Bernie’s Q&A: Pence, Schumer, Limbaugh, Trump, COVID-19, and more! (3/13) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

Hi, Bernie…..I figured you need a break from the incessant political questions so…I just watched your HBO Real Sports feature on the deaths in horse racing. I live in Arcadia, CA, very close to Santa Anita, and so have been aware of the deaths this year and the protests. I must say that your report opened my eyes to the shameful, shameful treatment of these horses. Do you have any updates on any movement to do something legislatively? THANK YOU for doing this feature! Unrelated….who is the dog at the top of your question submission page? He looks like your typical reporter at a Trump press conference. — John F.

Thanks for the kind words about my HBO story, John.  Much appreciated.  I know of no active legislation to address problems in the horse racing business. A bill to create uniform rules in all 50 states has been lingering for years — but I have no new information regarding any progress.  As for the dog, he’s an accredited journalist who works for Dog News Daily and the picture was taken at a press conference.

Mr. G, From a Queens guy to a Bronx guy; if Schumer who is from Brooklyn used that as an excuse for a pass regarding his threats to the Supreme Court, why then can’t he and the Dems allow Trump from Queens a pass, or many passes, for all his crass comments? Why can’t we all “Fugghedabout” the trash talk and exaggerations and just debate policy? — ScottyG

If coming from an outer borough, as they call everyplace in NYC except Manhattan, were a legitimate excuse for stupid behavior, there would be a lot fewer dopes in NY.  Schemer’s excuse was pathetic.  He should have said, “I got caught up in the moment ,.. and I’m sorry for what I said.”  But apologizing is seen as weakness in the world of politics, so he didn’t say I’m sorry.  By the way, Mr. Trump is no better.  He doesn’t believe in apologies either.

Bernie you always call the Democrats and the media “allies.” But Trump and the Republicans have media allies too. — Douglas S.

You’re right Douglas, but far, far fewer.  Trump has Fox and talk radio (and some places on the web).  The Dems have most of the so-called mainstream media.

Many resent that Trump awarded Rush Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom because of their disdain for Rush’s politics. I get that. I also keep hearing that “Rush is a racist.” While I know that Rush says controversial things that can be seen as pushing the envelope, I don’t think he’s a racist. I just think he likes people who agree with him (including black people like Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams, and Thomas Sowell), and he dislikes people who disagree with him (Jesse Jackson, Obama, et al). One of the racist accusations is that he called some black people “uppity.”

So here are my questions: Why exactly is the word uppity a “racist” expression, even if the person being described actually IS uppity? AND…in your opinion, do you think Rush Limbaugh IS a racist? Do you think he is undeserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Or do you think he just calls it as he sees it through his right-wing viewpoint? — Talk Radio Regards From The Emperor

I don’t think Rush is racist but I do think he’s needlessly provocative and brings some of the criticism on himself.  I think it’s a conscience decision he’s made — for ratings.  Uppity:  The word has historic baggage.  Advice:  Don’t use it despite its literal meaning.  Is he deserving of the Medal of Freedom? Rush has been very good to me when others weren’t.  I don’t like bashing him  But given some of the things he’s said, he wouldn’t have been high on my list.  Had Barack Obama given the award to Michael Moore, we know how conservatives would react.  The president knew what he was doing.  He was giving the award to a man with a serious illness — but also playing to his presidential base.

Bernie, do journalists have any sense of responsibility at all these days? The coverage of Coronavirus has been completely ridiculous and it seems most of the problems are driven by the press. Last week, the Daily Mail ran a headline that implied Corona was just as bad as Ebola and AIDS. How in the world is running that headline responsible? This morning, Dan Patrick said on national radio that there is, “no test for Coronavirus” which is absolutely false. It seems the journalists now are more interested in throwing grenades in a crowded room and covering the carnage that results instead of drilling down deeper into the facts of a story and seeing what is a real threat and what is nothing more than fear mongering. Will there ever be sanity again in journalism or is getting clicks and ratings all that matter? — Joe M.

Let’s get the easy part out of the way first, Joe.  When journalists are irresponsible I obviously am against it.  When they hype the news for clicks, I’m against that too.  But when you say “most of the problems are driven by the press” you leave me confused.  The problems are real.  People are getting infected all over the world.  People are dying.  This is not “fake news” made up by journalists.  Criticize them when they get it wrong.  And criticize the president when he gets it wrong.  But it’s not a good idea to take the most blatant examples of bad journalism and draw conclusions from that.

In today’s hot political climate where so called journalists are clearly on one side or the other (well many of them anyways) which one would you want to interview and what one or two questions you would ask? Given they had the guts to be interviewed by you. — Tim H.

