Tag Archives: ABC News

Trump is ‘talking past the sale’

A former boss of mine had a saying — perhaps he still says it — that overzealous advocates had a habit of “talking past the sale.”

He meant it to suggest that someone who had a point to make could have stopped trying to make it long ago.

Thus, the president of the United States is “talking past the sale” as it regards a network news broadcast journalist’s erroneous report regarding Michael Flynn’s admission that he lied to the FBI about his contact with Russian government operatives.

ABC News suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks without pay after he reported erroneously that Trump instructed Flynn to talk to the Russians while he was running for president; in fact, Trump’s instruction occurred after he was elected, which puts the issue in an entirely different context.

ABC News acted. Ross is off the air for a month — or perhaps longer. The network policed itself. Trump, though, is not letting it go. Oh, no. Now the president is urging “investors” to sue the network for reporting “fake news.”

C’mon, Mr. President! Let … it … go, will ya?

The network has taken ownership of its mistake. However, Ross has given Trump plenty of ammo to keep up his “fake news” barrage against all the media outlets that cover the news — except, of course, Fox News, which caters to the president’s insatiable appetite for “positive news.”

Trump is delivering yet another example of how he doesn’t understand curious relationship between the media and the government. Yes, reporters make mistakes. Some of them are grievous errors, which I consider Ross’s blunder to be.

The president of the United States, though, need not spend a moment more of his time on this matter. He’s got plenty of serious issues on his heaping plate to consume his attention.

Network does well to police itself

I am quite certain Donald John “Fake News Maven” Trump is going to crow like a rooster over this bit of news.

Let’s try to put this into a bit of perspective.

ABC News has suspended veteran correspondent Brian Ross for four weeks without pay for reporting erroneously on the Michael Flynn guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump transition team.

It might be that Ross will be canned soon. You see, this isn’t the first time Ross has stepped in it on the air. In 2012, he reported that a suspect in the Aurora, Colo., massacre was a member of the Colorado TEA Party; he wasn’t.

ABC takes care of problem

But here’s my point: ABC is doing its due diligence in policing its personnel. It’s what responsible media companies do, despite the howls we’re going to hear from those on the far right about “fake news.”

Ross went on the air to report falsely that “candidate” Donald Trump had instructed Flynn to make contact with Russian government officials. Actually, that instruction came after Trump had been elected president; thus it came from the president-elect, which is a significant difference from it coming from a mere presidential candidate.

ABC said its reporter had failed to check his sources adequately and that he “fell far short” of the standards the network has set for its reporting staff.

I accept that mea culpa as sufficient evidence that the network has taken ownership of its mistake.

As for Ross, who carries the title of “chief investigative reporter” for ABC News, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised — or disappointed — if he is shown the door at the network.

This kind of mistake — and the sanction that has followed it — are going to tar Ross’s work for as long as he continues to pursue what many of us still consider to be an honorable craft.

Now it’s the Arts Council calling it quits

It was a fairly big deal when two business-friendly advisory councils got disbanded in the wake of Donald John Trump’s bizarre remarks regarding the Charlottesville riot.

Several CEOs walked away from the councils. The president then disbanded them altogether.

Then the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued statements about their military services’ intolerance of racism and bigotry, seemingly to challenge the commander in chief’s statement equating the hate groups and those protesting them.

Now the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities has folded up. It’s gone. This isn’t such a huge surprise, given the artistic community’s contentious relationship with the Trump administration.

Taken together, though, I am left with the impression of a president becoming increasingly disengaged by special interests of virtually all stripes. The disbanding of the Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Council represents a serious breach between the business community and a president who has been touting his own business acumen and success.

The Joint Chiefs’ statement also speaks eloquently about whether the commander in chief is aware of the policies being implemented by the service commanders. That rebuke speaks loudly as well.

The Arts and Humanities council breakup isn’t such a surprise.

But in the context of the entire dismantling of all these advisory groups, it speaks volumes about how the Trump administration is managing to destroy these traditional relationships meant to build bridges between government and the interests it serves.

Again, the president’s words are doing harm across the board. The Arts and Humanities Council made its feeling known in a letter to the White House and to the president.

According to ABC News: “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” the letter reads. “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”

Donald Trump isn’t likely to quit just because some actors and other artists want to do so. He is quite likely, though, to continue inflicting damage.

Trump aide sings the boss’s tune

Donald J. Trump clearly has much to learn about being president of the United States.

However, he’s got one task down pat: He has instructed his senior White House staff to utter the same lies the boss does.

Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was in the dock today, telling TV news talk show hosts the lie Trump keeps spouting about massive voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.

Miller failed to provide a shred of evidence to prove what he said, which is that vehicle loads of illegal voters were taken to New Hampshire to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The proof? Miller didn’t provide any. “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos sought repeatedly to get Miller to prove what he alleged. Miller came up empty. He offered nothing.

