Mitigation Success vs. Media Success on the Pandemic

I’ve written a fair amount about President Trump’s leadership failures during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as I’ve also pointed out, he’s far from the only elected leader whose handling of the crisis is worthy of sharp criticism.

An individual who immediately comes to mind is New York state governor, Andrew Cuomo. Like Trump, Cuomo downplayed the virus in those early weeks, insisting on February 7th, without evidence, that “catching the flu right now is a much greater risk than anything that has anything to do with coronavirus.”

Granted, Cuomo probably didn’t have as good of information at the time as our president, who — that very same day — told Bob Woodward that COVID-19 is “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

But in the weeks that followed, when coronavirus hell was breaking loose in his state, Cuomo was late to impose “shelter in place” restrictions, worked ineffectively with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio to coordinate government efforts (including hospital transfers and supplies), and unconscionably forced nursing homes to prematurely take back in covid-infected residents from hospitals.

Around 6,500 residents in long-term care facilities ended up dying from the virus, with thousands more infected.

Additionally, Cuomo waited until the very end of April before ceasing New York City’s 24/7 subway service (which had proven to be a key contributor to the virus’s spread), and subjecting it to thorough cleanings.

There were other consequential mistakes, but you probably catch my drift. COVID-19 killed over 30,000 New Yorkers, the state’s infection and death rates reflected the worst cases scenarios of epidemiologists’ “flatten the curve” charts, and travelers from New York ended up spreading the virus throughout much of the rest of the country.

Of course, some grace should be extended to all leaders who’ve had to (and continue to have to) deal with the coronavirus. It’s an unenviable position to be in, and what we’re all living through right now is a complex, once-in-a-century crisis — one that is prone to all kinds of honest, well-intended screw-ups.

Still, crisis management is a responsibility that comes with the job of a democratically elected executive. These leaders should be held accountable for their COVID-19 performances. Those who’ve presided over relatively good results should be praised. Those who’ve presided over relatively terrible results probably shouldn’t be.

But rather amazingly, according to state approval ratings across the country, we’re seeing pretty much the opposite.

When you compare the COVID-19 job performance ratings of U.S. governors, you’ll find that of the ten at the top of the list (highest approval), eight of them are governors of states whose coronavirus death rates are over 60, per 100,000 people — a number that is well above average. Of the eight, six are Democrats. This includes Andrew Cuomo (who comes in at #7, with the second highest death-rate in the country), and New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy (who’s tied at #8, with the top death-rate of all 50 states).

The remaining two are Republicans, whose states have relatively low death rates.

Here are the numbers:

(credit: Allen Ginzburg, @aghamilton29 on Twitter)

Now, let’s look at the governors with the lowest approval ratings on COVID-19:

(credit: Allen Ginzburg, @aghamilton29 on Twitter)

As you can see, nine of the bottom ten are Republicans, and only two of those individual’s states have a COVID-19 death rate of over 60, per 100,000 people (the highest being roughly half of what we see in Murphy’s state).

Here’s a graphical representation of this phenomenon:

(credit: @IAmTheActualET on Twitter)

So, what’s going on here?

Sure, there are other factors beyond infection and death rates that should be considered when evaluating a governor’s effectiveness in dealing with the health crisis… like the economy. But there doesn’t seem to be much correlation between the economic health in these states and the polling sentiment toward their leaders. Another consideration may be a general feeling of relief, in some of these states, that the numbers have fallen and the worst is hopefully behind them.

But I think a much better explanation exists, and to understand it, it helps to go back to Governor Cuomo. By any statistical measure, his state did very poorly. A lot of bad decisions were made, and the human toll was staggering. Since January, close to half a million New Yorkers have had COVID-19. And those are just the confirmed cases; the actual number is assuredly much higher.

(Ironically, those heavy casualties are probably, in part, responsible for why the infection rate is finally so low in New York: many New Yorkers have already had the coronavirus, acquired the antibodies, and are no longer spreaders.)

On television, however, Cuomo always came across quite well.

The manner in which he composed himself was impressive. He displayed an engaged, take-charge attitude, but also spoke in a comforting, empathetic manner. He found opportunities to talk about his own family’s challenges during crisis, and those watching found him endearing and relatable. He did buddy humor with this brother Chris on CNN, and he became a media darling, even winning the hearts of some Fox News personalities:

Also, Cuomo is a Democrat. That’s always going to be a stark media advantage in politics (both nationally and locally), but during a pandemic, it has proven to be an even larger one.

While governors like Cuomo and Murphy have rarely faced any significant criticism from mainstream media outlets over their handling of the crisis, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, practically became a poster-child for pandemic mismanagement. In reality, Florida — a state with a large elderly population this is particularly susceptible to the virus — has a COVID-19 death rate that is less than half of both New York’s and New Jersey’s.