There are some fools on cable television who would make for good interviews, but only because they’re so biased that it would be both easy and fun to expose them for what they are.  But they’re not important enough — if i had to pick only one.  To answer your specific question, Tim … I guess I’d pick Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the NY Times, because he has so much influence.  Brian Stelter of CNN interviewed him and if they gave out Worst Interview of the Year Award, Stelter would have won it because he didn’t ask a single tough question.  All he did was lob softballs at Baquet who hit them out of the park.  I’d also like to interview Stelter because he’s so pathetically bad in his job, but as I said, cable news fools don’t make the cut.  As for what questions I’d ask, I listed a few in a column I wrote.  Here’s a link to it.

Prior to his address to the nation on Wednesday, Trump had been saying (to downplay the threat) a number of things about the coronavirus that contradicted what his top medical experts had been telling Americans. And following his address, the White House had to immediately walk back THREE of Trump’s major policy announcements that he had stated quite incorrectly (the false information tanked stock futures). Being how extremely important this public safety issue is, should he just let Mike Pence do all the talking from now on? — Ben G.

Yes.  On second thought, make that YES!!!!!!

Hillary supporters love to bash the electoral college and point out that she won the popular vote. They’re basically saying that she won a contest by a set of rules that doesn’t exist. The electoral college is still relevant and useful. It requires a presidential candidate to build a large coalition over a broad set of cultures and geography. It also doesn’t allow the 51% to steamroll over the 49%, something the founders wisely put into several areas of constitutional law. Yes, Hillary won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, but she won California by more than 4 million. Trump won the popular vote in the other 49 states and also carried more than 82% of U.S. counties. While it’s troubling that an elected president lost the popular vote by a substantial margin, it equally doesn’t seem fair that another candidate almost carried the election without even winning 1 in 5 counties. To me the electoral college is extremely relevant and a bulwark of our representative democracy. What is your opinion? — Steve R.

First let me say, Steve, that you are a perfect example of how intelligent so many of you, who submit questions, are.  You state the facts not only correctly, but with nuance and, as I say, intelligence.  And for that I thank you.

Now to my opinion:  I’ve long had mixed feelings about the Electoral College.  Part of me says one person, one vote.  End of discussion.  If  California is a big state with a lot of people, most of whom vote for Democrats, well that’s the way it goes.  But that leaves us with the problem you outline. The Founding Fathers came up with the Electoral College for a good reason.  I’m not going to second guess them.  But honest, Steve … I’m torn on this.  I could go either way.  I know that’s not a solid answer but it’s an honest one — and that’s the best I can do right now.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

The Power of Billionaires is Wildly Overstated

If you listen to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, you might come away with the impression that the greatest threat to our country is not terrorism, nuclear-armed dictators, the size of our national debt, the coronavirus, or even climate change. You’d think it was rich Americans — really rich Americans who Sanders refers to as “da billionaires!”

According to Sanders, the mere reality of billionaires in this country is inherently immoral. He sees them as responsible for all kinds of terrible things, including (but not limited to) people living on the streets, people without health insurance, people struggling with student debt, the oppression of the working class, and — as we’ve heard many times during the debates — a “rigged” political system.

Yes, Sanders likes to accuse billionaires of “buying” elections. He has shamed primary opponents like Pete Buttigieg for accepting political donations from billionaires, and he has shamed primary opponents like Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg for being billionaires.

Heck, according to Sanders, billionaires shouldn’t even exist. Their political and societal power is just too much.

But is it?

Sanders made a big deal last month out of Buttigieg’s campaign having 46 contributors who are billionaires. To some people, that may sound like an incriminating number. But even if each of those billionaires had forked over the maximum federal campaign amount to Buttigieg, the total would have come to just over $125,000. That’s a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of a presidential campaign. And as we all know, Buttigieg is now gone from the race.

And if billionaires can simply buy presidencies, why did Steyer and Bloomberg (the two billionaires in the presidential race) fail so spectacularly? Bloomberg alone reportedly spent over half a billion dollars on his campaign, flooding the national airwaves and Internet with his ads. In the end, he amassed a mere 31 pledged delegates. That translates to about $18 million spent for each delegate.

Not exactly the level of political influence Sanders has been suggesting.

The Democratic socialist from Vermont isn’t alone in overestimating the power of billionaires in our political system. Lots of people, mostly in liberal circles, agree with him. This includes many in mainstream media.

Case in point, the other day on MSNBC, Brian Williams and Mara Gay (of the New York Times) found it astonishing that Bloomberg could have taken the enormous amount of money he spent on his campaign, and instead used it to give each and every American a life-changing one million dollars:

That is rather amazing, when you think about it. And by “rather amazing,” I mean complete and utter nonsense.

Williams and Gay had gotten that “math” from a viral tweet, and the author of that tweet hadn’t a clue what she was talking about. In reality, if Bloomberg were to have spread out what he spent on his campaign evenly among the U.S. population, each American would have received a check for a whopping one dollar and fifty-three cents.

