Bernie’s Q&A: Swan, Barr, Social Media Bans, Maxwell, and more (7/31) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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


Bernie, did you see Jonathan Swan’s interview clip with Trump about Russian bounties on our military? I think Swan has become a very sharp and prepared interviewer. Was interested in your take on him, and also the fact that Trump has never even brought up the “bounty” issue with Putin in the 8 conversations they’ve had since it became known. — Alex

I also think Swan is a solid journalist. As for bringing up the bounty issue with Putin: What if Trump did? Putin would deny it. What then? But not bringing it up — in eight conversations — gives ammo to Democrats who still think Trump and Putin are collaborating on something or other.

Trump gave an interview with Barstool Sports, and during the interview said, “It used to be in the old days before this, you’d write a letter and you’d say this letter is very big. You put it on your desk and then you go back tomorrow and you say, ‘Oh, I’m glad I didn’t send it,’ right? But we don’t do that with Twitter, right? We put it out instantaneously, we feel great, and then you start getting phone calls — ‘Did you really say this?’ I say, ‘What’s wrong with that?’ and you find out a lot of things.”

He later said it’s his retweets that tend to get him in trouble, not necessarily his own tweets. Regardless, has hell frozen over? I never thought Trump would regret any of his actions, including retweets or tweets.  — Joe M.

I was pleasantly surprised too, Joe. But just because he seemed contrite doesn’t mean he really was and it sure doesn’t mean he won’t do again precisely what he suggested he regrets.

As the MLB season began this past week, and as the NBA and NFL seasons beckon, it appears that kneeling will become a regular part of our professional sports leagues (and no doubt college athletics as well). Here are my suggestions and questions. Instead of kneeling during the national anthem, why not instead have a separate one minute of silence before or after the playing and singing of the national anthem (with players as and fans having the ability to show their support by kneeling or otherwise)? Racial issues could be highlighted without showing disrespect for the flag or America. Would this not be consistent with the claims made by those taking a knee that they are simply trying to draw attention to the need to address systemic racism and are not intending to show disrespect for America or those who serve in the military (and those who have died in service to the country). One final question. Is there a time limit as to how long the kneeling should continue or will this be part of pregame rituals for a very extended period of time? — Michael F.

Here’s my take, Michael: I think people go to sports to escape politics. At some point (soon) fans may grow tired of players taking a knee before a game … and looking at slogans on NBA uniforms … and the rest. If we weren’t so hungry for live sports during this pandemic, fans might tune out — a form of protest too. They still might.

As for a time limit on the kneeling: Shorter is better than longer. And even though I’m not a fan of taking a knee, it is silent and non disruptive … so take a knee, get it over with and play ball.

Dear Mr. Goldberg: Longtime follower, but newly-minted subscriber and former TV journalist who read your “Bias” books, and raised in your neck of the woods, The Magic City of Miami! And may I add, best $4 I ever spent!

You wrote in your July 13 column that “Americans are exhausted with this president” and you mentioned several negative descriptions of his behavior. No argument here. But you also wrote that people are “exhausted with the non-stop controversies and chaos.” I was surprised you didn’t include the liberal media and Democrats who have tormented Mr. Trump from the get-go. Am I cherry picking? Speaking of the liberal media, I just read an entry about it in Wikipedia, and did you know they pay you a high compliment when they label your “Bias” book as “toxic”? Meanwhile, the site describes a competing book from the other side that “challenges the widespread conservative belief in liberal media bias…that the media as a whole, is not biased liberally, but conservatively.” That sounds like word-salad to me but wasn’t that the point of your books? Thanks for all you do! — James F. in Florida

Hey James. Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I did say that people are exhausted with the non stop controversies and chaos. I think the polls back up that belief. And yes, liberal journalists who are out to get this president certainly contribute to that chaos. I’ve written about that many times over the years, if not in that particular column. As for my book being tagged as “toxic” — sticks and stones …

In my last book, A Slobbering Love Affair, I quote two liberal political journalists who acknowledge that there’s a liberal bias. They’re just not troubled by it. But even open minded liberals know that liberal bias is real.

Bernie, Rutgers is this your alma mater, right? RU announced it will change its standards of English instruction in an effort to stand with and respond to the BLM Movement. In response, Leonydus Johnson, a speech pathologist and Libertarian activist said, the change makes the racist assumption that minorities cannot comprehend traditional English. He called the change “insulting, patronizing, and in itself extremely racist.” “The idea that expecting a student to write in grammatically correct sentences is indicative of racial bias is asinine. It has become very clear to me that those who claim to be anti-racist are often the most racist people in this country”……. more dumbing down of America by the Democrats. Once upon a time you couldn’t get into college without strong English schools, not to mention pass the SATs. I know it’s a different world, but how low are we going to go with reducing standards in the country? We already rank low in many educational categories in comparison to the rest of the world. SMH — John M.

Rutgers University, my alma mater, opened its doors in 1776 — 10 years before the United States of America became a reality. Henry Rutgers must be rolling over in his grave over this latest moronic move by Rutgers. When I went there, Rutgers was considered a blue collar Ivy. They told us at orientation to look at the student to the right of us and then look at the student to the left. One of the three of us, we were told, would be there by the end of the year. If you didn’t know proper grammar you wouldn’t have gotten in and if you did you’d be one of the three that didn’t make it after a year. Now, grammar is racist. Another reason I refuse to support Rutgers when they call for money.