In late April and early May, when Georgia’s Republican governor Brian Kemp was incrementally re-opening his state’s economy ahead of federal guidelines, he story was all over that national news and faced intense media scrutiny. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know that, at the very same time, my governor here in Colorado (liberal Democrat, Jared Polis) was doing essentially the same thing. In his case, the media shrugged.

Over the last few months, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of coronavirus-related national criticism of Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas. But have you heard anything about Ned Lamont, the Democratic governor of Connecticut, whose state’s death rate is more than double that of the Lone Star State?

None of this is to say that those (and other) Republican governors are above some of the criticism they’ve received. They absolutely aren’t. In fact, I agree with some of that criticism. But there’s a clear media discrepancy at work here, and as the data suggests, it looks to be playing a significant role in skewing the public’s perception.

Whether it plays a role in November’s state elections, we’ll have to see.

Editor’s Note: In an earlier version of this column, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland was incorrectly labeled in a chart as a Democrat. He is in fact a Republican. The problem was corrected. 

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




On Clueless Journalists …

According to a recent joint Gallup and Knight Foundation poll just about nobody trusts the news media these days.

I realize that this is hardly breaking news.

A lot of us figured out a long time ago that journalists had a political ax to grind – and it was a bias that usually went in just one direction.   But these latest numbers are pretty bad.

Eighty-six percent of Americans say there is either a “fair amount” or “great deal” of political bias in news coverage.  It’s quite remarkable that nearly 9 out of every 10 Americans think journalists slant the news.

Seventy-one percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the news media, but only 22 percent of Democrats have an unfavorable view.

No surprise there.  So few Democrats think journalists are biased because Democrats like the news they’re getting from mainstream sources.  Why wouldn’t they?  Liberal journalists give Democrats the kind of biased news they want.

Every day President Trump gets questions like, Do you feel responsible for the deaths of nearly 200,000 Americans?  And Joe Biden gets questions like, Do you think President Trump is bad, very bad or extremely bad?

And when Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate, the New York Times immediately labeled her as a “pragmatic moderate.”

The Times wasn’t alone.  The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times described Harris as “centrist.”

On television, George Stephanopoulos said that, “Kamala Harris comes from the middle of the road, moderate wing of the Democratic party.”

Maybe Kamala Harris is a moderate or a centrist as far as liberal journalists are concerned, but that’s not how a non-partisan group that tracks congressional legislation sees it.

An analysis by GovTrack.us concluded that in 2019 Kamala Harris was the “most liberal” of all 100 U.S. senators, based on the legislation she signed on to.

That means the group found her even more liberal than Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  Yet major news media outlets were calling her “moderate” and “centrist.”

Then there’s the matter of Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources show.

Every week it’s the same song and dance:  Bash conservative media and bash Donald Trump.

Recently Stelter put conservative talk radio in his crosshairs.  He played audio clips from Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro, and Michael Savage while the words “Vile Anti-Biden Rhetoric On Right-Wing Talk Radio” was shown on the screen.

The conservatives had been speculating about Joe Biden’s mental health and his fitness for office.

Then Stelter asked a guest, Errin Haines, the editor-at-large of the news site The 19th this question: “Errin, your view of this, when you see entire media companies essentially exist to tear down Joe Biden, is there an equivalent to that on the left, tearing down Trump?”

Errin Haines answered:   “There really isn’t.”

Well, actually, there really is.  It’s called CNN!

Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson told Fox News that Stelter’s commentary raises a serious question.

“Has Brian Stelter ever watched CNN, which demeans Trump around the clock as a racist, mentally unstable Putin puppet? Or any of the other major networks that spread Russia collusion conspiracy theories for years, and whose reporters go to White House press conferences for the sole purpose of trying to bait Trump into a reaction so they can get retweets on Twitter?”

Stelter called the verbal shots about Biden’s mental health “mind-boggling,” “offensive” and “so hateful.”

But at the outset of the Trump presidency in 2017, the very same Brian Stelter asked these questions on his show: “Is the president of the United States a racist? Is he suffering from some kind of illness? Is he fit for office? And if he is unfit, then what?”

I have long argued that while liberal journalists can spot a conservative a hundred miles away in a dense fog they’re oblivious when it comes to their own political biases.  They don’t even think that their views are liberal.  They believe they’re simply reasonable, moderate — middle of the road.

When Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times recently talked to Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner she made my point, claiming that “Most of the opinion columnists at the Times are centrists.”

Really? What New York Times could she possibly be talking about?

In reality, the opinion pages of the Times have become what Mark Finkelstein of the Media Research Center has called, a “raging pit of intolerant left-wing activism.”

