Why are reporters so dense about these issues?

There’s an article up at Rolling Stone about how Trump’s lawyers are preparing for possible criminal charges.

Then I ran across the following sentence, which reporters love to include with any mention of Trump being prosecuted.

Criminal charges against a former president would mark the first time in American history that a former president has been prosecuted for crimes committed in office. 

Of course it’s the first time! It’s the first time a sitting president — or any president, for that matter — has committed treason while in office!

You’d think that would be important to add every time you write about this “the first time” bullshit.

I don’t know why that is so hard to internalize for reporters. It’s not as if it’s not an integral part of any discussion about prosecuting the Orange Menace from Mar-A-Lago.

It not a bad article other than that glaring omission.

You can read it here.

Verizon is latest provider to stop carrying one of the worst right-wing streaming/video networks

Verizon FIO has dropped OAN, in the latest blow to the crazy conspiracy theory network:

Verizon Fios will no longer carry One America News (OAN) at the end of this month, dealing a major blow to the far-right television network that has become a hotbed of misinformation.

Verizon was the largest pay-TV provider still carrying the OAN, according to the Daily Beast, which first reported the network was getting dropped. Verizon and OAN were unable to reach an agreement to continue providing the network and customers will not be able to access the service after 30 July.

The development means that OAN in effect will not have a major television platform in the US. DirecTV, a major revenue provider for OAN, announced that it was dropping the network in April.

The only network still carrying the channel is General Communications Inc, available in a little over 100,000 households, the Daily Beast reported. OAN is also still available on two little-known streaming providers.

“One America News Network will be left without a major carrier to spread its often harmful and dangerous disinformation and baseless conspiracy theories,” said Yosef Getachew, the media and democracy program director at Common Cause, a government watchdog group that urged Verizon to drop OAN. “This is a welcome change but long overdue.

“No company should profit from spreading content that endangers our democracy.”

You can read the rest here.

Verizon drops OAN from its video lineup.

Fox News allows Liz Cheney on Sunday show to talk (mostly) unimpeded about Jan. 6

First the Wall Street Journal, then the New York Post, and now … Fox News?

You cannot tell me the first two have nothing to do with Fox News bringing Liz Cheney onto its flagship Sunday morning news program to talk about Jan. 6, for the most part without the host taking over the interview.

That doesn’t mean that Bret Baier didn’t try to gaslight her, first with talk about whether her committee is going to investigate Nancy Pelosi and the Capitol Police:

“We have an entire team — we have five different teams in the investigation — one of them is totally focused on all of those issues of security at the Capitol and the response of Capitol Police, the response of the National Guard, the response of the Capitol Police board, what was going on at the Pentagon that day,” Cheney said. “It’s an entire focus of the investigation, you will see it in our report, you will likely see an upcoming hearing.”

Then she brought down the hammer: “But what we aren’t gonna do, Bret, is blame the Capitol Police, blame those in law enforcement, for Donald Trump’s armed mob that he sent to the Capitol.”

Cheney also debunked Baier’s assertion that Trump offered National Guard troops to defend the Capitol, citing public testimony by Trump’s own acting secretary of defense at the time, Chris Miller.

“We also know that on Jan. 6 while the attack was underway, Donald Trump did not place a single phone call to anyone at the Pentagon. He didn’t place a single phone call to anyone at the Justice Department to say, ‘Deploy law enforcement,’” Cheney said, adding, “The notion that somehow he issued an order is not consistent with the facts.”

Cheney also shot down Baier’s blathering about the committee being lopsided with Democrats.

In fact, Baier’s attempts to derail the conversation were so weak, I wonder if someone somewhere has given Fox News marching orders about not going all-in on Trump any longer.

You can read the rest at this link or watch it below.

Rupert Murdoch’s flagship American newspaper says Trump is no longer fit to hold office

Much is being made of this editorial in the New York Post:

There has been much debate over whether Trump’s rally speech on Jan. 6, 2021, constituted “incitement.” That’s somewhat of a red herring. What matters more — and has become crystal clear in recent days — is that Trump didn’t lift a finger to stop the violence that followed.

And he was the only person who could stop what was happening. He was the only one the crowd was listening to. It was incitement by silence.

Trump only wanted one thing during that infamous afternoon: to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to decertify the election of Joe Biden.

He thought the violence of his loyal followers would make Pence crack, or delay the vote altogether.

To his eternal shame, as appalled aides implored him to publicly call on his followers to go home, he instead further fanned the flames by tweeting: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

His only focus was to find any means — damn the consequences — to block the peaceful transfer of power.

There is no other explanation, just as there is no defense, for his refusal to stop the violence.

It’s up to the Justice Department to decide if this is a crime. But as a matter of principle, as a matter of character, Trump has proven himself unworthy to be this country’s chief executive again.