The gaffe was rather telling, not just of the laziness of some journalists, but also of many people’s gross misunderstanding of the uber-wealthy’s capacity to pick up the tab for the rest of the country’s expenses. The truth, contrary to the insistence of politicians like Bernie Sanders (and many others, primarily on the left), is that there is no such capacity.

Charles Cooke of National Review wrote on this topic just today:

“It’s why Elizabeth Warren was enthusiastically boosted by the media despite her ridiculous pretense that she could pay for a series of gargantuan initiatives without raising taxes on anyone but the extremely rich. It’s why Democrat after Democrat promises not to raise ‘middle class taxes’ while promising programs that require the raising of middle class taxes. How did this bad tweet make it onto TV to be endorsed? Why did Mara Gay agree with it? Why didn’t Brian Williams notice? Because the people involved in this clip thought it was true. This is how they see the world.

But it’s not true. Not even close.”

This is the fatal flaw behind the “wealth redistribution” argument. Eliminating billionaires, whether it be through a wealth tax or some other form of taxation or regulation, wouldn’t pay for (or even put a dent in) any of these big-ticket government programs. Not single-payer healthcare. Not student loan forgiveness. Not “free” college tuition. Not our federal entitlement programs. None of it.

The same would be true if you added top millionaires to the mix (the top one percent of U.S. income earners already pay for close to 40% of our country’s total tax revenue).

As Cooke points out, even if you took the entire net worth of Michael Bloomberg, and divvied it up among every American, we’re talking about a one-time amount of just $183 per person. That’s less than most families spend on groceries in a single week. The move would also leave Bloomberg completely and immediately broke, unable to contribute another cent to the government, to business investment, to the consumer economy, to charity, or to anything else.

Now consider that there are only around 620 billionaires in the United States…and that Michael Bloomberg is wealthier than at least 610 of them.

Once you do that math — the real math, not the MSNBC math — the power of “da billionaires” to either oppress or rescue the rest of us doesn’t seem particularly impressive. That’s because it’s not. And those who routinely claim otherwise aren’t any more informed on the topic than Brian Williams and Mara Gay.

But who cares about reality when there’s a great political tagline at play. Right?

Bernie’s Q&A: Cooper, Matthews, and Another Trump as President? More! (2/28) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

Welcome to this week’s Premium Q&A session for Premium Interactive members. I appreciate you all signing up and joining me. Thank you.

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

What are your thoughts on Anderson Cooper as a journalist? — Ben G.

I don’t watch him on CNN very much, but I know his politics from the little I do watch.  Journalists shouldn’t let the audience know anything about their politics.  But at CNN, the line between hard news and opinion is often blurred — and sometimes obliterated (see Jim Acosta at the White House).  But Anderson is a bright guy and does a good job on 60 Minutes, the few times I’ve seen him there.

If I look back at my life and the news (events) that probably had the biggest impact on me would be the JFK assignation; 1980 US hockey team, and 9/11. Outside of personal events, what’s your three? — Tim H.

Those are good ones time.  The JFK assassination makes my list too … as does 9/11.  The 1980 US hockey team is the biggest event in U.S. sports — maybe ever — but I only came to appreciate it years after the fact.  My third event then would be the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Care to opine on Samantha Bee and her tirade against Dennis Prager and Prager U? Also curious if you watch any of the Prager U clips (many of which have nothing to do with politics and are quite informative)? Also, in response to your mention in [last week’s] Q &A about “moderate” Democratic candidates, let us not forget that many folks view the NYT as middle of the road . — Michael F.

I know Samantha Bee only from the occasional promo I accidentally tune into.  I find her nasty.  So no, I have no comment about her run-in with Dennis Prager.  As a rule, I try not to comment on unimportant people — like Ms. Bee.  I don’t watch Prager’s YouTube clips, either.  If you’re interested, Michael, I think Dennis is very bright, but in my humble opinion, he’s become less of an intellectual force given his unvarnished support for our president.  As for the Times, once upon a time it was middle of the road.  Not recently.

On Friday, MSNBC and CNN were back at it again, reporting that Russia is looking to influence the 2020 election. Same ole, “Trump is a Russian asset” BS. This time, the plan is to have Sanders win the Democratic nomination assuring Trump of victory in November. It’s obvious these clowns don’t believe Sanders can beat Trump; many have said as much over the last few days. They’re scared to death that he could win the nomination. But really, they’re going to start this BS again? Brian Williams actually chastised the public for not immediately jumping on board with their warning, “it’s Russia again”. Yo Brian, you ever hear the story of the boy who cried wolf? Just stop already. — JM

For the record, JM, Russia did indeed interfere in our 2016 election, and according to intelligence sources are doing it again this time.  Collusion with Trump was the point of contention…not whether or not Russia interfered. They did.

