Nel's New Day

January 2, 2020

To Chuck Todd: Don’t ‘Leave It There’

For over five years, Chris Todd, moderator of Meet the Press, has spread misinformation on the once-respected Sunday MSNBC news show, first about 2016 elections and then after the inauguration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as Todd failed to push against Kellyanne Conway’s “alternate facts.” Since then, he has gulped down gob swallop and pushed it off on the public, much like Fox network does. Perhaps he has had an epiphany: in a Rollling Stone interview, Todd admitted he’s a failure at his job, and career, by confessing he was “just so absurdly naive” about how far Republican officials would go to spread DDT’s and Vladimir Putin’s lies and disinformation. Seemingly surprised, Todd said:

“[DDT’s] entire life has been spent using misinformation. His entire life. I’ve spent years studying him now on trying to figure out how did this guy even learn politics? Where did he learn? And the more you learn, you realize he learned at the feet of a master of deception in Roy Cohn. So I mean, look, if people want to read my answer to your question, ‘Boy, that Chuck Todd was hopelessly naive.’ Yeah, it looks pretty naive. I think we all made the mistake of not following Toni Morrison’s advice, which is when people tell you who they are, believe them.”

[The “advice” actually came from Maya Angelou.]

As an example of his “naiveté,” Todd said he was “genuinely shocked” when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) lied about Ukraine interfering with the 2016 election, the third senator to use Todd’s Sunday program to deliver Putin’s propaganda. On Meet the Press, truth isn’t truth,” a statement Todd permitted DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani to claim without follow-up. NYU media professor described Todd’s acceptance of lies as “strategic blindness”:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Todd’s annual salary for ratings from disinformation is $750,000. In a coverup for buying into GOP propaganda, Todd claimed confusion about the motivations of GOP office holders spreading easily disproved lies:

“I don’t get why so many people are comfortable uttering stuff that they may know will look ridiculous in three or four years.”

Yet Todd has permitted Republicans to pass along the “ridiculous” stuff. Jay Rosen also wrote:

“Three years after Kellyanne Conway introduced the doctrine of ‘alternative facts’ on his own program, a light went on for Chuck Todd. Republican strategy, he now realized, was to make stuff up, spread it on social media, repeat it in your answers to journalists — even when you know it’s a lie with crumbs of truth mixed in — and then convert whatever controversy arises into go-get-em points with the base, while pocketing for the party a juicy dividend: additional mistrust of the news media to help insulate President Trump among loyalists when his increasingly brazen actions are reported as news.”

Another cover up was Todd’s attempt to change the Rolling Stone’s term “disinformation” to “misinformation,” pretending that U.S. senators are poorly informed instead of deliberately misleading the public through using Russian “disinformation.” Possibly to redeem his shredded reputation, Todd used “misinformation” as the theme for his year-end program. Ignoring the smear tactics of Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt for Communists and any other Republicans, Todd relied on two Democratic presidents, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, to show that the lying isn’t new. His narrative twice used Clinton’s statement “it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” to Rudy Giuliani’s saying, “Truth isn’t truth.” He also equated the GOP consistent lying, especially using Russian talking points, to a group of Democrats mistakenly using false evidence about Russian Twitter bots to elect Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race.

Meet the Press supposedly works for a balance between the two major political parties, but under Chuck Todd it became a sounding board for the lies of the far right. When he started this gig, Todd said he couldn’t ask hard questions because guests might not come on the show. His posture was far different from ethical hosts preceding him.

In 2014, soon after he became Meet the Press host, Todd supported the campaign for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a segment on Morning Joe. In commenting on the refusal of Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s Democratic opponent, to answer questions about whether she voted for President Obama, Todd sneered:

“And Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever gonna answer a tough question on anything? You wanna be a U.S. senator? If you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president … you can disagree with him but you can’t answer a basic question and you come across looking that ridiculous? I think she disqualified herself.”

McConnell used Todd and the word “disqualified” in a campaign video although Todd never specifically explained how Grimes “disqualified herself.” And Todd showed how Republicans should support DDT at any cost to the United States.

Before the same election when he was hosting Meet the Press, Todd praised Iowa’s GOP Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, for refusing to answer questions from any local newspaper boards and for her extreme position on “personhood.” Todd claimed the amendment would protect “unborn human beings.”