When I wrote my first book Bias, about liberal bias in the news, critics said that bias is in the eye of the beholder — meaning if you think journalists are biased that means that you’re the one who’s really biased.

This is what the mainstream journalists do:  When they’re criticized they circle the wagons; they refuse to take the blame and instead they blame you.

So it’s no surprise that nearly 9 out of 10 Americans think journalists have a political bias. But there’s another problem that we should be worried about: They’re also clueless.




Bernie’s Q&A: Biden, Harris, Dole, Woodward, and more! (9/11) — 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.

Editor’s note: If you enjoy these sessions (along with the weekly columns and audio commentaries), please use the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share this page with your friends and family. Thank you! 

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


Bernie – Does Joe Biden’s candidacy remind you in any way of Bob Dole’s ‘honorary’ run in 96′? Is it his turn? — Peter E.

Haven’t thought about it that way, Peter. If there’s a comparison it might be to Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Humprhey wasn’t a radical. Neither is Biden. Humprhey had a progressive wing to worry about. Same with Biden.  Humprhey talked and talked and talked … but had little to say about the violence in the streets, fearing a backlash from the left that supported the protesters. Biden has given lip service to his opposition to riots, but he’s not convincing, also fearing a backlash from his left flank that supports the protesters.

My business has provided me the ability to see the world. My wife and I will seek street artists where we travel and purchase their art and note on the back where and why we were there. Street artists around the world are incredible talented and it makes for great memories in our home. Guests always inquire about the works and many now do the same thing.

I believe a community has the right to erect and remove statues to their choosing. But when I see them come down with rope hooks and sledge hammers by small mobs, that’s another story. Further, I would not support removing statues of Lenin in this country using the same methods, although they offend me. Or forbid the wearing of “Che” t-shirts which also offend me. Of course, I have boundaries.

Recently a bill was passed by the house to remove confederate statues from all national parks. It will never pass the current Senate. If you have toured Gettysburg, the statues of both union and confederate commanders and soldiers displays troop positions at key battle points. Yes, some were dedicated by states memorializing the service of the rebels. Are we now a country where one size fits all? Is the next step to eliminate hate speech that many European nations have adopted? And art, which is subject to interruption, now required to be neutral or to carry a message of context so we don’t need to interrupt? Was this bill from the house the start of a slippery slope? — Tim H.

You’ve documented a very real and very scary trend: Leftists who are against free expression when it offends their sensibilities. You ask if the next step is to eliminate hate speech. I think it could happen here. Hate speech — defined by illiberal liberals — may become a criminal offense. That’s the real danger: banning speech those in charge don’t like. It could happen. And it could happen sooner than you might think. All that said, I can understand the opposition to Confederate statues and monuments in the public square. If a town council votes to take them down, at least they acted in a democratic way. But removing statues of Confederate generals from places like Gettysburg is not a good idea. Those statues don’t honor the generals. They reflect history.  Authoritarian regimes wipe out history. That’s not what democratic republics do. At least, it’s not what they should do.

I’ve watched and read your commentary for several decades (damn I’m getting old!), and I, like many, feel I know you, but I don’t really. Can you provide us with a non-career bio, e.g., your schools, your interests, your family, etc. Some of the nuances of you – example: I adored Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Perry Mason (TV series), Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, Wagon Train, 60 Minutes (w/Kirkpatrick & Alexander), etc. Where did you go to school, what type of jobs did you have before journalism, what sports did you play, etc. Basically, the good stuff that helped develop/correct your character. Cheers — DonEstif

Well, Don, let’s start at the beginning: I was born in the Bronx … went to elementary school on a street what was written about as an example of one of the worst urban streets in America. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan campaigned on that street in 1980 and in one news shot you can see my elementary school, PS 61. I moved to New Jersey for high school … worked at the Grand Union for a while … then off to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Four days after graduation I began working at the Associated Press in New York. I left after a few years to go into television, in Miami. After that, CBS in Atlanta, San Francisco, New York, and back to Miami (for family reasons).  My favorite all-time TV show was Homeland. Favorite movie, Casablanca. I’m a very big Sinatra fan. I keep family matters to myself to protect their privacy. But let’s just say one member of  my family — my beautiful wife — is beyond great and people constantly tell me, “She’s the nicest person I ever met.”

Can you comment on the ethical and/or legal obligations as a journalist when conducting an interview, such as the one Vice News had with Michael Forest Reinoehl last week, with someone credibly accused of a crime and who law enforcement is actively seeking? Is getting such a “scoop” considered a coup in the journalistic world or is it seen as unsavory? Can the media, by knowing the whereabouts of a fugitive and not revealing that information, be considered an accessory to a crime? — Pete S.

