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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
VP Kamala Harris’s remarks at the Capitol on the anniversary of January 6 were beyond stupid. But they are consistent with the tone and validity of her comments since she burst on the political scene. Harris said that January 6, where one person was killed, was in the same category as Pearl Harbor, where 2500 people died, and 9/11, where we lost almost 3000 people. The only reason she’s vice president is that the people pulling Biden’s strings insisted that he pick a woman of color. Oprah Winfrey would have been a better choice. RuPaul, too. — Joe B.
The comment was needlessly — but intentionally — political, on a solemn day. That said, let me add this: Jan 6 2021 was also a day that will live in infamy, in its own right. Too many Trump supporters want to play down what happened that day. They shouldn’t. Just because liberals say what happened was a disgrace doesn’t mean conservatives should pretend it wasn’t. As for Republicans up for reelection in November: Too many of them are afraid of offending the Prince of Mar-a-Lago. They’re afraid if they speak up about Jan 6 and Trump’s role in instigating the chaos, they’ll face a Trump-backed primary opponent. They care more about their jobs than about principles. Cowardice is never attractive.
Hi Bernie, I came face to face personally with the implications of our vaccine choices today when my sister informed me that she doesn’t want me visiting my 100 year old mother (who lives with her) if I do not have a booster shot for COVID. So, in effect, she is telling me that I will never see her again in this life if I do not agree to take this shot. And President Biden tells me that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated and Dr. Fauci hints at no air travel without being “fully vaccinated”. I live on the west coast…all my family lives in the northeast. I cannot travel 3 days in a car. Safety of the vaccines aside, what do you know of evidence that has been presented that unvaccinated people are a greater threat in terms of transmissibility of COVID than anyone else? It has not been put out there effectively if it exists. Or is this just a strong-arm effort to get the unvaccinated to conform to the government’s will, proof or no proof? Thanks! — John F.
Why don’t you just get the booster and be done with it? Whatever the transmissibility stats are, I understand your sister’s position. If you visited your 100-year old mother and transmitted the virus who knows what might happen. Yes, you might transmit it even if you got 10 boosters. But why not play it safe? You have the right to say NO to another shot. And your sister, who cares for your mother, has the right to say, she’s worried. Every choice has consequences, my friend.
I don’t know whether I am more disgusted at the events of January 6, 2021 or January 6, 2022. The Capitol riots of 2021 are well-documented and indefensible. But the lies and lies-by-omission of Democratic leaders last week were astonishing. Joe Biden repeatedly referred to 1/6/21 as an “armed insurrection,” though of the 500+ people who have been arrested, none have been charged with either being armed or causing an insurrection, both of which are illegal on Capitol grounds. His VP, Kamala Harris, equated 1/6 with Pearl Harbor and 9/11. 2,403 Americans died at Pearl Harbor; 2,996 died during the attacks of 9/11; and exactly ONE person (unarmed rioter Ashely Babbitt) died during the three-hour takeover of the Capitol. Finally, Nancy Pelosi called for a moment of silence for four fallen Capitol Hill officers, NONE of whom died in a violent encounter with rioters. The riots of 1/6/21 saw one person killed and $1.5 million in property damage. In the meantime, Democrats are absolutely silent about a string of violent BLM and Antifa riots that occurred all during the summer of 2020. An estimated 25 people were killed, including a retired police officer, along with $2 billion in insured and $5 billion in uninsured property damage, mostly in black neighborhoods. This is the lie-by-omission. I guess I don’t have a question after this long rant, but I do want to get your thoughts on January 6, 2022. — Steve R.
As I said earlier in this Q & A, thanks to the Democrats Jan 6, 2022 was needlessly political. What else is new? And as I said earlier, Jan 6, 2021 is another day that will live in infamy, in its own right. We may disagree on that, but that’s how I see it. And let me be clear: A riot in Portland, as destructive as it was, is not the same as a riot at the Capitol of the United States of America. One is a lot worse. Should prominent Democrats have spoken out, forcefully, about the riots in the summer of 2020. Yes! That they didn’t is on them, and they may yet pay a price for that this November. But those on the right who are playing down Jan 6, 2021 are wrong too. President Biden used the anniversary to score political points — and on that I’m with you, Steve. Here’s where we differ: You say you don’t know if you’re more disgusted with Jan 6, 2021 or Jan 6 2022. I know how you mean that, but I also know which disgusts me more. Not a close call. Finally, I’m pretty sure some of those arrested have been charged with gun violations. As to what we should call it: One year later we can’t even agree on that. The left calls it an insurrection. The right calls it a riot (if that). Let’s agree on this much: It was an utter disgrace.
