Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Last Call For Meat The Press, Con't

FOX News continues to audition for the role of Trump regime state media organ, and that includes softball "interviews" with all of Trump's cabinet members.

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was clearly taken aback last year when occasional Fox & Friends fill-in host Ed Henry grilled him about a number of ethical scandals facing his administration.

And Pruitt had a good reason to be surprised. In past interviews with President Trump’s favorite cable-news show, the then-EPA chief’s team chose the topics for interviews, and knew the questions in advance.

In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script.

Fox & Friends has long been a friendly venue for Trump and his allies, but the emails demonstrate how the show has pushed standard cable-news practices to the extreme in order to make interviews a comfortable, non-confrontational experience for favored government officials.

Cable-news veterans told The Daily Beast that it is common for television producers to discuss topics in advance with their subjects; and, on occasion, producers will ask pre-interview questions to understand what a subject has to offer, and why their information is relevant.

However, it is widely frowned upon to offer public officials pre-interviews, as this can help the official avoid difficult questions.

And providing and seeking approval scripts is even more of a taboo.

“Every American journalist knows that to provide scripts or articles to the government for review before publication or broadcast is a cardinal sin. It’s Journalism 101,” said David Hawkins, a CBS News and CNN veteran who teaches journalism at Fordham University. “This is worse than that. It would and should get you fired from any news organization with integrity.”

“I can’t imagine why a high-level newsmaker—like a White House official—would ever receive a formal pre-interview,” added Sid Bedingfield, a former CNN executive who now teaches journalism at the University of Minnesota.

“Those are designed to ensure that the interview subject has something relevant to add to the story—that it is worth spending time and resources to conduct the interview. A top White House official who has the power to shape public policy around a particular issue would obviously be relevant. In those interviews, the journalist should force the newsmaker to defend policy decisions, not help sell them.”

But that's not what FOX News is for.  It's for advancing the agenda of the people who run FOX News, and that means the agenda of the Trump regime.  It's state media in all but name.

In fact, it's much worse, because FOX still pretends it's not a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP, when everyone else knows differently.  Trump may give up on them at some point, but right now I'd consider them as corrupt as Russia Today is for Putin.

Compare that to say, MSNBC, which is now taking steps to no longer fall into the Trump propaganda trap

It had been nearly a month since Sarah Sanders had held what was once known as a “daily” briefing. So when the White House press secretary — along with White House officials Larry Kudlow and John Bolton — took the podium on Tuesday afternoon, cable-news channels jumped right on the proceedings. Well, most of them, anyway.

While CNN and Fox News carried the tripartite briefing from the very beginning, MSNBC stayed away — until it had blown off the entire session.

In doing so, it had missed a chance to beam a live presentation of Kudlow saying, “We’ll see what happens. … Our economy’s in very good shape right now”; of Bolton saying he hadn’t listened to the audio recording of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi (“I guess I should ask you, why do you think I should, what do you think I’ll learn from it?”); of Sanders saying this about Trump and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation: “I don’t think the president has any concerns about the [Mueller] report because he knows that there was no wrongdoing by him and that there was no collusion.”

Instead of all that, MSNBC carried segments on the following topics: Trump’s trade wars; the state of the auto industry, in light of GM’s announced plant closings; the stock market and the welfare of the U.S. worker; a deadly attack on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan; a Guardian report that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, had met with Julian Assange; and the U.S. Senate election in Mississippi. After the press briefing concluded, MSNBC plowed ahead with more on GM, including an interview with Hamtramck, Mich., Mayor Karen Majewski, a segment on the Mueller investigation, a politics roundup, a mention of “giving Tuesday.”

Look what you can accomplish when you decline to hand over your airwaves to unreliable narrators.

When there's nothing coming out of the Trump regime but propaganda, news outlets aren't beholden to cover it as news.  MSNBC chose not to play the game, which was the correct choice.  Here's hoping they do more of that in the future.

No Labels, No Honor

It seems our old centrist friends at No Labels, the triangulating anti-Democrat group disguised as "moderate bipartisans", were behind the sad plan to get rid of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

Before saying that its opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s House speaker campaign had nothing to do with her record, the nonpartisan group No Labels was exploring a primary challenge to her back home in San Francisco.

And she wasn’t the only Democrat the centrist nonprofit wanted to go after.

No Labels bills itself as “a movement for the tens of millions of Americans who are fed up with the dysfunction and will no longer put up with a government that does not represent the interests of most Americans.” Among the group’s past co-chairs are the former Republican presidential candidate and current ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and the former Democratic and independent Senator Joe Lieberman, who oversaw the presentation of No Labels’ “problem solver’s award” to Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries.

The nonprofit’s super pac supports the Problem Solvers Caucus, which has 44 equally divided Democratic and Republican members in the House and purports to be working on real solutions to issues that divide Congress.

