to sign into law the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, and he did so over the objection of every single Republican member of the House and the Senate. The Covid relief bill allocated $120 billion dollars for schools to help them reopen and to help students catch-up on lost learning.

The new money came to nearly $2,500 per student nationwide and lots of it went to purchasing PPE, hiring additional school personnel like nurses, counselors, custodial staff, as well as improving ventilation and pay for small-group tutoring program. Republicans, now campaigning on school closures, opposed all of it. But that's being left out of the current education coverage.

CNN's pro-Youngkin report last week referenced the "flood of pandemic-related education funding from the Covid-related stimulus bills," but failed to acknowledge that everyone from Youngkin's party voted against the historic funding. When CNN interviewed four pro-Youngkin suburban moms who championed Republicans as being pro-education and who said the pandemic school closures had changed their views on politics, the fact that Republicans uniformly voted down the single largest federal outlay on education spending to help reopen schools was politely ignored.

Today, Biden is trying to shepherd into law the Build Back Better bill, which would pay for universal pre-K, contains billions to help families cover the costs of child care, and would transform early education in America — and every Republican member of the House and Senate opposes it.

So much for the GOP being the "education" party.

Learn From Virginia, Democrats: Media Are Hostile, Not Friendly

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

After triumphant election cycles in 2018 and 2020, Democrats suffered stinging setbacks on Tuesday when they lost the Virginia's governor's race, and barely held on to win the same contest in New Jersey, a state Joe Biden won by 16 points last year.

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Furor Over ‘Critical Race Theory’ Exposes Massive Malpractice By News Outlets

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Trying to pull off an upset in the Virginia governor's race next week, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin continues his push with an unlikely pledge at the center of his campaign: If elected he would immediately ban the teaching of critical race theory in Commonwealth classrooms.

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Why Is The Press Rooting For A Democratic Defeat In Virginia?

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Sticking close to the media's preferred script, Axios this week reported that the walls were caving in on Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who's caught in a surprisingly close race in Virginia's governor's race. "It was clear the McAuliffe campaign has taken on an air of tension — bordering on panic," Axios announced.

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Who Cares If Anti-Vaxxers Quit Their Jobs?

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Wringing its hands at the sight of workers walking away from jobs when faced with simple vaccine mandates, the Wall Street Journal over the weekend became the latest national news outlet to shower attention on the topic.

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Why The Media -- And Republicans -- Owe American Workers An Apology

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

When Republicans launched a frontal assault on American workers earlier this year, the press was right there to help them echo their bogus claims. Both should now apologize for smearing the U.S. workforce.

Belittling would-be employees for being "lazy" and living off the government dole as generous unemployment payments swelled during the pandemic, conservatives invented a bogus economic theory that President Joe Biden had created a nationwide worker shortage.

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Big Media Failure: Voters Have Little Idea What’s In ‘Build Back Better’

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Leaning into the doomsday narrative that President Joe Biden's agenda and presidency is slipping away as Democrats work to pass both a huge infrastructure bill and even bigger social spending bill, dubbed Build Back Better, the Beltway press continues to do a great job ignoring the contents of the historic effort.
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How Arizona Audit Became Fox’s Biggest Gaslighting Charade Ever

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Apparently Howard Kurtz never got the memo.

On his weekly Fox News show, Media Buzz, Kurtz invited a panel of guests to discuss the results of the so-called Arizona audit, which had dragged on all year in an effort by MAGA's to prove somehow that Trump had won the Copper State last November.

Instead of finding a treasure trove of uncounted Trump ballots, as conspirators had predicted, the pointless review of two million ballots in Maricopa County found that President Joe Biden defeated Trump by slightly more votes than the official count.

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We Still Don't Know The Truth About Kavanaugh’s Shady Finances

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

By joining his fellow conservatives on the Supreme Court in declining to block one of the country's most restrictive abortion laws, a Texas statute that bans the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy, Justice Brett Kavanaugh made good on his unspoken pledge to demolish Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh's actions could change the fabric of this country for decades, and empower radicals within the Republican Party to strip away more rights of Americans.

Against that dystopian backdrop let's not forget two crucial historic facts. Kavanaugh lied his way through his confirmation hearings. Facing multiple and credible allegations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh lied about witnesses; he lied about corroboration; he lied about friendships; he lied about parties. He also lied about an array of other topics, including state drinking ages, vomiting, his yearbook, and his accusers. Kavanaugh lied about his grandfather, federal judges, warrantless wiretaps, and stolen emails.