I’d also like to take issue with your use of the word “clowns” to describe certain left wing journalists.  That’s unfair. To the clowns.

Bernie, Since this weekend is the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, I was wondering if you thought any sporting event since that day has come close to it in terms magnitude and significance? Also, in my opinion your HBO documentary about the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team is one of the best sports documentaries of all time, thank you for putting it together! — Joe M.

Thank you Joe.  It’s interesting that even though people knew how the game ended by the time they watched that HBO documentary, they still had tears in their eyes.  It was a good one.  Now to your question:  That game at Lake Placid in update New York had significance which went way beyond sports.  So, no … no other sporting event since has matched that game in terms of magnitude and significance. But as I mentioned in an earlier question this week:  I only came to appreciate how big that game was as time went by.  The game itself, you may recall, wasn’t even broadcast live.  So it took a while for it all to sink in.  By the way, my favorite line in that documentary was “The only thing placid that day … was the lake.”  Live Schreiber brought the line to life in his narration.

If Trump supporters expressed half as much frustration with Trump (for alienating persuadable voters), as they express with persuadable voters (who’ve been alienated by Trump), do you think Trump would have stopped alienating persuadable voters by now? — Bill W.

Let me get back to you Bill when my head clears.  I need the Rosetta Stone to figure out what you’re saying.  Ok, I”ll give it a try:  I don’t think Trump would have stopped alienating persuadable voters by now because you can’t persuade him to do anything.  He’s unpersuadable.  Even though persuading persuadable voters would be in his interest.  Comprende?

Mr. G, I respect and also very much appreciate your decision not to vote in the 2020 General; but what do you say to those who say “If you don’t vote, don’t complain”? Either way there will be so much to criticize for the next four plus years and we don’t want you to miss out. If the “other” Bernie gets the nomination one might argue that a vote for Trump is more so a vote against Socialism, and hows that not a good thing? — ScottyG

I’ve heard the criticism — if I don’t vote I can’t complain.  I get it but I don’t buy it.  I’m making a statement by not voting.  I won’t vote for any of the progressives or so-called moderates, who are really left-wing lite … nor will I vote for a man of such bad character as Donald Trump.  But I can, and will, still comment on the news of the day no matter who wins or who loses.  Why do I give up my right to comment because I didn’t vote?  Does a 17-year old give up his or her right to comment on a war they may have to fight in, just because they didn’t vote?  If I didn’t listen to what the powers in this country are saying and doing; if I didn’t care; then one could make a case that I shouldn’t comment.  But only then.

On an amusing note, a friend of mine found this old George Carlin clip, and felt it pertained to this very topic (warning: graphic language):

Bernie, you’ve written that you won’t be voting for Trump and you won’t be voting for the Democratic presidential nominee. Some have taken that to mean that you won’t vote for anyone for president. This would seem like an odd decision being that you will still have the option of writing in Jesse Watters’ name on your ballot. — John D.

You have a good point, John D … and if you wear a hat nobody will notice it.

I remember reading somewhere that Trump’s ultimate dream was to witness Ivanka becoming President of the United States. Do you think she has any shot at elected office, or is the Trump name without Donald’s alpha-male charisma just too toxic? Also, if Trump is re-elected, could we see Arizonans Doug Ducey and Kyrsten Sinema duking it out for POTUS in 2024? — Joel E.

I met Ivanka once … we just exchanged hellos and a few words in Trump Tower.  I thought she was very nice.  But I also think her father had made the name, to use your word, toxic.  I don’t think it would help her; the opposite it more likely.

As for 2024:  I think the two who will duke it out will be Mike Pence and Nikki Haley.  Stay tuned.

Regardless if Trump wins or loses in November, how much do you want to bet that Donald Trump Jr. runs for the nomination in 2024? — Jen R.

I don’t think he will.  2024 is too soon.  If his father wins, Jr — I think — will realize that voters are not in the mood for a dynasty — certainly not 3 consecutive terms of anyone named Trump.  If Donald loses, that wouldn’t bode well for junior.  So I’d bet a lot that he won’t run in 2024.

You’ve written that young people are embracing socialism because they like free stuff, but I think it goes beyond that. Any time something catastrophic occurs or is at least on the horizon, those affected do well to perform some introspection and see what they did to create the problem. As capitalists, I think we need to do that with the rise of Bernie Sanders and “democratic socialism”. It appears 2008 was a real tipping point. Unlike Enron and the S&L scandal, where rich, powerful people actually went to jail in large numbers and for many years, the scions of Wall Street skated through scotch-free. These powerful men were not held accountable for their actions that almost killed the world economy, and no moral hazard occurred. NONE of those guys served a day of jail time, fines or meaningful punishment. Many were awarded their usual bonuses, because the markets needed to be stabilized (supposedly). Hindsight is 20/20, but where were the patriots in business and government to defend our unique and wonderful system of free markets? Young people saw this and so branded this behavior as “capitalism”, and we’re seeing the backlash against it. This is now its own kind of social justice. In other words, we capitalists did our part to create this mess. Your thoughts? — Steve R.