Indeed, a Federal Elections commissioner has demanded that Trump provide evidence of the allegations he has leveled against state and local elections officials.

Miller has promoted the same falsehoods as the boss. He has continued to delegitimize the electoral process by saying things that either (a) are demonstrably false or (b) cannot be proven.

Absent any proof, many of us are left to conclude that none exists.

Meanwhile, the president continues to perform his role of liar in chief — and his lieutenants are following his shameful example.

This next ‘debate’ is going to be a doozy

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, stands with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Hempstead, N.Y. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Donald J. Trump has taken credit for a lot of things lately.

* For predicting the terror attack that killed 49 people in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub.

* For persuading President Obama to release his birth certificate that proves he is a “natural-born” U.S. citizen.

* For selecting a running mate, Mike Pence, who did a stellar job while debating Tim Kaine the other night.

* For juicing up the ratings that drew all those viewers to the first debate with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Well, the Republican presidential nominee can take credit for what’s going to transpire, more than likely, at the next debate, when he and Democratic nominee Clinton square off.

Ladies and gents, we are heading for a serious train wreck of a political spectacle Sunday night — all due to Trump’s hideously lewd comments about women that were caught on a “hot mic” 11 years ago as he was preparing for a cameo appearance on a daytime soap opera.

You’ve heard about it, yes?

Well, the reaction has been ferocious. Many Republican leaders want Trump to drop out of the race; others of them want his running mate, Mike Pence, to bail.

They wanted a full-scale apology from Trump. What they got last night in a 90-second video was as much a threat against Clinton as a mea culpa for saying how he sought to have sex with a married woman, how he wanted to grab another one in her private area, how he was able to have his way with women because he’s a “star.”

Did you see contrition in Trump’s face or hear it in his voice as he delivered that so-called “apology”? I did not.

Now we get to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump field questions from votes in this town hall event in St. Louis. The questions will come not only from moderators Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Anderson Cooper of CNN, but from every-day folks who (a) believe Trump has disqualified himself as a presidential candidate or (b) believe Hillary Clinton needs to answer as well for her husband’s own well-chronicled sexual misbehavior.

The rest of the issues — trade policy, the war on terrorism, the economy, jobs — may be cast aside as Americans tune in to hear Trump seek to defend the indefensible.

Go ahead, Donald. You are more than welcome to take credit for triggering this national debate.

Party ‘disunity’ surfaces … within the Democrats!

dem chair

It appears that party unity is as elusive a commodity among Democrats as it is among Republicans.

Just as the Democratic Party is set to convene its presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia, the party chair — Debbie Wasserman Schultz — submitted her resignation effective at the end of the convention.

Eh? What? You mean … ?

Schultz, it turned out, doesn’t think much of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief primary foe, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Some e-mails got leaked in which she refers to Sanders as an “ASS” and not a real Democrat.

As they say … oops!


Will this blow over? I reckon so — to the extent that Republicans led by GOP nominee Donald J. Trump will allow it.

I’m quite sure Trump and his followers will take to social media to let us all know about the “rigged” system that allowed Clinton to be nominated this week for president. They’ll remind us that Sanders got the shaft. They will possibly concoct conspiracies where none exist.

Party chairs don’t usually resign on the eve of these big events. Thus, the timing of Schultz’s resignation all by itself makes it a big story.

It was so interesting to me that during his acceptance speech the other night, Trump took a few moments to extol the virtues of part of Sanders’s message, the part about income inequality and Wall Street influence.

So, in that moment, “the enemy of my enemy” became “my friend,” in Trump’s view.

Donna Brazile will take over the party chairmanship; she’ll have to give up her gig as a CNN “contributor.” But, as a one-time Republican operative who “contributes” to ABC News, Matthew Dowd, noted this morning, Republicans might rue the day they wished for Schultz’s resignation. Brazile will take charge — immediately! — and will reorganize the party apparatus quickly.

In the meantime, the hunt for “party unity” will continue. So, you see, Democrats and Republicans have something in common after all.

No smiling allowed in Houston jail


What do you see as you examine this picture?

I’ll tell you what I see. I see a man being throttled by someone else, with a second person’s hand at the back of his neck. The picture was taken apparently as the young man, Christopher Johnson, was being booked into the Harris County, Texas, jail on a charge of drunken driving.

It happened on July 29, 2015.

Guess what. Johnson is suing the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for violating his civil rights by choking him. Why were they treating him like that? Johnson’s suit says it was because he was smiling during the mug shot photo session in the county jail.

I saw this story and started laughing. Out loud. OK, I know it’s not funny. But still …


I honestly don’t know what is the more ridiculous element of the story: that he was smiling in the first place after being thrown into the slammer or that corrections officers allegedly thought it was OK to choke the fellow.

According to ABC News: “While posing for what he says were approximately 10 photographs, Johnson claims he was choked by the two Harris County employees for approximately 30 seconds, the lawsuit states. ‘This is how I always take my pictures,’ Johnson said to the booking officer, according to the lawsuit.”

