On today's BradCast: It's not enough that Trump has fired just about everyone in his failed Administration (or they quit), and has failed to fill the vacancies left behind, and that he has personally violated an unprecedented number of laws both before and after taking office, or that he's purging most of his top officials who work on immigration. No, it's even more distributing than that. [Audio file for today's show is posted below.]
Last week, the President of the United States said, with cameras rolling, that we "have to get rid of judges" just days before, reportedly, instructing Customs and Border Patrol agents to ignore the rule of law and simply block immigrants from exercising their right to claim asylum at the southern border once on U.S. territory. That, of course, would be a violation of both U.S. law and international treaties.
According to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump instructed agents at the border in Calexico, California on Friday to tell immigrants the U.S. is "full" and "at capacity" and "if judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'" If true, that would be an unlawful instruction from the President of the United States ordering a law enforcement officer to violate law and then to do so again once a federal judge has ordered otherwise. Real Presidents (at least Democratic ones) would be --- or should be --- impeached for such things. But we have the Republican Donald Trump as our President.
In other related Trump immigration meltdown news today...
More on why Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was pushed out by White House hardliners (after she reportedly refused to violate the law as Trump was demanding and also pushed back against Trump's order to close ports of entry at the border entirely);
Poor, disgraced, former KS Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach --- recently floated to take over some immigration duties for the Trump Administration --- may be blocked from a Senate-confirmed post because, as Kansas' GOP U.S. Senator Pat Roberts told reporters today, Kobach is so toxic that apparently even the GOP-majority Senate "can't confirm him". Luckily, Republicans who used to pretend to hate Presidential "czars" have a very short memory, so there may be another way into the Administration for Kobach, the currently jobless Kansas conman;
As to judges, another one in federal court on Monday night temporarily blocked yet another key Trump immigration policy, at least for now. The federal courts are unlikely to like Trump's new one any better, I suspect.
Also today --- actually, right at the top of the show --- some listener mail in follow-up to my conversation on yesterday's program with the ACLU's Phil Aroneanu regarding the group's newly-launched Rights For All campaign which seeks to get 2020 candidates on record regarding several "thorny" issues regarding civil liberties and Constitutional rights. A number of listeners had some thoughts on my questions for Aroneanu regarding the potential political dangers of backing Democratic candidates into politically difficult policy positions as they attempt to unseat arguably the worst President --- from a civil liberties and Constitutional rights perspective --- our nation has ever had. We share and discuss a few of those listener emails today.
And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the Midwest buckles up for another potential "bomb cyclone" and still more catastrophic flooding to follow it; Global warming has pushed the Arctic into an "unprecedented" new state; and the GOP, after ridiculing the Democrats' Green New Deal have introduced their own response to it called the 'Green Real Deal'. You may be surprised who the lead Congressional sponsor is, though less surprised as to what the plan actually calls for...
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The Kansas City Star just can't help itself. When it comes to high-level reporting on the issue of the national GOP's attempts to politicize justice and steal elections with its phony "voter fraud" project, it seems there's no story that the Star's editors can't make mushier and more GOP-friendly.
Today the Star again does with a piece by Greg Gordon of news syndicate McClatchy what it did to a Gordon story from some weeks ago, refusing to print some of the most important facts underlying the lack of factual basis for GOP allegations of voter fraud.
In late 2005, the department sued Missouri's Democratic secretary of state, Robin Carnahan, charging that her state had failed to eliminate ineligible voters from registration rolls. A federal judge threw out the suit this spring, noting that the registration lists were controlled by county registrars over whom Carnahan had little authority and the Justice Department had presented no evidence of fraud.
The KCStar's rewrite of that graf rips out its substantive guts. The McClatchy-owned Star goes with this GOP-friendlier construction instead...
After reading Greg Gordon’s excellent piece for McClatchy discussing Missouri’s place as "ground zero" for the GOP "voter fraud" scam, we – along with others – were surprised to learn that of all of McClatchy’s papers, The Kansas City Star had failed to run the piece when others, in different states, had done so on the first day it was filed.
When the piece finally ran at KC Star, FiredUp! Missouri's Howard Beale pointed out, it was greatly altered and had become what one could argue was a much different story. Their edited version of the story greatly downplayed failed Republican attempts to prove claims of massive Democratic "voter fraud," and excised references to many GOP politicians, such as Karl Rove, and perhaps most notably, a number of powerful Missouri politicians.