I believe that Ghislane Maxwell is entitled to due process under the law, but Donald Trump actually WISHING HER WELL!? WHY!? I’m surprised the biased lamestream media didn’t make more out of this! This is dumb even for him! Also, when Jeffrey Epstein got that slap on the wrist in Florida years ago, I have a theory: Since Epstein’s attorneys were an infamous conservative (Ken Starr) and an infamous liberal (Alan Dershowitz), Starr threatened all the “respectable” and vulnerable left wing perverts out there, and Alan Dershowitz did the same thing with the right wing pervs in order to land that slap on the wrist from the prosecutor. What do you think, Sir Bernie? Is that how you believe it may have gone down? Is Ghislane Maxwell in danger of being suicided” in prison? And WHY oh WHY did Trump wish her well? Damn F—ING DUMB if you ask me! — “Watch your back, Ghislane, and I wish you well” Regards, From The Emperor

Let me address just one of your points, Sir Emperor … the one about Trump wishing her well. I almost fell off the couch and spit up the snack I was munching on when I heard that. How stupid does one have to be to say that? Don’t answer that Emperor. I’m not sure which is dopier, his wishing her well comment or saying that we won two “beautiful” world wars. You can’t make this stuff up, Your Highness.

Biden’s campaign turned down a Chris Wallace interview on Fox News. If “Sleepy Joe’s” handlers cannot handle a TV interview with a fair-minded journalist like Chris Wallace, how do they think Joe will survive a ‘cage match’ with a ‘rototiller’ opponent like Trump in the presidential debates? They should re-think their decision and consider Chris Wallace a ‘spring-training’ exercise, but that would be an intelligent move. — Peter E.

There’s a very good reason Joe Biden turned down the interview, Peter. The reason is Biden would get so confused by the questions that everyone would know that he really has lost a few of his marbles. As for the debates, I think Trump would make a big mistake if he gets nasty. That’ll engender sympathy for Joe. Good rule of thumb: Never make fun of people who might have early onset of dementia. But I don’t know if our president can control his instincts. Best to let Joe sink himself … assuming he gets questions from journalists that go beyond, “What’s your favorite color, Mr. Biden?”

A couple of interesting notes on Facebook. A picture of a Mask in its wrapping had a disclaimer, which I will paraphrase, Wearing a mask does not guarantee you protection from Covid-19. The second is the video of a few days ago where so called physicians were in front of the SCOTUS building talking about Covid-19 which was pulled stating it was fake news. My confusion is what is fake? The picture definitely had the declaimer and the physicians did hold a press conference. If Facebook asked you, what would you recommend as a process to determine what is fake or not. In my opinion, post what you want. As a user I don’t have to read what I don’t want to. — Tim H.

It’s my understanding that Facebook (or was it Twitter?) pulled the video because the doctor declared that hydroxychloroquine is a literal “cure” for COVID-19 — which it isn’t. As for the disclaimer, that comes from lawyers who don’t want to be sued by someone who says, “I thought the mask would protect me — and it didn’t.” As a general rule, I don’t want social media companies to determine what’s true and what isn’t. As I say, as a general rule. But if someone says eating grapes is a cure for cancer, some idiot might believe it. That might be an exception to my general rule. Same with declaring that a drug is a cure for COVID-19.

I saw this re-tweet from Brit Hume after the Barr hearings yesterday:

By @AndrewCMcCarthy:“What happened on Capitol Hill Tuesday was a debacle to despair over because Democrats do not act this way because they are preternaturally rude. They act this way because their voters expect and demand that they act this way.”

So, Do anywhere near a majority of Democratic voters expect this type of behavior From the elected officials? Are civil minded Democratic leaders “afraid to speak out” as well per your Weds “Off the Cuff”? Isn’t there a strong possibility that a good number of Dem voters might sit this one out in November as well? — ScottyG

We won’t know until Election Day if Democrat voters approve of the appalling behavior of Jerry Nadler and his nasty gang of authoritarian progressives. You ask, if Democratic leaders are afraid to speak out. They’re in on it — that’s why they’re not speaking out! Anything to discredit Barr and in the process discredit the Durham report that will show how Democrats knew Donald Trump wasn’t colluding with the Russians and proceeded to investigate him for more than two years anyway. If Biden somehow manages to lose, those hearings will be a big reason.

I am going to quit watching the evening national news. Today there was an article in the local Minneapolis Star Tribune about a guy they call “Umbrella Man.” Early on, the national press was pushing the narrative that it was White Supremacy that was causing the riots in Minneapolis. This was disproved by a local network TV news organization. Tonight, on ABC evening news they focused on Umbrella Man who they have identified as a White Supremacist. Maybe he his, who knows. But ABC pointed out that no riots occurred prior to him walking down the street breaking windows and to paraphrase, “he caused the night of destruction”. So according to ABC evening news, the good people of Minneapolis who would never break the law came out and chose to break the law with hammers, Molotov cocktails, and other devices because a single white individual white man? Am I in the twilight light zone? — Tim

No Tim, you’re not in the twilight zone. But a lot of journalists are.