You make a smart, interesting argument Steve but I still think the major driving force is “free” stuff.  Everybody likes stuff that someone else is paying for.  It’s probably imbedded in our DNA.  I’m not minimizing your thoughtful argument, just saying I think free stuff trumps all.

To be clear, I DO NOT want Bernie Sanders nor his ilk to win the White House and run this country.

That said, Chris Matthews comparing the rise of Sanders to Hitler is despicable, vile, and shameful. However, I’m feeling some Schadenfreude about this for several reasons. Considering that Sanders always refers to Trump & his supporters as “racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic, white supremacists,” I’m highly pleased that he is on the receiving end of such unjustified accusations (seeing as how he has no problem doing that himself). 

I’m also highly pleased that Matthews (along with some other traditional virtue signaling liberals) finds himself on the receiving end of the vitriolic bile from the left (his people), seeing as how had no problem tossing such accusations and vitriol toward conservatives!

Here’s what I can’t figure out: shouldn’t it have been obvious to Matthews that such a ridiculously obvious partisan hit job would backfire on him? Did he honestly think that he would get away with that? And do you think this incident might actually get Bernie Sanders to realize that he too is a hypocrite? — “What Goes Around Comes Around” Regards From The Emperor

You make an assumption that Matthews thinks before he talks.  Did he think before he said Obama sent a thrill up his leg?  Do I think the incident might get Bernie to realize that he too is a hypocrite?  Tell me when to stop laughing.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

Bernie’s Q&A: Rathergate, Klobuchar, Vindman, Sanders, and more! (2/14) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

Welcome to this week’s Premium Q&A session for Premium Interactive members. I appreciate you all signing up and joining me. Thank you.

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

I read a quote today that’s very striking and true. “You can vote your way into socialism, but you have to shoot your way out of it.” I usually try to stay away from extreme, attention-getting statements, but this one isn’t hyperbole. Don’t American voters see what happened in Venezuela? Are they not watching the footage from Hong Kong? Obama supporters like to state that the Trump economy is just a continuation of what Obama started during his presidency. Aren’t socialist Democrat policies also a continuation of the leftward lurch of Obama? — Steve R.

Obama was a moderate compared to Sanders and Warren.  Sure, Obama and liberals in general like government programs — and government programs cost money.  But he never called for free college and free health care and forgiveness of student loans, etc.  As for why some American voters aren’t afraid of the Sanders/Warren version of socialism:  They like “free” stuff — as long as somebody else is paying for it.

I was awaiting to see if you had any comments on the Super Bowl. Since you didn’t write on it, thought I would force the issue. I thought the game was pretty d&%n good. Your thoughts on it. The halftime show was fireworks, lasers, a million people on stage featuring a couple of gals half dressed (if that), your comments on halftime. Also, did JLo just moon me on my TV or did they broadcast that to everyone? Your thoughts on quarterback Patrick Mahomes? — Tim H.

It was a great game, I think we can all agree on that, no matter who you were rooting for.  As for the halftime show:  I have mixed feelings.  J Lo and Shakira looked great.  But is that what we want to showcase to kids, especially young girls?  The first Super Bowl half time show featured Carol Channing.  That was more than 50 years ago.  If you want to know how American culture has changed over those years, just compare Ms. Channing to the two half dressed stars this year.  Finally, Patrick Mahomet is a great quarterback.  But greatness in sports (and other endeavors) is measured over time.  So we’ll have to wait a few more years before we decide how great he really is.

So today the Left MSM and Liberal politicians are ripping Trump for firing Lt Col Vindman as “political payback”. I guess they have forgotten when Obama fired General Stanley McCrystal when a reporter embedded with his unit in Afghanistan “leaked” that they had been badmouthing Administration policies. I guess they feel “we” have just forgotten. SMH — JM

I’m sick of the commentary on both sides.  Liberals yelling about Vindman’s dismissal but not so much when McCrysgtal got canned. Conservatives defending the president now but not when Obama fired a general.  Principles, as I’ve repeatedly said, are either dead or dying.