Earlier, Todd said that it’s not the media’s responsibility to correct lies, for example about the Affordable Care Act. Todd says that President Obama should have better messaging; on his program, Todd permitted then House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) deliver his “messaging” by accepting Boehner’s lies about the ACA. Todd accepted Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) lies about taxes and couldn’t understand how funding for infrastructure can save people’s lives. Todd also thought that Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) stunt with a snowball as proof against climate change was fun. 

Asked why 62 percent of his guests were white men, Todd said that it was because “you want to put the best, smartest people on.” After a white man killed nine black people in the Charleston (SC) church, Todd’s segment about convicted murderers showed only imprisoned black men. His book, The Stranger, blamed President Obama for income inequality, instability in the Middle East, and partisanship but ignored McConnell’s vow to block everything that Barack Obama did.

While Todd’s wife campaigned for presidential candidate Jim Webb in 2016, Todd asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) about the “trustworthiness” of Webb’s opponent Hillary Clinton and claimed that “there’s something just not quite right” about her campaign. In a hatchet job on candidate Sanders, Todd called him “pro-NRA” before saying that the U.S. had enough gun safety laws. Yet Todd let DDT waffle about his creating a controversy about whether Barack Obama was born in the United States. The list goes on about Todd’s agist, bigoted, racist complicity with far-right conspiracists and conspiracy theories.

Todd has not only been “naïve” while on Meet the Press; he was NBC’s political director for the previous seven years with influence over all coverage and supposedly the in-house expert on politics. Four years before DDT was elected, moderately conservatives Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein wrote:

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” Todd fails on both these points. Todd not only allows smear campaigns against Democrats on his program but also joins in to the attacks. Now Todd says that he was hornswoggled by learning that his GOP guests lie, but where will he go from here? Back to playing dumb to disinformation? Back to allowing lies to keep his salary?  

Republican Jennifer Rubin wrote about “one party operating with an objective that is antagonistic toward any and all facts unfavorable to its leader and the other trying, however imperfectly, to adhere to the old, normal rules of politics in which spin and self-puffery are permissible but out-and-out lies (especially more than 15,000 of them) are not.” Her solutions:

Screen guests and panelists about their disinformation: This solution would result in “howls” because most Republicans couldn’t get on the air, “not of media bias but of a party determined to sublimate truth to power,” with explanations for not allowing Republicans to speak on specific topics is easier in print such as  “Cruz lied, again insisting Ukraine. …”

Stop interviews when guests insist on lying: The host could call a halt and ask guests to correct the record before ending the interviews if guests refuse and explain that the program doesn’t provide “a platform for misinformation.”

Prerecord interviews: This system permits refusal to air propaganda or fact-check in real time what the guests statements—a simple approach for Sunday “news” shows.

“Avoid equating liars with truth tellers and giving ‘equal time’ to fabrications”: This approach is vital with “one party … an echo chamber for Russian propaganda.”

The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” As “news program” host, Todd not only promotes smear campaigns but contributes to them. His standard response to GOP lies is “We’ll have to leave it there.” No, you don’t!

[Note: Three days from now, Todd will likely listen to Republicans praising DDT for starting World War III in the Middle East.]

October 28, 2019

DDT: Corruption, Character

News events about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep rolling. Today, NYT broke news about how Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice reported worries about DDT’s pressuring Ukraine, especially asking “a foreign government [to] investigate a U.S. citizen.” He heard DDT’s July 25 telephone call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky offering quid pro quo. A decorated Iraq war veteran with a Purple Heart, Vindman will be the first White House official to testify with first-hand knowledge about the call. (Vindman’s opening statement.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the House will take its first formal vote on Thursday to “affirm” the impeachment investigation. The resolution will also cover procedures for public hearings and interview transcripts.

Military and intelligence officials cringed about DDT’s colorful description of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s capture, a combination of fabricated, tactically sensitive, and classified information that he presented to the world. Again, DDT presents himself only as an entertainer delivering an exciting narrative about covert life-and-death events. One official said:

“We agonized over what we would put in his briefings because who knows if and when he’s going to say something about it. He has no filter. But also if he knows something, and he thinks it’s going to be good to say or make him appear smarter or stronger, he’ll just blurt it out.”

Details such as the U.S. possessing documents about future ISIS plans damages military ability to use that information, and DDT’s report about capturing ISIS fighters complicates interrogation. He also revealed technology used in discovering the location and the raid itself as well as tactical details about the robot, helicopter flight patterns, methods of entering the compound, and even military dog training. DDT’s behavior belies his faux concern about fear that Democrats would leak information if they knew about the operation.