Bernie, I follow Bill O’Reilly, you, and the Daily Chatter (Phil Balboni) for international news. Do you recommend any other news or commentary sites? Keep up the great work. Love it Bernie. Happy, Healthy New Year! — Brian M.
Thanks very much Brian. I like National Review Online … and most of all the WSJ opinion pages. There are a few others but those are my top two. Happy, Healthy New Year to you too.
BG – I know you wish he would be more restrained, but would you censor Pres Trump if you had the censor button at your finger tips? Do you think it’s right to censor Pres Trump? — Michael B.
No, I would not censor him. I’d let him have his say and then, if he’s factually off base, I’d want someone else to set the record straight — either with other comments or an editor’s note.
I agree with everything you said [in Monday’s column]. But why are we letting that 85% of republican voters off the hook. I am I’m that group that knows Trump lost the election, takes some blame for January 6th, and has problems with some of his policies not just his personality. That being said, forget elected officials. What is wrong with the 85% that still believe in Trump. Biden was right right about one thing. Trump is a defeated ex president. Why can’t republicans get past this toxic love affair with Trump and move on? Trump’s only power is his base. And if they still believe he won the election and the rest of his BS, then the way I see it is they are the problem. — Douglas S.
It’s fascinating — and not in a good way — that he could do so much harm to the Republican Party and still have so much support from Republicans. Politicians … I understand. They’re afraid that he’ll unleash his voters against them. But rank and file Republicans? I’m with you, Douglas, it’s crazy!
Now that Ghislane Maxwell has been convicted, I have to ask: isn’t there a client list somewhere naming all of the ….Umm….Uhhh…”Associates” who may have had business with the late Mr. Epstein? Did the investigators ever find such a list, and if so, will it ever be made public? Call me cynical if you want, but somehow I just can’t help thinking that a bunch of well-known conservatives names are on that client list, along with a bunch of high profile liberal progressives names as well, sort of a “bi-partisan collaboration” one might say. Your thoughts? –“Wall Of Shame” Regards from The Emperor
It ain’t over till it’s over. That list may exist and if it does those names may still come out. You better hope you’re not one of the Royals that gets outed. I’d hate to lose your scintillating observations, Your Highness.
Hi Bernie, You state, “Any Republican running next year who doesn’t buy into his (Trump’s delusion about winning the 2020 election) would not only have a democratic opponent to contend with – but there’s a good chance he or she will have Donald Trump to contend with.”
This is a false statement. For instance take Glenn Youngkin, the new governor of Virginia. Youngkin has stated many times that Joe Biden’s election was legitimate. Yet, Trump still enthusiastically endorsed Youngkin despite their disagreement over such an important issue as the legitimacy of the 2020 election results. At the same time, keep in mind that many if not most democrats never accepted the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 election victory calling him “the illegitimate president” . Furthermore, isn’t it Trump’s right to endorse those Republicans who stand for the same America First principles as he does. I’m going to paraphrase what I believe you are saying: Trump is an egotistical narcissist who holds grudges and requires homage and subservience from the rest of the Republican party and thus he is a destructive force who must be constrained. I disagree. Regardless of psychological reductionism on your part, I believe Trump is trying to build a Republican party that will be strong enough and united enough to triumph over the radical ideologues who have taken over the Democratic Party.” — Frederic N.
You’re right, Frederic. We disagree. I do think, to use your words that “Trump is an egotistical narcissist who holds grudges and requires homage and subservience from the rest of the Republican party and thus he is a destructive force who must be constrained.” So do a lot of swing voters who helped get Joe Biden elected because they couldn’t take four more years of Donald Trump.