Very good question, Pete. There are no hard unbreakable rules, but if someone were wanted for a serious crime and was on the run, I’d pass, especially if the crime he’s accused of is murder. Here’s why: The police are going to ask me where I interviewed him. If I say, “I can’t tell you” and he goes out and kills someone else, that’s something I don’t want on my conscience. What if the subject of the interview is a pedophile? Is it okay to withhold his location? I’m sure I’d agree to interview someone who stole government documents that said the U.S. intentionally lied its way into a war that resulted in tens of thousands of American deaths — and was on the lamb. But violent crime? Crimes against children? No.

“Just sent a Twitter thanking you for Off the Cuff on “When Sports No Longer an Escape…” thinking it was one of your finest audio commentaries. Then I read “Shouldn’t ALL Black Lives Matter”. I spoke too soon, but I am Irish by heritage, we do that often.

I live in Chicagoland, and I am amazed at how easily the community ignores the tragedy of the carnage which is sadly daily life on the South Side.

I am not at all surprised sports ignores it; ruins the narrative if they acknowledge it.” — Gregg

Thanks for the kind words, Gregg. Sports journalism is in the tank for Black Lives Matter. It’s pathetic.

“Joe Biden will continue to say it’s happening [mayhem in various cities] in Donald Trump’s America. You’d think voters would see through this nonsense. But the polls tell us they don’t. That they’re still backing Biden. As the rioters move from downtown to the suburbs, reality will sink in. Those liberals who haven’t condemned the rioting will see what it’s like to have the mayhem on their street, in front of their house. “That’s when they may see the light and conclude that they need to vote for Trump. But I’m not (yet) betting on it.”

That’s what you said regarding the rioting, looting, etc. in various cities last week. I don’t understand your logic. I get it as far as you saying that it’s liberal Democratic local and state politicians who are allowing this stuff to happen. But I don’t understand why if national voters “see the light” they’ll vote for President Trump. If President Trump is NOW impotent to stop this mayhem or is NOW unwilling to stop it, why would reelecting him make this situation any better? In this case, the best the Trump campaign can logically say is that the presidential election will not make a difference as to the mayhem in various cities even if VP Biden is elected. I guess they can say that it would be even worse if Biden is elected, but probably that’d be unpersuasive to all but blind Trump supporters. And I know you’re not one of them, far from it. I understand that logic is on life support in national politics. But I think Bernie Goldberg is still governed by it. What am I missing? — Bob H.

Here’s my logic, Bob: Donald Trump clearly is against the violence. He hasn’t called in federal agents — or the U.S. army, navy and marines — to stop it because that’s not only a last resort but one that his critics would use to label him a Nazi, a Hitler, and an all-around dictator who has no respect for democracy –but I suspect he’d call in the troops if he wins in November when he won’t have to worry about voter reaction. Many of us who believe Joe Biden when he says he’s NOT a crazy radical, don’t think he’s strong enough to stand up to those on his left flank who support the protests — and blatantly or not, “understand” or even condone the violence. So even if Trump  — to use your word — is impotent NOW to stop the violence, he won’t be impotent if he wins. I just don’t get the impression that Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is as troubled by the rioting and looting as Republicans are. So electing Trump increases the odds that action will finally be taken against the mob. There’s no guarantee I’m right, of course, but that’s how I see it.

I wonder, Bob, if you want the president to match his words with actions. Do you want him to send in the troops to put down the violence, to crush the rioters and looters? Do you think he’ll do that if he’s re-elected? If he does, what would your reaction be? Do you think Biden will do it if he’s elected? If he doesn’t and the mayhem continues, what would you suggest he do then?

You’re obviously under no obligation to humor me with a response. I was just thinking out loud (so to speak). Take care.

What is more dangerous to the American people; a dishonest President or a dishonest Media? Seems to me there are way more checks & balances to protect us from a roque President than there are to protect us from a subjective, inflammatory & subversive Press. Think of what a Press like this could do to sway a push over President, isn’t that even more dangerous? — ScottyG

You raise a very interesting question, Scotty. We can deal with a dishonest president by not supporting his policies and if he’s up for reelection, voting for the other candidate. But a democracy can’t survive without both a free AND a fair press. If we lose faith in the press, we won’t know what or who to believe. So if I had to weigh in on which is more harmful — a dishonest president or a dishonest press — I’d go along with your conclusion … a dishonest press can do more harm.

