Nel's New Day

January 18, 2022

President Biden’s First Year

Thursday is the first anniversary of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, and the media have preached doom and gloom for his prospects since Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) turned against the voting act and Build Back Better jobs bill months ago. His average polling at this time is 42 percent, and COVID’s variant Omicron has sent the number of infections and even deaths sky high after Republicans decided they wouldn’t get vaccinated. A higher-than-usual inflation rate, blamed on Biden, also comes from price gouging by big businesses while they pay far less or no taxes than before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Hurt by storms, lack of manufacturing, and a shortage of labor from the pandemic also attacked the supply chain. Biden was blamed for its problems but given no credit for improvement. 

History, however, shows that serious problems in a president’s first year doesn’t predict defeat. Two-term Ronald Reagan spent his first year in a serious economic recession after disastrous anti-inflationary policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and the two political parties were fighting about Reagan’s shredding the social safety net. Reagan’s approval fell to 41 percent within 18 months in a far less politically polarized time with no pandemic and no sniping from a former president. His standing improved with his taking credit for a better economy, and he won in 1984 by standing up against the Soviet Union.

Bill Clinton, also two terms, won his second election in 1996 despite problems with the recovering recession during the first year of his first term and a population angered by his health plan. Fifteen months after his first inauguration, his approval rating dropped to 37 percent, and the GOP took over Congress in 1994, shutting down the government in both 1995 and 1996. Voters put the blame on House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the other Republican for the legislative dysfunction. Clinton also received praise for his toughness after the April 1995’s bombing by an extremist in Oklahoma City, and he ended his second term with an approval rating of 66 percent despite his GOP impeachment.

When Barack Obama became president in 2009, the country was in dire economic circumstances from George W. Bush’s wars, tax cuts, and deregulated housing. Conservatives bitterly fought Obama for his Affordable Care Act, worrying people on the left. His approval rating dropped from 68 percent at inauguration to 46 percent 21 months later, and, as is customary, the midterm elections gave House control to Republicans. As usual under Democrats, the economy rebounded even when Republicans threatened catastrophe by fighting an increase in the debt ceiling.  

Republican Jennifer Rubin describes the media’s destructive tendencies toward Biden in her column, “Dear Media, Stop Giving Republicans the Benefit of the Doubt.” In the media’s efforts “to make the authoritarian and often blatantly racist party seem ‘normal,’” it depicted Virginia’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin, as distancing himself from DDT, according to Rubin. “The coverage rarely scrutinized his positions, such as his potentially disastrous proposed tax cuts or his aversion to mask mandates, a critical part of Virginia’s school reopening.” His first day on the job, Youngkin catered to white supremacists by banning critical race theory, not taught in the schools, from the curriculum as well as blocking mask mandates. Rubin continues with more examples and explains:

“This refusal by the media to render judgment on the GOP’s cult leaders has gone on for more than six years. Despite replete evidence of Trump’s inability to distinguish truth from fiction, his self-image of grandiosity and his fixation on conspiracy theories, the mainstream media failed to characterize Trump’s conduct as abnormal.”

In DDT’s Arizona rally last weekend, he insisted on this lie:

“The left is now rationing lifesaving therapeutics based on race, discriminating against and denigrating, just denigrating, White people to determine who lives and who dies. If you’re White, you don’t get the vaccine, or if you’re White, you don’t get therapeutics.”

DDT’s referred to violent insurrectionists on January 6 as “political prisoners”; 200 of them already pled guilty to crimes. Then he bragged about the size of his crowd that day as “the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken before.” Politico covered the crowd cheered “as [DDT] aired complaints about the election and made swipes at the Biden administration.” Rubin asked if he was “airing complaints” or “making positively ludicrous claims.” She concludes:

“Anodyne descriptions that slot Trump’s antics into “politics as usual” mislead news consumers. To make matters worse, interviewers avoid asking Republicans how they can pledge loyalty to someone so bonkers.

“Certainly, the media should avoid rendering a psychiatric evaluation for Trump. But they routinely refuse to convey the abnormality on display before them. This is “the emperor has no clothes” on steroids.

“Unflinching, brutally honest coverage would describe Trump’s behavior accurately, including his syntax and preposterous lies. It would concede this conduct would be disqualifying for any business executive or even a small-town mayor. The media are compelled to level with voters: The two parties are not equivalent, in part because one treats its crackpot leader like a messiah. Unfortunately, there are no signs the media are ready for such candor.”

In a demonstration of Rubin’s criticism of the media, Politico’s daily West Wing Playbook, a summary of the Biden administration, began with “Even JENNIFER RUBIN thinks JOE BIDEN is in trouble,” citing her column, “Biden needs a reset. Here’s how he can do it.” It ignored her commentary on the media. 

A year ago, Biden identified four major issues: COVID, climate, economy, and racial justice. Since then, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin made Ukraine another one, and Republicans added the loss of democracy in the United States.

COVID: Vaccinations went well until Republicans refused them, helping cause first the Delta variant and then the Omicron. His plan to provide free testing, however, took off a day early with federal mailings of tests or insurance companies paying for tests.

Climate: Senate Republicans plus Democratic senators Manchin and Sinema delayed many of his plans, including the Build Back Better bill, although he issued several executive orders to fight global warming. Biden has made several appointments prioritizing climate change, reversed DDT’s anti-environmental policies, and rejoined the Paris climate accords.