Bernie, I have a somewhat complex disagreement with your suggestion that there will be even more looting and rioting if Biden becomes president. It’s true that this stuff has been happening in cities governed by impotent Democrats, and it’s also true that neither Trump nor his sending of federal officers are to blame for the violence (as some Dems have stupidly said). BUT, I do think that a lot of this stuff (which started with George Floyd before morphing into its present form) is being done to spite Trump. I think these anarchists love doing this in what they view as Trump’s America, and they wrongly feel justified in taking on the president this way, because he has been such a divisive and combative figure. Again… I don’t blame Trump. But I suspect if Biden were to win, they’d actually lose some of their will to fight. And if Trump were to win, the violence would more likely continue and even intensify. Not that anyone should base their vote on that (they shouldn’t!). Does that make any sense? — Ben G.

I’m with you Ben in that if Trump somehow, some way, manages to win, the mayhem will intensify. But if Biden wins, the anarchists won’t be satisfied. It’s not unusual that in revolutions — and we’re in the midst of a cultural revolution right now — the leaders often turn on their own. They won’t be happy until they fundamentally change America. They may even go after Bernie Sanders before this is over. Given the nightly chaos, if Donald Trump weren’t so unlikable, he’d win in a landslide.

 


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 Digital Acceleration of Herd Mentality

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

It’s a memorable, often quoted line from the 1997 sci-fi comedy, Men in Black, where Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) explains to his apprentice (Will Smith) why it would be a very bad idea to reveal to the public that space aliens are living secretly among them.

While there are many great one-liners in the film (that still draw a laugh), that particular one has been remembered for the inherent, societal truth it spoke. When an individual alone is presented with new, consequential information, that person is more likely to process it logically and rationally than if he or she had consumed it in a group setting.

This paradox goes by lots of different names, but for the sake of this column, I’ll use the term herd mentality.

Herd mentality is a product of peer influence. It compels people to adopt behaviors and sentiment, not from autonomous reason, but from the passion and emotions of those who surround them. These emotions, in turn, lead to impulsive (and often bad) decisions that wouldn’t have otherwise been made.

It’s been pretty easy to spot herd mentality throughout this nation over the past few months, most graphically in the rioting, looting, and vandalism we’ve seen in major U.S. cities. What began as protests in the name of social justice have turned into an excuse to spread violence, destroy businesses, and destroy lives.

We’ve also seen it with the uptick in the cancel culture, where dissenting, objectionable views are increasingly treated as infectious diseases deserving of eradication.

And we’ve of course seen it in the way mask-wearing (to mitigate the spread of COVID-19) has been turned into a ridiculous culture war, with one side insisting that it’s a heinous violation of their freedoms.

Herd mentality has a far wider reach today than even 20 or 25 years ago because of the virality and boundlessness of the Internet and the 24-hour news cycle. In virtually no time at all, something as simple as a contextless image or video clip can create and accelerate a deeply misleading narrative among a population.

We were reminded of a pretty famous example of this last week with the settlement of Nicholas Sandmann’s defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post. Sandmann was the kid we all remember wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat in front of the Lincoln Memorial, “smirking” as a Native American man (Nathan Phillips) beat a drum and sang a chant just inches from his face. The two were surrounded by other students from Sandmann’s school, who joined in with the chant, smiling and laughing.

I would argue (and did at the time) that a smart, reasonable person watching that video for the first time — even if he or she had a preconceived notion of someone who would wear a MAGA hat — would want to know more about the incident before forming an opinion of what they were seeing. A reasonable person would wonder (not merely assume) what it was that brought those people together, and why they were acting as they were.

But blasted across the Internet at light-speed, filtered through the political instincts of millions, and recklessly reported on by media outlets (who suffer from their own form of groupthink), Sandmann quickly became a national poster-child for racial intolerance. Even after the facts came to light, and it was clear Sandmann hadn’t done anything wrong or even inappropriate, herd mentality kept many from ever accepting that truth.

Another example from last week had to do with the aforementioned war on protective masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci was the target this time, after he threw out the first pitch at the MLB season opener. Fauci, who has been vilified by many on the right for putting forth COVID-era health recommendations that are often politically and economically unhelpful, was later captured in the stands by photographers not wearing a mask.

Being that Fauci has been expressing the importance of masks for months (while acknowledging that he downplayed it in the early days of the health crisis out of a supply concern for medical professionals treating the infected), detractors decided that the photographs had exposed the effectiveness of masks (which has been proven in study after study) to be a hoax:

It didn’t take long before I saw these same photos (accompanied by the same sentiment) popping up all over my Facebook feed.

Fauci’s a fraud!

Look, even he knows masks don’t work!

Why do I have to wear a mask if he doesn’t have to?

I suspect it’s not coincidence that this stuff came from the same friends and acquaintances who’ve been insisting from the beginning that COVID-19 is no biggie, and that every societal sacrifice (or even mere inconvenience) we’ve endured for the health crisis has been based on a delusion created by the power-hungry elite. Even as tens of thousands of new cases of the virus are reported each day, with the death count now around 150,000, these folks keep feeding the narrative to each other, and stoking conspiratorial doubt in others.

As a different buddy said to me, about the reactions to the Fauci photos, “Don’t you love how people suddenly can’t discern any obvious details when they smell a gotcha?”

As Agent K might respond, “A person would pick up on the details… but people? Not so much.

Those “obvious details,” in this case, would include the fact that Fauci and his two companions were outside (where the virus is far less transmissible), that no one else was seated around them (aka socially distanced), that the woman to his left was his wife (who he lives with and breathes the same air as every day), and that the friend to his right was still wearing a mask.