DDT invented his message to the Russians and performance of the “crying and screaming” from al-Baghdadi: the visuals of the raid had no audio. Some people surmised that the visual for DDT and others in the Situation Room was set up later to imitate the photo from that room during the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Back to last week’s corruption and fraud:

One arguing point by Republicans—although invalid—is that they are devoted to the U.S. Constitution. DDT finally openly repudiated the document that provide the supreme law of the United States with his term “phony Emoluments Clause.” The reference was made in high dudgeon after he backed out of having the G7 Summit at his personal resort, but a number of lawsuits already challenge his right to take money from foreign governments without congressional permission. He also argues that the constitutional impeachment process is unconstitutional and gave himself the right to spend federal funds wherever he wishes in violation of the constitution.

DDT also referred to the phony constitution when discussing his Washington, D.C. hotel. Thinking that he could escape multiple lawsuits about his constitutional violation, DDT considers selling the hotel, hoping for $500 million on a $200 million investment. Because DDT leases the building where the hotel is located, he would be selling only the rights to operate the hotel. The hotel’s building is owned by the government, making DDT both tenant and landlord, prohibited by the lease but still in operation. His lease costs $3 million a year plus a percentage of the profits, but DDT has not paid much over the base cost, indicating that the place is not profitable. He continues to run his own business, despite his assertion that he wouldn’t have any oversight; thus the sale would result in more conflicts of interest with a sale to people trying to curry favor. A House committee has subpoenaed DDT for documents to investigate his lease.

DDT may understand that his name is losing money. He has taken his name off two Central Park ice skating rinks. At one time, the arenas posted red signs with “Trump” around the rink and at the skate rental desk, signs now covered with a white tarp or with “Trump” in small print at the bottom. His name has even been removed from uniforms. Four concessions run by the Trump Organization—the two rinks, the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx, and the Michael Friedsam Memorial Carousel in Central Park—have either lost revenue or stayed flat since DDT was elected. The two rinks dropped by 5 percent. DDT’s name has been taken off six residential buildings in Manhattan and three hotels, all properties that had leased the Trump name.

New Jersey may revoke the liquor license for one of DDT’s golf clubs because of a 2015 case in which a man caused a fatal wreck after he was overserved alcohol at the club in Colts Neck. The man pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide after killing his father. DDT has 30 days to challenge the revocation. The club also violated state law by selling alcoholic drinks other than beer on carts throughout the golf course. According to state law, anyone with one liquor license revoked must give up all other licenses for two years. DDT has two other New Jersey golf clubs, one of them in Bedminster that he calls his summer White House. Alcohol sales provide golf courses its income.

DDT attacked Obama for not donating his presidential salary, but DDT has spent nearly 300 years of presidential salary on taxpayer-funded trips to play golf at his private clubs, including last weekend.

In DDT’s snitty micro-managing, he cancelled White House subscriptions to the Washington Post  and the New York Times. He also plans to order all his agencies to do the same. Almost a year ago, DDT tried to revoke or suspend the press passes of journalists with his objection as “fake news.” Judges have opposed this action twice thus far, but the DOJ is appealing the latest decision to allow the reporter to cover the White House. An argument against any suspension is “viewpoint discrimination” which DDT obviously has according to a tweet about “two nasty lightweight reporters” whose “reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE.” DDT’s bubble didn’t allow him to foresee the booing he faced at Game 5 of the World Series game after he was introduced. He was not happy.

DDT’s use of “fake news” may be short-lived. A Calgary (Alberta) communications agency joined the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to trademark the term and served DDT with a cease-and-desist to stop him from using the term.

A federal judge held DDT’s billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court because she failed to stop collecting loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students, a defunct for-profit college company that defrauded tens of thousands of borrowers. Judge Sallie Kim fined the Education Department $100,000, money used to compensate the 16,000 people damaged by the Education Department. She warned “additional sanctions” if the Educational Department continues to violate the injunction.

One of DeVos’ top officials, A. Wayne Johnson, has quit in an effort to become Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment to a U.S. Senate seat. Johnson has 500 competitors for the job. He came to the Education Department from his private student loan firm to manage $1.5 trillion in student loans, equal to Russia’s annual GDP and more than seven times Portugal’s GDP. As a going-away gift, Johnson wants to forgive up to $50,000 of student debt for each borrower at a cost of $925 billion. He says it could be financed by a one-percent tax on revenue generated by all employers including non-profit organizations. 