Bernie, you are right about almost everything [in this week’s Off the Cuff], with a tiny exception. No doubt, the journalism business has experienced a reverse evolution in the past decade, which has made it less reliable as a source of news. In the past, a journalist doing a reporting piece never injected his opinion into his story. If they did, they’d been looking for another line of work, like delivering newspapers instead of writing for them. The only thing you said I’m not sure about is that viewers don’t have the right to watch a news program that they know will be favorable to their way of thinking, to their political ideologies. Television is and always has been entertainment. I think people have the right to be entertained in the manner they choose. And if that means, to make them happy, watching Fox for a right-wing point of view, or CNN for a left-wing point of view, it might not be wise to do so, but they still have the right to choose their type of entertainment. No doubt, they will not be wiser for doing so. — Joe
Who said viewers don’t have the “right” to watch whatever they want? I never said that. Not even close. And how you came to believe I said it is beyond me, Joe. I said that my rewarding biased news coverage they were partly responsible for that biased news coverage. That’s all I said about the audience.
Timely [Off the Cuff] commentary! I saw the announcement the other day that Jesse Watters was named permanent anchor of Fox’s 7 pm hour. My immediate reaction was, well I don’t need to worry about watching anything on Fox after 7 PM. Watters is an idiot and hard to watch and Fox isn’t the channel it was pre-Trump. My only issue with your take is that I’ve never been a fan of the “we will decide what to tell you school of journalism”. The journalists of my generation have not particularly impressed me as being qualified to make these decisions and the rise of alternative “news” outlets, that started with the internet in the 90’s demonstrates the how vulnerable that strategy was to letting the audience, the public, know journalists don’t respect them. I miss the days when news was meant to inform, not push agendas. — Henderick G.
If you don’t want journalists to “decide what to tell you” who do you want to decide what gets on the newscast? Someone has to make those decisions. And I don’t want a poll taken to determine what the viewer wants. The viewer can watch whatever show he or she wants to watch. But if they decide what to put on the news, we get what we now have on cable: “News” designed to please the audience. Not good, Henderick, not good.
Hello Bernie from the Minnesota Tundra (where it is a balmy 34f today and we’ll be roasting marshmallows outside in January by the firepit this evening thanks to climate change!) Great piece on how cable has crushed journalism, I have to agree – I’m feeling better now mentally since I’m only streaming vs. fogging up my days or nights with cable opinion and ratings chasers blowharding in the background.
This weeks audio reminds me of the state of the NFL and how bad it has become over the years, an orchestrated network and Truman Show profit bonanza of sorts now primed just in time for the expanded playoff format allowing American’s to soak in another month of football drama as Vegas sports books start ringing up the register and winning billionaire owners make even more hay. From the post touchdown antics in the end zone, TV timeouts allowing the players quality lung refilling blows between plays (more noticeable during live game attendance where one can choose to pay for $15 beers), and sportscasters & sideline reporters filling the commentary void, I’m over it but wondering your perspective on the almighty NFL dollar machine and if you think it has become like cable news? — The Bulldog
Football is a business and the NFL knows how to market that business. I have no problem with that. But the NFL isn’t a news organization. Football can market its product any way it wants. It can be as entertaining as it wants. But news is different from any other business — for the reasons I laid out in my Off the Cuff.
I think you’re off a little bit [in your Off the Cuff this week]. Having graduated from a top Comm school, I believe “journalism” isn’t what it once was. Seems to me that many in not just cable news but virtually all of TV journalism have abdicated their pledge to the truth, if in fact they ever took one. I will note that Tucker never attempts to pass what he does as journalism, its merely his opinion, dont like it, go somewhere else. much different is how Msnbc and Cnn try to pass off what they do as journalism, which it clearly isn’t. All of it seems like a bunch children with cameras whining about the latest butthurt comment from so and so how they feel about it. I saw an interview with Chris Matthews which I’m sure you’ve seen, where he essentially says that newspeople don’t have to give just the facts anymore due there being so much information out there to the viewer. And, that it’s up to the viewer to do their own research to determine what is true and what is not. Parts of that I agree with. I watch and search and absorb info from all over the world, understanding corporate and political bias and then distilling it down to what I believe to be true, which is usually somewhere in the middle usually. Most importantly is the search for the truth and how much are we lied to daily that disturbs me. I dont watch much “news” since I know the lies that I’m being told. — Richard C.