This is very bad news for Trump because the chances that an editorial like this wasn’t approved by the highest levels of the Murdoch family are zero.

If the Murdochs are done with Trump, the Orange Menace from Mar-A-Lago is in deep shit.

Of course, the Murdochs also own Fox News.

Thus far, the main entertainment components of Fox News have refused to so much as cover the Jan. 6 hearings.

Whether the Murdochs will now expect Hannity, Carlson and others to start toeing the New York Post line against Trump remains to be seen.

The financial calculus for Fox News is different than it is for a daily newspaper. The NY Post does not have the same competitive pressures as Fox News.

And, if anything speaks louder than ethics at the Murdoch organization — to use the term “ethics” loosely — it’s profits.

You can read the rest of the editorial here.

Has Rupert Murdoch had enough of Trump and his antics?

Alan Dershowitz still has the sads about how he is treated on Martha’s Vineyard

I love how right-wingers and (in this case) the lawyers who carry their legal water for them think they can flout democratic norms that lead to the attempted violent overthrow of the government, and yet pay no price whatsoever in terms of how they are perceived and treated by the thinking public.

I’m no huge fan of either of the Massachusetts islands — that would be Nantucket or the Vineyard — but one of the nice things you can say about both those places is that they are not particularly welcoming overall to MAGA types.

So it’s funny to read that MAGA legal apologist Alan Dershowitz is still whining about how he is treated in one of the most progressive zip codes in the country. Writer Isaac Chotiner has a HI-larious interview in the New Yorker titled, “Alan Dershowitz’s Martha’s Vineyard Cancellation.”

It’s so funny, in fact, I’m still not to totally convinced it’s not a parody of what a Q&A with Dershowirz would sound like.

Anyway, decide for yourself. Read the snippet below where Chotiner (in bold) has just asked Dershowitz about an alleged letter he received from a man who was beaten up on the beach for being seen just reading one of Dersh’s books:

Can you tell me a little bit about this letter you received?

It’s part of a pattern. I was the most popular speaker in the Chilmark Library series.

I can imagine.

Every year, they would have an overflow crowd to hear me speak about whatever book I was writing, or whatever I was doing. But suddenly, after I represented the Constitution on behalf of President Trump, the library found excuses for never having me. Their first excuse was that my crowds were too big. So I said, “Well, why don’t you limit the crowds?” They said, “Oh, we hadn’t thought of that.”

Can you imagine if Ed Sullivan had done that with the Beatles? It’s a ridiculous excuse.

Yeah, of course. So I’ve been cancelled, basically, by the Chilmark Library. That has resulted in lots of people in Chilmark calling me and calling the library and saying, “We’re being deprived of Alan’s annual speech.” [Ebba Hierta, the Chilmark’s director, disputed Dershowitz’s characterization, and said, “Not one single person has contacted me to complain that they haven’t had a chance to hear Alan speak.”]

And I didn’t even get to the part where Dershowitz trashes Larry David.

You can read the rest here.

Dershowitz is exactly like Trump in that he has a massive regard for himself and likes to embellish relentlessly.

And I’m not sure that Dershowitz realizes how much Chotiner is pulling his leg, at times, in this interview.

Alan Dershowitz

Steve Bannon may be the most dangerous man to democracy’s future

Right-wing bomb thrower Steve Bannon has arguably been the chief architect of the far Right’s burn-it-all-down philosophy and tactics. He wants to destroy Democrats, of course. But he also wants to destroy much of the GOP in the process. He revels in political and social anarchy as means to his ends.

So, news that he might testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has caused much in the way of speculation as to his motives. Is he hoping to influence outcomes in his related legal battles? Will he try to obfuscate the committee’s findings and sow discord about its motives? Is he simply trying to raise his profile for the many shady ways he raises money from dupes in red America while he lives in fancy houses, stays in opulent hotels, and luxuriates on private yachts?

There’s a good article up at Vox by Sean Illing that tries to examine Bannon and the many ways in which he is opaque by design, and what he might be up to next.

Illing interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jennifer Senior who has written extensively about Bannon.

Here’s an excerpt:

Sean Illing

Well, it’s interesting that you use the word televangelist there [to describe Bannon]. When I think of a televangelist, I think of a bullshit artist, I think of a religious entrepreneur.

Do you think he is just a complete grifter? I mean, I honestly don’t know if he’s a revolutionary or just a well-financed shitposter. I guess I’m asking if you think he really believes in what he’s doing. I think he knows when he’s full of shit, but the question is, does he see it as a means to some noble end or is it just the grift and nothing besides?

Jennifer Senior

It’s the best question. And it’s what I set out to answer.

The problem is that when somebody is as practiced at bullshitting as he is, the answer in some ways has to be both. Because you can’t have two sets of books for very long without, in some way, trying to intellectually reconcile them, so that you’ve only lied once. And then afterwards you believe your own lie. I think that that might just be the psychology of grifting.