Mr. G, Remember when everyone said, Bill Clinton? Who is this guy? Barack Obama? Who is this guy? Now we have, Amy Klobuchar? Who is this gal? Do you think she could surge to get the Nomination since she’s the most moderate Dem? She doesn’t offer up much to be attacked on and she can likely pull votes from the middle and the so-called tired of Trump voters; don’t you think? I also haven’t heard a Trump nickname for her yet either, that’s probably telling. — ScottyG

Amy Klobuchar finished a strong third in New Hampshire … and now the buzz is that she’s catching on, that she’s got momentum. But while third is pretty good, it isn’t first or second.  And while anything is possible, I think Klobuchar remains a long shot. As for Donald Trump:  If at some point he gives her a nickname then we’ll know she’s a serious contender for the nomination.  But if he gives her some dopey name, it will be a mistake.  She’s smarter than Trump, she’s more civil and decent than Trump.  He’ll get hurt more than she will if he tries to humiliate her.  And if, by some chance, she gets the nomination, she’ll destroy him in the debates — again, because she’ll come off as the intelligent grownup — and that will go a long way with moderate swing voters, especially women in the suburbs. In case you’re wondering:  Despite all that, I would not vote for her.

Dennis Prager has been making the argument on your website and elsewhere that what Trump said about women in the infamous Access Hollywood audio does NOT speak negatively of Trump’s character. His rationale is that Trump thought his conversation was private, and that what people say in private is not indicative of their character. This strikes me as an odd argument. What are your thoughts on this topic, and do you think Prager would be taking the same position if a tape had leaked of Obama saying the exact same thing? — George L.

It strikes me as odd too, George.  And I suspect Prager would not take the same position if a tape had been leaked with Obama saying the exact same thing.  But I’m not surprised by any of this.  Donald Trump has a magical, mysterious hold on people.  They’ll defend just about anything that he does.  Frankly, I find it pathetic.

Bernie. We ALL agree that our president had every right to remove Lt. Col. Vindman and his brother from their posts. But doesn’t that and Trump’s public trashing of Vindman over the months send a bad message to people in our government that they should just SHUT UP if they believe they are witnessing a real abuse of government power? And what do you think about Molly Hemmingway saying that Vindman should have been COURT-MARTIALED instead of reassigned??? — Daniel D.

I’m with you, Daniel.  I also think the public trashing sends a bad signal.  But I expect nothing more from our president.  As for Ms. Hemingway: What she said on Fox is this:  “If he were in any other position in the military, he would have already been court martialed for this.” That’s a little different from your take on what she said.  If she went further than the quote above, I’m unaware of it.

Do you think Dan Rather should have lost his job over Rathergate, or do you think CBS should have done something more similar to what NBC did to Brian Williamson (knock him down the totem pole)? Or maybe a third option? Thanks! I enjoy these sessions! — Fred M.

I never believed Dan Rather got canned for screwing up the story.  I believed at the time, and still do, that the screw up provided CBS with a good excuse to get rid of Dan because he was ranked third out of three in the evening news ratings.  Had the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather been #1, I don’t believe he would have lost his job.  For the record, Dan didn’t get fired when 4 of his colleagues did.  CBS waited about a year (as I recall) until his contract ran out and didn’t renew him.  So what did Dan do:  He sued CBS.  The case went nowhere but cost him a small fortune.

You recently wrote that Republicans should NOT underestimate Bernie Sanders’ chances beating Trump in a general election. I agree, and I would prefer someone who is NOT a Marxist socialist (excuse me “Democratic socialist”) running the country. I think Republicans who believe Bernie will be easily defeated by Trump are being WAY TOO presumptuous.

Here’s what I don’t understand: What exactly is the appeal of Bernie Sanders? Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I do recall the Soviet threat and the horrors of living under the threat of communism taking over. WHY do so many Americans NOT understand this!? So Bernie Sanders promises free college and healthcare for all, but I see free college as nothing more than free indoctrination into leftist thought, and free health care as bait so he can get Tsarnov and any number of other thugs and felons to vote for democrats (and young teenagers too, if he has his way). — The Internationale Communist Theme Song Regards From The Emperor

Bernie’s appeal?  Free stuff is pretty appealing.  Never mind that it isn’t free.  As long as YOU THINK someone else will pay for all those goodies, voters –especially young voters — will glob onto the candidate.

Also, Bernie is for real.  He tells you what he thinks.  In a crazy way, that’s refreshing.  That said, check out my column on Bernie which I’ll publish on Monday.

Here’s what a college student told the Wall Street Journal about his fascination with Sanders:

“Sen. Bernie Sanders is attractive to young voters because his policies are extreme and concise. You’re struggling with student debt? He’ll make college free. Your parents worry about health insurance and medical bills? He’ll make health care free. In that way he seems to cut through all the muck of the past. What could be bolder or more straightforward? Besides, he can demonize skeptics and detractors as lackeys of the richest 1%.

