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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, December 6, 2022
All State-Funded Media is
Not Created Equally:
'BradCast' 12/5/22
Guest: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
Sunday 'Abandon All Hope' Toons
Give it up for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
AZ Election Super-Geniuses: 'BradCast' 12/2/22
Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
Seditious Conspiracy Verdicts and 'Mob Boss' Obstruction: 'BradCast' 12/1/22
Guest: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppressors; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump docs case...
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!: Sedition! Collusion! Denial!: 'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Const. disqualify Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announce-ment climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman, live in studio; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive in Ukraine; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2022 7:11pm PT  

Of course, just as COVID and other respiratory viruses are surging in L.A. (and California, and much of the rest of the country), we have our first in-studio guest on The BradCast since the pandemic. Oh, well. Wish us luck! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're joined today by the great STEVE HERMAN of Voice of America who spent some 26 years covering various regions in Asia and serving as VOA correspondent and Bureau Chief in India, Korea, Thailand. In 2016, he returned stateside to serve as VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, for a brief stint, before becoming the eight decade-old, U.S. funded media outlet's White House Bureau Chief. After serving 4 totally easy-peasy years at the White House during the Trump Administration and several months during Biden's, Herman is now on the road as VOA's Chief National Correspondent covering the 2024 campaign. (I know, I know...we're not even done with 2022 around here!)

In a broad, in-studio conversation today --- including questions from listener callers --- we cover, among many other things...

  • Herman's initial visit to the Fukushima nuclear plant just after the 2011 meltdown disaster...without any sort of physical protection! (That was when he first appeared as a guest on our program.)
  • How VOA stands virtually alone as a state-funded news outlet given its special charter, a "firewall" enshrined by federal statute that prevents the government from meddling in its coverage. "The White House, or even the head of our parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, cannot tell me or my editors what we have to report or cannot report. They cannot be involved editorially," says Herman.
  • How and why that makes VOA different from state-funded propaganda outlets in Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere. "I like to say VOA is probably the only news organization in the world that is mandated by law to be fair and effective," Herman explains. "In that charter it says we must reflect the different views of what's going on in the United States."
  • "Facts are facts," he tells me, regarding so much mis- and disinformation by both the Right and Left. "What they are reporting at RT [Russia Today] and Sputnik is not factual, especially about the war in Ukraine. ... It's a situation that we see from Chinese state media and Iranian state media. And this goes back all the way to why VOA was created after the start of World War II, because you had Nazi Germany on the airwaves, uncontested to a great degree, spitting out anti-American and pro-Nazi propaganda. What VOA was set up to do was to tell the audiences, initially in German and also in Japanese, what's going on with the war, whether it's good or bad."
  • The efforts by the Trump Administration, while Herman served as VOA's WH Bureau Chief, to affect the agency's news coverage and attempts to pressure Herman himself. "When these things have happened over the decades in various administrations, it also demonstrates that VOA is not a propaganda service," he argues. "If it were a propaganda service, we would not be getting complaints from within the United States government on some of the stories we've been doing."
  • - Herman's thoughts on the insane response by Donald Trump over the weekend to Matt Taibbi's "Twitter Files" thread detailing internal discussion/debate among Twitter executives in the run-up to the 2020 election when deciding whether or not to suppress questionably sourced reporting on Hunter Biden's laptop.
  • All of that and much more, including praise for sushi in Los Angeles from a guy who worked for decades in Asia!

Also covered today, a few news headlines at the top of the show...

  • Flu, COVID and other respiratory illness is "off the charts" in California, Los Angeles County and elsewhere around the country.
  • Russia's latest missile assault on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and the nearly 600 documented cases of apparent war crimes by the aggressor nation since Putin's invasion in February.
  • The apparent coordinated domestic terror attacks on electric substations in Moore County, North Carolina that has knocked out power and water to tens of thousands of residents.
  • Early voting is over and Election Day now awaits on Tuesday in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed sociopathic liar Hershel Walker.
  • The weekend's aforementioned insane (and largely pointless) Twitter thread by Matt Taibbi, how it has been misreported by MAGA Republicans including Donald Trump, who dishonestly represented the reporting in order to call for "termination" of the U.S. Constitution (seriously!) in its wake...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Fox 'News' 'red wave' buffoonery; Latest results on Sen, Guv, SoS and A.G. races from AZ, NV...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2022 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no surprise that Fox 'News' deluded itself for months and even years about a "red wave" or "tsunami" coming for the 2022 midterm elections. It shouldn't be a surprise that the theoretically legitimate media got it wrong as well, given that they seem to make the same errors election after election. And yet, it's both surprising and disappointing, given that the data to counter their erroneous narrative was right there in front of their face the whole time...if they simply bothered to, or had the courage to, listen to it. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

"There was nothing magical about what I did," our guest today, TOM BONIER of the Democratic data research firm, TargetSmart, explains. "It was, as you say, seeing the numbers and reporting the numbers and, in the end, trying to stay away from predictions or projections, but to say, 'Look, this is what we're seeing'."