Always? Even when you’re being arrested for driving a motor vehicle while drunk?

I won’t go there. Maybe he thought it was funny. Then again, some of us act strangely when we’re under the influence of intoxicants.

As for the merits of the complaint, I won’t pass judgment on that, either. There might have been another reason why the employees felt the need to put their hands on the guy’s throat. He might have been resisting them, which, quite naturally, the lawsuit won’t ever reveal.

If what Johnson’s suit alleges is true, then I’ll just say: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”

So, just who really needs an assault rifle?

Some of the weapons collected in Wednesday's Los Angeles Gun Buyback event are showcased Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 during a news conference at the LAPD headquarters in Los Angeles. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office says the weapons collected Wednesday included 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns and 75 assault weapons. The buyback is usually held in May but was moved up in response to the Dec. 14 massacre of students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Let’s talk about guns for a moment or two.

A Rhode Island congressman, Democrat David Cicilline, has pitched the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015 to his colleagues in the House of Representatives.

The ban has drawn the support of a number of Democrats. However, Republicans control Capitol Hill, which likely means the assault weapon ban won’t see the light of day.

Cicilline issued a statement: “Assault weapons are designed for the sole purpose of killing as many people as quickly as possible,” he told The Hill newspaper. “We need to do everything we can to reduce the toll of gun violence by keeping these weapons out of our communities.”

Here’s what I believe will happen to the bill, although I likely am wrong about some of the nitty-gritty details of the debate.

They’re going to tell us that the Second Amendment says categorically that the right to “keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” They’ll look past the first part of the amendment that talks about a “well-regulated Militia.” I’m not going to argue the point here, given that I believe the amendment was written poorly in the first place; it seems to contain a non sequitur … but that perhaps is just me.

The congressman’s bill would allow those who currently possess an assault weapon to keep it, but it could become difficult for someone to sell it.

So, does this proposed legislation water down the Second Amendment to an unacceptable level? I do not believe it does.

Then again, I’m not in Congress and I don’t have to listen to the wishes of constituents who think otherwise. In fact, an ABC News poll says Americans now oppose a ban on assault weapons, believing that authorities are unable to stop “lone wolf” attacks by someone toting an assault weapon.

Despite my concern about the verbiage contained in the Second Amendment, I accept the notion that gun ownership is a protected right. I own a couple of weapons. They’re hidden.

The notion I cannot accept is that assault weapons are part of the package envisioned by the Founders who wrote the Second Amendment — in the late 18th century.

Nice try, Rep. Cicilline.

ISIL clearly not ‘contained,’ however ….

obama and kerry

President Obama might have been a bit more precise in his answer to a question this past week regarding the U.S. war against the Islamic State.

He told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that ISIL has been “contained.” Twenty-four hours later, terrorists launched the hideous attacks throughout Paris, killing nearly 200 innocent victims.

The president’s foes have seized on the “contained” remark as proof, they say, that he’s clueless.

What he said later in his answer to the question dealt with ISIL’s battlefield capabilities and whether the fighters’ advances in Syria and Iraq have been stopped. He believes that our air campaign has stalled the Islamic State’s march.

Clearly, though, the terror cabal is capable of launching the kind of attack that it did Friday in Paris. Richard Clarke, the anti-terror expert who’s worked for administrations of both political parties, said this morning that ISIL is far more capable and fearsome than al-Qaeda.

ISIL has committed “an act of war” against the civilized world, said French President Francois Hollande. How do nations respond to such acts? By going to war.

Contained or not, the Islamic State needs to face the combined fury of the immense military power of the nations it has chosen to fight.


Trump plan = Operation Wetback


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to round up all illegal immigrants hiding in the United States and ship ’em all back to their home countries.

He’ll do it humanely.

Sure, Donald.

We tried that once in this country. President Dwight Eisenhower — one of the better presidents this country ever elected — launched Operation Wetback in the 1950s.

The program didn’t work too well.

It carried a disparaging name attached to Mexican immigrants. Agents fanned out across the country and rounded up the immigrants, sent them to detention centers and then shipped them off. Many of those individuals died while being held or while they fended for themselves under terrible conditions.

Trump has used the program as a benchmark for the kind of initiative he said he would launch if — perish the thought — he were to be elected president of the United States next year. At least he doesn’t identify it by the name it was given when Ike decided on the immigrant roundup.

President Obama, interviewed tonight on ABC News, talked about the images that would be flashed around the world as “deportation agents” took parents away from their children and prepared to send them back to their native country.

“That’s not who we are,” the president said.

No, it is not.

But yet, Trump continues to gain traction with his party’s primary voter base by declaring his intention to hire 25,000 officers and deploy them to hunt down every single one of the estimated 11 million individuals who are here illegally.

Is the leading GOP candidate seeking to redefine this country?