Economy: Jobless claims are at a 50-year low, the stock market has hit records, and the nation’s economy is the fastest-growing in the world with 6.4 million jobs added, the most for any first-year president, and unemployment dropped from 6.3 percent to 3.9 percent in a year, the lowest for the pandemic. The GDP grew by seven percent in the last quarter of 2021, and wages rose by 4.7 percent in the past year. With almost no media on these improvement, most people notice only the seven-percent inflation for the year, the most in 40 years from struggles in the supply chain, Middle East oil prices, and unfettered free enterprise allowing businesses to profit by trillions of dollars. 

Racial justice: Biden’s infrastructure law has provided $5 billion for Black farmers, and he named an historically diverse administration. He is still pushing for a voting rights law despite opposition from Republicans and the two Democratic senators.

Russia: Standing firm against Putin’s attempt to take over Ukraine, Biden makes a huge contrast to DDT.

Democracy: In Georgia, Biden made his strongest speech thus far, indicating that he understands he cannot persuade the Republicans to support democracy and instead must fight for it. He has always supported bipartisanship, but by the end of his first year, he understands that the only unity with the majority of the GOP legislature would be to cave in to everything they want. This majority believes their only solution is to follow DDT’s “big lie” of a stolen election, one that supports white supremacy. In the upcoming year, the House January 6 investigation committee will be one of the leading tools to support democracy for the United States.

Journalist Dan Froomkin decries the lack of coverage regarding the erosion of democracy as conservatives promote authoritarianism and fascism. In December, columnist Dana Milbank wrote:

“The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative. And we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians.”

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen told CNN’s Brian Stelter:

“News organizations have to come out and say, we are pro-democracy, pro-truth, pro-science, pro- evidence, pro-voting. Then they have to figure out for each of those new pros, what practices are we going to retire because they don’t meet that standard, and what are we going to start to do routinely that we didn’t do before?”

Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein called on journalists to “cover democracy like it matters.” And columnist Margaret Sullivan despaired that “news organizations are not making democracy-under-siege a central focus of the work they present to the public.” The Columbia Journalism Review gave more journalistic failings regarding a support for democracy in the press. The Fourth Estate needs to consider democracy in the second year of Biden’s term. 

In addition to fighting the massive far-right media, Biden must push against a selfish criminal who, like many of his supporters, believes himself the legal president of the U.S., and the “mainstream” media, owned by conservatives, searching for excitement, not accuracy. Conservatives view Biden’s politeness as weakness and dementia, and opposition from a political party determined to win at any costs is considered lack of unity. Yet he’s brought the nation a long way in just 365 days.

October 5, 2021

‘Pandora Papers’ Expose the Elite, South Dakota

Huge stories tend to disappear as soon as another one comes into the media; i.e., the shift from the Pandora Papers tax haven scandal morphing into the Facebook scandal. Because the latter directly affects more people in the U.S., it will dominate the media until the Senate Republicans cause a recession by blocking an increase in the debt ceiling, necessary because of their debts with Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Therefore, Pandora first.

In Works and Days (ca. 700 BC), Hesiod wrote about the Greek mythology of Pandora, whose curiosity was so great that she opened a “box,” actually a large storage jar, left in the care of her husband, Epimetheus. Out came curses such as sickness and death. The message from the story is that opening a Pandora’s box will create many unforeseen problems. Thus the name for this last Sunday’s revelations called “Pandora’s Papers.”

Based on nearly 12 million documents, almost 3 terabytes of data from five continents, the report on hidden financial dealings of the elite and corrupt using offshore accounts to conceal trillions of dollars was prepared by over 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. They searched files from over 29,000 offshore accounts held by over 130 Forbes-identified billionaires and 330 current and former politicians in 14 offshore service providers around the world. Involved were 35 world leaders including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso; others are associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak, and former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds Robert T. Brockman. Prominent athletes, models, and artists including India’s famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, pop music star Shakira, and supermodel Claudia Schiffer also hide their assets in these offshore accounts reported in the Pandora Papers.

Contracts, spreadsheets, memos, incorporation records, share certificates, compliance reports, emails—even complex diagrams of corporate structures—from 14 world-wide internet servers provided details of schemes to conceal assets from creditors, investigators, taxation, and people. Many of the records reveal the real owners of shell companies for the first time. Complicit in the sheltering of assets are banks, law firms, accountants, and the countries which permit the secrecy. In the U.S. alone, journalists found 206 U.S. trusts in 15 states and Washington, D.C. from 22 trustee companies.

A major location in the U.S., South Dakota, “rivals Switzerland, Panama, the Cayman Islands, and other famous tax havens as a premier venue for the international rich seeking to protect their assets from local taxes or the authorities.” The state’s low taxes and highly generous trust laws lead the world’s billionaires to that location, according to Chuck Collins, author of The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions. For example, Horst Happel, fined $88 million in 2016 for underpaying workers at his Brazilian orange juice company, moved many of his assets to South Dakota the next year. The state also became the location for trusts moved from the Bahamas and set up by Carlos Morales Troncoso, former vice president of the Dominican Republican and accused of human rights violations at his sugar company, Central Romana. Through these trusts, wealth can be hidden for generations and even centuries. 

Suzanne Garment, author of Scandal: The Culture of Mistrust in American Politics, wrote about South Dakota’s successfully abolishing limits of a trust’s lifespan by making them permanently private. Other popular states for hiding assets are Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Texas. According to Collins, these places make the United States “the weak link now in the system of global financial transparency.”