Kamala Harris toured Kenosha, Wisconsin a couple days back and took the time to meet with the the man shot by police, Jacob Blake,and his family. She referred to the family as fine people (the father is about a racist as one can be and is an ardent follower of Louis Farrakhan). She told Jacob, the man who has been charged with breaking into a woman’s house as she slept, sexually assaulting her, then returning later to harass her (why cops were called) that she is proud of him! This can’t be the same Kamala Harris who tore into Brett Kavanaugh like a pit bull on steroids over totally unsubstantiated 30 year old sexual assault charges during his SC confirmations hearings? Can it? BTW, she did not visit the woman the man she is so proud of reportedly raped, but “all women must be believed.” And of course the MSM totally overlooked it. Megyn Kelly who tweeted about it was excoriated for calling her out on it. — John M.

Once there was something resembling an impartial media in this country, an impartial media that would have questioned her about all the legitimate points you made. That time is gone. The media is an appendage of the Democratic Party and it’s not about to ask “inconvenient” questions. But there’s another problem: Republicans can’t make an issue of all this either — without looking like they don’t care about Jacob Blake. Whatever he was, and whatever he did that day when he resisted arrest, shooting him 7 times in the back at close range looks like excessive force, an overreaction. That’s why it’s hard for Republicans to make the case against Blake or his father.

In a recent CNN segment, the network showed a very old and endearing picture of Joe Biden with his son… BUT they digitally removed the son’s Washington Redskins logo from his hat (see below), presumably because it’s just too controversial by today’s standards. In my view, this is not only completely stupid, but it lends credence to the theme that liberals are trying to destroy our history through political correctness. Your thoughts? — Ben G.

I’m with you, Ben. If I think about this anymore I’m going to get depressed. “Completely stupid” — as you describe it — may be an understatement.

Bernie, what are your thoughts on Clay Travis and the increasing role of politics in sports media. Mr. Travis (along with his team at Outkick the Cover, which includes Jason Whitlock), in my opinion, appear to be on the more conservative side of sports coverage, while ESPN, and a lot of other non-Fox Sports commentators, seem to be more liberal or even very far left (e.g. Jamel Hill, Peter King, Bomani Jones, etc.). Is cable sports coverage going the way of cable news coverage, where Fox and commentators like Travis, are more conservative, while the rest will fight over the liberal sports audience? If it is going down this path, is there any chance it can be stopped? — Joe M.

Sports, as I’ve said before, was the place we went to escape the daily barrage of partisan politics. Those days, apparently, are gone. I’m not at all sure that Fox sports will be any different from other sports news outlets. Except for folks like Whitlock, they all seem to have signed on to the Black Lives Matter campaign. I’d ask athletes and commissioners what they know — and what they don’t know — about BLM. That said, let me sum up simply with this:  Most news organizations have a liberal bias and sports is no different. Even if ratings don’t drop, sports won’t be a place anymore where we go to escape politics. It will be one more place where we’re exposed to politics and polarization.

Lately I’m hearing from liberal pundits that they fear right wing violence around election time, especially if Biden is declared the winner. I find that interesting considering the fact that all the current violence is coming from left wing anarchists. So that got me to wondering: how can they spout such nonsense with a straight face when all the evidence around them says otherwise, INCLUDING dunderhead Democrat mayors either ordering more police security (that they want to defund) around their homes or outright moving to a secret location? Next it got me thinking, why DON’T right wing conservatives protest & riot destructively in the streets like a bunch of spoiled brats having a tantrum when they don’t get their own way? Your thoughts are always appreciated. –“Beware Of Those Dangerous & Violent Conservatives Causing Havoc” Regards, From The Emperor

I have said that while I don’t know who’s going to win on November 3, I am sure of one thing: that November 4 is going to be the ugliest day of the year. I now have second thoughts: It’s going to be even uglier than I thought. If the race is close, both sides will claim victory — and there’s a good chance there’ll be protests and worse in the streets. Most of it will come from the left. But I’m not counting out the possibility that some right wing yahoos will be out there too. Even if the election ends in a landslide victory, it won’t be seen as legitimate. And if it’s close … lights out!

I have been trying to figure out what America is going to look like and be like after the elections this November and also a few years from now. I had always hoped we were moving towards a society where skin color would increasingly become less relevant. The society that MLK envisioned if you will. Today it seems that that world ( a so-called colorblind world where skin color did not matter that much) is now viewed as racist itself ( talk about irony). So Bernie, where do we go from here? How does one stay positive and optimistic with all that we see and hear every day? How good can a society be when children are being forced fed a diet of hate and vitriol by schools, media and social media? Will there be a meaningful conversation about these topics and a focus on exactly what those demanding change actually want and what they envision society should or will look like in a few years? — Michael F.

I’m not optimistic, Michael … at least not for the foreseeable future. Profiles in courage are always rare, but now we’re seeing an abundance of the opposite — of cowardice. The schools, the media, the sports establishment are all on the same page — that we’re a racist country, that it’s systemic, in our lifeblood. I’m not buying it and I know I’m not alone. Let’s see if there’s a silent majority that has enough of the lectures — and if there is, how that silent majority reacts.