Additionally, a reasonable person might also consider the length of time Fauci was without his mask. Could it have been just a few seconds, perhaps right before or after he took a swig from that water bottle pictured on his lap? According to Fauci, that’s exactly what happened. He also revealed that he had tested negative for COVID-19 just a day earlier.

But when people are frustrated or scared (as many of us are right now), herd mentality impedes the ability of individuals to take a step back, and look at things in an open-minded, rational way. Perhaps this is why Fauci, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, and the CDC felt they couldn’t be upfront with the general public about masks when they were concerned about shortages in March. I still think it was the wrong thing to do, and created unnecessary confusion (that’s unfortunately still being used by others as political propaganda), but perhaps I’m a little more sympathetic to their predicament than I once was.

Regardless, what makes herd mentality on the Internet particularly concerning right now is that, with physical gatherings remaining potentially dangerous for the foreseeable future, the pre-existing cultural trend of social media replacing our traditional institutions has been accelerated. Many of the more focused organizations and establishments in our lives, that bring us together and keep us grounded (whether it be church, sports, live music, community celebrations, etc.) are on indefinite hold. That means people are spending more time online, latching onto viral themes and joining righteous revolts against all kinds of perceived injustices.

It’s not healthy, and in several cases (some described above), it’s contributing to the prolonging of this crisis by promoting reckless behavior that only adds to the spread of the coronavirus.

If there were ever a time when people (especially those with time on their hands) needed to further explore their own individuality, it’s right now. Maybe that means taking up a new hobby, going on some camping trips, or doing some (safe) volunteering in the community.

If it keeps people from subjecting themselves to countless hours of social media and cable news, it’s almost certainly a good thing.

Order John A. Daly’s novel “Safeguard” today!




Bernie’s Q&A: Weiss, West, Wojnarowski, Trump TV, and more! (7/17) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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


What’s your take on Kanye West? He obviously has no chance of winning the election (for one thing, too many filing dates have passed), but if he got on the ballot in a few key battleground states, could he peel JUST enough votes away from Biden to give Trump the win? — Joel E.

I refuse to take Kanye West seriously, Joel. He’s not running for president no matter how many times he says it. He won’t get on any ballots. A Kanye endorsement might help one candidate or another — but that would require his fans to actually go out and vote. Something else I wouldn’t bet on.

Bernie, Senator Hawley (R-MO) sent out a press release today last Friday asking NBA Commissioner Adam Silver if he would allow players to wear slogans on their jerseys that said, “Free Hong Kong, God Bless America, Back the Blue, or Support Our Troops.” When Hawley’s staff e-mailed the release, members of the media were copied on the e-mail, one of whom was ESPN’s “Senior NBA Insider” Adrian Wojnarowski, who responded to Hawley’s e-mail with “#uck You”. His e-mail did not include the #.

How in the world is that acceptable from anyone, let alone a journalist? How in the world can ESPN still retain a journalist who responds in that manner? Should we just give up on our media and assume it is nothing more than a mouth piece for the radical left? At every level, the media is a total clown show. — Joe M.

Two points, Joe. First: Wojnarowski apologized just hours later with this public statement: “I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake. I’m sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Senator Hawley to apologize directly. I also need to apologize to my ESPN colleagues because I know my actions were unacceptable and should not reflect on any of them.”

ESPN suspended him without pay.

Second, his firsts reaction tells me all I need to know. The apology is BS as far as I’m concerned. It’s not just CNN, MSNBC, and big newspapers that have become mouthpieces for the hard left. Sports “journalism” is guilty too.

So I see where the Governor of Minnesota requested funds from the Federal Government to assist in rebuilding the “war-torn” city of Minneapolis. Apparently he was turned down, as he should have been IMO. I have a suggestion, why doesn’t he reach out to the Hollywood types who had no problem donating a lot of money to a fund to be used to bail out those responsible for the burning and the looting? Maybe they’ll fire up a gofundme account. While he’s at it, reach out to the Biden campaign, it too donated money to a bail fund. The chutzpah of this guy. — John M.

John, I’m not adding a word to what you’ve written.  I totally agree!

This excerpt is from the July 9th NYT Coronavirus Briefing, regarding a ranking system for the hopefully soon potential release of a vaccine:

“But the most contentious debate has been over whether to put Black and Latino people — who have disproportionately fallen victim to Covid-19 — ahead of others in the population [to be first in line to receive the vaccine]. The idea was supported by many of the health experts, who viewed it as medically sound and an act of racial justice. But others worried it could create a negative impression of the vaccine for some Americans.”

So are we at the point now where The CDC & the media believes that the virus unfairly attacks minorities because of their skin color and not by their inability to remain virus diligent? — ScottyG

Everything these days is about race. To be fair, some would argue that people of color are not coming down with the virus in disproportionate numbers because they’re not “virus diligent” but rather because they suffer from underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable. But it would be a bad idea to put people in the front of the line because of their skin color. It would just add to the already existing tensions surrounding race in this country.

I disagree with your conclusion [in Monday’s column] that Donald Trump is in trouble. To quote the Bard “What’s past is prologue”. Since 1900, with only two exceptions, every incumbent running in a two person race has been re-elected. The exceptions were of course Herbert Hoover in 1932 to FDR and Jimmy Carter in 1980 to Ronald Reagan. In both cases, economic forces were the deciding factor in their loss. Even given the current plague, the one thing Donald Trump is good at is managing the economy. He will have a growing economy and increased jobs by October. He will be re-elected by a large margin. — James V.