Bonier's well-documented Twitter threads on the data over the past many months spelled out what shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. In the face of extremism from the right and, in particular, the Supreme Court, there was a backlash against Republicans which served to boost Democrats across the board.

Prior to today, Bonier joined us twice in recent months to discuss his analysis of data and what he was seeing and tweeting about to anyone who might have wanted to listen. In late August, after voters in deep red Kansas decisively rejected a ballot initiative that would have rewritten the state constitution to allow abortion to be banned, he joined us to explain what he saw as a "jaw-dropping" spike in new voter registrations for young, Democratic women following the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision in late June, overturning Roe v. Wade. Bonier saw similar spikes in new registrations all over the map, in "red" and "blue" states alike, but particularly where reproductive rights were most threatened.

In late September he joined us again after analyzing specific voter data from that failed Kansas referendum. Hard evidence of an incredible spike in women voters that, he told us at the time, "just doesn't happen in elections." He posited that any suggestion that Democrats would be swamped in November, as the so-called Conventional Wisdom offered by pundits would have it, was simply ignoring the available data. He argued the election would be very close and almost certainly not a "wave" for the GOP.

He was right. Even though, over the past month in the run-up to Election Day, the corporate media were, largely in lock step, warning that Dems were done for, soon to be swamped by a red wave or even tsunami! How much of that erroneous punditry "blunted" the final results, Bonier laments, citing races like Mandela Barnes' in Wisconsin, where the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate fell just shy of unseating incumbent Republican Ron Johnson by a single point.

"I like to think of myself as an optimist, but it was difficult over the last few weeks and months," he tells me. "In reality, what we do at TargetSmart is we listen to the data. That's all we were doing. Along the way I was looking at the voter registration data, looking at the early vote data, looking at it in the context of the polls and trying to draw some conclusions. But mostly providing context and questioning the hard-set assumptions that were really leading everyone."

We discuss, among other things, the "flood of Republican polling" in the last few weeks of the campaign and how it warped forecasts from poll aggregation sites like FiveThirtyEight, and how his fellow traveler, Simon Rosenberg, who also had it right, was "mocked" when he highlighted how forecasts were being swamped by those bad GOP polls.

By itself, the media failure "doesn't happen. It took some level of complicit behavior from those who should be guards against it," Bonier insists. "People are mocking Fox News at this point. We know it is a very biased Republican media platform. But the bottom line is most of cable and these other outlets had a level of certainty about this outcome in a very similar way. I have to say, as I spoke with reporters in the closing weeks, I would be telling them 'Look, this is going to be a close election. I don't see a Republican wave. I don't see that in the numbers.' And I was just short of mocked by reporters."

But, why? Is it a lack of courage to stray from the pack journalism and group think? Or, as media critic Dan Froomkin argued today, a symptom of systemic "rot" in the political media? Bonier offers his frank thoughts on that and much more as we dig deep in today's discussion. I strongly urge you to tune in for it in full.

Also today, in addition to our own mocking of Fox "News", we've got plenty left over to mock folks like HBO's Bill Maher and Spotify's Joe Rogan and CNN's Fareed Zakaria and NYTimes' Maggie Haberman who all got it wrong as well --- and misled the American electorate in the bargain --- for many of the reasons discussed on today's program. And, we've also got the latest reported results out of still uncalled critical races for U.S. Senate, Governor, Sec. of State and Attorney General in Arizona and Nevada...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Brian Hansbury of Media and Democracy Project; Also: Jon Stewart calls AZ A.G. out for 2020 lies; Republican PA-SEN write-in candidate drops out to endorse Democrat Fetterman...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2022 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With less than two weeks to go before this year's critical midterm Election Day, can the corporate media be convinced to take America's side in helping to save democracy itself? [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

We've devoted nearly two decades to calling out corporate media for their seemingly never-ending failures, the worst of which we may now be smack dab in the middle of, as they seem to have little to no appreciation for our endangered democracy and their no-small-part in helping bring us to this point.