We wanted to allow the paper an opportunity to respond to those criticisms. We were able to receive such a response from The Star's Deputy National Editor, Keith Chrostowski. But later yesterday, the reason he gave to The BRAD BLOG for the delayed publication was directly contradicted in a public post Chrostowski made on the KC Star's own blogsite.
While originally waiting for him to respond to our numerous calls, we spotted Beale’s follow-up post from Tuesday morning revealing that The Star happens to be a client of the powerful Missouri GOP law firm Lathrop & Gage.
As BRAD BLOG readers surely know by now, Lathrop & Gage is the law firm of Mark F. “Thor” Hearne, who has been a central figure involved in the ongoing "voter fraud" scam in his role as founder of the GOP front group known as "American Center for Voting Rights" (our ACVR Special Coverage Page is here).
Missouri's Governor Matt Blunt is also a client of L&G, and has been represented for years by Hearne. Blunt, Hearne, and the ACVR were all central to the McClatchy piece as originally filed by Gordon and the role of each of them in the Star's altered version of the story was subsequently removed or otherwise greatly watered down.
Of course, there's no way of knowing if the editors at the Star were directly or indirectly influenced by this connection. But even if they are given the benefit of the doubt and the presumption that there was no influence on their delayed publication and editing of the McClatchy piece, the issue still remains that they failed to disclose the relationship to L&G to their readers. Such disclosure would seem to be a common sense journalistic principle.
On Tuesday afternoon, Chrostowski finally returned our call to provide a statement and an explanation. A transcript of the pertinent portion our conversation, along with his later posted contradiction, follows…
If you've yet to notice, the latest daily must-read covering the very heart and soul of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal is Fired Up ! Missouri.
They have been reporting on the nub of the issue --- the resounding corruption and/or cover-ups emanating out of Thor Hearne's MO law firm Lathrop & Gage --- in a way that even the good folks at TPMMuckracker have yet to fully comprehend and/or adequately cover.
The KC Star, ironically enough, owned by McClatchy's parent company, had rewritten the piece to make it far more GOP/Missouri Politico-friendly as we subsequently covered here.
Beale today, has a suggestion as to why the Star may have gone out of their way to whitewash a previously brilliant piece of investigative reporting by McClatchy's Greg Gordon when they reran it (a day after McClatchy's other papers had done so): KC Star's corporate attorney is none other than Hearne's Lathrop & Gage, the very firm that is at the absolutely epi-center of this entire matter in many more ways than one, including representing a number of the subjects of Gordon's story, such as Hearne, Gov. Matt Blunt, etc.
All of which begs another important question which Beale forgot to ask in his coverage: Why did the Star fail to make that disclosure for readers when they reran even the whitewashed version of the McClatchy piece?
After bullet-pointing several of the L&G connections to all of these coming out of the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal, Beale concludes:
It has, in some ways, always been puzzling that the Star has been so far behind other news outlets in reporting on the DOJ/U.S. Attorney scheme despite its connection to the Kansas City area and the region's own U.S. Attorney. Makes you wonder about just what sort of counsel the paper's been keeping.
Indeed. But readers shouldn't have to "wonder". The paper ought to be disclosing it in every article --- if they still have any journalistic ethics left at the joint, in any case.
UPDATE: What is disclosed by the Star at the end of their re-written McClatchy hatchett job, btw, is this: "McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Margaret Talev, and The Star’s Steve Kraske and Mark Morris contributed to this report." McClatchy's Talev was listed as a contributor on the original version of the piece. As to the others, we don't yet know much about Morris personally, but Kraske's GOP leanings and Fox "News"-style tactics of "journalism" are well-dissected in this Sunday piece from Beale, covering Kraske's own whitewashing of the duplicitous, anti-democratic, politicization of the DoJ under the guise of the GOP's "Voter Fraud" canard as run at the Star over the weekend.
Why even one reporter would be needed to rewrite such a story is already worth questioning. Putting two on the case, especially in light of the grotesque rewrites, is certainly notable. Especially when one of them is Kraske.
Howard Beale at the Show-Me State's watchdog, Fired Up! Missouri, hits another home run on Friday with a devastating piece comparing the Kansas City Star's altered version of Greg Gordon's recent brilliant piece at McClatchy exposing Missouri as "Ground Zero" for the GOP's widespread, well-funded national "voter fraud" scam. As Thor Hearne, of the now-defunct American Center for Voting Rights (BRAD BLOG's Special Coverage Page here) and his Missouri law firm Lathrop & Gage were at the epicenter of "Ground Zero," the Star's actions in butchering the original piece --- in order to save GOP/Missouri face and deceive their own readers in the bargain --- is all the more scandalous.
