Profiles in Cowardice: Republicans Are Refusing All Interview Requests to Defend Trump’s Bigotry

On Thursday morning Donald Trump tripled down on his support for the Confederacy and the bigotry it fought to preserve. His latest tweetstorm gushed over the “beauty” of the statues of traitors that he says “will be greatly missed.” And he’s right. They will be missed by the white supremacists and racists who have been applauding Trump’s advocacy of their cause.

Shepard Smith Fox News

However, outside of the alt-rightists and Klan members that have rallied around his pro-Nazi remarks, Trump has garnered scant support from his own Republican colleagues. Many have taken to putting out their own condemnations of the violence instigated by bigots in Charlottesville. They include GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Unfortunately, in most cases they merely express opposition to racism without holding their president accountable for exacerbating the hate.

These weakly conveyed messages of tolerance demonstrate the fear that Republicans have of directly countering Trump. They remain committed to his presidency and his agenda. They just can’t bring themselves to utter his name in conjunction with the division he is fomenting.

They also can’t bring themselves to defend him on television. Every cable news network is complaining that their efforts to book Republicans to defend the President are coming up empty. This is an astonishing turn of events. Publicity-hungry politicians are actually declining to appear on TV to promote their party and president. Here are some examples of the media response to this unprecedented situation:

Chuck Todd, MSNBC: We invited every single Republican senator on this program tonight, all 52. We asked roughly a dozen house Republicans including a bunch of committee chairs and we asked a half-dozen officials. And none of them agreed to discuss this issue with us today.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN: We did reach out to Republican leaders throughout the day. They all, at least for now, refused to join us. But the invitation is clearly still very much open.

Shepard Smith, Fox News: Our booking team reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today. Let’s be honest. Republicans don’t mind coming on Fox News channel. We couldn’t get anyone to come and defend him here. We thought in balance, someone should do that. We worked very hard at it throughout the day. We were unsuccessful.

That’s right. Even Fox News, the PR division of the Republican Party, is unable to convince a single Republican to go on the air to support their leader. They can still book GOP advocates of nuking North Korea or throwing millions of Americans off of their healthcare plans. But asking them to backup the President’s recent cheerleading for neo-Nazis is apparently where they draw the line.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It remains to be seen how long they can hold out. Trump is already tweeting attacks on party mates who dare to criticize him. Thursday morning he unleashed his typically infantile insults on Senators Lindsay Graham and Jeff Flake. Expect those Twitter tantrums to continue as Trump’s ultra-sensitive ego is bruised by others disloyal to Dear Leader. Before long the only people willing to defend Trump on TV will be David Duke and Ivanka. And I’m not all that sure about Ivanka.

Donald Trump’s Dementia Kicked in Bigly in This Bizarre Exchange with CNN (VIDEO)

Last Friday Donald Trump promised that he would be holding “a pretty big press conference” on Monday. Since then there was a violent march of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, a murdered counter-protester, and a tin-ear statement by a president who is too cowardly to upset his racist supporters.

Donald Trump

Monday morning Trump finally got around to addressing the continuing controversy surrounding Charlottesville and his appallingly callous response. However, he spent the first several minutes exalting himself and his alleged accomplishments in office. Then he made a statement that was an emotionless recitation of a script crafted to mitigate the withering criticism he has suffered for the past two days. He reluctantly spat out the words he seemed forced to utter, then left without taking a single question.

Shortly after that, Trump appeared at a photo-op to hype a vague proposal related to trade with China. When finished, he turned to leave but stopped to respond to a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta. That led to this bizarre exchange (video below):

Acosta: Mr. President, can you explain why you didn’t condemn those hate groups by name over the weekend?
Trump: They’ve been condemned. They have been condemned.

Notice that Trump did not answer the question he was asked. Acosta inquired as to why Trump didn’t condemn the hate groups prior to Monday’s statement. That was completely ignored. So too was the fact that every comment Trump made about the violence in Charlottesville included a qualification that spread blame to “other” unidentified groups. And then Acosta asked:

Acosta: Why are we not having a press conference today? You said on Friday you’d have a press conference.
Trump: We had a press conference. We just had a press conference.

What the fig is he talking about? There was no press conference, as Acosta noted. Unless Trump thinks that any gathering that includes reporters and photographers is press conference even if no questions are allowed. That’s a photo-op, not a press conference. However, Acosta took him up on the notion:

Acosta: Can we ask you some more questions then?
Trump: It doesn’t bother me at all. But, you know, I like real news, not fake news. You’re fake news.
Acosta: With all due respect, Mr. President, haven’t you spread a lot of fake news yourself sir?