Second, some deep-pocketed patron, or patrons, over the years have clearly covered Kavanaugh's personal finances. Someone erased all of the many financial pitfalls he faced, including tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, while setting up him for a luxurious lifestyle well beyond what he could afford on the salary of a federal judge. We still don't know which benefactors paid for Kavanaugh's $92,000 country club initiation fee in 2016 for the Chevy Chase Club while he was making $225,000 a year, had two children in private school, and was saddled with the most debt of his life, approximately $100,000.

The staggering country club fee, which Kavanaugh plainly could not cover himself, represented the most egregious hole in Kavanaugh's make-no-sense financial disclosure made during his nomination. For instance, in 2006, he bought a $1.2 million home in a tony suburb of Washington, D.C. and made tens of thousands of dollars of upgrades while earning $175,000 and sitting on a modest savings account.

The disclosures should have been a huge red flag for the press. "The personal finances of Supreme Court nominees regularly come under scrutiny during the congressional vetting process," the Washington Post reported in 2018. And Kavanaugh's finances were by far the most befuddling of any Supreme Court nominee in modern history. But the press mostly yawned through the story.

The Post actually published one of the most detailed examinations of his finances during the time of Kavanaugh's nomination. The report though, raised no serious questions of wrongdoing, and was at times openly sympathetic towards Kavanaugh: "He has in many ways stayed true to his intent, following the Jesuit mantra of service above self instilled in him by the elite Catholic high school he attended in suburban Washington."

The Post piece also made sure only to quote friends of Kavanaugh, as they ran interference for the nominee. ("He's not the type of guy who does things to keep up with the Joneses.") One buddy told the Post that Kavanaugh joined the extravagantly expensive Chevy Chase Club because it was conveniently located near his home. Not a single Democrat or independent financial analyst was quoted questioning the obvious inconsistencies in Kavanaugh's filings.

Why didn't the Beltway press go all Whitewater on Kavanaugh? For years the D.C. media, amplifying GOP attacks, couldn't sleep at night knowing Bill and Hillary Clinton might have made money on a land deal that had crooked local ties. (Fact: They lost money on Whitewater.) Breathlessly covering every hearing, every allegation, every Republican leak, the hyperactive Beltway media treated the story as Watergate-meets-Iran Contra; the very idea that a Democratic politician may have benefited financially from some inside chicanery was presented as one of the most important and compelling news stories of the decade.

Suffice to say that if Bill Clinton had joined an exclusive country club while governor of Arkansas, which he clearly did not pay for, journalists would have camped out on the story for months and excavated it without pause.

A middling jurist who immediately embarrassed himself when nominated by Trump by claiming no president had ever "consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination," Kavanaugh has always had the earmarks of a willing suck-up; someone who was cultivated and advanced by right-wing forces not for his judicial intellect, but because he's willing to do what he's told. Like help overturn Roe v. Wade.

With so little media attention paid to Kavanaugh's massive expenditures over the years, we still don't have any answers. We don't know if he's operating on the Supreme Court under a constant conflict-of-interest cloud, because we don't know which wealthy forces have aided and abetted his rise.

One possible, unconfirmed explanation for how Kavanaugh's debt magically evaporated, how he bought a house he could not afford, and joined one of the most exclusive and expensive country clubs on the East Coast while living on the salary of a federal employee? Kavanaugh's rich father secretly gifted him lots of money over the years. (Kavanaugh's father drew a large salary working for a cosmetics trade group and walked away with a $13 million payout in 2005.)

Kavanaugh and the White House likely wanted to avoid that Daddy Warbucks storyline during the confirmation hearing though, since the jurist was presented as a hard-working, aw-shucks Everyman who worked his way up to the highest echelons of the American judiciary.

And guess what? As Kavanaugh does his best to outlaw choice, the press has never tried to confirm any key facts surrounding the endless unanswered questions of Kavanaugh's finances and his miracle $92,000 country club fee.

Is Joe Biden’s Approval Rating In ‘Free Fall’? Nope

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Amid breathless reports of a political "free fall" and reeling from the White House's "summer from hell," the Beltway press has leaned into the idea that Joe Biden's presidency is unraveling — that his approval rating is in a state of collapse.

Except it's not true. Instead, it's the media falling in love with their favorite Dems In Disarray storyline. The same media that shrugged at Trump's chronically awful approval rating.