—Max Calzada, Oakland University, actuarial science and theater”

For many years, and almost every other day, I read about a ‘first’. For example, the first Latina police chief, the first African-American mayor, the first woman CEO, or the first openly gay Disney character. What I’m not hearing much about these days is that we have our first openly gay presidential candidate – Mayor Pete. I watch ALL the networks and peruse online content as well and I’m not seeing any flag carrying – banner waving proclamation about Mayor Pete being our first openly gay presidential candidate. I have an idea why, BUT am curious to hear your thoughts about this. — PCE

You haven’t been watching closely enough.  There have been numerous references about him being the first openly gay candidate for president.  After a while, they simply stop saying it.  By now, they figure, everybody knows.  Almost everybody, anyway.  I’m curious:  If you haven’t heard anything about it on “ALL the networks” and “online” … how do you know he’s openly gay?

I would like to see each candidate for president or any congressional office be asked the following simple question ( I believe that millions of Americans would appreciate knowing where their candidates stand and would welcome your views on the question being posed and your own answer): on a scale of 1-100 ( 100 being perfect and 1 being Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia), how do you rate America ( and a reason or two supporting your rating)? — Michael F.

Would make for interesting television, Michael.  But it would also open the door to cable news fools to pick apart the candidate’s answer.  Let’s say, for instance, a moderator asks your question of Joe Biden.  Anything other than 100 would send Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham into a phony rage. “Why did Biden say 95?” they’d yell.  “He doesn’t love this country.”

In a GOP contest, if Wolf Blitzer asked that question and Donald Trump said “100” … Don Lemon would sound off about how the president thinks America is perfect, which, of course, it isn’t.

So the only “acceptable” rating for Fox viewers would be somewhere between 97 and 100. The only “correct” answer for MSNBC and CNN’s audience would be considerably lower — as long as Donald Trump is president.

For some reason, Michael, your question has been haunting me all day.  I keep thinking about it.  And the more I do the more I come to the conclusion that I think it’s a very bad idea.

How do I rate America? Great country.  Lots of freedom.  Hate the polarization. Wish taxes were lower.  Smaller government.  Not crazy about service in America.

And then I’m supposed to come up with a number from 1 to 100 to rate the country?  Sorry, not for me.

Saint Bernard, I think you misunderstood last week’s question by reader Chuck S. He asked if in the Iowa caucus (where voters must literally stand/sit and publicly display their choice), how then does a journalist participate and keep their views private. He noted that, on one hand, the right to vote is important while on the other hand, to remain unbiased, a true journalist must remain politically neutral. You said, “A journalist doesn’t ‘participate.’ A journalist reports what’s going on.” What if in saying “participate” he was thinking of someone known to others at the voting place to be a journalist, who would indeed reveal their candidate preference by where they stood/sat at a caucus, as opposed to casting a secret ballot in a primary election voting booth? — Fred E.

Thanks very much, Fred.  Now I get it.  Apologies to Chuck S.

I guess it does present a problem — a potential one, anyway — when the general public knows how a reporter will be voting.  But the reporter would have to be known to more than a few people at the caucus … otherwise they’d have no idea if he was a reporter or a truck driver.  Second, a journalist can vote for any candidate and still be an honest, non partisan reporter.  So even if a journalist goes to a caucus and lines up with candidate Joe Blow, it doesn’t mean the journalist can’t objectively cover Joe Blow.  Besides, if the public didn’t know, he’d still be voting for the candidate — and that might influence how he covers news related to the candidate.  But Chuck has a point:  The general public shouldn’t know how journalists vote.

The issue raised by Chuck and you Fred would be solved if Iowa and a few other states entered the 21st century and dumped the caucus system and replace it with primary elections.



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(Not Exactly) Breaking News: CNN Has Become a Journalistic Embarrassment

It’s not exactly breaking news that CNN is no longer in the news business. I know this because I possess a television and every now and then it’s tuned to CNN.

Now, the network that once bragged that it was “The most trusted name in news” has become a journalistic embarrassment. There’s enough blame to go around, but Jeff Zucker deserves most of it. He’s the leader of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

When I covered stories for CBS News, CNN was a real news organization, a worthy competitor. And when big news was breaking, Americans didn’t tune in to CBS or ABC or NBC. They were entertainment networks. CNN was the place to go to find out what was happening — any time of the day or night.

CNN may have had its biases like other news organizations, but they weren’t blatant.  For a long time, CNN at least appeared to be non-partisan.

That was once upon a time. Now CNN has embraced a new role.  It proudly sees itself as the media arm of the anti-Trump “Resistance.”  If you have doubts, stop reading this column, turn on your TV, tune into CNN, and there’s a good chance that you’ll find someone on screen saying something about Donald Trump, and that something won’t be good.

