Tag Archives: CNN

Let’s not get physical with the media

Here’s yet another twist in the Trump administration’s ongoing conflict with the media. This one is a beaut.

Environmental Protection Agency officials forcibly escorted reporters from CNN and The Associated Press from a meeting room, barring them from covering a public event to discuss harmful chemicals in water.

EPA officials said there was a shortage of seats in the room. Reports indicate there were empty seats when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke to the group gathered.

What’s going on here? Please tell me the Trump administration isn’t going to start kicking reporters out of these events because of some perceive “negative coverage” he might get.

According to CNN.com: Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, addressed the matter at the daily briefing. Sanders said the White House would “certainly” look into the matter, but said for now she would refer reporters to the EPA’s statement, explaining that she could not “speak to a situation that I don’t have a lot of visibility into.” 

Yes, Ms. Sanders, the White House needs to “look into the matter.” It also needs to allow the media unfettered access to events of public concern for all Americans.

There’s that thing called the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, too, that guarantees “freedom of the press.” Let ’em report … freely!

‘Obligation,’ no; prerogative, yes!

CNN anchor Don Lemon is not among my favorite TV journalists/talking heads.

He is the one who once asked — reportedly in all seriousness — whether the Malaysian Airlines jetliner that disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing had been swallowed up by a “black hole,” apparently not realizing that such an event would have consumed the entire solar system.

I got that out of the way.

Now we hear that Lemon says it is his “obligation” to refer to Donald J. Trump as a “racist.”

According to The Hill: “Critical thinking is important as a journalist. If you cannot surmise that this president — if he’s not racist, he’s certainly racist-adjacent,” Lemon told an audience as the keynote speaker at Variety’s Entertainment & Technology NYC Summit. “We have come to a consensus in our society that facts matter. I feel like it’s my obligation to say that.”

I beg to differ, young man.

It’s not your “obligation,” although it is your “prerogative” to say what you want about how you perceive the president’s point of view. His obligation as a journalist requires fairness and accuracy.

I am quick to agree that Donald Trump has provided plenty of evidence of racist tendencies. I keep turning to the lie he fomented about Barack Obama place of birth, as he kept alive the slanderous accusation that the first African-American president was born in Africa and was constitutionally ineligible to serve in the office to which he was elected twice.

And, yes, there was that hideous assertion that there were good people “on both sides” of the riot that erupted in Charlottesville, Va., between counterprotesters and Klansmen, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Lemon’s “obligation” only is to report what Trump has said; he should let his viewers make the determination as to whether the president is a racist.

The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, of course, doesn’t prevent him from hanging the “racist” label on Trump. Indeed, it allows Lemon to say it, but it damn sure doesn’t require it.

Conway bristles at legitimate question

CNN correspondent Dana Bash doesn’t need little ol’ me to defend her … but I’ll defend her anyway.

Bash interviewed White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway over the weekend and asked her what I believe is a totally legitimate question. Conway bristled bigly at the inquiry, suggesting that Bash wouldn’t have asked the question of a man. Bash said she would “a thousand percent.”

Bash wanted to know how Conway handles the tweets that have come from her husband, noted lawyer George Conway, that have been quite critical of Donald J. Trump’s policy pronouncements.

George Conway has since taken the message down from his Twitter account, but … as they say: You can’t unhonk the horn.

Kellyanne Conway took serious umbrage at Bash’s line of questioning.

What I heard, though, was Bash inquiring about whether a senior policy adviser to the president of the United States had any issues with her husband — who happens to be a highly regarded and respected lawyer in D.C. — questioning the policies delivered by the Leader of the Free World.

I didn’t detect any snarkiness in Bash’s question. I didn’t hear any disrespect in her voice. I heard a serious-minded question that deserved a serious-minded response.

Instead, we all heard Kellyanne Conway impugn the integrity of a serious broadcast journalist working for a serious media organization. As The Hill reported: “It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there, but it’s very good for the whole world to have just witnessed … that it’s now fair game how people’s spouses and significant others may differ with them,” Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash.

To borrow a word from Conway’s boss: Sad.

Where is the moral compass?

I have been trying to glean something relevant from the past three days of non-stop coverage of Donald J. Trump’s behavior.

Here is what I think I’ve determined after watching two remarkable interviews with two women who claim to have had sexual relations with the married man who a decade later would be elected president of the United States.

One of them, a former Playboy model, said she was “in love” with Trump and said she believes the president-to-be was in love with her. She now claims to have rediscovered her religious faith, attends church regularly, and is a staunch Republican who “voted for Donald” in 2016.