Writing about all the hidden assets, tax policy lead at Susana Ruiz at Oxfam International stated:

“This is where our missing hospitals are. This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-Covid recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look.

Tax havens cost governments around the world $427 billion each year. That is the equivalent of a nurse’s yearly salary every second of every hour, every day. Ordinary taxpayers have to pick up the pieces. Developing countries are being hardest hit, proportionately.”

OxFam wants world governments to end these tax havens with these steps:

  • End tax secrecy on individuals, offshores, and multinational corporations.
  • Set up a public register on the real owners of bank accounts, trusts, shell companies, and assets.
  • Require multinational corporations to publicly report their accounts where they do business, country-by-country.
  • Increase the use of automatic exchange, allowing revenue authorities access to information they need to track the money.
  • End corporate profit shifting to tax havens via new rules, and by setting a global minimum tax under the OECD’s BEPS deal, ideally of around 25%.
  • Agree on a global blacklist of tax havens and take counter measures, including sanctions, to limit their use.
  • Set a new global agenda on taxing wealth and capital fairly while addressing tax competition between countries on high-net-worth-individuals, either on income or wealth, against agreed standards.

A few findings in the Pandora Papers:

  • The largest law firm in the U.S., Baker McKenzie, helped created the modern offshore scheme with extensive financial system lobbying.
  • A Panama firm, ALCOGAL, helped banks through the world create thousands of offshore accounts for hiding money.
  • The large U.S. bank Morgan Stanley asked ALCOGAL to set up 312 companies in the British Virgin Islands.
  • Noted museums, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, contain looted Cambodian antiquities trafficked through U.S. art trader Douglas Latchford’s offshore trust.
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah II bought $106 million worth of luxury homes in the U.S. and UK including three Malibu beachfront homes as well as $10 million worth of condominiums in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.
  • Cyprus president, Nicos Anastasiades, founded a law firm accused of hiding the assets of a controversial Russian billionaire behind fake company owners.
  • Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis used shell companies to purchase a $22 million chateau near Cannes in 2009. Babis is up for re-election this week.  

Although offshore accounts may not be illegal by themselves, tax evaders, fraudsters, and money launderers often take advantage of their secrecy. Countries are also deprived of tax revenue when money, at least $11.3 trillion in wealth, is concealed offshore. Australia, Britain, and Pakistan plan to investigate the revelations.

On Friday, Congressional members plan to introduce the ENABLERS Act, to attack global corruption, part of which denies corrupt foreign officials safe haven. The announcement came from Reps. John Curtis (R-UT) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), co-chairs of a new caucus against kleptocracy. The GOP co-lead of the bill may be Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL), daughter of Cuban exiles familiar with autocrats in the Western Hemisphere. The main provision would require lawyers, investment advisers, art dealers, realtors, accounts, public relations firms—those identified in financial corruption—to perform “due diligence” to ensure their clients aren’t using money of suspicious origin; i.e., proceeds of crime. Banks are supposedly already bound by this requirement. Industries, however, can be expected to fight back against such mandates, and many Republicans will complain about regulations. 

According to Josh Rudolph, a corruption expert with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, other countries with similar regulations require these entities to “have compliance officers, trainings, audits, and controls reasonably designed to spot potential money laundering by identifying customers, scrutinizing transactions, keeping records, and reporting suspicious activity to the government.” In the U.S., some anti-corruption legislation has moved forward, for example into the House-approved version of the National Defense Authorization:

  • Require the administration to evaluate 35 people linked to Putin for potential sanctions.
  • Counter efforts by other countries to abuse tools offered by Interpol.
  • Require reporting on how other countries are battling corruption.
  • Simplify publicizing names of allegedly corrupt officials facing U.S. visa bans.
  • Regularly publicize how much money stolen from other countries is recovered by U.S. law enforcement.
  • Reauthorize the Global Magnitsky Act, permitting economic sanctions on corrupt individuals and human rights abusers.

President Joe Biden is currently writing rules for a law, passed during DDT’s term, banning the anonymous registration of shell companies, major drivers of the corruption identified in the Pandora Papers. A goal in the upcoming virtual Summit for Democracy for world leaders on December 9-10, 2021.

The current administration, however, may be too weak to help the U.S. democracy and block corruption. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told Democrats that paying DDT’s debts from the past term is their entire responsibility and then blocks them from doing it by involking the filibuster. Current Republicans would rather destroy the country than come up with ideas that might get them elected.  

July 26, 2020

DDT Pushes Chaos with His Militia in U.S. Cities

Not satisfied with causing unrest in Portland (OR) with his federal militia, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) moved on to create chaos in other cities. This week, protests in cities across the nation turned violent: police and protesters clashed in Seattle, Los Angeles, Richmond, Omaha, and more as law enforcement attacked people with tear gas and pepper spray. A man in Austin was shot and killed, and a Jeep in Denver injured a protester by speeding through people marching on an interstate. In Seattle, a U.S. District judge permitted pepper spray, rubber bullets, flash grenades, and blast balls, earlier banned by a city council ordinance. A “Wall of Moms” has been formed in the city, modeled after the one in Portland, to protest the arrival of DDT’s militia.

Portland is DDT’s prototype to take over U.S. cities. The following is a first-hand report from a medical doctor who has attended the Portland demonstrations since early July when DDT sent in his personal militia. A general surgeon, the protester retired as Chief Medical Officer of a Vancouver (WA) hospital and just finished his term as Chairman of the Washington Medical Commission (the state agency licensing and overseeing all doctors in the state). A community leader and intelligent, educated, informed person, he is not one to exaggerate or spread misinformation. These are his observations:

“1. The protests are confined to a two-block radius around the courthouse, and if you’re four blocks away, you can’t tell anything has been happening. There is nothing going on outside of that region, and Portland is functioning as normally as the pandemic will allow. It is not burning, nor is it out of control.