I just read John Daly’s piece (on your website) on what Trump told Bob Woodward about COVID-19 back in February, versus how he grossly downplayed and spun the seriousness of the virus to the American people (and still does). I think Daly’s right, and I don’t buy the idea that Trump was just trying avoid panicking people. There’s a huge difference between working to avoid a panic and actively telling people not to take a real threat seriously. What do you think? — Brian C.

I think if Donald Trump’s lips are moving, he’s probably NOT telling the truth.

 


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.




Did Trump Really Say Those Things About Dead Marines?

The headline over the bombshell story in the Atlantic magazine exploded on the media and political world like a grenade going off in a battle — the kind of headline that would certainly give the president’s detractors yet one more reason to detest the man:

“Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’”

The story ran under the byline of Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s editor-in chief, a journalist who is no fan of Donald Trump. News organizations all over the world picked up the story.

And in a close election Goldberg’s story could have great influence; it could convince undecided voters to support Mr. Trump’s opponent.

“When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018,” the story began, “he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that ‘the helicopter couldn’t fly’ and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.”

Why would Donald Trump concoct a phony story? What was he trying to hide?

According to Goldberg (no relation), “Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day.  In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.’ In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”

That’s quite an indictment – the commander-in-chief disparaging the memories of brave marines, calling them “losers” and “suckers.” If it weren’t so late in the game, Democrats might try to impeach him for those remarks, whether he actually said them or not.

You’ll notice that there are no names attached to those accusations – just that there were four people who supposedly had “firsthand knowledge” of what the president is alleged to have said.

Why wouldn’t they go on the record?  Goldberg says it’s because “They don’t want to be inundated with angry tweets and all the rest.” As the kids say: Whatever!

The president vehemently says it never happened.  And since he’s routinely critical of unflattering coverage it’s no surprise that he tweeted that, “The Atlantic Magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance.”

And there were others who were on that trip in 2018 who back up the president’s story.  They also say it never happened.

John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security advisor at the time was there and writes about his trip in his recent memoir, which often describes the president in less than flattering terms. But he makes no mention of anything resembling Goldberg’s account of what happened (though Bolton says he wasn’t with the president that entire day and the controversial remarks could have come when he wasn’t there).

But Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that two anonymous former “senior” U.S.  officials had confirmed “key parts” of the Atlantic‘s story about the president, but could not confirm “the most salacious” quotes attributed to Mr. Trump. Upon learning of that, President Trump said Fox should fire Griffin.

So, as you might expect, the old controversy over unnamed sources has come to the surface yet again.  With less than two months to go before we vote for president, critics are saying the Atlantic had no business publishing such a potentially damaging piece unless Mr. Trump’s accusers were willing to attach their names to the accusation.

“Each time, this is a judgment call,” Goldberg told CNN. “Does the public’s interest in needing this information outweigh the ambiguities or the difficulties of anonymous sourcing? Goldberg continued. “And in this case, I decided that I felt I knew this information well enough from high enough sources and multiple sources that I thought we should put it out.”

Despite that explanation, I wouldn’t bet two cents that he’d publish that same story less than two months before a presidential election if it were Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama or any other liberal in the crosshairs – and their accusers refused to be named.

It’s no secret that liberals loathe this president and that includes liberals in the media.

For more than two years they ran with a story about how Donald Trump was colluding with the Russians to throw the 2016 election his way.

It never happened.

At the Democratic Party convention Joe Biden said, “Remember what the President said when asked, he said there were, quote, very fine people on both sides” at that violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, before adding that that’s when “I knew I had to run” for president.

That wasn’t true, either – not the way Joe Biden was telling it.

When he was asked about the presence of neo-Nazis at the rally, President Trump did say: “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” And during the same press conference, he went on to say “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”

Biden has repeated his fake version of what President Trump said several times since the convention – and for the most part journalists let him get away with his accusation.

Democrats have accused the president of stealing mailboxes to make it more difficult for Americans to vote by mail. That’s also not true.

And when Joe Biden deems to answer reporters’ questions, unlike the president he gets softballs tossed his way.  I’m waiting for one of them to ask Joe what his favorite color is.  Or if he could be a tree, what kind of tree would he be?

Which brings us back to Jeffrey Goldberg.  On July 21, 2016 he wrote a piece in the Atlantic that ran under the headline: “It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin” and ended with, “The moral arc of the universe is long, and, if Trump is elected, it will bend in the direction of despotism and darkness.”