The other of them is an, um, pornographic entertainer. She met Trump the same year as the former Playboy Bunny, had sex with him in a hotel room. She said she didn’t find him attractive at the time and saw their potential relationship as a “business opportunity.”

They both claim to have taken a tumble with Trump a year after he married his third wife and who had just given birth to their son, who’s now 12 years of age and is being exposed to the hideous publicity surrounding  his father.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed them both. They both sound believable to me. Perhaps it’s my intense anti-Trump bias that makes me want to believe them. Whatever. I do believe their accounts.

I also consider Trump to be the biggest moral pig ever to occupy the Oval Office. Yes, he is worse than JFK and Bill Clinton, two men with their own shady personal histories.

I am left to wonder: Where in the world has become of our moral compass? How does this president — based on what these two women, and possibly other women — purport to speak with any sort of moral authority on anything to anyone at any time?

It’s not yet clear where these women’s revelations will lead us, or whether their stories will be relevant to the man’s governance. Maybe all that we’ll be left with is the belief — if not the actual knowledge — that we are being governed by someone with the morals of an alley cat.

And that leads me straight to what I consider the Big Question: How in the name of marital fidelity does this man, the president, continue to own the support of the “base” of his political party that comprises a large segment of Americans who profess themselves to be “evangelical Christians”?

Let’s play the ‘What if … ?’ game

I like playing this game on occasion. I call it the game of “What If … ?” I usually wonder “What If … ?” another president had done any of the things that have been alleged against Donald John Trump Sr., let alone the things he’s already admitted to doing.

This porn star story is just the latest example.

CNN talking head Van Jones noted the other day that President Barack Obama would be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — where the United States detains terror suspects — if he had done the things alleged to have been done by the current president.

The more I think about it, the truer it sounds.

It all falls back on the question I keep asking in private as well as out loud; I’ve posed it on this blog.

How in the world does the president’s support base — which includes the evangelical Christian community — tolerate this stuff? He is alleged to have taken a tumble with a porn star a year into his third marriage and just after the birth of his youngest child. The faithful among Trump’s supporters have remains silent. We’re hearing nothing but crickets, man! They give him a pass.

If any of this had happened regarding, say, President Obama, there would be demonstrations in front of the White House, calls for the president’s impeachment and — as Jones suggested — armed security storming into the White House to haul the president off in handcuffs and shackles.

OK, I exaggerate. You get the point.

As Jones said on CNN: “If Barack Obama had done just half of what Trump did last week, he would have been impeached. He’d be in Guantanamo,” Van said, a former adviser to Obama. “They’d have said ‘Listen, something’s wrong with this guy. He’s no longer here. Biden’s the president … we’re moving on.’” 

Trump said he’d shake things up when he got elected president. Boy, howdy! Has he ever. He’s shaken up our national sense of outrage.

NRA produces a new bogeywoman

Dana Loesch has emerged, apparently, as the newest attack beast for the National Rifle Association.

That title used to belong to Wayne LaPierre. Now it’s Loesch, who this week told the Conservative Political Action Conference that “the legacy media loves mass shootings.”

I don’t know what “legacy media” means, but to suggest that the media love these events is to, well, go way beyond the pale of decency.

Loesch got into an on-air snit with CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who challenged Loesch’s comment.

See the exchange here.

Loesch, the NRA spokeswoman, sought in the moment to walk back much of what she said. She said she didn’t mean to suggest the media actually “love” seeing people slaughtered as they were at Parkland, Fla., where a gunman slaughtered 17 high school students and staff members.

She sought to suggest that “crying white mothers” drive up ratings, meaning that the media love covering that angle to these tragic events.

I don’t buy Loesch’s attempt at equivocation. To put the words “love” and “mass shooting” in the same sentence sends a clear message, no matter what she intended to convey.

The debate that has ensued across the nation in the wake of this latest school massacre needs some semblance of civility, even though that kind of discussion quite often is difficult to find when the topic centers on guns, the Second Amendment — and the National Rifle Association.

Trump keeps firing at the wrong targets

Donald Trump launched yet another Twitter tirade this weekend.

He went after Democrats, the media (including CNN in particular), President Obama and — this is extraordinary — his national security adviser and the FBI. The reason for the tirade? Russian meddling in our most recent presidential election.

Who did the president leave out of his barrage of criticism? Let me think. Oh, yes! The Russians!

Trump didn’t tweet a single word about the Russian meddling. He didn’t convey a single tiny bit of anger — let alone profound outrage — that the Russians launched an attack on our electoral system. He didn’t say anything about whether he would take measures to punish the Russians for their meddling and their attempt to sway the results in his favor.