“2. The protesters are absolutely peaceful at the protests that I have been part of, and with the exception of graffiti, are completely within their constitutional rights to protest. The protests involve singing, chanting, and “white walls” to block whites who are trying to disrupt or corrupt the protests. Yes, cursing is rather commonplace. More than one-half of the protesters are white. All are protesting for Black Lives Matter, although the entrance of the federal paramilitary force has brought out a lot of people, including myself, who are incensed at the use of unregulated federal force against law abiding citizen and against the will of the state and local governments.

“3. ALL of the protesters are wearing masks to minimize transmission of CoV-2. However, as at times there are 1000 or more of us, it is hard (though not impossible) to maintain social distancing. When the federal paramilitary force is deployed, it becomes impossible.

“4. The police responds were unprovoked and brutal, but nothing like the paramilitary force. There is a court order that forbids the police to use teargas. I was not there when it was just the police.

“5. At the protests I have attended, I did not witness any unlawfulness on the part of the protesters.  Each time, the federal paramilitary personnel launched an apparently unprovoked attack. There have been no “riots.” The federal paramilitary force has no training in crowd control, has no oversight, was not invited to Portland by local leadership, does not have any form of identification, do not wear name badges, and wears military camo. They are heavily armed with flash-bang grenades, less-lethal bullets, pepper bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas. They pull goggles off of protesters and spray pepper spray into their eyes. They used a baton to beat a US Navy vet, broke his hand, and sprayed pepper spray in his eyes because he asked why they weren’t honoring their vow to protect the constitution. During the assault, he stood still and did not resist until blinded by the pepper spray when he turned around and walked away. The “line of mothers” on Sunday was gassed and shot with less-lethal bullets for chanting Black Lives Matter. At least one was pregnant. A protester holding a sign up with both hands was shot in the head with a “non-lethal” bullet and will likely have permanent brain damage. While I have not personally seen this, there are videos of people being kidnapped into unmarked vans by the federal paramilitaries as they left the protests, held for a couple of days, interrogated, then released without charges or explanation. At this time, re-read my first two points. The protests are no threat to Portland and only encompass a two-block area. They have been peaceful, with graffiti as the only illegal activity.  They are well controlled and supported by a cross section of Portlanders. There is no reason for the federal government to be involved, and the excessive force being used appears to be nothing more than a political show of force against US Citizens by the Trump administration. 

“6. About 3000 protesters showed up last night (July 21); all with masks, very well behaved. Certainly no chaos, no violence on the part of the protesters. I left at 10:30, the paramilitary attacked at 12:30. I spent an hour talking to the medics. They say they are being targeted by the paramilitary personnel.  They are often the first to be shot at and tear gassed. When they try to help an injured protester, the paramilitary personnel throw flash-bangs and tear gas at them (they carry gas masks). One of them was beaten, dragged away from the injured person they were treating and arrested. They are from OHSU as well as Portland Fire.

“7. The Elk statue was taken down by the Police to “protect” it, but the Elk statue was a favorite of the protesters because it was uncontroversial; so they got a blow-up elk and put it where the real statue used to stand. It’s sort of a rallying point.”

“This should concern, if not terrify, all of us. This is an unidentified and unaccountable federal police presence attacking American citizens who are not violating any federal laws. This is literally how the ‘secret police’ in other authoritarian regimes began. The comparison to the early stages of Nazi Germany is NOT AN EXAGGERATION anymore.”

“Silence is complacency. Please share this post. Please spread this information. Please get involved. Do not allow or condone this conduct by our federal government. I don’t care which political party you support, this is an affront to the U.S. Constitution and the founding principles of our nation.”

 Legal lawsuits regarding law enforcement brutality against protesting:

Federal judge Michael Simon barred federal officers from using force, threats, and dispersal orders against journalists and legal observers for two weeks. He wrote:

“The free press is the guardian of the public interest, and the judiciary is the guardian of the press.”

Simon’s order is similar to the one he issued against Portland police, but it allows for liability against individual federal officers or their supervisors for any “willful violation” of his order. He also disagreed with the federal argument that journalists don’t have a right to stay, observe, or document when federal agents “close” public streets. He noted:

“Federal Defendants are not the entities that ‘close’ state public streets and parks; that is a local police function.”

He also wrote a job of journalists and legal observers is to determine if “the ‘closing’ of public streets (e.g., declaring a riot) is lawfully originated and carried out.” The lawyer opposing Simon’s decision admitted federal officers have no evidence of crimes by journalists or legal observers during demonstrations. Police and federal agents cannot arrest, threaten to arrest, or use force against a person “who they know or reasonably should know” is a journalist or legal observer. Officers cannot seize their cameras, audio or videotaping equipment, or press passes unless they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the order says. This restraining order against local police doesn’t expire until October 30.

Denis Vannier, senior deputy city attorney, said the city backed the restriction of federal officers because of “the disconnect between the federal defense’s legal position and really the facts on the ground.” He reminded the court Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was tear gassed in explaining the use of force by federal officers is disproportionate to the threat they face. The problems are “happening despite the city’s repeated request” for them to stay inside the courthouse and ultimately leave Portland altogether. When Simon asked about federal officers’ crowd-control training, the federal lawyer said he didn’t know about specialized training. The judge made reference to the baton-battering of the Navy veteran who didn’t threaten anyone, the assault on 26-year-old Donavan LaBella shot in the head for holding a music speaker above his head across the courthouse, and federal officers’ picking people up off the street.