First, Richard, even opinion talking heads have to be fair. They can legally throw stuff out that’s not true but they shouldn’t do it. It undermines their credibility. Tucker Carlson was sued once, for slander or libel or something like that, and the defense was … You can believe what he says because everyone knows he exaggerates. And the judge agreed. Second, I don’t believe (with a few notable exceptions) that journalists make things up. That’s not the real problem. The real problem is — as I said earlier in the Q & A — they play up things they know their audience will like and play down things that will turn viewers away. Why is this bad? Because even opinion journalists should make their case honestly and not be ideological slugs.
Lindsey Graham told Hannity this week that he might not vote for Mitch McConnell to remain as the GOP’s Senate caucus leader because McConnell currently doesn’t have a “working relationship” with Donald Trump. I guess it isn’t enough that McConnell delivered Trump’s biggest victories (SCOTUS and federal judges) while Trump was actually in office. Now he has to continue “working” with him (which really means sucking up to him since Donald’s has no government job) even after Trump lost the presidency and all of congress (including McConnell’s spot as Senate Majority Leader) for the GOP? Do you think Graham will just say whatever it takes to get on Fox News shows, or do you think he actually enjoys presenting himself as a loyal Trump stooge? — Ben G.
I think witnessing cowardice in the flesh isn’t a pretty sight. And if you think I’m talking about Senator Graham, you’re right.
Bernie, “We The People” like Trump for quite obvious reasons. He isn’t a politician and he is authentic whether that authenticity strikes a chord with the dissenters or it doesn’t. 86% is a pretty big number and I would in fact call it a noteworthy trend. Romney, Cheney, and McConnell represent the worst of what the GOP has to offer. Their disdain for Trump is a badge of honor. Trump is far from perfect yet he is authentic and he is a fighter in an arena that needs both. Most Repubilcans realize this and their overwhelming support speaks volumes. — Thomas C.
You’ve told me this over and over again, Thomas. So for the last time, you and I disagree on Donald Trump. You think he’s wonderful, I don’t. You don’t seem to understand how much harm he’s done to the Republican Party. Are you happy that Democrats control the House? Or that they effectively control the Senate? How about the White House? You can thank Donald Trump’s toxic personality for all of that — unless of course you believe the Democrats stole the election, which I’m guessing you do.
Hi Bernie: As usual, I don’t have anything to disagree with in this edition of Off the Cuff. I fear the trend of people watching those who tell them what they want to hear is entrenched deeply however. I have recently come upon a source of information I find interesting in their seeming attempt to balance the story telling: The Dispatch. Do you have any insights on this group of folks? — Paul M.
They’re smart and reasonable. And two of them — Goldberg and Hayes — quit Fox News because they’re smart and reasonable.
Hi Bernie…Would you consider Bill O’Reilly the person to have started all these opinion shows? From my understanding, he was #1 in cable news for a long time, and thus I am thinking this is all HIS fault! 🙂 BTW, I agree with everything you said. I enjoy watching the local news just reporting events in my community than watching national news, be it cable or network. — Tony P.
Bill had different points of views on his show. None of the prime time slugs on Fox have dissenting points of view, unless they want to bash the poor SOB. So no, Tony, I don’t blame Bill for anything EXCEPT … Jesse Watters!!!
Bernie, last week, Ted Cruz referred to the January 6th attack as “domestic terror” — something he’d done almost 20 other times over the past year, without controversy. Then, a day after Tucker Carlson caused a stink about it, Cruz went on Carlson’s show and utterly humiliated himself by begging Carlson and his viewers to forgive him for mistakenly calling January 6th “domestic terror.”
The incident was reminiscent of a more famous example of political patheticism: Cruz morphing into a fervent Trump supporter and defender after Trump trashed his wife’s looks, and suggested his father killed JFK.
Do you agree that it’s time for an online reality show called Cruzin’ for a Bruisin’, where — each week — Ted Cruz is called on (and quickly agrees) to perform some epic, cowardly and self-emasculating political gesture that brings him and his family utter disgrace, purely for the sake of momentary politics?
And would you watch such a show? — John D.
I’m starting to worry, John D. In recent weeks you not only made sense but have come up with ideas I would label “brilliant.” And yes, I’d probably watch such a show because chaos is interesting.
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