The tweet storm came in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of 13 Russians for their role in the meddling. National security adviser H.R. McMaster said the indictments provide “incontrovertible proof” that the Russians did what the intelligence experts say they did. The FBI got pounded because it is spending “too much time” on Russia and too little time following up leads such as those it got about the Parkland, Fla., shooter. CNN got trashed because it reported on the indictments. Barack Obama got pounded because the meddling occurred while he was president. Democrats in general were pounded because, as Trump has asserted, they have cooked up this “Russia thing” because they lost a presidential election they were supposed to win.

The president of the United States once again has demonstrated that he doesn’t understand his fundamental duty, which is to protect our nation against our adversaries.

What is up with this man? I’m beginning to believe he has a serious man-crush on Vladimir Putin, the Russian president/strongman/former KGB boss.

That man-crush is allowing Putin to laugh out loud inside the Kremlin walls at the president of the United States, who promised to “make America great again.” He has succeeded in making America an international punch line.

Gov. Scott has it right: no guns for mental cases

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has it right.

“Everything’s on the table,” the Republican governor said on CNN in the wake of the latest horrifying school shooting. This one, in Parkland, Fla., left 17 people dead and nearly as many injured.

A 19-year-old former student at the high school is in custody and has been charged with 17 counts of “premeditated murder.”

So, what does the governor mean by “everything”? I’ll take a leap here and presume he means, um, everything. That means potentially tighter regulations, stricter laws regulating the purchase of guns.

Gov. Scott went today where the president of the United States declined to go in discussing gun violence and beginning a discussion about a legislative solution to curbing it.

He said at an impromptu press event immediately after the shooting that people with mental disorders had no business purchasing and owning a firearm, let alone an AR-15 assault rifle like the one used by the gunman in Parkland.

As CNN.com reported: “Everything’s on the table. I’m going to look at every way that we can make sure our kids are safe,” Scott told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday when asked if he was ready to commit to working on tightening gun restrictions in the state.

Well done, governor. I hope someone in the right places will heed your message.

Trump dumbs down debate … with insults

It has come down to this.

A U.S. senator calls the president “Cadet Bone Spurs.” The president says Democrats who sit on their hands during a speech are “treasonous.” The president also uses Twitter to blast out insults daily, hanging nicknames on his political foes here at home — and abroad.

According to an analysis on CNN.com, Donald Trump has managed to bring other political leaders down to his level. He has made insults the game of choice among political leaders.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, was moved to hang the Cadet Bone Spurs epithet on Trump after the president accused Democrats of being “anti-military.” Duckworth, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs when her chopper was shot down during the Iraq War, was personally insulted that this president would say such a thing about his fellow Americans. Hence, the reference to Trump’s medical deferments during the Vietnam War.

These childish insults denigrate the political discussion. They drag the quality of everyone’s argument into the gutter.

It boils down, in my view, to the source of this denigration.

To me, it’s clear: Donald Trump started this downward journey with his Twitter-based insults launched during the 2016 presidential campaign. He promised to curb that activity once he got elected. Has he delivered on that pledge? Nope. It’s gotten worse.

As the analysis provided on CNN.com points out, the president has dragged others down this disgraceful path with him. One of the followers appears to be chief of staff John Kelly, who this week said the so-called immigration “Dreamers” need to “get off their asses” if they want a path to citizenship.

Oh, my.

This is how you “unify” the nation? I don’t believe so.

No, Mr. POTUS, Islam doesn’t ‘hate’ us

I watched a two-year-old video of Donald John Trump in which he told an interviewer that Islam “hates Americans.”

That comment has bothered me from the moment I heard it the first time.

I’ve long wondered, given what the president said at the time, why this country is full of so many Muslims. Why do people who follow the Islamic faith choose to live in a country full of those they supposedly “hate”? And, oh yes, what about Islamic Americans? How do we categorize those fellow citizens?

To me the answer is obvious. Muslims don’t “hate” Americans just because we are, um, Americans.

Muslim perverts — those who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam — certainly do hate Americans. They also hate other Muslims.

I remember the night President Barack Obama told the world that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden. The president made it clear — just as President George W. Bush had made clear — that bin Laden wasn’t a Muslim leader. “He was a mass murderer of Muslims,” President Obama said.

I keep circling back to that notion every time I hear Donald Trump harp on this falsehood, that the Islamic faith teaches its followers to hate others who adhere to other faiths.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria posed the question the other day to Jordanian King Abdullah about whether the president was right to say that Muslims “hate Americans.” The king said, quite simply and with eloquence, that the president needs to learn more about Islam before making any statements about what the faith teaches.

Indeed, the president needs to learn more about, oh, just about everything before he opens his mouth.