In a typical, overheated dispatch, a CNBC report recently announced, "Biden's Approval Ratings Have Plummeted, and That Could Spell trouble for Democrats in Congress." First off, the idea that Biden's approval rating in September 2021, is going to impact the outcome of November 2022 midterms makes no sense. Secondly, Biden's approval rating has fallen a grand total of four points in the past month, according to the polling average tabulated at FiveThirtyEight. So much for the "plummet."

Is Biden's' approval rating down this summer? It is, to 46 percent. Is he in some sort of manic freefall as the press suggests, fueled by the troop pullout from Afghanistan and the Delta surge? He is not.

A true ratings collapse would be like when President Ronald Reagan's approval dropped nine points in five days when the Iran Contra scandal broke. Or when George W. Bush's cratered 16 points in three months following the launch of the disastrous Iraq War.

Here are the Biden approval ratings from last 15 polls posted at FiveThirtyEight, minus the Rasmussen surveys, which are notoriously pro-Republican: 46, 44, 47, 47, 49, 47, 48, 42, 48, 49, 47, 44, 47, 50, 48.

If you take out the high (50) and the low (42) data points, the results have been markedly consistent this month. Where's the plummet?

When a recent Quinnipiac poll showed Biden's approval at 42 percent, Newsweek announced, "Joe Biden's Approval Rating Continues to Sink, Shows No Signs of Improving." Newsweek then ignored the fact that the next seven polls released after Quinnipiac all showed him improving.

The cherry picking seems intentional. When a NPR/PBS voter survey in early September showed Biden's approval at 43 percent, CNN's Chris Cillizza pounced: "This Poll Number Will Send Democrats Into a Panic." A week later though, Cillizza was silent when CNN's own poll found Biden's approval climbing to 52 percent.

CNN seemed to struggle with how to cover its good-news-for-Biden poll when the Beltway's preferred narrative was his "summer from hell." This was CNN's online headline for a story that showed Biden with a strong approval rating: "Americans Turn Pessimistic Amid Concerns Over Economy and Coronavirus." Later in a news segment, when a CNN anchor suggested the network's latest showing had Biden's rating at 43 percent, she had to be corrected by a guest who pointed out CNN's survey showed a 52 percent mark.

Biden's summertime slide has been fueled by Afghanistan and Covid, two unique and pressing challenges. But it also represents a natural progression for first term presidents as the so-called "honeymoon" with voters slowly wears off. Between being sworn in January 2009, and September 1 of that year, President Barack Obama, a successful two-term president, lost seven points on his approval rating, which is exactly how many points Biden has dipped since his inauguration.

Note that as with Biden, the press often obsessed over minor downward movements in Obama's approval in order to concoct a narrative about a president "sinking" and "plunging." At one point, a New York Times editorial was so anxious to push a narrative about Obama's supposedly broken presidency, it fabricated his approval rating, claiming it was 40 percent in a new poll, when it was actually 50 percent in that new survey.

The contrast with how the press has treated the popularity of the last two Democratic presidents with how they treated Trump's unpopularity couldn't be more startling.

When Biden's approval rating first fell below 50 percent this summer, it was considered newsworthy, as pundits weigh in on the approval "slide" and wondered if the Afghanistan story was going to doom his presidency. Rarely included in that heavy-handed analysis was the fact that at the same point in his presidency, Trump was sitting at a woeful 37 percent approval rating.

While Trump wallowed in abysmal ratings for most of his presidency (he never cracked 50 percent), the press mostly looked away, treating his poor standing as being usual. It was normalized.

Here's a quick example. In October, 2018 Politico published a piece about Trump's fire hose, "new media strategy," where he appeared on TV without pause and constantly answered reporters' shouted questions at the White House. In the eyes of Politico, it was a novel and winning strategy — it "worked" for Trump. And Politico even singled out Trump's top aide who was responsible for the approach.

Of course, what Politico never mentioned, and what the D.C. press didn't really think mattered in October 2018, was that Trump's approval stood at a lowly 41 percent.

Can you imagine today if Biden's approval fell five more points, to 41 percent, and the Beltway press started writing stories about how smart his communications strategy was? It's inconceivable because Democrats are held to a tougher media standard.

Beltway Media Blame Biden For Vaccine Refusal, Ignore Fox Brainwashing

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Busy extending the list of "crises" that President Joe Biden must face, the Beltway media are busy adding Covid vaccinations as a looming failure for the Democrat, as the nation readies a national mandate for the inoculations.

