Tag Archives: CNN

Democrats need to heed the words of ex-Sen. Reid

Harry Reid no longer leads the U.S. Senate Democratic caucus. However, he remains a voice of wisdom earned through all his years of waging partisan battles against those on the other side of the aisle.

His latest nugget comes in the form of warning to Democrats who are facing off against Donald J. Trump: Do not take the Republican president lightly, says Reid, who adds that while Trump might not be an intellectual heavyweight, he is still a “smart man.”

Yes, Trump is in trouble politically. He is facing a near certain impeachment by the House of Representatives over allegations of abuse of power and his seeking foreign government help in bringing down Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign opponent.

Reid, though, believes Trump will be a difficult foe to beat in 2020 because he plays rough and tough and is willing to say anything about anyone as long as it plays well to his political base. He fires ’em up.

As Reid told David Axelrod on CNN: “I used to think that Donald Trump was not too smart. I certainly don’t believe that anymore. No matter what the subject, any argument he involves himself in, it’s on his terms.

So it should go as the 2020 presidential campaign ramps up. Democrats will have their hands full trying to defeat this individual.

I concur with Sen. Reid. Trump isn’t an intellectual titan, despite his empty and idiotic boasts about being a “stable genius.” He is cunning, cagey … and ruthless in the extreme. 

Donald Trump also needs to be kicked out of the Oval Office.

Yes, indeed … the questions for Dad keep mounting

Once in a while it hits me: I’ve now been alive longer without my dad than with. Because he died in 2001. The more time that passes … the more questions I wish I could ask him.

The quote I posted at the top of this item belongs to Brian Stelter, CNN’s media critic and host of the network’s “Reliable Sources” program. He put this message out via Twitter.

I happen to relate quite directly to what Stelter has noted. I have been alive longer without my own father than I was with him among us. Dad died in 1980. His death came as a stunner to me and the rest of my family.

Dad was just 59 years of age. I was 30 when he died. I will turn 70 near the end of this year. The idea that I have lived 10-plus years longer than Dad did is enough of a mind-blower all by itself.

Dad has crossed my mind every single day since he left us. So has Mom, who died just a little more than four years after Dad.

But as Stelter noted, the more time goes by the more questions have entered my mind. They deal largely with the way Dad lived his life. They pertain to some of the mistakes I saw him make. They tug at my emotions occasionally, eliciting feelings associated with opportunities lost. Hey, I could have asked him so many of those questions, forced him to answer. Perhaps they could have assuaged some of the mystery that surrounded him.

It’s not that Dad was a mysterious man. He was in many ways an open book. He was a bit of a showman. Dad enjoyed making people laugh. He could tell a joke with as much flair and panache as anyone I’ve ever known. However, perhaps he intended for that showmanship to overshadow some unknowable emotional discomfort. So I guess the book wasn’t open as widely as it could have been. Thus, the questions I have harbored for many years are coming forward on this Father’s Day.

I miss my father. This day doesn’t sadden me. It does, just as it does for Brian Stelter, fill me with a strange desire for answers to questions that have lingered for most of my life.

Hey, what about Pence and that religion matter?

Pete Buttigieg is running for president of the United States. Yep, he’s one of the hundreds of Democrats seeking to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.

Who is this young man? He’s the mayor of South Bend, Ind.; he calls himself a progressive; he’s openly gay.

He also wants to know a thing or two about Vice President Mike Pence, a fellow Hoosier who once was governor of Indiana.

Buttigieg acknowledges the vice president’s devout Christian beliefs and wonders how the VP can serve with what he calls a “porn star president.”

You know, that’s a good question. It’s one that I’ve rolled around in my noggin ever since Pence agreed to be Trump’s running mate in 2016.

The two of them comprise one of the more unlikely political tandems in recent history. I don’t doubt Pence’s religious sincerity. He has a policy of avoiding being in the same room with women other than his wife, Karen, without at least one other person present. He is the straightest arrow in the quiver.

Yet he serves with a president who, shall we say, is damn near the polar opposite. Oh, sure, Trump panders to the evangelical movement, but really . . .

Does he walk the walk of a man of deep faith? C’mon. Let’s be real. You’ve seen and heard how he comports himself in public. You’ve heard the language he uses. You all know about his acknowledged infidelity with two of his three wives; and, yes, we have credible allegations of the same conduct involving wife No. 3, the first lady of the United States.

Buttigieg wondered recently, according to CNN: “How would he allow himself to become the cheerleader for the porn star presidency? Is it that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing Donald Trump?” Buttigieg said. “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

I’ll repeat: I don’t doubt Pence’s devotion to his faith.