Over the past two years, we've noted (among other failures) how the corporate media just can't seem to simply and clearly call out Donald Trump for having attempted to steal a Presidential election before our very eyes. Instead, as they report even now, he was simply trying to "overturn" or "undermine" or "challenge" or "question" the results, hoping to "roll them back" in order to "remain in the White House". But because they have failed to accurately and directly inform the American electorate that Trump and his minions attempted, repeatedly, to steal a Presidential election, a huge chunk of the citizenry continue to falsely believe the 2020 election was actually stolen from him, despite any evidence to support the false claim. Shamefully, hundreds of Republican candidates on this year's ballot continue to spread that lie and often go entirely unchallenged by the press.

"There's a journalism crisis in this country," charges our guest today, BRIAN HANSBURY, co-founder of the grassroots Media and Democracy Project. The media, he tells me, are "marching us towards fascism and a potential future where we're not able to have votes that have any meaning moving forward."

Hansbury's group recently penned an open letter to "American journalists, editors, producers and publishers" detailing the "urgent need for pro-democracy 2022 election coverage." In an op-ed this week at Salon, he warns that "Journalists who know the 2020 presidential election was free and fair still frequently describe those who lie about it as mere 'skeptics' who 'dispute the results.'" They are not "deniers," he insists. They are liars and should be described as such. He calls on "news media to urgently communicate" to the American public that the November 8 midterm is "not an ordinary election, but rather a contest between would-be authoritarians and candidates who defend the rule of law and the electoral system."

Hansbury's op-ed cites his group's open letter for more details in order to plead: "For the next two weeks, journalists must 1) make threats to democracy clear, 2) protect Americans against disinformation and 3) treat elections as if they are more important than the sports page."

We discuss what all of the above actually means and much more today, as Hansbury makes the case for the American media to, in fact, "take sides" at this point. "Media should be a partisan for democracy," he argues. "Ahead of the 2022 midterms, they should be picking a side, and that should be the side of democracy."

"When elected officials are lying to the public, that's a time when journalists and newsrooms should be taking the side of those who aren't lying to the public about something so fundamental to our rights, freedoms and democracy as elections."

"The 'both sides' thing," Hansbury asserts, is a "false equivalence that is constantly maintained in our national media between normal candidates --- and by 'normal' I mean those that don't lie to us about elections --- and these anti-democracy Republicans. And that normalizes the election lies. It allows for there to be this permission to continue to lie about elections."

The ability for so many candidates to continue to tell so many lies without being held accountable in the press, one can reasonably argue, is no small part of why so many races across the country are now believed to be so close this year. That, despite independently verifiable facts which contradict the candidates' lies...if only our media bothered tell the truth as clearly and relentlessly as the liars lie. It's only the future of American democracy at stake after all. Or, as Hansbury charges the media see it, just another way to "maximize profit, maximize engagement and deliver to advertisers."

Also today, in very related news...

  • Jon Stewart --- yes, a comedian, rather than a journalist --- calls out Arizona's Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich during an interview for refusing to clearly say, even two years later, that Joe Biden won the battleground state fair and square in 2020...even though the A.G. clearly knows that to be the case.
  • In Pennsylvania, Everett Stern, a little known Republican running as an independent write-in candidate in the state's critical U.S. Senate election, dropped out on Wednesday to endorse the Democratic candidate, John Fetterman. He cited the need to place "country over party," in the race against Trump-endorsed Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, which is considered to largely be a dead heat at this point. In leaving the race, Stern announced: "I am polling around 3% which places Democracy at risk. In the interest of protecting the United States I am dropping out of the U.S Senate Race in PA. I fully endorse John Fetterman. The Democrats must win. PA must be Blue."