U.S District Judge Michael Mosman denied a lawsuit from Oregon’s AG Ellen Rosenblum for federal agents to identify themselves when seizing protesters and stop arrests without probable cause. He also ruled Oregon lacks standing to bring a suit on behalf of protesters or others targeted by federal officers. Rosenblum is concerned Oregon may have no recourse on behalf of the state.

A county judge in Seattle ordered media outlets to turn photographs and video footage of a May 30 demonstration over to police.

DDT’s militia has been accused of war crimes and violating the Geneva Convention and the International Criminal Court statutes for destroying medical equipment during the Portland protests when they pepper sprayed medical supplies in medics’ tents. Article 19 of the 1949 Geneva Convention states:

“Fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical Service may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”

A lawsuit alleges federal agents “brutally attacked” volunteer medics in violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights. 

Inspectors general at the DOJ and DHS claim they will investigate the federal agents’ behavior in Portland. At DHS, Joseph Cuffari, DDT’s minion, has proved so incompetent that not much can be expected from him. Michael Horowitz at the DOJ has a better reputation.  

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he wished DDT attacked the coronavirus half as hard as he is attacking the city of Portland.

Photographer Mathieu Lewis-Rolland reported on the federal agents’ brutality including directly pointing their weapon at him although he was well marked with the word “press” on his helmet, T-shirt, and backpack. He also wraps his camera in fluorescent tape. Federal agents still shoot at him with “less-than-lethal” munitions, hard plastic bullets filled with lead, causing serious injuries to others.  

An overview of Monday night’s protest in cities across the nation.

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.]

December 15, 2018

DDT: Week 99 – More Highlights

Biggest news today! Ryan Zinke resigned (was fired?) as Secretary of the Interior because the House may investigate multiple allegations of his violating ethics rules. Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, former lobbyist for fossil fuel industries who may be more evil than Zinke in policy-making, will temporarily assume leadership at the agency that oversees federal land, wildlife, and American Indian relations. Will someone still have to fly the agency flag when Bernhardt is in his office, and what will happen to all the commemorative coins with Zinke’s name?

In yesterday’s surprise, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) named Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director and controller of the gelded Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for his “acting” chief of staff. Mulvaney plans to keep his Budget gig as an escape hatch. Earlier, he indicated he wouldn’t take the position, preferring Treasury or Commerce. DDT may have promised Mulvaney the position he wants after he fires Mnuchin or Wilbur Ross, in trouble for the citizenship question on the 2020 census. A lawsuit against Ross goes to trial on January 7, 2019.

The chief-of-staff job opened after DDT fired John Kelly and Nick Ayers, DDT’s choice, fired DDT. Steve Mnuchin (Treasury) and Robert Lighthizer (Trade), said they liked their jobs, and Chris Christie turned down the gig. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), leader of the House Freedom Caucus, begged for it, but DDT turned him down. AG Matt Whitaker and son-in-law Jared Kushner were possibilities, but they might both be indicted soon. Part of Mulvaney’s new job includes coping with the Russian scandal, handling DDT’s instability, and getting Democrats in the House to do what DDT wants, but House Democrats don’t like the former far-right representative.

At Arlington Cemetery today, DDT praised the Texas judge who ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional—an excellent place to call no health care for people “a great victory.” Concern about health care among voters during the recent election led many GOP candidates to falsely state that they had always supported insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans will again be in trouble if a health care crisis reappears front and center.

Pandering to his base, DDT issued a directive to stop creating mice with human-like immune systems using human fetal tissue, an order that shuts down HIV research. The mice were ready to be shipped, but HHS called a halt to the delivery. More research can be destroyed if non-NIH labs receiving NIH funding are banned from using the fetal tissue. Scientists at UCLA have used these mice for 25 years; getting the directive immediately reverse still extends any discovery for at least a year.

Department of Energy plans to reclassify high-level radioactive waste residue from producing nuclear weapons to low-level, like hospital wipes and clothes, so that it can be more easily—and dangerously—distributed. Among affected facilities is Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state on the Oregon border, the most highly contaminated area half the size of Rhode Island. Public comment originally stopped on December 10, but Sen. Rn Wyden (D-OR) asked for an extension until January 9.

DDT’s new “Opportunity Zones” for “economically distressed” areas, created in the 2017 tax bill, benefits his own business and those of his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his New York developer friend Richard LeFrak. DDT’s planned developments in Greenville (MS) and New Jersey could be eligible for the tax break as could Kushner’s two Maryland properties. State governors can pick places such as downtown Charleston (SC) and West Palm Beach. Legislation lacks accountability by failure to require that investments benefit the community or collect and report data about investors, kinds of investments, and subjects impacted by the program.

When the government hired Accenture Federal Services $13.6 million to recruit border protection staffing, taxpayers gave the company $13.6 million for two accepted job offers with no records for any other applicants.

Texting, a common form of telecommunication, can now be blocked and censored because DDT’s FCC classified it as an “information service.” People who live in areas with a variety of wi-fi providers can switch to keep their texts from being blocked, but those with limited providers lack the same advantage.