We know that he’s living very lavishly, thanks to others. He’s got houses all over the place. He’s partial to nice hotels. When he was trying to get the European populist nationalist movement off the ground, he stayed in all these fabulous luxury suites financed by others. He takes private jets that are owned by others. The Mercers underwrote him.

So I think it’s kind of not a choice. It might be both.

What is interesting is, if you ask anybody around Steve, if you ask the people who know him and who like him, does he truly believe that the election was stolen? The number who will say, yes… Did anyone say yes to me, now that I think about it? Oh my God. I mean, so many people, if they’re trying to protect him, they’ll say they don’t know.

No smart people, no people who live within the Beltway who know how politics works, no one who really knows anything about elections believes this election was stolen. That’s the bottom line.

And the January 6 hearings played this out.

You can read the rest here. I learned new things about Bannon, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve read a lot about him.

Some Munsters aficionados flipping out over trailer for movie remake by Rob Zombie

I watched The Munsters when I was a little kid and I loved it. I watch episodes today and marvel at the shit little kids find to be funny.

Rob Zombie is making a movie version of the TV show. After the full trailer dropped, some diehard fans of the show are trashing it on social media without having seen the full movie.

I think their standards are a little lofty for a show that was so bad as to be campy by today’s standards. Your own standards have to be a bit, uh, different to take the show seriously in the first place.

For instance, in Screen Rant’s review of the “5 Best and Worst Episodes of The Munsters,” writer Christopher Fiduccia says of S1E9 of the 1960’s TV show:

In the episode “Knock Wood, Here Comes Charlie”, Herman is revealed to have a brother named Charlie. Charlie looks exactly like Herman, because he is also played by Fred Gwynne. Charlie comes to town with a machine that he claims can pull uranium from seawater.

Charlie is a con artist and sells the fake machine to a poor old lady, not knowing that Grandpa had actually made it work. While Herman’s family is an interesting concept to explore, it doesn’t make a lot of sense since Frankenstein is made from multiple people’s body parts.

That observation about realism makes total sense except when you realize the show was about a house full of monsters whose biggest concerns are not scaring the workers at the supermarket meat counter, and an undead vampire grandpa who conducts nuclear experiments in the basement.

Like I said, Munsters stans are an interesting bunch.

As far as my own reactions to the trailer go, I think the vibe of the trailer seems pretty faithful to the slapstick vibe of the TV show.

The full trailer is below.

The cast of the original TV series.

Nieman Lab has an excellent piece about the 10-year-old Ohio rape victim, and why a newspaper could only find one person to verify the girl’s abortion

I was going to ignore this story because it keeps getting more awful by the day in terms of the terrible people who are turning out (again) to look like idiots (Glenn Greenwald, the “fact checker Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, Jonathan Turley, etc.).

There is a piece up at Nieman Lab by Laura Hazard Owen that gives a nice run-down of the major moving parts of this terrible story, and looks at whether journalism, in the odd way it is currently constituted, is ready to report on a right-wing America where people are afraid to talk to reporters because the weight of the MAGA social media and legal world might come raining down upon them.

First, some of the moving parts, including discussion of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indianapolis OB/GYN who took the call from the panicked Ohio doctor who was trying to help a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim get help outside of his state — a state that had just banned nearly every abortion not involving the emergency saving of a mother’s life

This situation was reported by two women reporters at the Indianapolis Star. Then the right-wing media machine began its work to discredit the factually accurate story. They got help from the Washington Post‘s fact checker Glenn Kessler.

Says Nieman Lab:

The debate over the [abortion] story’s veracity started with a Washington Post “Fact Checker” column. In “A one-source story about a 10-year-old and an abortion goes viral,” the Post’s Glenn Kessler wrote:

The only source cited for the anecdote was Bernard. She’s on the record, but there is no indication that the newspaper made other attempts to confirm her account. The story’s lead reporter, Shari Rudavsky, did not respond to a query asking whether additional sourcing was obtained. A Gannett spokeswoman provided a comment from Bro Krift, the newspaper’s executive editor: “The facts and sourcing about people crossing state lines into Indiana, including the 10-year-old girl, for abortions are clear. We have no additional comment at this time.”

Kessler notes that Bernard “declined to identify to the Fact Checker her colleague or the city where the child was located” and that after “a spot check,” he was unable to find evidence that the rape had been reported in Ohio. He wrote:

This is a very difficult story to check. Bernard is on the record, but obtaining documents or other confirmation is all but impossible without details that would identify the locality where the rape occurred.

Kessler doesn’t appear to consider the professional, non-nefarious reasons that a doctor might have for declining to share the names of her colleagues, or why she might be loath to (plus, due to privacy laws, legally prohibited from) disclose the name and address of her patient who was raped to a national newspaper.