First of all, if it doesn’t bother him, then why didn’t he stick around and answer some questions? There were plenty of reporters there and some recent newsworthy subjects to discuss. Even if he didn’t want to engage with Acosta, he could have replied to other reporters and fulfilled his promise to hold a press conference. And secondly, Trump’s tiresome whining about fake news has never been supported by facts. But Acosta gave the perfect response. There is abundant evidence that Trump is the biggest purveyor of fake news who has ever occupied the White House.

Trump is clearly losing whatever cognitive ability he had. He didn’t understand the question about condemning hate groups. He doesn’t know what a press conference is. And he is obsessed with falsely labeling reporters he doesn’t like as fake news. It seems with every day, Trump drifts farther from reality. And with his bellicose posturing toward North Korea, and a looming prosecution for collusion with Russia, his deteriorating mental state poses a grave risk for the country – and the world.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

UVA Prof to Trump: Fire All the White Nationalists on [Your] Staff, Starting with Steve Bannon’

The tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday has ironically united the nation. Most decent Americans are repulsed by the bigotry espoused by the alt-right white nationalists who organized the event. Unfortunately, the President is not among them.

Trump/Bannon

Donald Trump’s initial response to the violence was to issue a mealy-mouthed statement that blamed “all sides.” But only one side engaged in deliberate hostilities that resulted in the death of a young woman. Trump’s callous and tone-deaf response was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike. Reacting to that criticism, the White House put out an anonymous, unsigned statement that continued to ignore the reality of the tragic events:

“The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. And of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi and all extremist groups.”

So now it “includes” white supremacists. Which, of course, is reaffirmation of his position that it also includes others. He is still trying to dilute the grotesque actions of the bigots who are unarguably responsible. And the process of dilution is being carried out by Trump’s surrogates. On CNN’s State of the Union, Tom Bossert had a peculiar excuse for Trump not identifying the racists. He said that the President didn’t want to “dignify the names of these groups.” That argument flies in the face of relentless insistence that Muslims had to be identified as “radical Islamic terrorists.”

On the Fox News morning program, Fox and Friends, co-host Pete Hegseth sympathized with the racists. He complained on their behalf that they feel like they’re being “treated differently” and have become “second-class citizens.” Poor privileged, snowflake, babies.

Consequently, it was encouraging to hear someone on TV tell the truth about the rioting white supremacists. On CNN’s Reliable Sources, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato didn’t mince words. And he gave some harsh advice to the President who can’t seem to do or say anything right. Here is the exchange he had with host Brian Stelter (video below):

Stelter: Would what the President says in the coming days matter in Charlottesville? Would it actually help or affect the community?

Sabato: Thanks for asking that, Brian, because Donald Trump, of course, is very unpopular anyway here, but he missed his moment. He had the opportunity to do something when it mattered yesterday afternoon. And any of his predecessors in modern times would have had the good instincts to say the right things. He wouldn’t because he won’t denounce part of his base. They’re white supremacists. We know what they are. We know who they voted for.

So listen Brian, if he wants to do something to help us and everbody else, let him fire all the white nationalists on his staff, starting with Steve Bannon. Actions speak louder than words. Words written by his staff.

Stelter: You know Bannon would reject being described as a white nationalist?

Sabato: I don’t care. We’ve read all that we need to read. And there are others on that staff too. You know darn well there are.

Exactly! Prior to joining Trump’s campaign, Bannon was the chairman of Breitbart News. The website openly bragged that it was “the platform for the alt-right.” He now occupies an office down the hall from the Oval Office. And he is likely the author of the statements that tread so lightly on the hateful culprits of the violence in Charlottesville.

Sabato’s observance that there are others in the Trump White House who hold these disgusting views is indisputable. On an earlier appearance on CNN he named one of them. Sebastian Gorka is a special advisor to the President. He also happens to be a former Breitbart editor and is associated with known Nazi groups. But people like Bannon and Gorka are among Trump’s favorite advisers. He isn’t likely to fire them and piss off his base of supporters.