DDT’s coalition with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Russia weakens a UN report on the disastrous climate change through their refusal to endorse the document. He also reaffirmed his removal of the United States from the Paris agreement to reduce fossil fuel emissions. At the G20 summit, only the U.S. refused to endorse a statement affirming the Paris climate accord, signing a document only after language about DDT’s decision to exit the Paris compact. Fifty-eight percent of people in the U.S. agree that human activity accelerates climate change.

VP Mike Pence may have been roundly ridiculed for being a silent bobblehead at DDT’s disastrous meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), but he took time to cast a tie vote in the Senate that put Jonathan Kobes onto the 8th Circuit Court for a lifetime appointment—the first time any VP broke a tie to put a judge on a circuit court. The ABA gave Kobes a “not qualified” rating because he “has neither the requisite experience nor evidence of his ability to fulfill the scholarly writing required of a United States Circuit Court Judge.” Over 200 civil and human rights groups opposed Kobes because he opposes marriage equality and defended crisis pregnancy centers (fake women’s health care centers).

Other “not qualified” nominees to be confirmed are U.S. Circuit Judge Leonard Steven Grasz, “unable to separate his role as an advocate from that of a judge” because of his strong anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion views; U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin, lacking the ability to fulfill the demands of a federal judge because of his frequent absence from the courthouse as a magistrate judge; and U.S. District Judge Holly Teeter, without trial court experience. DDT and the GOP have seated two Supreme Court justices, 30 circuit judges, and 53 district judges—most of them anti-LGBTQ rights, anti-voting rights, and anti-abortion.

Facing a government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has caved in to a possible vote on a criminal reform bill after DDT’s specifically demand. McConnell had avoided a vote on the bill because of “no” votes from the most conservative senators, according to Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/421328-senate-heads-toward-floor-fight-on-criminal-justice-bill  The Senate may have to stay in session over Christmas instead departing this week as scheduled.

At least 14 DDT associates interacted with Russians during DDT’s campaign and presidential transition, Russians who seemed to take cues from DDT or coordinate with his requests. DDT continues to lie about the cost of Mueller’s investigation, falsely stating an estimate of $40 million instead of the actual $25 million. Ken Starr’s six-year investigation of Whitewater, leading to the president’s impeachment for lying under oath, cost over $70 million, but no one was indicted. During his 18 months’ investigation, Mueller indicted 34 people and three companies while garnering guilty pleas from seven of them including five ex-DDT aides. Mueller has paid for his investigation thus far with fines, penalties, and forfeited real estate properties.

In honor of DDT’s lying, WaPo has created the Bottomless Pinocchio, awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they engage in campaigns of disinformation. The claim must receive at least three Pinocchios from the Fact Checker and be repeated at least 20 times. Only DDT, with at least 14 qualifying statements, has thus far achieved the Bottomless Pinocchio, for example: the U.S. spent $7 trillion in the Middle East (36 times); the U.S. pays most of NATO costs (87 times); Democrats colluded with Russia during the election (48 times); Robert Mueller has conflicts of interest (30 times); the U.S. economy is the best in U.S. history (99 times); a wall is necessary to stop drugs from crossing the border (40 times); U.S. steel is building new plants (37 times).

DDT’s lies trickle down to his agencies. After repeated DDT falsehoods about having started to build his wall, DHS announced that it has begun building a 30-foot “border wall,” higher than any ever built. NBC patiently explained “construction on a new section of border barrier has not yet begun and won’t this year.” The DHS is also the agency claiming that they aren’t separating migrant children from parents and that they have returned them. They also tried to conceal the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl from lack of care in their custody before blaming her father.

Last month, DDT told a reporter that he cannot imagine anyone else being Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” He has always felt it to be an honor instead of “the man, woman, group or concept that has had the most influence on the world during the previous 12 months.” For 2018, Time picked “the Guardians,” journalists who have been persecuted throughout the world, including attacks by DDT, in an ongoing “war on truth.” Four separate covers honor these brave people, including Jamal Khashoggi, tortured and dismembered by Saudi Arabia royalty, and the staff of the Capital Gazette, where five of them were shot dead in their Maryland newsroom. Time has never before selected someone no longer alive for this honor. They did so because his influence grew because of his death. DDT has responded to Time with tweets displaying increased invective against the media.

A Fox poll shows that at this time 55 percent of respondents would definitely/probably vote against DDT. Only 38 percent could vote for him.

September 8, 2016

‘Special Treatment’ for Hillary Clinton

Last night’s precursor of the presidential debates shows the importance of a good moderator. Matt Lauer isn’t one. He started by grilling Hillary Clinton on her emails—taking up a full one-third of her time—that he could have used for issues such as military strategy, leadership goals, policy positions, etc. When he finally got around to the subject of the townhall—national security and veterans issues—he hurried her through her answers by interrupting her, something he didn’t do once to Trump. She was limited in discussing policy while Trump was permitted to lie without confrontation and then spend much of his time in generalities such as defining his qualifications to be commander-in-chief as having “good judgment” and “common sense.” MSNBC should be embarrassed about this debacle; it felt much like a performance on the Fox network.

Trump’s major position in protecting the country is that it has bad generals, “reduced to rubble” to be specific. Trump’s plan to defeat ISIS: he already has a plan. But then he said he’ll tell his top generals to create a plan. Which is it? And he’ll do it in 30 days. George W. Bush said “Mission Accomplished” 40 days after he invaded Iraq, and the U.S. is still in a quagmire there. Trump is also under the misguided impression that he can change all the generals to those who agree with him, but he doesn’t appoint them. He may nominate them, but the Senate has to approve his appointments.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is better than Obama, Trump said, because Putin’s approval ratings are higher. Throughout the townhall Trump had nothing bad to say about Putin and nothing good to say about the U.S. president. Lauer also failed to point out that dictators typically have high approval ratings.