Student loan payments provided over 100 employees of student loan company Sallie Mae a five-day, expenses paid trip to Maui as the company celebrated record profits. The company made $5 billion from 374,000 borrowers. Sallie Mae provides private loans which charge much higher interest.

Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade representative, refused to answer six times when asked whether DDT is pressuring China to investigate Joe Biden as part of the trade talks. Sounds like a yes.

The DOJ tried to conceal the whistleblower complaint about the Ukraine phone call by not reporting the information to the FEC.

DDT has acquired only 16 percent of the land he needs in Texas for his wall because people don’t want to give up their land. Yet he may cause another shutdown in December if Congress doesn’t give him money for his monument.

Twice last week, GOP senators blocked election security bills. DDT already said that he would veto any bill requiring federal election campaigns to report “illicit offers” of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents.

DDT loves proclamations and last week was no different. For “National Character Counts Week,” he signed a statement encouraging future leaders to “lead lives of virtue and integrity” with a strong “moral compass.” He wants them to “demonstrate good character through our thoughts, discourse, and deeds” with deeds in our homes, schools, workplaces, and houses of worship. Let us set an example for others of the timeless values of respect, compassion, justice, tolerance, fairness, and integrity.” The signing of this proclamation that satirists like Andy Borowitz would write—but it’s for real.

Oddity of the week: DDT has released an attack ad against Hillary Clinton for the 2020 campaign.

June 22, 2019

DDT: Week 126, Threat Balloons Backfire, More Lies

This blog refers to the man inaugurated in 2016 and limited by the U.S. Constitution to two four-year terms as “dictator.” A video from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) shows his interest in being “president for life”—up until the year 10,000.

In his interview with Chuck Todd about the proposed preemptive strike on Iran, to be shown on Sunday, DDT claimed no planes in the air and no final approval. Planes were most likely in the air, however, because the operation required them to go from distant bases hours away from Iran. Unless there was an operation. DDT did declare that his on Iran would be “obliteration like you’ve never seen before.” People in the U.S. could be the ones obliterated. Even Fox network figured out that he is lying: Shep Smith and Chris Wallace both questioned DDT’s statements

Increasingly disenchanted with Fox, DDT also accusing them of “fake news” because of Fox polls showing Biden leading over DDT in several battleground states and disputing the Fox report that DDT spend 30 hours with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos—which he did. Fox’s Sean Hannity, who reportedly has nightly telephone pillow talk with DDT, is not as popular with DDT as shown by DDT’s comment that Hannity is motivated more by ratings than by patriotism. DDT also mocks Hannity’s fawning behind closed doors as dull and unchallenging. DDT may no longer need Hannity Since Paul Manafort is in prison for 7.5 years, DDT may not need Hannity who apparently illegally passed information between Manafort and DDT while Manafort waited in jail for his trial. A judge unsealed hundreds of emails between Hannity and Manafort, some of the time when Manafort was under a gag order not to communicate with anyone except lawyers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told DDT not to go through with his misbegotten war plans when DDT briefed her, joined in the White House by other congressional leaders Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). About the 3:00 pm meeting, Pelosi said, “Democratic leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.” DDT supposedly called off the strike at 7:00 pm, about two hours before the scheduled finale. Perhaps DDT obeyed Russia’s president Vladimir Putin who said that a U.S. attack on Iran would be a “catastrophe.” Bully and television performer, DDT loves drama and sends up threat balloons to find a reaction; hopefully the backlash was too much for him.

In another failed threat balloon, DDT defended his plan to deport “millions” tomorrow before tweeting that he was delaying the deportation “for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans” can agree on an (unidentified) resolution for “Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.” There won’t be a resolution because Republicans don’t want one. Pelosi tweeted, “Families belong together.” DDT disagrees although he lies about his position and blames the non-existent “sanctuary cities.” Houston police chief Art Acevedo in Houston, nowhere near giving sanctuary, tweeted his approval of blocking deportations:

“Rhetoric that causes fear & panic & pushes folks further into the dark places all at risk.”