However, it is fair to ask out loud about the vice president: How do you square your straitlaced reputation with that of a man who demonstrates constantly the amorality of someone with zero spiritual grounding?

Therein might lie a flashpoint as this 2020 campaign season reaches warp speed.

Trump throws out prospect of violence?

Did I understand the president of the United States correctly?

I think I heard that he made some remark to Breitbart News about how “tough” his supporters are, or can get, if criticism of him doesn’t let up.

Here is a quote from the Breitbart interview as posted by USA Today: “I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC had a lengthy commentary on Donald Trump’s interview, suggesting that the 45th president of the United States is suggesting there might be a coup if events don’t go according to the way Trump wants them to go.

Wow, man!

I am wondering what Trump means by “a certain point.” I am left to believe that he presumes his “tough” supporters might be inclined to rise up and strike at those who are critical of the president. Does anyone else share that presumption.

O’Donnell also sought to make the point that not all bikers are for Trump; nor are all police officers; or nor are all military personnel.

Then came the president’s spinmeister in chief, Kellyanne Conway, to tell CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the president actually was describing how “gentle” his supporters are and that there is no explicit or implied threat of violence in the Breitbart News interview.

Oyyy!

Well, I understand today that Trump took down a Twitter message he posted about the Breitbart interview. Great! That’s nice, Mr. President . . . except that the damage is done.

I’m just sayin’, this guy is frightening in the extreme.

Trump keeps making media the ‘story’

I long have considered it a terrible journalistic sin for the media to become part of the story they are covering.

I worked in the media for nearly four decades and I managed over that span of time to steer clear of any discussion of an issue I was covering. Occasionally an organization that employed me would get entangled in the story; they would manage to wriggle themselves free.

The Age of Trump has produced an entirely different dynamic.

He labels the media the “enemy of the people.” His followers buy into it. They demonstrate in front of cable, broadcast and print reporters seeking only to do their job.

It’s getting weird to watch the news these days and hear all these references to cable networks involved so deeply in the covering of current events. For instance:

  • Fox News Channel has been banned from Democratic primary presidential debates because it has become a virtual arm of the Trump administration. Its commentators are known to be in constant communication with Donald Trump, reportedly offering policy advice to the president.
  • CNN, MSNBC are on the other end of the spectrum. Their commentators take great delight in chastising their colleagues at Fox. Meanwhile, Fox fires back at their competitors/colleagues. Oh, and the president hangs “fake news” labels on all media that report news that he finds disagreeable.

It all reminds of an athletic event where the attention turns to the referee. You want to concentrate on the athletes, not the individuals who discern whether they’re breaking the rules.

We’re concentrating increasingly on the media reporting of the issues at hand, and less so on the actual issues that are being discussed.

It’s a distressing trend that appears — to my way of thinking — to have no possible exit for the media.

An abuse of presidential power?

I want to share a brief item posted on Facebook by Robert Reich, a fiery critic of Donald J. Trump. Reich writes:

Another impeachable offense. Trump personally tried to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner as retribution for CNN’s coverage of him, according to a new report. In meetings with his advisors, he demanded that the Department of Justice’s antitrust division to stop the merger. The move would have also been a huge victory for Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News and viewed the AT&T-Time Warner as a threat to his business.

If these reports turn out to be true, this would be a clear violation of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of the press — conspiring to block a merger for the sole purpose of limiting press coverage. We must not become inured to this unconstitutional behavior.

What do we make of that? Reich, a former labor secretary during the Clinton administration, believes the president of the United States has interceded in direct violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

We’ve been hearing a lot in recent days and weeks about “conspiracy to obstruct justice,” about “alleged collusion with Russian operatives” who attacked our electoral system.

We now might start hearing more chatter about “abuse of presidential power.”

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has launched an expansive investigation into an array of questions regarding Donald Trump’s conduct as president of the United States.

The committee’s agenda is overflowing.

‘Fair and balanced’? Sure thing

They call themselves the “Fox ‘News’ Channel.” It’s a conservative-leaning cable network that has purported to present the “news” in a “fair and balanced” manner.

Well, check out the caption under the TV image that flashed on the Fox “News” Channel. It parrots the epithet that Donald J. Trump has used to disparage U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who has just announced the formation of an exploratory committee to help her decide to run for president in 2020.

The “Pocahontas” label, of course, is Trump’s way of ridiculing Warren’s contention that she has some Native American blood in her background. The president has decided Warren’s claim is without merit, so he has hung that label on her.