As a result, Trump will continue to get counsel from the worst of the worst. And it’s precisely what he asked for. This is not a case of clandestine fascists infiltrating the government. These are people that Trump selected with full knowledge of their resumes. And if he thinks he can paper over these abhorrent cretins and their hateful philosophies, he is going to be sorely disappointed. Americans will not long tolerate this. Trump already has the worst approval ratings of any president in modern history. Don’t look for that to improve anytime soon.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

WATCH: Assaulting a CNN Reporter is Hilarious to Tucker Carlson of Fox News

On Wednesday the White House press briefing briefly turned into rhetorical warfare. Donald Trump’s senior advisor, Stephen Miller, went ballistic on CNN reporter Jim Acosta. The issue was Trump’s latest xenophobic position on immigration reform. Acosta, the son of Cuban immigrants, asked if Trump’s policy amounted to “trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country.” Miller appeared to take the question personally. He lashed out at Acosta, calling him “outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish.”

Fox News Tucker Carlson

Miller’s juvenile response typifies the emotional immaturity of the Trump administration. We should probably be grateful that Miller didn’t hurl profanities or feces. But the worst reaction to this exchange came from Fox News on the program hosted by proud Trump Fluffer, Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s guest was right-wing crackpot Mark Steyn, who unleashed a tirade of vitriol and bile (video below). He said that:

“One of the reasons we need immigrants to come here and do the jobs Americans won’t do is because one of the jobs Americans won’t do is drag Jim Acosta out of there, kick him to the sidewalk, and say ‘If you wanna do the Jim Acosta Show there’s a rusting boxcar round the back of the freight yards with three semi-comatose hobos who are interested in it. But nobody else here is.'”

So Steyn ignored everything that Acosta said and dismissed all of the substance of the debate. However, he did propose physically assaulting Acosta and denying him the free press rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The notion of violently attacking a journalist struck Carlson as hilarious. He repeatedly laughed at the thought of a beaten reporter being kicked out of a press briefing. This is what tickles the pro-Trump media during an era in which even the President has encouraged violence against reporters. Trump famously denigrated the media as the enemy of the American people.”

Steyn went on to adopt a view of the Statue of Liberty that has been a staple of white supremacists for years. He said that:

“The French gave the Americans a pretty great Statue of Liberty. And then the Americans hammered a lousy poem by Emma Lazerus onto it and turned a pretty great Statue of Liberty into a Statue of Immigration. I regret that.”

Steyn is joining the Hate America First crowd by insulting the contributions of a poet whose “lousy” work was used to finance the pedestal of the Statue. But he is also echoing the White House. Miller made a similarly belittling comment at the press briefing, saying that:

“The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty and light in the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to that was added later is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

And both of those comments reflect the abhorrent views of avowed white supremacist Richard Spencer:

For the record, the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus made a simple plea of compassion and acceptance:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Notice that there is nothing in there about skilled labor, education, preferred language, or personal wealth. It is plainly reaching a hand out to people in need. It’s a standard based on the necessity of the immigrant rather than the greed of the host nation. Unfortunately, the only standard recognized by Fox News and Tucker Carlson is personal self-interest and unfettered political power. And if that means committing assaults against journalists with whom you disagree, well that’s just hysterical, isn’t it?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Unfit for Command: Presidential Historian’s Horrifying Warning About Donald Trump

Last week may have been the worst one so far for Donald Trump’s floundering presidency. His new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, unleashed a profane rant against his White House colleagues. His Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, got the boot. The attempt to kill healthcare went down in flames as a Republican controlled Senate couldn’t pass three different versions. He misfired with an illegal proposal to discriminate against transgender soldiers. And the Boy Scouts felt compelled to issue a public apology after Trump’s politicized rant at their Jamboree. These failures cap a six month span of domestic dysfunction and international embarrassment.

Douglas Brinkley CNN

[LATE BREAKING:] Scaramucci has been fired. Sources say that the new White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, wanted to select his own team. Translation: Get that vulgar piece af crap out of my White House.

Not surprisingly, Trump is living in a bubble of narcissistic grandiosity. He is convinced that everything is going tremendously and that he is the bestest president ever. He tweeted Monday morning:

Of course, the performance of the stock market, the economy, and employment, has to be credited to the Obama administration. All of those metrics were ascending throughout his term and were the result of his policies. There has not been a single Trump initiative implemented that would impact any of them. Nothing on taxes, trade, jobs, and no budget has been passed in Congress. Trump is running on Obama’s fumes.