But over the past year, No Labels’ leaders considered primary challenges to at least three incumbent House Democrats—starting with Pelosi, in January 2017. They also discussed running a primary challenge to freshman Darren Soto, a Florida Democrat. He had been elected with No Labels’ support but had in early 2017 accepted a mostly honorific position as an assistant whip for the House Democrats.

Now Soto is one of the nine Democrats from the Problem Solvers Caucus who is among the holdouts in Pelosi’s bid to win another term as speaker. Those nine currently have considerable influence as she works to reach the number of votes she needs to be elected speaker. Soto and his fellow Democrats in the caucus announced last week that they would not support Pelosi unless she agreed to rule changes that they argue would “break the gridlock.” Pelosi is scheduled to meet with its members on Tuesday, though she preempted the conversation by having an aide put out a statement arguing that she’s already agreed to many of their proposals and gone further.

Getting rid of Pelosi and weakening the Democrats was always the point of No Labels, and it always will be.  These guys are bad news, and Pelosi should kick them all to the curb.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Special Counsel Robert Mueller laid down the law late Monday in a court filing that will pretty much guarantee the beginning of the endgame to the whole mess. It seems our boy Paulie Walnuts has been a naughty, naughty boy.

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, repeatedly lied to federal investigators in breach of a plea agreement he signed two months ago, the special counsel’s office said in a court filing late on Monday.

Prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said Mr. Manafort’s “crimes and lies” about “a variety of subject matters” relieve them of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. But under the terms of the agreement, Mr. Manafort cannot withdraw his guilty plea.

Defense lawyers disagreed that Mr. Manafort has violated the deal. In the same filing, they said that Mr. Manafort has met repeatedly with the special counsel’s office and “believes he has provided truthful information.”

But given the impasse between the two sides, they asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to set a sentencing date for Mr. Manafort, who has been in solitary confinement in a detention center in Alexandria, Va.

The 11th-hour development in Mr. Manafort’s case is a fresh sign of the special counsel’s aggressive approach in investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone in the Trump campaign knew about or assisted Moscow’s effort.

Striking a plea deal with Mr. Manafort in September potentially gave prosecutors access to information that could prove useful to their investigation. But their filing on Monday, a rare step in a plea deal, suggested that they think Mr. Manafort was withholding details that could be pertinent to the Russia inquiry or other cases.

Marcy Wheeler lays out Manafort's game and how Mueller just beat him at it.

Now, it is true that Trump can pardon Manafort (though that probably won’t happen right away). That’s the only sane explanation for Manafort doing what he did, that he is still certain he’ll be pardoned. But many of these charges can still be charged in state court.

Just about the only explanation for Manafort’s actions are that — as I suggested — Trump was happy to have Manafort serve as a mole in Mueller’s investigation.

But Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them. That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump that he could use to fill out his open book test. Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies.

And that “detailed sentencing submission … sett[ing] forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” that Mueller mentions in the report?

There’s your Mueller report, which will be provided in a form that Matt Whitaker won’t be able to suppress. (Reminder: Mueller included 38 pages of evidence along with Manafort’s plea agreement, which I argued showed how what Manafort and Trump did to Hillary was the same thing that Manafort had done to Yulia Tymoshenko.)

So bottom line, Mueller knew all along that Manafort was going to renege on his plea deal.  He had every suspicion that Manafort was going to relay any information right back to Trump, and then after Trump used that information to answer his questions to submit to Mueller, Manafort was going to drop the deal and Trump was going to pardon him.

Only Mueller knew this the entire time, deliberately fed Manafort misinformation which went right back to Trump, and then beat Trump and Manafort to the punch and filed today that Manafort was lying.

It also means Mueller can, in a future open court filing, lay out exactly what Manafort was lying about, which will basically consist of a copy and paste text of Mueller's final report.

There's nothing Acting AG Matt Whitaker can do about it, either.  By lying, Manafort assured that the report can't be buried, because Trump and Manafort really are this stupid.

It's checkmate when the other guy was playing Go Fish.  It's hardly even fair.  And it's one of the greatest counter-cons in history if Wheeler is correct, and I'm pretty sure she is.

And today we already know one thing Manafort was lying about: he secretly met with Julian Assange months before the DNC email leaks.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

Stay tuned.  Mueller knows all of this.  Manafort visited Assange in London as Trump's campaign chair in order to have him smear Clinton using Russian leaks.  The last piece of the puzzle, Manafort's visit to Assange before the DNC leak, while being part of Trump's campaign, just fell into place.  Assange's involvement as Putin's intelligence front was screamingly obvious, and it all was tied to Trump's campaign.  Manafort knew exactly what he was getting from Assange and Putin, and so did Trump.

The collusion happened.  Trump is toast.

It all will go down very soon.


Also guys, I have no tolerance for trolls.  The ban stick will be heavy and permanent.
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