Fox has glommed onto it as well.

Is that how one might define a mainstream “news” network’s “fair and balanced” coverage of a still-developing presidential campaign?

Imagine what political conservatives might think — and say — if CNN or MSNBC broadcast an image of Donald Trump with the caption that read “Cadet Bone Spur,” or “Liar in Chief,” or, well . . . you get the idea.

The Fox “News” Channel simply demonstrates yet again that it is neither “fair” or “balanced.” It serves instead as a de facto presidential mouthpiece.

Disgraceful.

CNN/Acosta matter contains quiet back story

Psst. Let me bring you in on a secret that virtually no one is talking about.

Federal Judge Timothy Kelly’s ruling that required Donald Trump and the White House to reinstate CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials speaks to the value of an independent federal judiciary.

The president ordered Acosta’s White House press pass yanked after the two men had a contentious exchange during a press conference the day after the midterm election.

CNN filed a complaint against the White House. Late this past week, Judge Kelly ruled in favor of CNN.

What makes the story interesting is that Kelly is a Donald Trump appointment. The new president nominated Kelly to the federal bench and he was confirmed by the Senate.

We’ve all talked at length about how U.S. Supreme Court justices side with the presidents who nominate them. The same occasionally is said about lower-court federal judges.

Judge Kelly took off in the opposite direction. His ruling wasn’t overly harsh, but it did go against the president who nominated him.

I mention this because it validates the value of an independent federal judiciary and the fact that these judges get lifetime appointments, leaving them free to rule independently. They are charged with interpreting the U.S. Constitution and with determining whether government actions concur or run counter to constitutional principles.

The president’s revocation of Acosta’s press credentials didn’t make the constitutional grade and Judge Kelly sided with the Constitution . . . and not the president who selected him.

That’s a good sign for the health of our federal judicial system.

CNN, Acosta score a win for the First Amendment

I am wondering now if Donald Trump’s “enemies of the people” list has just grown by one member.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee to the federal bench, has ruled that the White House must restore CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials.

The president ordered Acosta’s credentials yanked after he and the correspondent got into another public tussle at a press conference the day after the midterm election. It isn’t the first time Trump and Acosta have jousted.

Let me be clear on one thing. I detest the idea of a reporter becoming part of the story. That simply is not right. Acosta has this annoying way of thrusting himself onto the stage when reporting the news. For his part, though, the president reacts hideously when confronted with reporters who ask him tough questions.

The crux of the judge’s ruling seems to center on the stated reasons the White House yanked Acosta’s credentials. It changed its story, but the final version of the White House’s rationale is insufficient to merit such a drastic move, according to Judge Kelly.

This is a victory on behalf of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, the one that guarantees “freedom of the press” from government interference. And, yes, given the political nature of judicial appointments, I find it fascinating that a Trump-nominated judge would rule against this particular president who’s made such a hash of his dispute with the media.

If only now we can get back to some form of what’s called in Congress “regular order.” That means reporters ask questions, the person who gets the questions answers them, and the reporters move on to the next question. This White House vs. The Media idiocy has to stop. How about it stopping right now?

As for the judge ruling against the president who nominated him, it validates the notion that lifetime appointments have this liberating effect on those who have the authority to rule from the federal bench.

Media still doing their job — even under heavy fire

Ronald Reagan knew it. So did Gerald Ford. So does George W. Bush. Same with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush.

They knew that a free press is essential to a thriving democratic system of government. They knew the press, no matter how persistent it is in the pursuit of making government accountable, was integral to the maintenance of a free society.

Why, then, is these men’s successor, Donald John Trump, at war with the media? He has yanked the press credentials of CNN’s chief White House reporter, Jim Acosta. The president is threatening to confiscate the passes of other White House scribes.

He calls the media the “enemy of the people.” He acts like an autocrat. Trump wants the media to report only what he deems to be “favorable” to his agenda. He calls all other reportage to be “fake news,” which is a monstrously unfair characterization of the reporting they do. I usually equate “fake news” with circumstances that are made up, fabricated … the kind of lies that, say, suggest that a president isn’t constitutionally qualified to hold the office to which he was elected twice because he was born in Africa.

Trump’s suggestion that “fake news” is conveyed by major news media is the most hideous of the countless lies he has told since becoming a politician in his quest for the presidency.

The president’s ongoing combat with the media is a struggle he cannot win. Nor should he.

After all, the nation’s founders had the right idea by guaranteeing a free press in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including it in the first set of civil liberties attached to the nation’s founding government document.