“An abortion by a 10-year-old is pretty rare,” Kessler notes. (Oh, that “by.”) “The Columbus Dispatch reported that in 2020, 52 people under the age of 15 received an abortion in Ohio.” Definitions of “rare” may vary, but if 52 under-15-year-olds got abortions in Ohio in 2020, that’s one a week — and it’s just abortions that were reported, during a pandemic when a lot of abortion clinics were closed.

It goes on from there, but Nieman Lab ends up questioning whether American journalism, especially men in journalism, are ready to confront a world where women’s bodies and their health care have been criminalized in so many ways that the last thing they will do is go on the record with a reporter about the fact that doctors and patients are being turned into felons.

It’s important to note that nearly all the heroes thus far in this contemptible saga are women, and the villains are men. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, in particular, is so far removed from the realities of what the striking down of Roe means for women, that he could not even begin to conceptualize why his “fact checking” story was so far off the mark.

The Wall Street Journal also jumped on the bandwagon trying to discredit the 10-year-old rape victim story with this July 12 editorial, to which they later had to add an editor’s note verifying the story’s accuracy after the actual rapist was arrested.

For all of us who were happy about Pete Buttigieg’s weekend performance on Fox News — well, guess what happened afterward?

OK, so I was one of those people who saw Pete Buttigieg’s performance on Fox News last weekend as somewhat of a win for the forces of good in the world — and on that channel, no less.

Well, we all celebrated a bit too soon. Guess what happened after Buttigieg’s initial appearance?

Buttigieg’s appearance, taken at face value, seems like a win for the Democratic operatives and liberal commentators who have argued that the party’s representatives should go on the network and try to reach its audience. But to truly assess that claim, it’s worth looking at what’s happened on Fox after the social media conversation had moved on.

On Monday, Fox propagandists used Buttigieg’s statement to claim that he supports political violence and alleged that he supports “domestic terrorism” and is in league with “the mob.” Those commentators have much more credibility with the audience than any Democrat, and they were speaking in some cases on programs with much higher ratings than the one on which Buttigieg appeared. Their framing, and not the Buttigieg clip — which in some cases they did not even air — is likely to leave more of an impression on viewers.

Buttigieg stressed during his Fox News Sunday interview that “any public figure should always, always be free from violence, intimidation, and harassment.” The takeaway Fox prime-time host Laura Ingraham served up to her viewers on Monday, however, was: “Mayor Pete: Political Violence Is Actually Good.”

Ingraham concluded that Democrats like Buttigieg are part of a “real church of hate”; want to dismantle U.S. history, institutions, and democracy; and support “an agenda that relentlessly pushes pot, porn, trans rights, and abortions,” which she termed a “new pagan order.” She later added that Buttigieg is “a radical” who is “encouraging the threats against Supreme Court justices” and “wants to change the face of this country, and for the worse.”

Fox host Sean Hannity, meanwhile, falsely suggested on Monday that Buttigieg had said that Kavanaugh “should expect” assassination attempts, while Fox contributor Lara Trump suggested he supports “domestic terrorism.” Notably, Hannity did not air Buttigieg’s comments at all — he simply provided a dishonest gloss on them for his viewers.

Oh, well.

It was nice while it lasted.

As usual, Pete Buttigieg holds his own against a Fox News host who constantly tries to interrupt him

I’m a huge fan of Buttigieg, who is one of the most lucid, unflappable political explainers of our times.

Today he was going against a Fox News host who was trying to corner him on whether Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh should have been protested at Morton’s Steak House:

Buttigieg acknowledged that public officials “should always be free from violence.”

“You’re never going to be free from criticism or peaceful protests, people exercising their First Amendment rights,” the Transporation secretary pointed out.

Buttigieg talked over Emmanuel as he tried to interrupt.

“That’s what happened in this case,” he explained. “Remember, the justice never even came into contact with these protesters, reportedly didn’t see or hear them. And these protesters are upset because a right, an important right that the majority of Americans support was taken away.”

Emmanuel tried to interrupt again but the secretary ignored him.

“Not only the right to choose by the way,” Buttigieg continued, “but this justice was part of the process of stripping away the right to privacy. Since I’ve been alive, settled case law in the United States has been that the Constitution protected the right to privacy and that has now been thrown out the window by justices, including Justice Kavanaugh, who as I recall, swore up and down in front of God and everyone including the United States Congress that they were going to leave settled case law alone. So yes, people are upset. They’re going to exercise their First Amendment rights.”

Buttigieg even managed to get a dig in about Trump trying to overthrow the government, a real no-no on Fox News, as you can tell from the way the show host tried again to cut him off before he could say any more about Trump.

Watch the entire exchange below.