You may be right, James … but unlike just about any president who came before him, Donald Trump is widely disliked by just about every demographic group. And even the ones who still support him, like white evangelical Christians, don’t back him to the extent they did in 2016. And his noxious personality might make the difference this time around. In any event, I’m amused by your absolute certainty. No doubts for you, James. But if he loses — again, I say “IF” he loses — his most passionate supporters, the ones who never held him accountable for his dishonesty and his nastiness, will have contributed to his defeat. Donald Trump needs his friends to say, “Enough.”  They never do. So if he loses, it won’t be the “fake news” media that’s to blame. It’ll be Donald J. Trump himself — and his friends who will tolerate just about anything.

Yes, you have said numerous times you won’t write another book. But…you are faced with the biggest “Bias” story of this century on the reporting of COVID-19 (from both sides). How do you submit to this position from your loyal readers? — Tim H.

No more books. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But thanks for asking, Tim.

In the wake of the Bari Weiss resignation this week (not to mention the scores of other similar events occurring weekly if not daily), it seems to me that the lines have been drawn as to the stakes presented for this year’s elections . There are millions of people who do not like Trump the man but who fear what will happen if the Democrats get complete power (their signals as to what they would do with such power seems very clear). Your faithful readers like me know exactly where you stand as to the character traits of Trump (or lack thereof). The question that is begged is whether Trump’s character failings are being trumped (pun intended) by the dangers posed by those who despise this country and wish to fundamentally change America forever. Put another way, is sitting on the sidelines come November a viable option this time around? One last thought: buy the beans (Goya) and sell the Times. — Michael F.

I’m with you, Michael, on “buy the beans (Goya) and sell the Times. Nicely put.

As for the rest:  I understand your point. My friends hit me with that every day. I do not want the Democrats to win. I don’t think Joe Biden will be a moderate for long if he wins. I believe he’ll continue to be pulled to the left. So, you’re probably saying, “Hold your nose, Bernie and vote for Trump.” I want Republicans to win. But Donald Trump will have to do it without me.

The University of Texas announced this week that it was renaming its field from that of a large benefactor (Joe Jamail) to two African-American players and Heisman Trophy winners (Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams). I’m a classic capitalist, but I always cringed whenever the rich guys could just come in and buy their way onto buildings and sports fields/arenas. I thought the baseball field in Atlanta should have been named after Hank Aaron rather than stroke the enormous ego of Ted Turner in calling it Turner Field. I also hate these generic corporate names attached to fields of play. This begat the ridiculous display of a few years ago when the NBA Finals rotated between American Airlines Arena (Dallas Mavericks) and American Airlines Center (Miami Heat). If there’s one good thing coming out of these social changes, maybe it’s a return to honoring individuals who are tied to fans and their communities. What are your thoughts? — Steve R.

I haven’t given it much thought, Steve, but you make sense. However … Boone Pickens, the late Texas oilman gave about $500 million to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University. Guess what the name of the football field is. Can you blame the folks at OSU?

We have been hearing about infrastructure spending by our politicians now since 2008 and the great recession. Now both Biden and Trump are beating this same drum. It seems to me that when we talk about infrastructure, the predominant ownership of the assets is either at the state and local level or in private hands in the case of the electrical grid. The federal highway system, the nation’s air control system, and selective dams and bridges being the exception. It seems to me that all of this talk about Federal intervention has just provided an excuse for the responsible parties to postpone necessary improvements waiting for the taxpayers to foot the bill for their crumbling assets. With the ridiculously low-interest rates evident over the past decade this seems malfeasant for those in charge. What is your take on this? — Douglas C.

Any time a local politician can lay off his expenses on the federal government … he or she will do just that. But the reason both parties love infrastructure is because they can claim credit for creating JOBS. The idea that it’s any president’s responsibility for a pothole on my street is ridiculous. But the reality is in an election year Dems and the GOP will talk a good game about infrastructure — even if it’s just talk.

The woke scolds now want to cancel the hit musical “Hamilton” because it glorifies a racist slave owner. The creator of this extravaganza has actually apologized to the woke crowd for not being “woke enough” and he wants to do better. I take great schadenfreude in the fact that during the curtain call, the entire cast and crew of the show felt the need to lecture the Pence family for being politically incorrect (that is, Conservative Christians), and now the creator and star Lin-Manuel Garcia and his cast now find THEMSELVES on the receiving end of the woke scolds. Nonetheless I fear that more people (whether I agree with their political positions or not) will be shut down, and the First Amendment will go by the wayside.

What is your feelings about what is happening to Hamilton? Do ya think the woke scolds would approve of Lin-Manuel Garcia producing an all black cast in a musical inspired by the life of Jeffrey Dahmer? Your thoughts are always appreciated. — “Jeffrey Dahmer—The Musical!” Regards, From The Emperor

I don’t know if you know this, Emperor. But at Jeffrey Dahmer’s trial, there was an unexpected commotion involving some of the people watching the trial from the gallery. The judge banged his gavel and shouted, “Order.” Dahmer stood up and said, “I’ll have juror number 7.”