The Star, it seems, after waiting a day to run the story in their pages at all, managed to hack up Gordon's excellent exposé to effectively excise as much GOP culpability as possible. With a particular eye towards removing anything that could be seen as embarrassing to local GOP'ers, like Thor Hearne, Gov. Matt Blunt, etc.
"Every change made to the story has the clear effect of reducing the exposure of the GOP," writes Beale, who calls the hatchet job "a total embarrassment" for the once-distinguished KC newspaper which is, ironically enough, actually owned by McClatchy!
See Beale's full piece for the undeniable sham exposed when the two versions of the story are compared side-by-side.
By way of just one example, the headline of Gordon/McClatchy's original was changed from "2006 Missouri's election was ground zero for GOP" to the Fox "News"-like "GOP sought to suppress votes in Missouri, critics say."
As Beale points out, this not-so-subtle change has the effect of turning the detailed, fact-based reporting by Gordon into a "he-said-she-said" difference of opinion:
The story was obviously not initiated by --nor is it at all about-- the claims of "critics" nor anyone else. Gordon was not reporting on some press event by Democrats who were making claims of voter suppression. Rather he did real reporting and wrote about how, as the facts indicate, the GOP historically undertook specific actions on the issue of voter fraud in Missouri with the intent of helping Republican candidates.
The Star's editorial decision, via its headline, to turn the story into some sort of he-said-she-said difference of opinion is an insult to the intelligence of its readers as well as a slap in the face to Greg Gordon, whose remarkable reporting their headline trivializes.
Ditto. But it gets far worse throughout the altered and excised text of the article itself where entire passages are re-written and phrases such as "No significant voter fraud was ever proved" and "inquiries found little evidence to support the claims" and "the government had produced no evidence of fraud" have been entirely removed.
KC Star ought to be absolutely ashamed of themselves, McClatchy ought to bust out some pink slips, and subscribers would do well to raise holy hell and/or cancel subscriptions as quickly as possible while letting them know why.
Where the hell have all of the real newspapers gone in this country?
Thor Hearne is no doubt smiling in his grave (or, more accurately, his mansion in Ladue...but if the facts don't matter to KC Star why should we give a damn either?).
Still more good news today! The appellate court in Missouri agrees with The BRAD BLOG!
The stories that were censored in Kansas over the weekend, regarding allegations of wrongdoing by the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, have now been un-censored:
On Friday, a Jackson County judge barred The Kansas City Star from publishing an article based on the document and ordered the newspaper to remove an article from its Web sites Friday night.
But on Tuesday the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District ruled that the Friday action was unenforceable, and that had the effect of allowing publication.
Late Sunday night, The BRAD BLOG exclusively ran the censored stories in full --- in First Amendment solidarity with the two censored papers --- in the belief that the stories are in the public interest. Looks like the appellate court agrees with us.
As we've got our hands more than full, we'll leave it to the folks in Kansas now to deal with the substance of the story itself (which was/is quite troubling). In any case, we'll consider this a happy ending. For a change.
UPDATE 3/6/06: Appellate judge overturns ruling! Story now un-censored! Glad we were right on this one from the get-go! Details...
Ed Note: Since running this story originally, the Google cache has also now been purged of the censored documents. Fortunately, we screen-captured and ran the text in full for each story below, as we believe them to be in the public interest. We have retained all of the original links to the locations of the story, despite their having been scrubbed.
A judge in Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday issued a temporary restraining order requiring that two area newspapers remove articles from their website which reported on alleged malfeasance by the Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Moorhouse found in a 3-page order [PDF] that the stories were based on privileged attorney-client information, which was leaked to the newspapers, and that publication of any portion of it would cause "irreparable harm" to the BPU.
The Kansas City Star and The Pitch, a local news weekly, both reported about the forced removal of the material and their intention to appeal the rare judicial decision to censor their reporting. A story was also run about the matter by AP.
At the end of this article The BRAD BLOG will run the Kansas City Star's short article in full since it has been ordered removed --- foolishly in our opinion, particularly in the Internet age when such stories are instantly archived, as was this one, by Google's cache engine --- and appears clearly to be in the best interest of the public and their right to know about how their public utilities are being run...