What’s more, if wages are “raising” (sic), it’s only because Democrats increased the minimum wage despite the opposition of Republicans. And if the border is secure, then we don’t need that damn wall anymore, right? As for the Supreme Court, the Senate couldn’t get Justice Gorsuch through without blowing up the rules to allow a 51-vote confirmation. Considering all of the above, Trump’s assertion that there is “No WH chaos” is absurd in the extreme.

Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley was asked about the state of the Trump administration. Host Brian Stelter noted that observers from across the political spectrum were stunned. They’ve been using words like “crisis” and “chaos” to describe the current White House. Brinkley responded with his view that “It’s in utter disarray,” and that “Donald Trump [is] unfit for command.” Then he spelled out in detail where it has all gone so horribly wrong (video below):

“I think when you have a White House communications director that uses the kind of foul language that he does against fellow employees of the federal government, and makes threats the way that he did, and that’s supposed to be your solution to the United States’ way they are going to communicate to the world? It means Donald Trump picked the wrong person to be his communications director.

“He has a White House that’s leaking like crazy. As just mentioned, there are people ready to whistle-blow. He thinks that you can govern by chaos and it’s not working. It is true he has that 36 percent of the American public backing him, but that means over 60 percent of Americans think that he is doing a miserable job. And the rest of the world is laughing.

“We have a crisis in North Korea and we’re playing these reality TV, big time wrestling games because Donald Trump was weaned and raised on television. And it’s become like a TV episodic president where every day you’ve got to say something sensational to make sure that your name is in the headlines.

“We had a problem with Nixon. If there is any president this is like, it’s Nixon. You listen to the Nixon Watergate tapes – the secret tapes – and you hear Nixon ramble and it sounds like Donald Trump’s tweets. And it didn’t turn out well for Nixon.”

It’s hard to add anything that. Except for what Brinkley himself added:

“The key to Donald Trump is just this kind of blind fierce loyalty, and that’s what Franco expected in Spain. It’s what Mussolini wanted in Italy. These are kind of ways in which you’re asking people to march in lock-step with you.”

In other words, Donald Trump is a wannabe dictator. He has demonstrated that he has never had the intelligence, experience, or character to be a legitimate president. He is a joke who parlayed his role as a TV game show host to the White House on the strength of his celebrity and ability to lie. But now the consequences of making such an incompetent, unethical fraud the head of state are becoming painfully clear. Hopefully he won’t be in charge of anything for much longer.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Hannity Orders His Trump-Cult Audience to Attack Journalists – Gets Slapped Back HARD!

Donald Trump’s First Amendment foes are assembling the troops in what they think is a massive show of force. They have a new general in the White House, Anthony Scaramucci, who unseated feeble Fibby Spice (Sean Spicer). The Mooch is already parroting the worst of Trump’s anti-media rhetoric. He is an avid supporter of the President’s Twitter tantrums and infantile assaults on free speech. And now he’s got some help from the Trump TV Network (aka Fox News).

Sean Hannity Fox News

Leading the way is Fox News Trump fluffer, Sean Hannity. Always a reliable soldier in the fight against honest journalism, Hannity has ordered a significant escalation. He’s taking the unusual step of enlisting his glassy-eyed audience into battle. On Monday night’s program he issued a call to the recruits to prepare to deploy for an all out offensive. And knowing his audience, they can be pretty damn offensive (video below):

Hannity began by praising the Trump administration for “ramping up one of the most effective tactics for combating all the fake news.” He was referring to the Propaganda Squad that has been fanning out to pick fights with their favorite media foils. They include Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, and Sebastian Gorka. Hannity lauded them for “standing up to pundits who treat the White House with hatred and disdain.” In reality they were just being jerks and insisting that the press accept Trump’s lies as truth. Then Hannity issued his orders to the troops:

“Members of the Trump administration, they’re beginning to shine a bright light on these dark corners of this fake news industry. And now thanks to social media, you can too. […] You can call out fake news right at the source. For example, you can tell fake news Jake Tapper exactly what you think of his interview with Anthony Scaramucci. You can do it on twitter.”

Tapper was only the beginning. Hannity also made juvenile insults aimed at CNN’s Brian Stelter and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. His diatribe was filled with childish taunts and ludicrous, debunked accusations against Hillary Clinton. And then he addressed those who might “want to take it to the next level.”

