Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ugly Orange In Black And White

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka is married to Jared Kushner, who owns and runs the New York Observer. And yes, The Donald's son-in-law is just as odious as he is. No surprise then that it turns out Kushner gave exclusive access to Maryland-based broadcaster Sinclair for favorable interviews with Trump that ran on TV stations Sinclair owned.

Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns television stations across the country in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign, according to six people who heard his remarks.

In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 listeners — than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000.

“It’s math,” Kushner said according to multiple attendees.

Scott Livingston, vice president of news at Sinclair, said the offer for extended interviews with local anchors was made to both candidates. Trump did a handful of interviews, while Sen. Tim Kaine did a few as well, though Hillary Clinton did not.

“Our promise was to give all candidates an opportunity to voice their position share their position with our viewers. Certainly we presented an opportunity so that Mr. Trump could clearly state his position on the key issues,” Livingston said. “Our commitment to our viewers is to go beyond podium, beyond the rhetoric. We’re all about tracking the truth and telling the truth and that’s typically missing in most political coverage.”

A Trump spokesman said the deal included the interviews running across every affiliate but that no money was exchanged between the network and the campaign. The spokesman said the campaign also worked with other media outlets that had affiliates, like Hearst, to try and spread their message.

“It was a standard package, but an extended package, extended story where you’d hear more directly from candidate on the issue instead of hearing all the spin and all the rhetoric,” Livingston said.

It's just math, right?  Except for the fact Trump has repeatedly denied access to networks he thinks are unfair to him, and he's producing a TV show on NBC next year while still President.   Oh, and Sinclair hates liberals.

Sinclair, a Maryland-based company, has been labeled in some reports as a conservative-leaning local news network. Local stations in the past have been directed to air “must run” stories produced by Sinclair’s Washington bureau that were generally critical of Obama administration and offered perspectives primarily from conservative think tanks, The Washington Post reported in 2014.

Of course Kushner went to them.  Why do you need the cable networks at all when you can get interviews on the local affiliates that people watch for news anyway?

Kushner, dressed in a suit and sneakers, told the business executives that the campaign was upset with CNN because they considered its on-air panels stacked against Trump. He added that he personally talked with Jeff Zucker about changing the composition of the panels but Zucker refused. He repeatedly said in the panel that CNN wasn't "moving the needle" and wasn't important as it once was, according to three of the people present.

The campaign then decided not to work as closely with CNN, and Trump ramped up his bashing of the cable network.

Two people present said that they were surprised how much Kushner talked about CNN. "He kept going on and on about it," one business executive said.

He also told the crowd that Google and Facebook are now more powerful, and that The New York Times and CNN aren't as powerful.

Get used to that.  Pretty soon the only game in town will be news outlets that are "fair and balanced" to Trump. Critics won't have access at all.

To anything.

How To Steal An Election, Con't

The massively immoral and anti-democratic power grab in North Carolina by Republicans bent on permanent one-party rule despite voters electing a Democratic party governor is just a preview of the GOP in the age of Trump, says Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen.

Republicans, having barely lost the governor’s mansion, have launched an anti-democratic legislative coup. In a hastily called emergency session — and with little deliberation or public review — GOP state legislators have proposed a series of antidemocratic measures that would fundamentally erode the power of Roy Cooper, the newly elected Democratic governor. The goal is simple: to use the authority of state law to ensure continued Republican political dominance.

The GOP’s power grab is both terrifying and comical in its breadth. Proposed legislation would force Cooper’s cabinet picks to be confirmed in the state Senate. Previously they were appointed without Senate confirmation.

It would reduce the number of political appointees that Cooper can chose, from 1,5000 to 300. This would reverse the Legislature’s earlier decision, when Cooper’s Republican predecessor, Pat McCrory became governor, to expand the number of appointees. It would also allow McCrory’s partisan picks to keep their jobs and become career state employees.

Cooper would be stripped of the right to appoint members to the state university’s boards of trustees — and that right would be transferred to the state Legislature, which, not surprisingly, has a Republican supermajority. That huge GOP advantage was obtained by a discriminatory and unconstitutionally drawn legislative map. A federal court has in recent weeks overturned the map and demanded it be redrawn, while also mandating a new election for the state Legislature to be held next year.

But since, apparently, North Carolina Republicans feel they haven’t done enough to rig the state’s voting system, they are now trying to radically erode Cooper’s control over state and local election boards. In perhaps the GOP’s most creative move, proposed legislation would also mandate that the board of elections be rotated between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats having the chairmanship in odd-numbered years and the GOP in even-numbered years. Guess which years most elections in North Carolina are held?

Just in case you think that state courts can reverse these decisions, the Legislature is also considering a bill that would make it more difficult to bring cases to the state Supreme Court, which — and you guessed it — is now controlled by Democrats.

The GOP’s actions fit a familiar pattern. This is the same group of legislators that in another emergency legislative session passed HB2, the so-called transgender bathroom law, which also prevented local jurisdictions from putting in place antidiscrimination laws to protect the rights of LGBT North Carolinians.

Together with McCrory, North Carolina Republicans cut unemployment benefits and funding for early childhood education. They gave generous tax breaks to the state’s wealthiest citizens while scrapping the earned-income tax credit. Perhaps most famously, the GOP passed the most onerous voting restriction law in the country, one that was overturned by a federal court because of evidence that the legislation “targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

I’ve had my hair on fire for months now about the existential threat to democracy that Donald Trump represents. We’re already seeing evidence of his authoritarian tendencies and lack of respect for democratic norms in the five weeks since he won the presidency. But what’s happening in North Carolina right now is the real deal. This is a frontal assault on democracy.

McCrory signed these measures into law last night and there's nothing Democrats can do right now.  He'll get to re-appoint nearly all of his state board choices for a four-year stint starting December 30, and Cooper will not have the ability to fire a single one of them, meaning that McCrory will get to appoint all of Cooper's picks.

The state's GOP Lieutenant Governor, Dan Forest, is even more rabidly right-wing than McCrory and will get to make a number of appointments himself, without any oversight from Cooper at all.

In short, this is a coup.  This would be like Congress and and outgoing Republican president signing a bill that would allow the outgoing president to pick all the new president's cabinet members, and a bill that would put Republicans in charge of elections in all 50 states during even-numbered years when federal elections were held.  It would be a disaster.

But that's exactly what will happen in NC now.  It's a banana republic, and I hope that voters throw the bums out.

Obama Takes The Podium One Last Time

In an epic (well, in length) press conference marking his final days in office, President Obama made it very clear that he wasn't going to magically save the Republic from Donald Trump, and that all the issues still outstanding in both domestic and foreign policy that suffered from constant GOP obstruction are now 100% their problems to try to solve. 

I think overall Barack Obama has done a pretty damned good job, especially given the constant hatred he's gotten from the Republicans since day one of his first term.  Republicans conspired to drive him out of office and while they failed in 2012, they did succeed in badly damaging Democrats in nearly every other state.

I'm not going to lie, the Dems are in dire straits right now, and are barely able to put up any sort of national defense against Trump's coming diplomatic, military and economic disaster.  Obama's not going to be able to save us.  Schumer and Pelosi aren't either.  We're going to have to do the hard work at the local and state level to try to build a foundation strong enough that we can get back in this fight, and that's going to mean lots of time, resources, and people willing to spend them effectively.

More of President Obama's statements after the jump.

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