It’s not only the commentators who hate the president. They’re no different than the commentators at Fox who have fallen madly in love with the president.  They’re two sides of the same coin.  But at Fox, news correspondents, by and large, keep their opinions to themselves.  At CNN, the line that separates news from opinion hasn’t been blurred; it’s been obliterated.

“It is difficult to convey in words just what the candidacy and then presidency of Donald Trump have done to CNN.”

That pithy observation comes from a devastating essay by National Review online editor Charles C. W. Cooke; an essay appropriately titled, “CNN Is Not a News Network” … with an equally fitting sub headline that reads, “And Jim Acosta is no reporter.”

Cooke writes about an on-air campaign CNN initiated in 2017, the year Donald Trump took office.  The theme was “Lies can become truth, if we let them”:

“President Trump, the clear target of the drive, is a habitual liar and an unreconstructed narcissist. “The trouble is . . . so is CNN. With the possible exception of the hallucinatory MSNBC, no other institution in American life spent more time and effort indulging the false idea that President Trump was quite obviously guilty of treason, collusion, and bribery, and insisting that the impending Mueller report would not only reveal this guilt, but would prompt Trump’s removal from office and, possibly, his arrest. For two long years, the network was breathless. The walls were always ‘closing in,’ the hours were perpetually ‘ticking down’. … Wars have been fought with less relentless effort than Jeff Zucker and co. put into starting with their conclusion. Anything with the word ‘Russia’ glued to it — however minor or tenuous or self-evidently silly it was — warranted a ‘BREAKING’ chyron, and a grave, dramatic … tone. Nothing gave rise to skepticism or pause — not even the publication of the Mueller report itself, the details of which, when revealed, were all but rejected in favor of yet more conspiracy theories.”

Just one year later, CNN was at it again with another ad, bragging about its supposed journalistic impartiality.  Except, if Russian trolls had infiltrated CNN and concocted the ad, hoping it would make you wonder if the folks who run the network had finally lost their marbles, they couldn’t have done a better job than CNN did to itself.

Cooke tells us:

“In October 2018, a few days before the midterm elections, the channel began running an advertisement for itself every ten minutes that featured Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, telling Ron DeSantis, the Republican candidate for governor of Florida that, ‘this is CNN, not Fox — you have to bring facts.’ Or put another way: CNN, which is putatively a news organization, endorsed and repeatedly aired a cheap political attack from a candidate it was supposed to be covering, against a candidate it was supposed to be covering, as publicity in defense of its own neutrality. You couldn’t make it up.”

Cooke also takes aim at several CNN on-air personalities, which amounts to shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. There’s Jim Acosta, CNN’s White House correspondent, who doesn’t even try to hide his contempt for President Trump.

“Jim Acosta … seems to believe that his job is to act as the loyal opposition to President Trump, prone as he is to showing up at press conferences and emoting until he inspires a reaction about which he can subsequently complain on Twitter.”

And then Cooke turns his sites on another easy mark — Don Lemon.

“Even more transparent a player than Acosta is Don Lemon, who is a ‘news anchor’ in the same sense as that in which [Alabama head football coach] Nick Saban is a referee.”

And there’s pretend newsman Brian Stelter who hosts a media show for CNN on Sunday morning. Stelter has two themes he visits week in and week out:  Donald Trump is horrible … and so is Fox News.  Here’s what Cooke has to say about him:

“CNN offers up a glossy propaganda show named ‘Reliable Sources,’ the primary purpose of which is to whitewash the most egregious decisions it makes, to defend similar decisions made by its allies, and to explain why mirror-image behavior by Fox News represents a unique threat to the republic. Reliable Sources is presented by Brian Stelter, a man who insists that he is not a ‘media critic’ and who is, in a literal sense, correct in this evaluation. A better description for Stelter might be ‘media apologist,’ or perhaps ‘media sculptor,’ for Stelter clearly believes that his job is to suppress any information that makes the outlets he likes look bad and to highlight any information that he believes makes the outlets he likes look good. He is, in his own mind, the Arbiter of the Press. A National Media Ombudsman. The First Amendment’s Own Inspector General. To understand the nature of Reliable Sources, one needs only to know that Stelter managed to cover in obsessive detail the appearance of former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the ABC reality show Dancing with the Stars, while assiduously ignoring fresh and explosive evidence that ABC News had withheld its knowledge of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal years before it broke.”

But we shouldn’t be surprised by any of this, should we? Cable news these days isn’t really about news.  It’s about drumming up outrage; tossing red meat to the audience; validating viewer biases; all designed to get them to come back for more.

But somehow CNN is worse than the others.  CNN was once a serious, important news organization, a real pioneer in the news business, a 24-hour news operation that you could count on.

That was a long time ago.  Now, as Charles C.W. Cooke tells us in the title to his smack down essay:  CNN Is Not a News Network.

And Jim Acosta is no reporter.


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