Good for him! Nice that there are still some Republicans who appreciate the danger American democracy now faces and the importance of saving it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Longtime accountability journalist and media critic Dan Froomkin; Also: MD's GOP Guv says GOP Guv nominee 'not mentally stable'; Top Trump staffers say declassification order 'complete fiction'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2022 6:51pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Our U.S. corporate media are still cowed by the radical Right and still failing in their Constitutional mandate to inform and educate the electorate; a few quick items from the UNconventional Times files in advance of the 2022 midterms; and a much-needed new tune to leave you whistling on the way out. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, as I've long argued on this program, it's a mistake to buy into the political punditry of Conventional Wisdom that Dems will taking a beating this November. While the climb is still an uphill one for them this year --- particularly in the House --- polling is now bearing out my warning from months ago to ignore Conventional Wisdom in these decidedly UNconventional times. Some brief new exhibits for that case today: Maryland's popular, termed-out Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is describing Dan Cox, the state's Trump-endorsed GOP nominee for Hogan's job, as "not mentally stable", and "a nut" who has "no chance whatsoever" of winning the Governorship.

Further harming GOP odds this year, Trump's ever-worsening legal woes. As CNN reported last night, there are now 18 former top Trump Administration officials --- from two Chiefs of Staff to key military and intel officials --- who tell the news net that the disgraced former President's claim to have had a "standing order" that any documents he left the Oval Office with were immediately declassified is "ludicrous," "ridiculous," "a complete fiction" and worse.

CNN's exclusive reporting, however, never makes clear to readers that, whether or not the highly sensitive national security documents were declassified or not, doesn't actually matter. It was still unlawful for Trump to have stolen them when leaving the White House. That is a fact no matter the classification status of those documents or any other material that he stole upon leaving office last year.

Why are they so afraid to use a 100% accurate description like "stole" when describing what Trump stole from the White House? Or, as we've discussed on many previous shows, simply using plain language to describe Trump's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election? (He wasn't trying to "undermine" or "reverse" or "overturn" the results, he was trying to STEAL the election!) Our guest today has some thoughts on all of that and more. He joins us the day after news broke that new management at CNN is cancelling Reliable Sources, the only legitimate media criticism program on cable or broadcast TV news, as hosted by Brian Stelter for 9 years at the end of its 30-year run.

We're delighted to welcome today longtime media critic and former corporate media "insider", DAN FROOMKIN, who served 12 years heading up Washington Post's popular "White House Watch" blog during the George W. Bush era (before he was unceremoniously let go for being too good at it), after which he moved to Huff Post and then The Intercept and is now the editor and creator of the Press Watch newsletter and website.

Our conversation follows on CNN's axing of Reliable Sources, as well as recent headlines from major media outlets that horrifically mislead the public or pull punches in order to "both sides" facts that they clearly see as as politically controversial, no matter how true they happen to be. One example, as cited by NYU media critic Jay Rosen last week, Washington Post's "Garland vowed to depoliticize Justice. Then the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago." And another deconstructed this week by media critic James Fallows on the New York Times' "Even on Biden's Big Day, He's Still in Trump's Long Shadow."

We cover a lot of ground on all of the above and more with Froomkin today. But, a few key quotes...

On Stelter and CNN: "It's a terrible indicator about what CNN is doing and where it's going. ....It's a huge loss for CNN and a huge win for Fox because Stelter was really one of the few in mainstream media who was willing to say that Fox News was all about spreading malicious lies and poisoning the politics of our country. ... I think the reason he was canned was because he was basically the number one target of the rightwing media." Froomkin describes the move as "clearly a sacrifice on the altar of rightwing media," likely at the behest of a major stockholder ("John Malone, the cable company monopolist") of CNN's new owner following the recent merger and reorganization of Warner Bros. and Discovery.

On the lack of Public Editors/Ombudsmen at major corporate outlets like NYT and WaPo: "Public Editors were an incredibly valuable thing...then they were all ditched. The excuse was hysterically funny. The excuse from the New York Times publisher was, 'We don't need a public editor anymore, because we have social media.' That has a certain sense to it, except you look at what they've been doing the last ten years. They've been scrupulously ignoring social media, mocking social media criticism of themselves. They've been incredibly defensive about anything anyone tweets about them. And they've now passed all of these rules telling reporters what they're allowed to tweet and not allowed to tweet, and one of the things they're not allowed to tweet is any criticism of the Times or any other journalists. Same rules at the Washington Post. ... I've always hoped that there would be a sort of critical mass of media critics out there who would cumulatively have the heft of one of these Public Editors, but it's never happened. And, as you pointed out, we're becoming fewer and further between."