Does that prove Goldberg concocted a story to hurt the president?  No. But it does tell us is that when a journalist makes public his utter distaste for this president (or any other politician), if he’s going to write a story that accuses him of calling dead marines “losers” and “suckers” less than two months before what looks like a close election, it’s crucial to back up the claim with named sources.

Otherwise it looks like a hit job.

As for the timing of the Atlantic’s story: Let’s just say it looks suspicious, that maybe Jeffrey Goldberg released the story as a September Surprise to hurt the president. And who knows, maybe those unnamed sources will come forward next month, an October Surprise.

But did Donald Trump actually say those things? I don’t know. But given his long history of nastiness, I wouldn’t put it past him. His denials have the same credibility as the kid with crumbs on his face swearing he didn’t take the cookies from the cookie jar. His dishonesty is chronic. But the press also has credibility problems.

Once, we routinely believed what we read in reputable publications. Not anymore. A recent poll by Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that 86 percent of Americans think journalists have a political bias. So in a perverse way it doesn’t matter if the Atlantic story is true or not. People will believe what they choose to believe based on their own feelings about the president – not on what some supposedly objective journalist tells them is true  .

That’s how little trust many Americans have in the so-called mainstream media these days.




Bernie’s Q&A: Pelosi, Loeffler, Wheeler, Blake, and more! (9/4) — 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):


Trump offered Ted Wheeler aid to quash the Portland riots, and the offer was refused in a rather snarky letter from Wheeler. Then, Chad Wolf of DHS sent a letter rebuking Wheeler’s response, and stopped just short of threatening to send in the unwanted aid in the form of DHS forces.

Portland (and the other areas under siege) are located in blue states filled with liberal Democrat voters, many of whom suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. However, now that the anarchists have begun taking their fight to the suburbs, these liberals are starting to get a firsthand taste of what they have been supporting all this time.

So here’s a thought: What if Trump and DHS simply declared to these people that “You say you don’t want any of our repeated offers for help? Okay…. you made your bed, now you sleep in it.” Do you think this would be a good strategy for Trump to use to demonstrate not only the ineffectiveness of the Dems but also the consequences of continuing to vote these dunderheads in office over and over again? Do you think the Democrat voters might finally see the light? Apparently several Democrat mayors in Minnesota recently have. — “You get what you vote for Regards, from The Emperor

Welcome back Your Emperorness. I’ve said that I’m of two minds on the issue of rioting in the streets. One mind says send in the armed forces to shut it down. But the other mind says what you’ve said: You elected these idiots who have repeatedly said they don’t need help. This is your problem not ours.

Is it a good political strategy: Joe Biden will continue to say it’s happening in Donald Trump’s America. You’d think voters would see through this nonsense. But the polls tell us they don’t. That they’re still backing Biden.

As the rioters move from downtown to the suburbs, reality will sink in. Those liberals who haven’t condemned the rioting will see what it’s like to have the mayhem on their street, in front of their house.

That’s when they may see the light and conclude that they need to vote for Trump. But I’m not (yet) betting on it.

U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, who also owns the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, recently wrote a letter to the league office. An excerpt: “I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country. I believe it is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion.”

Of course, she is being crucified in the press and by her team and the league. But what about her statement is factually incorrect according to BLM’s own web site? And why, as a team owner, isn’t she allowed a voice like everyone else in this conversation about justice and equality? — Steve R.

She is allowed to voice her opinion, Steve. And she has. But she’s a lone voice out there. Sports has become one more liberal institution that doesn’t appreciate a contrary point of view. I’m glad she wrote that letter. But the response was predictable.

Would it break any laws if during the next session of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy were to present the Speaker with a bottle of shampoo and a brand new hair blower? I have wondered if the Speaker should be given some slack on this subject since it seems obvious thst all she was trying to do was wash that Trump right out of her hair. — Michael F.

Actually, Michael, McCarthy would be breaking a law: The Shampoo Act of 1913 which forbids the introduction of any kind of shampoo on the floor of the House of Representatives. I’m surprised you didn’t know that. Nice nod to Oscar and Hammerstein and South Pacific.

I am 55 years old, and I’ve never seen the press either lie to the public by commission and (even more prevalent) omission. In the case of Jacob Blake, he is accused by a woman of a heinous sexual assault who called the police to her house (I remember during the Kavanaugh hearings that all women should be believed — I guess that changed and no one informed me); then on video-tape, Blake resists arrest, gets tased twice with no effect, goes to his vehicle where there was a knife (DOJ stated that Blake admitted that there was a knife either on him or in the vicinity (car floorboard) – unclear) before he was shot by the police.

The press has made Blake out to be an innocent black man who was taking a stroll and the police just decided to shoot him. That Blake is some sort of hero. Not even close. In most of these cases, the black person committed a crime and resisted arrest. Yet, that’s not mentioned by the MSM.