“Write a message to their bosses. Send a tweet over to [Jeff] Zucker over at fake news CNN or Andy Lack from NBC fake news. Right now the media is living in their little bubble. It is our job to remind them that there is an America way outside of New York, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco. Tonight, technology is now making it possible for you to take your point of view directly to the source and show America’s elites that the forgotten men and forgotten women of this country voted for this agenda and they want it completed and for them to stop lying to you. Take to the social media, and I think you’re going to have a positive impact.”

First of all, if Hannity is really concerned about the people’s position on Trump’s agenda, he should take notice that Trump is the most unpopular president in modern history. And that goes for his policies as well.

More to the point, Hannity is apparently aware that his viewers don’t already know about Twitter. He has the oldest skewing audience in cable news. Recent demographic studies show that “The median age of the average primetime Fox News viewer is 68 — five years older than MSNBC, and nine years older than CNN.” And the consequences of that disparity can be devastating when reaching out to a more youthful, social media capable, audience. So Hannity’s Twitter blitz produced predictably contrary results, as documented by the Huffington Post:

And as Tapper noted in his reply thanking those tweeters: “I don’t think that turned out the way he intended.”

Hannity will always lose on this battleground. He is too much of an ideologue who spins so furiously that reality is unrecognizable. And his followers are handicapped by being dumb enough to watch him in the first place. There are plenty of problems with corporate media outlets like CNN, but they pale in comparison to the rancid hostility and blatant dishonesty of Hannity and Fox News. And online communities on Twitter and Facebook will continue to let him know how irrelevant he is.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

How Deranged Are Trump Supporters? New Poll Shows That It’s Worse Than You Ever Imagined

In the Era of Trump, Americans have been been subjected to wild diversions from reality. Donald Trump and company have unleashed baseless accusations of “fake news,” and the ceaseless dissemination of “alternative facts.” They have violated constitutional protections of free speech and abused the media in an unprecedented manner. Trump called the media “the enemy of the American people.” And his White House Press Office has discontinued on-camera briefings.

Donald Trump

This overt hostility and flagrant assault on transparency has had an impact on a certain sector of the electorate. Trump voters have evolved into a breed of ill-informed, willfully ignorant yokels whose devotion to their Orange Julius Caesar borders on cult worship. This alarming descent into madness is frightfully illustrated in the results of a new survey by Public Policy Polling (PPP). The depth of the delirium of these lost souls is unimaginable. And yet, the data from the PPP pollsters is clear. Here are some examples from the study:

  • Only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting with Russians about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton…even though Trump Jr. admitted it. 32% say the meeting didn’t happen and 24% say they’re not sure.
  • 72% of Trump voters consider the Russia story overall to be ‘fake news,’ only 14% disagree.
  • Only 24% of Trump voters even want an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, 64% are opposed to an investigation.
  • Only 26% of Trump voters admit that Russia wanted Trump to win the election, 44% claim Russia wanted Hillary Clinton to win, and 31% say they’re not sure one way or the other.
  • Even if there was an investigation, and it found that the Trump campaign did collude with Russia to aid his campaign, 77% of his supporters think he should still stay in office to just 16% who believe he should resign.

What manner of sickness is this? Less than half of the Trump disciples believe that Don, Jr. met with Russians despite his having confirmed it. Do they think he’s lying? More troubling though, is that more than three quarters of the StormTrumpers are comfortable with him serving as president even if he conspired with a foreign hostile enemy to steal the election.

Is there any line he can’t cross? Apparently not. Because the survey also asked a question referencing Trump’s campaign comment that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. And 45% of Trump voters said they would still approve of him if he shot someone. This is Jonestown-level dementia. When people talk about “drinking the Kool-Aid,” they can’t get closer to that comparison than this.

As a final humiliation to the President, PPP asked respondents to indicate who they trusted more: Trump or various media organizations. Trump lost in every match up:

Voters say they trust NBC and ABC each more than him, 56/38. They say they trust CBS more than him 56/39. They say they trust the New York Times more than him 55/38. Voters say they trust CNN more than him 54/39. And they say they trust the Washington Post more than him 53/38.

Those are significant majorities that favor the “failing” New York Times and “fake news” CNN. Despite Trump’s relentless efforts to negatively brand his media adversaries, he has had no success in doing so. And his continued whining in the face of that rejection is pathetic.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

However, his glassy-eyed followers will undoubtedly fall in line no matter what atrocities he commits. That’s a sad commentary on the state of the nation. It remains to be seen how they will eventually react when the hammer comes down on his criminality. They may just pretend not to have supported him in the first place. After all, the one thing we’ve learned about them is that they have an unlimited capacity for self-delusion.