Even acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who supervises ICE, knows that separating children from their parents is becoming political suicide. That’s the reason that GOP senators are crying “humanitarian” on a bill designed to get more money to separate families and cage children. The bill escaped a committee, but questions have been raised since publicity about the neglect and abuse of children on the southern border. Democrats need to be careful; DDT considers a wall “humanitarian aid.” DDT is good for human smuggling across the southern border. Every time he mentions his wall, more migrants head toward the United States. While DDT pushes billions for a southern border wall because of the illegal drug trade, $1.2 billion worth of cocaine was shipped into a Philadelphia port out of Chile, Panama, and the Bahamas—one of the biggest drug seizures in U.S. history. Although this shipment was discovered, Joaquín Guzman (“El Chapo”) has talked extensively about smuggling drugs through ports of entry.

The Senate is running short on time. Within 40 “working” days, the U.S. is ripe for a shutdown because of no bills for raising the debt ceiling and passing appropriations bills. GOP congressional leaders have a bipartisan deadlock with DDT on budgeting because acting chief of staff and budget director Mick Mulvaney’s agenda disagrees with DDT’s desires. The actions of Mulvaney, formerly a South Carolina GOP representative, are particularly galling to Republicans. During a White House meeting last Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested a one-year stopgap measure that keeps funding at its current levels with a one-year debt limit suspension, unpopular with Democrats. Schumer pointed out that McConnell blocked moving 2020 spending bills under “regular order” to please DDT. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said:

“Mulvaney does not want a deal, and I think that’s the biggest point.”

The group didn’t discuss offsets to pay for the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, a serious problem because Republicans will want to take money for the bottom 80 percent.

In an interview with Time, DDT lied when he said he never separated children from their parents. He falsely claimed, several times, that President Obama separated families and he (DDT) “ended separation.” A court ruled against DDT’s family separation, but he continued the practice after the court’s decision. DDT repeated his lies to José Díaz-Balart, anchor of “Noticias Telemundo,” in his first interview on a Spanish-language network. The rare occasions when President Obama separated children was for threats to children or adults detained for criminal convictions or felonies such as carrying drugs. In April 2018, the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions ordered every illegal entry case to be prosecuted, separating children from parents even if parents only committed a misdemeanor by crossing the border. Children were put in cages and sometimes didn’t recognize their parents after lengthy separations. 

In the Time interview reporters, DDT threatened a journalist with prison after he tried to take a picture of a letter that DDT claimed was “written by Kim Jong Un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand.” DDT went off the record for a few minutes, and a reporter later brought up the issue about DDT trying to “limit Mueller’s Russia probe to only future election meddling” and dictating a letter to Corey Lewandowski, “telling him to tell” former attorney general Jeff Sessions “to limit the investigation.” DDT told the journalist that “you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you—” Asked if he was threatening prison for the journalist, DDT went off on a rant, including how Time should make him “man of the year.” They did, just three years ago.

Some of DDT aides think they are above the law, just as DDT does. Kellyanne Conway indicated that the Hatch Act, that prevents all federal employees except DDT and the vice president from campaigning for candidate, doesn’t apply to her. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is also being investigated about his possible violation of the law preventing federal employees from political activities after the media reported that he is working with DDT’s campaign officials to work on fundraising strategies. Kushner is supposedly “the campaign’s key liaison in the West Wing” and has “multiple daily conversations” with campaign manager, Brad Parscale. In 2016, Kushner’s companies were also flagged for suspicious activity in Deutsche Bank money-laundering reviews. Ivanka Trump’s tweet with DDT’s campaign slogan “Make America Great” and her claim that “the best is yet to come” on her government Twitter account may also violate  the Hatch Act:

“Four years ago today, I introduced my father @realDonaldTrump when he launched a Campaign that would forever change America. Because of his courage, Americans are safer and more prosperous…and the best is yet to come!”

Last week when DDT kicked off his 2020 campaign in Orlando, a place surrounded by swamp, the city’s newspaper Orlando Sentinel, traditionally endorsing Republicans, made its 2020 endorsement: not DDT.

“After 2½ years we’ve seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. So many lies—from white lies to whoppers—told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity. The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that. We can do better. We have to do better.”

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial wasn’t much more supportive, asking why DDT should be re-elected if he didn’t do anything in his first term. About DDT’s Orlando speech:

“The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile. [The people who aren’t core supporters] want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

“On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.”

DDT’s staunch supporter, The Washington Examiner, retracted a story repeating DDT’s lies that a New York Times “fed information” to the FBI about Jared Kushner. The complete story is here.

DDT’s lies and chaos have lost him some right-wing media.

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