Can you explain to any press members that you still associate with, that the public would just like the facts (all of them – no matter how distasteful they may be) so we have the information to make our own decisions? — Thanks, Frank T.

I could explain to my journalistic colleagues that they have a great big liberal bias but I’d be wasting my time and breath. What you say about Jacob Blake is correct. But it seems to me that even given all that, shooting him 7 times in the back at close range amounts to excessive force. But unlike Joe Biden, I’m willing to wait for the investigation to conclude.

For the presidential debates, I think both sides should JOINTLY select a real time fact-checking group, and have them fact-check as the debate goes on. Flash any false statements across the bottom of the screen, or provide the info to the moderators to confront the candidate who is lying. If they can’t reach an agreement on a fact checking organization, then cancel the debates.

As far as drug testing, and the search for the truth, how about Biden and Trump both agree to:

  1. drug testing
  2. release their tax returns
  3. release their school records that Trump has continually bragged about (although he had his attorney send letters threatening his schools with lawsuits if they released them)

Let the debates begin! Am I wrong? — Mike S.

If there were real time fact checking Michael … with false statements flashed across the bottom of the screen … no one would listen to what the candidates were saying. They’d be too distracted by the non-stop info regarding false statements. We have two candidates running for president and I’m not sure who the bigger liar is. As for the rest of your idea … about drug testing, etc: That could happen. WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER!

If you were starting the Goldberg News Network, and were in a position to hire ANYONE from today’s pool of news people, can you name maybe 2 or 3 reporters AND 2 or 3 political commentators who would be at the top of your list? (Keep in mind that you cannot, under these rules, clone Jesse Watters, HA!) — Ben G.

I like Mike Emmanuel and Doug McKelway both from Fox News. I think John Roberts and Bret Baier are fair. In fact I like most of FNC’s hard news reporters. As for commentators, I like Brit Hume and Guy Benson. I also think Judge Anthony Napolitano explains complex issues very clearly.

Bernie, do you think that Trump is right, in that Joe Biden is being controlled by people “in the dark shadows” who load up airplanes with “thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that” who fly across the country to riot and loot? If so, don’t you think it would be smarter for these rioters to at least wait until they land and get to their hotel rooms before changing into their Antifa attire? (Sorry but I couldn’t resist) — Jen R.

Jen, just between you and me, I think Donald Trump is nuts. Enough said?

What are your thoughts about Nancy Pelosi violating her state’s COVID-19 restrictions to sneak into a salon (without a mask) to get her hair done, and then… after she was caught… blaming the hair salon for what happened? While Trump has been really bad on virus messaging, it’s wild that his hardest critics on the matter are apparently no better. — Joseph P.

Let me start with your closing comment that Trump’s harshest critics are no better. Bingo! You’re right. That’s why after declaring I would not vote for Trump … I just might. As for Pelosi: I’m willing to believe that the salon owner (or a representative of the owner) said it was okay to come in — so she did. What bothers me about the episode is that she knows that salons are supposed to be closed in San Francisco. Yet she got her hair done anyway. More hypocrisy from the powerful who want to tell YOU what you can do but don’t think the rules apply to them.

Right now — if Real Sports asked you to do air-travel for an assignment — would you be comfortable doing it? I’m guessing they wouldn’t even ask, but I’m just curious. — Louis

They wouldn’t ask … and wouldn’t allow it … and I wouldn’t do it if they did.

I can recall a time not that long ago when the terms white nationalists and white supremacists had very clear meanings and reference points: KKK members, skin heads , neo nazis etc. Today we are told (scolded?) the US is a white supremacist country and was founded as such. And now we have millions of white Americans (including corporate America) mindlessly parroting these words and phrases. Obviously this is mother’s milk for those on the far left. Have we crossed the Rubicon? Can you foresee a NY, LA, Chicago or other major city dominated by the Democrat party ever readopting classic liberal principles that they seemingly adhered to not that many months ago? Will we essentially become two nations where people migrate away from the blue into the red or vice versa? — Michael

Great question, Michael … and you make great points. I’m with you in that white supremacy used to mean something clear cut. Now, as you say, we’re told we’re a white supremacist country. I recently said I covered stories in South Africa. That was a white supremacist country. The USA is nothing like what South Africa was. Nothing! As for major cities that are dominated by progressives going back to classic liberal principles: Only if the electorate has had enough of the progressive mentality. If voters in NY or LA or Chicago are happy with what they’ve got then they can live with the consequences. One of which is that a lot of people who pay taxes in those cities are moving out. There’s such a thing as a tipping point. And given the despicable jobs a lot of these progressives are doing — Portland is a pretty good example — voters may said we’ve had enough. But who knows when that might happen.

 


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