By putting the onus on Biden for the millions of defiant Trump voters who refuse to take the free, safe, and effective shot even as their neighbors become sick and die around them, the press is boosting the GOP — and missing a huge story.

We're witnessing one of the great mass brainwashings in American political history, as millions of Fox News Covid zombies eagerly swallow an ocean of lies, distortions, and misinformation. Yet the press blames Biden for not being able to convince them otherwise. Worse, the press blames the president without ever acknowledging the large-scale brainwashing that is happening.

Uncomfortable with reporting on a conservative movement that has lost touch with reality, the Beltway media are much more comfortable treating the vaccine story as one about a Democratic president who's failing to properly communicate and persuade. And one who's being outmaneuvered by Republicans.

Incredibly, the Washington Post recently cited as a "political win" for the GOP the fact that "Republican governors in several states have also had success in undermining Biden's efforts to require masks for schoolchildren and others in an effort to limit Covid-19 spread."

In a headline that was later changed, the Associated Press claimed that with his mandate announcement last week Biden had declared "war on the unvaccinated."

The New York Times announced, "Delta's rise has been fueled in part by the inability of Mr. Biden and his administration to persuade millions of vaccine-refusing Americans to inoculate themselves against the virus," in a type of dispatch that has been repeated nonstop by news outlets in recent weeks.

Virtually every reporter is working from the same script: Covid is surging and deaths are up because of Biden's "inability" to persuade vaccine "skeptics." What the Times report never addressed, and virtually none of them ever do, is that the reason millions of Americans still won't get vaccinated is because there is a choreographed, deep-pocketed political and media campaign designed to make sure millions of people don't get vaccinated. Period.

The press wants us to believe this is all just happening, by chance. It's not. Biden is battling powerful forces that reject science and are committed to prolonging the pandemic. That's essential to understand our continued health crisis, yet the press refuses to address it. Holding vaccine dead enders responsible for their actions is just not something they want to do.

Following Biden's Covid address to the nation on Thursday, CNN's Jake Tapper not only deducted points for the president's supposed "scolding tone," but the CNN anchor suggested Trump voters should not be singled out for extending the deadly pandemic. By Tapper's telling, because Trump voters are being lied to about the vaccine by far-right players, it's the liars who are to blame — who are the "villains" — not the millions of people who willingly embrace the falsehoods.

Last month, the Times posted a seven-minute, narrated report about an Arkansas community in the Ozarks with a ridiculously low vaccination/high Covid rate. "Rhetoric on freedom and choice is dissuading people from getting the shot, at a terrible cost," the Times tweeted, while promoting the clip. But who was responsible for the rhetoric that was creating a"terrible cost"? The seven-minute Times report never mentioned Fox News and never addressed who was pumping out all the Covid lies. But the report did capture lots of Arkansas locals spouting virus untruths: "We're talking about an unproven, untested vaccine."

Eight months after the vaccine arrived we know millions of Trump voters won't take it. That's not the news, although it remains a simple story to tell — and to blame Biden. Instead, journalists ought to be telling the harder truths and fixating on the why, and specifically calling out the forces at play.

The Times' Arkansas report did acknowledge "misinformation certainly exists here," but that single sentence represented the entirety of the coverage of that topic. The report also never mentioned "Republican," and instead referenced "leaders" who have politicized the vaccine.

Just yesterday, the Times published a piece, "How Outrage Over Vaccine Mandates Became a Mainstream GOP Stance," and failed to reference Fox News, which has aired hysterical, non-stop attacks on the federal mandate since it was announced. Fact: That's how outrage over common-sense mandates became mainstreamed within the GOP. Also on Sunday, the Times produced, "The U.S. is Falling to the Lowest Vaccination Rates of the World's Wealthiest Democracies," which included not one sentence addressing the why.

More recently, CNN produced its own 10-minute video about another poorly vaccinated Ozarks community, in Carter County Missouri. CNN spent days interviewing locals who regurgitated anti-virus rhetoric: "I ain't takin' that shit." "There's not enough research on it." "I believe if the good Lord wants me right now it doesn't matter if I take a vaccine or if I don't."

CNN omitted all references to Fox News or the Republican Party, and other bad-faith actors who have brainwashed so many people into thinking the Covid vaccine is evil despite the fact that inoculations have been part of everyday American life for decades — school children all across the country are not allowed to attend classes without vaccines for measles, mumps and many other diseases.

As with the Times report, the CNN segment was exceedingly gracious while interviewing Trump voters as they spewed nonstop misinformation about the vaccine and prolonged the pandemic.