Trump’s State Department is Granting Hundreds of Visas for Russian Spies

Friday morning Donald Trump met with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. This is either their first meeting or their fifteenth, depending on which statement by Trump you choose to believe. In any case, according to the White House, Trump went into the meeting with no agenda. He told reporters that he was honored to meet Putin. That’s a pretty cavalier attitude toward encountering the man who everyone in the U.S. intelligence community says interfered with our election last year.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

Trump obviously doesn’t care about the election hacking issue. He still insists that “nobody knows for sure” that the Russians were responsible. That opinion is not only dangerously misguided, it is an insult to America’s national security professionals. It also conveniently lets the guy who helped him get elected off the hook. However, it is not the only threat to which Trump is exposing the nation. CNN is reporting that Russian spies are pouring into the country courtesy of Trump’s State Department:

“Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.”

Those 35 diplomats were expelled by President Obama in response to the Russian hacking. It was just one of the actions taken despite Trump having said that Obama had done nothing. But now that Trump’s team is in place they are readmitting suspicious characters. These are potential operatives who could ramp up election tampering activities for 2018 and 2020. And American intelligence officials are worried about just that:

“Fueling law enforcement officials’ concern is that the Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information, in addition to ongoing efforts to hack the US government for intelligence, according to several of the officials. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts, the sources say. But that hasn’t stopped the State Department from issuing the temporary duty visas.”

Reports coming out of Trump’s meeting with Putin indicate that he was less than eager to hold the Russian’s accountable. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the focus was on moving forward. That must have pleased Putin immensely. I’m sure he’d like to get on with his plans to hack future American elections. And now, thanks to Trump, he’ll have an army of spies in the country to help achieve his goals.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Modern Day Presidential? Trump Attacks American Institutions and Leaders While on Foreign Soil

Donald Trump’s first trip overseas last May was widely viewed as a diplomatic failure. When he wasn’t embarrassing the United States with his ignorance and bluster, he was insulting its closest allies. So the world is holding its collective breath as Trump once again ventures beyond the shores of America. And if his first day in Poland is any guide, this trip signals an even worse outcome.

Donald Trump

There is a long-held canon of international diplomacy meant to encourage national unity and continuity of purpose. It asserts that all domestic political quibbles and criticisms should end at the ocean’s edge. American leaders representing the country ought not to be bad-mouthing it on foreign soil. It’s a simple rule, and one that is easy and wise to follow. Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump.

In his first stop, Trump held a joint press conference with Poland’s President Duda. [For the record, Trump has not held a solo press conference since February] The President took only two questions from American reporters. The first came from David Martosko of the Daily Mail. He asked about both North Korea and Trump’s WWE-themed tweet wherein he body-slammed a CNN character. Trump chose to respond to the CNN question at length, with an afterthought about North Korea. He said:

“I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. As you know now, they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice. But they forgot that”

So while standing next to one of Europe’s worst media suppressors, Trump bashed the American media and the concept of free press. It was an unprecedented assault by a traveling president. Trump seems to think that generating income for an entertainment division of a media company entitles him to positive coverage by the news division. But the larger problem is that his rhetoric can only encourage other countries to demean and dismiss their local journalists.

The next question came from Hallie Jackson of MSNBC. She asked if he would “once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?” He would not. Trump gave a rambling response that avoided directly acknowledging Russia’s complicity in the election tampering:

“Well, I think it was Russia, but it could’ve been other people and other countries. It could have been a lot of people interfered. I’ve said it very simply. It could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time. It’s been happening for many, many years.”

Jackson’s follow up asked Trump why he could not just agree with his intelligence agencies who have definitively identified Russia as the culprit. He proceeded to ramble some more:

“Let me just start off by saying, I heard it was seventeen agencies. I said, “boy, that’s a lot. Do we even have that many intelligence agencies?” Right? Let’s check it. And we did some heavy research. It turned out to be three or four. It wasn’t seventeen. […] With that being said, mistakes have been made, I agree. I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure.”

And with that, Trump commenced maligning his own intelligence operations. He brought up the issue of weapons of mass destruction as an example of an intelligence failure. However, that was a failure of the Bush White House. The intelligence community did not support their WMD allegations.