As for Hamilton:  This is what happens in revolutions.  The purists take over — and then nobody’s safe, not even liberal icons like Mr. Garcia.

I live in a relatively small town where the local newspaper is now nearly all just local news. Because of that I want to subscribe to a newspaper online that will give me relatively unbiased information. After reading your article about Bari Weiss today I read her resignation letter. And I canceled my New York Times online subscription. I knew they were biased but felt I could still get a fair amount of factual news from them. Now I don’t like what they did , I don’t trust them and don’t want to support them financially. Can you recommend another online news source? — Beth R.

First, good for you Beth. It’s the Times’ loss, not yours. I checked around and my good friend John Daly tells me he is very happy with The Dispatch (a subscription website, owned in part by Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg). “Their daily reporting (sent to members every morning via email) is very strong, thorough, and fair. Great commentary too,” he says. Good luck!

There were times in 2015 and 2016 when I was convinced that Trump was trying to sabotage his own campaign to assure that, after generating the publicity he definitely wanted from running and staying in the race so long, he wouldn’t actually become president and have to do the job. I’m believing that again now, with the latest evidence being his commutation of the thoroughly corrupt and fairly convicted (even A.G. Barr said so) Roger Stone. What do you think the probability is that I’m right? — Ben G.

I’ve thought the same thing, Ben. I even thought about writing a column that begins: Sometimes I think Donald Trump wants to lose in November.

If that’s not it, he’s just the dumbest guy to ever set foot in the Oval Office. No one has ever put his foot in his mouth, has stepped on his own good news, more than this man.

Bernie, I have a different take on the upcoming election. President Trump, is doing (and has done) a lot of strange things if we assume he is trying to get reelected. I don’t really think he cares. It’s not fun anymore, with “Tell All” books, scores of former White House associates’ candidly dumping on him, on and on. He loves his base. Loves ’em. Binden is elected. Trump starts up cable “Trump TV”, and slashes and burns to the sea, every day, 24/7. Doesn’t get better than that, for ‘Disinfectant Donny”. I kinda agree with him. His highest, best, and fun use of his talents … many, people have said; many many people — Aloha, Mike S.

Hey Mike … I think “Trump TV” is what he had in mind from the jump. He’d run for president, lose, then start a network featuring the narcissist himself. And if he loses in November, there’s an excellent chance that he’ll do just that.  Here’s the question that lingers: What will become of Fox? Will he bring the bootlickers over to Trump TV? If he does, Fox is in big trouble. It might be smart for Fox to offer him almost anything he wants. Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, it gets crazier.  Aloha, Mike.

 


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.




My Take on Bari Weiss, the New York Times … and Wrongthink

Liberals in the media love to talk about diversity, about how we can’t have truly honest journalism without it. If you don’t worship with them at the altar of diversity then, they figure, you’re a bigot of one kind or another. But be assured they’re not talking about diversity of ideas in their newsrooms. That kind of diversity is not something they seek. It’s something they try to crush.

The same intolerant liberal mob that forced the opinion editor of the New York Times out of his job in June because he published a conservative op-ed they didn’t like, has now hounded Bari Weiss, a Times editor and opinion writer, out of her job.

Ms. Weiss wrote a letter to A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, telling him why she was resigning. Her message captures what’s wrong with American newsrooms these days – especially her own – but more broadly her letter is about a ‘cancel culture’ that punishes unacceptable opinions — and about a rigid orthodoxy that has no place in an American newsroom.

But the lessons that ought to have followed the election [of Donald Trump in 2016] — lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society — have not been learned,” she wrote. “Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.”

Weiss is onto something important. The problem for many years now has been liberal bias in the news, which came about mainly because of groupthink – having too many like-minded people reporting and editing the news. Now, Ms. Weiss tells us, not so much about something new that’s infecting newsroom thinking, but something she’s given a new name – “Wrongthink.”

My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views,” she writes. “They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m ‘writing about the Jews again.’ Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly ‘inclusive’ one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.”

And then Ms. Weiss takes a well-deserved shot at her publisher and other leaders at the Times for never coming to her defense in the face of so much blatant cruelty.

I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.”

Journalists are supposed to report about important trends in America, like the cancel culture. They’re not supposed to take part in it.

But the progressive mob – like the revolutionaries who ushered in a reign of terror after the French Revolution – has no tolerance for anyone who doesn’t see the world the way they do. During the reign of terror, people with “wrong” ideas lost their lives – now they “only” lose their livelihoods.

Part of me wishes I could say that my experience was unique,” Weiss writes. “But the truth is that intellectual curiosity — let alone risk-taking — is now a liability at The Times. Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.

Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.”

And she has noticed something else about the modern American newsroom. It has rules – the kind that should never exist inside a journalistic institution.

Rule One: Speak your mind at your own peril. Rule Two: Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative. Rule Three: Never believe an editor or publisher who urges you to go against the grain. Eventually, the publisher will cave to the mob, the editor will get fired or reassigned, and you’ll be hung out to dry.

At CBS News, where I worked for 28 years, I spoke out in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about liberal bias in the news. I did this only after years of quietly pointing out the bias to my colleagues, some of whom could have done something about the problem. No one did. My op-ed caused quite a stir, a media version of World War III.  That’s how big it was back in 1996.