Trump claims that he’s studying policy but excuses himself from knowing anything by saying, “I’m campaigning, I’m running a business, I’ve got a lot of hats right now.” Trump doesn’t want to remove women from the military, but he blames the high number of sexual assaults in the military on the fact that men and women are serving again. Trump is unaware that 53 percent of these assaults in 2012 were of men and almost entirely by men. Over half the assaults in 2015 were still of men. Lauer appeared totally unaware of this information.

Lauer’s introductory question to Trump was what he had done to be commander-in-chief. He answered, “Well, I’ve built a great company. I’ve been all over the world.” Then he proceeded to lie about opposing the Iraq War from the beginning and the U.S. intervention in Libya that overturned late dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Lauer failed to point out that Trump initially supported the Iraq War and called on the U.S. to intervene—leaving the audience with the idea that Trump was being truthful. By the finish, Lauer had failed to ask Trump about his dodging the draft, ridiculing POW Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), smearing a Gold Star family, comparing experience in prep school to serving in the military, calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s email server, and bragging about getting a Purple Heart because a soldier gave Trump his medal. Nor did Lauer ask about the affect that a Muslim ban would have on potential ISIS terrorism in the U.S. This in a discussion about national security and veterans affairs in front of an audience of veterans.

In the past, journalists believed that the truth had value. Now their position is that political candidates lie however they want with no questioning. Chris Wallace, moderator of the October 19 presidential debate, said, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad.” Lauer also showed his inability to handle Trump. Although he told the candidates to not be negative, Trump spent over half his time attacking Clinton and President Obama—perhaps because he doesn’t know anything about being a commander-in-chief. Lauer also failed to gather any specifics from Trump.

Trump has spent several months saying that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s being audited, despite his statement that the years 2002-2008 are no longer being audited. (Of course, no one knows for sure that any of his tax returns are being audited.) Then he switched to saying that it would be “irresponsible” to do that. The most recent statement before last night was that “I think people don’t care. I don’t think anybody cares, except some members of the press.” Actually, the man who follows polls so closely should know that 74 percent of the people think he should release them—including 62 percent of the Republicans. Even his running mate, Mike Pence wants him to make the returns public.

Last night, Trump tried a different tack. He’ll release them “immediately” if Clinton makes public personal emails that were deleted years ago. He also said that no one in business would delete emails although that’s exactly what his business did several years ago when he brought a lawsuit ten years ago.

“If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS,” Trump said last night. He suggested that the way to defeat ISIS is to “take the oil.” Asked how to do that, he said:

“Well, you—you just, you would leave a certain group behind. And you would take various sections where they have the oil. People don’t know this about Iraq, but they have among the largest oil reserves in the world.”

So Trump’s plan is to pillage a country of all resources after the U.S. idea has invaded it.

Trump has long valued Russia and Putin over the United States and President Obama, but he went over the edge in a townhall meeting on national security when he talked about his experiences at the his first classified briefing—after he talked about the dangers of Clinton’s emails. He said he was shocked by the way that the briefers disdained his political opponent and the current president and finished by saying, “Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.” With this massive breach of ethics, concerns about giving Trump classified information were accurate. This is the first time that a presidential candidate has politicized these briefings.

Members of the Trump campaign staff also leaked information about the briefing. For example, it was reported that retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn interrupted the proceedings so much that Chris Christie, also invited by Trump, told him to shut up.

clinton-smileRNC Chair Reince Priebus couldn’t fault Clinton for her statements in last night’s townhall so he complained about—yes!—her not smiling. She answered, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.” Priebus was also wrong: she did smile as this photo shows.

The male moderator at a townhall doesn’t allow the female candidate to address the issues and constantly interrupts her while telling her to hurry up. Then he gives the male candidate easy questions and fails to correct most of the candidate’s lies. The moderator also orders the female not to attack her opponent while asking the male candidate to “keep his attacks to a minimum.” The moderator didn’t limit the male candidate’s constant attacks in any way. And finally the leader of the Republican party complains because she won’t “smile” while talking about serious issues. Might this be called sexism?

Trump may have had a pitiful performance last night in the townhalls, but Gary Johnson, the Libertarian who disaffected Republicans consider as an alternative had a worse morning. When he was asked on Morning Joe about Aleppo, Johnson answered, “What is Aleppo”? The U.S. public may not need to know about Aleppo, but the President of the United States needs to know that Aleppo is the “epicenter” of the Syrian refugee crisis, as Mike Barnicle explained to Johnson. All of Hillary Clinton’s opponents are pathetic, and almost all the “journalists” focus on how she is perceived as not “likable.”

The bar is so low for Donald Trump that he’s admired if he doesn’t drool on his shoes—to quote Democrat Eugene Robinson and Republican Nicole Wallace. That means that Hillary Clinton definitely gets special treatment the way people claim—it’s just that she cannot achieve their high standards no matter the extent of her knowledge and preparation. Trump would have disappeared a year ago, if expectations for him were only one-fourth what they are for Hillary Clinton.