What’s more, Trump’s assertion that seventeen agencies were not in agreement about Russia is just plain false. While only three agencies (the CIA, FBI, and NSA) were involved in making the assessment, none of the others dissented after the report was published. And by questioning whether there are seventeen agencies he is publicly exposing his ignorance of the intelligence community he is supposed to be leading. Trump’s dismissal of these agencies is another example of improperly criticizing the country while he’s abroad. What sort of confidence does that give to other countries when we ask for their support based on our intelligence?

Finally, in response to the questions about Russia’s election tampering, Trump felt the need for a diversion. He awkwardly shifted the conversation away from both himself and Russia with this nearly incoherent rant:

“Now the thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this – in terms of if it were Russia – found out about it in August. Now, the election was in November. That’s a lot of time. He did nothing about it. Why did he do nothing about it? He was told it was Russia by the CIA, as I understand it. it was well reported. And he did nothing about it. […] My big question is ‘Why did Obama do nothing about it from August all the way to November.'”

That’s his big question? Not what the hell is Russia doing interfering with our elections? First of all, Trump is once again wrong on the facts. President Obama took swift and decisive action when informed of the Russian hacking. He opened an investigation and encouraged state election officials to tighten their digital security. He was especially cautious before election day because he didn’t want to be seen as interfering with the election himself. And immediately following the election he imposed new sanctions, threw out 35 Russian officials, and closed down two diplomatic compounds.

So after bashing American media and intelligence, Trump has now moved on to American leaders. By showing such open disdain for the just-past president, Trump is giving permission for our allies and enemies to do the same for any national leader. They are now free to disregard the words and deeds of any representative of the United States, including Trump.

So much for leaving criticism at the ocean’s edge. Trump is demonstrating that he is incapable of behaving appropriately as president. He is more worried about defending his fragile ego than he is about serving the interests of the nation. His lack of diplomatic skills is likely to produce some unwanted consequences. And he has already proven that he is untrustworthy with confidential information. That’s why so many people are so anxious every time he meets with foreign dignitaries, whether at home or abroad. The country would be a lot better off if he would just stay at his golf resorts and leave governing to the adults.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Suck It Trump: New Poll Shows Americans Trust CNN/NY Times More Than Lyin’ Donald

Last week Donald Trump tweeted a hostile and childish video showing him body-slamming a CNN character. It was universally condemned as an incitement to violence against journalists. That is, of course, consistent with Trump’s well known animosity for the free press which he demeans at every opportunity.

Donald Trump

However, Trump’s relentless campaign to slander the press does not seem to be persuading anyone but his glassy-eyed disciples. Despite his attempts to brand the New York Times as “failing,” or CNN as “fake news,” the American people are still more inclined to trust the media than the President. This is borne out in a new poll by Survey Monkey. As reported by Axios:

“Among all adults, trust for CNN is 7 points ahead of Trump. Among independents, CNN wins by 15 points. […] Asked whether they trust Trump or the WashPost/NYT more, the newspapers won by 9 points among all adults. Asked about Trump vs. ABC/CBS/NBC, the networks were judged more trustworthy by an 11-point margin.”

So Trump loses to every media entity he was paired against. Whether it is his mortal enemy CNN, the nationally circulated newspapers, or all of the TV broadcast news networks. His furious efforts to vilify the great American institution of journalism has proved totally futile. The only thing he has achieved is making ill-informed wingnuts even more unhinged and unbearable. They’re the only ones who bought into his malicious rhetoric, but they never trusted the media to begin with.

The poll also asked respondents about their news viewing preferences. Not surprisingly, thirty-three percent of Republicans said that they get their news only from Fox News. That’s not “mostly” from Fox News. It’s “ONLY!” A full third of Republicans do not use any other source for news. That explains why so much of the party clings so tightly to easily debunked falsehoods. They believe that Trump had nothing to do with the Russians. They are convinced that a failing economy was rescued by Trump. Many still think that Obama was not born in the United States. They regard whatever they see on Fox News as gospel, and Fox is the PR division of the Trump administration.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This poll is not the first time that Trump lost to his media foes. In February, the Quinnipiac poll asked “Who do you trust more to tell you the truth about important issues: President Trump or the news media?” Voters chose the media by a margin of 52 percent to 37 percent. Now, five months later, after five more months of lambasting by Trump, he’s still trusted less than the media he detests. That’s gotta be painful – if his handlers allow him access to that information. And since it won’t be reported on Fox News, he might never know the truth.