No one forced me out of my job – I wasn’t cancelled — but I had become radioactive. People steered clear of me. They were afraid that the CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather, might see us chatting and that they would soon become radioactive too. My offense, like that of Ms. Weiss, was also wrongthink. We just didn’t have a name for it back then.

In my case, as I’ve said before, they were throwing spitballs at a battleship. I stayed at CBS for 4 and a half years after my op-ed, leaving to write my first book, Bias, about liberal bias at CBS and in America’s newsrooms generally.

Maybe Bari Weiss will also write a book about liberal intolerance in the newsroom. Her resignation letter is a good start.




Bernie’s Q&A: Lemon, Crews, Vindman, Downs, and more! (7/10) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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


I know you worked at different networks, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on Hugh Downs, who recently passed away. Did you know him at all? What did you think of his work as a journalist? Thanks. — Ben G.

I worked only at CBS… later as a contributor at Fox. Did not know Hugh Downs. But he certainly came across as a likable guy. Not sure I’d call him a journalist, not in any old school sense anyway. He was a TV personality who did his job well.

I recently re-watched the Spielberg film, Munich. The themes of the film…the endless revenge cycle, both sides claiming injustices, both sides fighting and killing… I couldn’t help but think about how we are today in this moment. With Trump or without him, we would despise one another. Even a worldwide pandemic can’t get us to be kind to each other, to listen to one another. I can’t think of anything that would bring us together. I believe Trump shouldn’t get a second term…but how would a President Biden be able to fix this? Fix a broken Congress? Fix a divided people? Heal all this anger? Care to give me some positive news for our future? Anything? — Joe B.

I’d love to give you some positive news for our future, Joe, but I can’t. I think we’re so divided, so broken, that I can’t think of what would fix it. I used to think an attack on the United States would bring us together. 9/11 did. For 10 minutes. I’ve been warning for a while now that the most serious problem facing this country is our polarization. I’m more convinced than ever that I was… and remain… right.

Mr G., Is the pathetically weak response from the GOP House & Senate to the unrest of the past few weeks crushing their chances at keeping the Senate & winning The House back? Or were they DOA before the Floyd murder? — ScottyG

The president has spoken out against the unrest and it hasn’t helped him in the polls. That shows you how far we’ve gone — voters hate Trump more than they hate the rioters and looters. Not sure it’s the GOP’s silence that might bring down their control of the Senate so much as a blue wave of discontent with how things are going generally. Donald Trump is at the helm. It’s happening on his watch. He may not be the only one to suffer the consequences.

Bernie……I spoiled my ballot in ’16 (voted MAD, for A E Neuman) because of Trump’s public –indeed, disgraceful– disregard for McCain even while being sympathetic to much of the Rep’s vision and agenda. Now, even with Covid19, I’m inclined to vote Rep but given Trump’s recent rubbishing of Jeff Sessions (a decent man over his head at DOJ who wanted to preside when the job called for an active manager) I may well, again, spoil my ballot at the top of the ticket. What, me worry? — Best regards, Andy M.

I think your vote for Alfred E Neuman was a good one — given the alternatives — Hilary and Donald.

To write about today’s street revolutionaries, without looking into the big money behind them that is funding them, what hope do we as average Americans have in stopping them (aka ultimately and successfully prosecuting the violent criminals who have destroyed many minority businesses and killed and assaulted our men in blue)?

Where is the progress in the prosecution of Hunter Biden and his co-conspirator-father Joe Biden?
Donations to BLM seem to be routed to the DNC but I don’t see the facts about that on the public table! — Gary H.

Not sure where you get your information, Gary, but if donations to BLM is routed to the DNC that’s news to me. Average Americans don’t have the authority to go out and arrest the criminals who are tearing down statues. That’s up to the authorities — local or federal, depending on where the statues stand. Democrats haven’t spoken out forcefully (if at all) against the chaos. But neither have a lot of Republicans, though as a group they’re better than the other side. I’m still wondering if a silent majority exists and will rise up on Election Day. As for Joe and Hunter Biden — not all sleazy business dealings are crimes. Let’s see if anything comes of it.

Bernie, what would it take for Trump to ignore these idiots and be the adult in the room? It appears that he has a terrible habit of wanting to fight everyone and not let controversies die a natural death. For instance today (7/6), he idiotically attacked NASCAR and Bubba Wallace even though the sport, and its fans, have mostly moved on from the incident in Talladega. His focus on Kapernick and those who kneel during the anthem keeps these people in the headlines. Why can Trump not let things go and focus on what unites us? He says he wants a united and patriotic country but why does he think he will achieve this with lowbrow tweets that seem more like school yard taunts and not honest attempts and showing all of the good that this nation has achieved in the past 244 years? I cannot imagine Reagan, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Washington, Grant, or Jefferson ever engaging in such childish antics. He needs to step up or else he will be stepping out. — Joe M.

Here’s your problem, Joe: You’re thinking rationally about an irrational man. Don’t waste your time. He’s incorrigible.

In many ways Trump has been his own worst enemy but I wonder, how would Obama have fared if 95% [or more] of the print and visual media had been on his case from day one? Flat out lied about much it reported about him? Not like he wasn’t thin skinned. — John M.

No question, John, that much of the media is out to get the president. The most recent evidence is how big news outlets covered the president’s speech at Mt. Rushmore. But this president is needlessly combative and chronically dishonest — and that would be true whether the media liked him or not. As for Obama:  He probably would have been a lot more prickly than he was if he had journalists on his rear end from Day One. So given the treatment he gets from the media, to some extent Mr. Trump’s behavior is understandable. But only to some extent.