July 28, 2014

Time for GOP Shill Gregory to Leave ‘Meet the Press’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:38 PM
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Back in the day of Tim Russert, Meet the Press had good journalists who verified its news. After Russert’s death six years ago, host David Gregory, who took over from interim moderator Tom Brokaw, has demonstrated a serious bias on the conservative side. Last Sunday was no different: he played an unconfirmed Israeli video allegedly showing Hamas shooting rockets from a UN school. This video was accompanied by a sympathetic interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who explained, among other positions, that the only way to “peace” is to militarily destroy Hamas.

In response to Gregory’s question about whether Hamas is using civilians and the UN in a propaganda war, UN Relief & Works Agency spokesperson Chris Gunness pointed out the ridiculousness because of his inability to even see the video:

“To bring me on a live program and expect me to comment live on air on pictures I haven’t actually seen, I think anyone looking at this program would agree that’s really unfair. I mean, if I can see it, I’ll happily comment on it.”

Although Gregory did say at the end of the program that the UN confirmed the video does not show what Gregory early purported, he still gave credence to the Israeli report, “So this is a back and forth that we are not able to settle at this point.”

Gregory’s conservative bias is nothing new. Over a year ago, I wrote a piece beginning with his pandering to conservatives from his start on the show when he promised Mark Sanford the ability to “frame the conversation” when he talked about abandoning South Carolina for an assignation with his mistress and lying about his whereabouts.  Esteemed journalist Frank Rich pointed out that Gregory may be “playing the part [of Joe McCarthy] to make some noise” when Gregory attacked Glenn Greenwald for supporting Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

On the Jay Leno show, Gregory said:

“I think it’s deeply disturbing when someone takes it upon him or herself to decide they’re uncomfortable with some program and they decide they want to undo a government program. I don’t think that’s what the founders of the country envisioned and it’s not a real way to do that.”

That position is in direct opposition to journalism’s requirement of  in-depth reporting.

On a program last October, Gregory called for more “leadership” from President Obama. Typical of conservatives, Gregory wanted to know when Obama was going to “demonstrate he can bring along converts to his side and actually get something meaningful accomplished.” Unfortunately for the host, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne was present to gently explain the confusion between presidential “leadership” and giving in to GOP demands:

“A lot of times, though, when people say the president should lead, what they want him to do is adopt Republican positions and then push for those. That’s not leadership, that’s capitulation. I think we should stop talking about a Grand Bargain and try to have normal government in the next two months.”

The Republicans have refused to have a “normal government.”

Gregory specializes in asking leading questions that permit his conservative guests to present their far-right positions. An example occurred during his interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi deaths. Gregory allowed Paul to again smear Clinton with the false opinion that she denied additional security forces at the compound although she knew the need. Not satisfied with Paul’s attack on Clinton, he then encouraged more smears by asking if Benghazi disqualified Clinton for presidential candidacy.

Earlier this month on Meet the Press, Gregory supported House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) lawsuit against the president because Democrats would have been just as upset if a Republican president had delayed some of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. Fortunately, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was present to bring the program back to reality. She reminded Gregory that George W. Bush had delayed parts of the Medicare Part D implementation with no negative reaction from Democrats. That was before she called Boehner’s lawsuit “the legal equivalent of birtherism.”

Granholm also filled in Gregory’s omission that the Republicans had voted overwhelmingly—time and again—to delay the exact provision that they are now using to sue the president. But that wasn’t all. In talking to former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who was discussing the problems within the Republican party needing a positive message for blue-collar workers, Gregory said, “the Obama economy,” blaming one person for the disaster that the GOP has supported. This was the same show when he asked if the border immigration crisis is “Obama’s Katrina moment.”

That Gregory is in trouble with the network has been obvious for some time. In March, the head of NBC News, Deborah Turness, met with him and executive producer, Rob Yarin, to discuss “format changes” for the show. Fourth-quarter 2013 ratings showed the lowest total viewers in the show’s history which started in 1991. A “format change,” however, won’t change the fact that the program caters to Republicans, with its base of old, white men. A diverse guest list that didn’t include John McCain and his cohorts almost every Sunday could make the difference. Hispanics and blacks are almost invisible on the show except for a few appearances on the panels; the women, segregated to the roundtable, are mostly members of the media.

Beyond adding accuracy and lack of bias to Meet the Press, these ideas could improve the show:

One way that Tim Russert used to grill politicians was to put some of their past quotes that contradicted their statements on the show and ask them to explain their positions. No host now uses this approach; it’s a “format change”! And it works well on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. 

Russert also appeared skeptical of all answers. Gregory needs to expose inconsistencies while being respectfully aggressive.

Gregory could also invite guests that aren’t visible elsewhere. Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell, who appear on MSNBC almost every day, frequently appear on Meet the Press.

The drums beating the rumor that Gregory will be gone after the fall elections are getting louder. Viewership is down 43 percent since he took over six years ago, and only the Winter Olympics saved the show from third place this year. Sadly, suggestions for a replacement are Chuck Todd, Joe Scarborough, and Mika Brezezinski—more conservatives. At least Brezezinski would mean that a woman would finally host one of the Sunday political talk shows, but she needs to lose the submissive behavior that she demonstrates on the Scarborough show.

On June 15, when Iraq was the focus of all Sunday talk shows on CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC this Sunday, no women or people of color were featured on the solo interviews. Two-thirds of the participants on the roundtable discussions were men. Of the 38 guests on the shows were five people of color, and no one show had more than two women or two non-white guests.

That same week, Melissa Harris Perry’s show had ten guests: four women and five people of color. It was the only show to feature an Iraq war veteran. Now there’s an idea: replace Gregory with a black woman.

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