I’m not sure how Trump is supposed to be taken seriously as a warrior against the “cancel culture” when he has called for the firing of a ton of media commentators, athletes, and CEOs (in most cases, just for criticizing him). It seems to me he’s contributed more to the cancel culture than most people. — Jen R.

Once again, Jen, you show us all how perceptive you are. I have nothing to add. You nailed it.

Regarding the coverage of Trump’s July 4th speech at Mt Rushmore, have we gone from media bias, to media advocacy (“A Slobbering Love Affair”), to the media telling blatant lies about a speech and a president? If so, has the mainstream media become Pravda, telling lies as a version of truth? — Steve R.

The coverage of the president’s speech at Mt. Rushmore was a new low for journalism. Some journalists did in fact, as you say, tell blatant lies about that speech. Whether it’s Pravda or not, I, personally, have not seen it this bad in my long journalistic career.

I saw that “interview” Don Lemon had with Terry Crews. It was stunning that Lemon CONSTANTLY INTERRUPTED Crews. Lemon essentially admitted that BLM really only cares about blacks being murdered when the death is from white cops or white civilians, as opposed to blacks dying at the hands of other black people. He then used the hypothetical argument of a group called “Cancer Matters,” and having people complain about that, and asking “what about HIV?”

Then Lemon doesn’t really allow Crews to respond by interrupting Crews and refusing to listen to him. I would have pointed out the flaws of Lemon’s fatuous point by saying that if HIV were causing a much larger amount of deaths in a certain community (such as black on black crime is) as opposed to cancer causing deaths (such as blacks dying at the hands of white cops), then YES, I think the larger problem should be dealt with as well instead of ignoring it and STILL blaming cancer for the deaths instead of HIV. A better comparison would be if a group that wanted to fight leprosy decided on totally ignoring HIV or cancer.

Why do you think Don Lemon thought he would not look silly and ridiculous to the viewing audience by making an argument and then cutting off any possible response from Terry Crews? Your thoughts and comments are appreciated. — “Leprosy Matters” Regards From The Emperor

Do you watch Don Lemon to get angry or to have a few chuckles? Just wondering. No anchor thinks he or she will look silly no matter how silly they behave. Don Lemon and many others on both sides of the aisle have very high opinions of themselves. As for Leprosy Matters: I interviewed patients at the last leprosy hospital on the U.S. mainland — in Carville , Louisiana — just before they shut the place down. And if you’re wondering … Carville, Louisiana is named after James Carville’s family.

Bernie, I’m an Independent – socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Non-violent, constructive, protests – good. Burners and looters – bad. I try to keep political comments to myself. The speech that President Trump gave July 4th, however, in my humble opinion, truly had to be one of the most irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous, speeches of all time, because it contained this quote – “Now we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases – 99% of which are totally harmless … ” –> “Totally harmless.” “99%.” “Totally.” “Harmless.” President Trump, millions of folks absolutely believe what you tell them. You speak. They believe. How many people will you, Donald J. Trump, kill by this savage disregard for the truth. Maybe me? My wife? My son? Maybe even you, who is reading this post now …Truly unbelievable. Bernie, your feelings about this? — Aloha, Mike

When Donald Trump’s lips are moving there’s a very good chance he’s saying something that isn’t true. That’s bad enough. But the toadies who cover for him… they are truly pathetic. Yes, I know they’re on his team… that they’re soldiers… not generals. But it takes a certain kind of person to be on his team — and it’s obvious, Mike that neither your nor I are that kind of person.

Bernie, do you believe that there exists a cabal of elitist oligarchs that are thrilled that the focus of the people of America is centered on both the coronavirus and the supposed pillars of injustice; African Americans, the LBGT community and all other theoretically socially oppressed groups? While most folks are desperately trying to survive the financial implications of the virus and fathom the hysterical protesting (rioting) and looting, this group of self-serving corporate executives and their political lackeys from both the right and the left are systematically expanding their wealth and power, taking advantage of the Federal Reserves accommodating monetary policies and the hastily conceived fiscal policies enacted by Congress. — Douglas C.

I’m not into conspiracies, Douglas. So, no, I don’t believe they’re “thrilled” that we’re focused on chaos and not on how they’re getting even more rich.  I believe they’re really with BLM.  I also believe there are no profiles in courage among our corporate executives, because if there were they’d question the group’s motives and wouldn’t accept as a given that systemic racism exists in America.  I don’t think this answers your question the way you intended, but it’s the best I’ve got.  Thanks.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (who testified in Trump’s impeachment hearings, and who Trump repeatedly attacked the character of) just retired from the U.S. Army. This came after the White House delayed (multiple times over several weeks) a promotion Vindman was due. The delays included the White House calling for an investigation into Vindman, in which the Pentagon found no suggestion of misconduct on his part.

Vindman’s lawyer responded with this statement: “Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation, the President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers.”

What are you thoughts on this, and what do you think it means for the future of public servants coming forward when they believe higher-ups have abused their power? Thank you. — Jeremy T.

Let me refer you, Jeremy, to Jen’s observation above. Beyond that, the president had the right to do what he did. But that didn’t make it right. Our president is not a gracious man. And that’s putting it mildly.

 


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.