On other ongoing corporate media failures in the Age of Trump: "The worst example, by far, is the coverage of the January 6 Committee and what's happened since. The singular achievement of that Committee was that it had established, to the satisfaction of pretty much everybody, except for the willfully ignorant, that prosecuting Trump was not a political necessity --- it was a moral necessity. I think that really helped inoculate [Attorney General Merrick] Garland against the perception that what he would be doing would be political. Instead, the FBI does a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago because of documents that [Trump] stole and didn't give back and then lied about giving back, and the press sees this as some sort of a political fight?!"

As to why the bulk of the mainstream media won't use the word "stole" or "steal" as in the indisputable facts regarding the documents Trump stole from the White House or his many attempts to steal the 2020 election: "Unfortunately, the truth has become so politicized in this day and age that simply asserting the truth is seen as political by these people. And they don't want to do that. ... Five years ago, I think everybody in the country would have agreed that trying to steal the Presidential election was a bad thing and whoever did it ought to be held accountable. But it's a little bit like the frog in the pot --- the media has, day after day, normalized what Trump does."

Much more in my fascinating conversation with Froomkin today.

Finally, as promised, we leave you with a long-overdue and much-needed new Randy Rainbow ditty to end yet another impossible week. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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The BRAD BLOG, 'BradCast' and nation have lost a friend and champion...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2022 6:01pm PT  

Very shortly before airtime today, we learned that our friend, longtime progressive media critic and frequent guest on The BradCast, ERIC BOEHLERT, was killed earlier this week at the age of 57, in a tragic bicycling accident when he was hit by a commuter train in Montclair, New Jersey. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We were, and are, a bit shook up today. We had a very different program planned, but decided, at the very last minute, with the wind knocked out of us by the news, to change today's show into a tribute to Eric. He last appeared on this show on January 19th of this year, to discuss the one-year anniversary of President Biden's inauguration and the disturbing difference in the way the corporate media covers his Presidency, versus the guy in office before him. We decided to share that interview again on today's program.

Eric's influence, fighting spirit and sense of fair play has long echoed on both this program and at The BRAD BLOG over many years. He was an indefatigable champion for the truth and frequently supportive of our work, particularly during as we revealed the truth about Breitbart/O'Keefe "ACORN Pimp" hoax and called on the duped mainstream media to issue corrections to dozens of inaccurate stories. In the nearly two decades we've known, worked with, and admired him, he has never stopped holding feet to the fire, particularly those of liars on the right and the supposedly non-right corporate media which, as he long documented, have consistently failed in their critical mission over those critical decades.

His legacy will largely speak for itself --- at Salon, Media Matters, Daily Kos and his latest venture, the Press Run newsletter, "an unfiltered, passionate, and proudly progressive critique of the political press in the age of Trump," and, of course, in his many media appearances, including the dozens of times he's joined us on air over the years. His Twitter feed, I'd be remiss without mentioning, was always a must-follow, particularly as he took on the horrible Andrew Breitbart back in the day.

Eric began as a music critic at Billboard and Rolling Stone before turning to media analysis. He also published two books, Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush and Bloggers On the Bus: How The Internet Changed Politics and the Press.

We discuss what happened --- and the outpouring of warm thoughts shared in his memory this afternoon by many in the media, and even folks like Hillary Clinton and Jon Stewart --- on today's show, along with his most recent and, sadly, final appearance on this program.

We also cover a few other things, including some accountability for a very Trumpy attorney who is (or was) representing a whole bunch of January 6th conspirators until he was disbarred late last week, and the 8-hour appearance on Tuesday by Ivanka Trump before the House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. But really, today's show is mostly in tribute and in memory of Eric, who, in addition to a much better informed public, leaves behind his wife Tracy Breslin and two children, Jane and Ben.

As Eric always noted at the top of his Press Run newsletters: "Stay Healthy. Be Kind."

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Guests: Kate Neiswender and Kim Andrew Elliott on a U.S. crowd-funded grassroots effort reviving Cold War tech to counter propaganda inside Putin's new Iron Curtain; And, yes, Russians love their children too...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2022 6:18pm PT  

In what would be a dream world for our previous President, who declared the media to be "the enemy of the people" just before his infamous 2018 meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Russia has now criminalized pretty much any and all independent media. But our guests on today's BradCast have a really cool and, yes, retro idea about how to help counter Russia's media blackout. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among other restrictions, Putin's new censorship law, adopted just after his invasion of Ukraine, mandates harsh penalties, including jail time, for the crime of reporting on the invasion as an "invasion" or "war". Independent outlets have been forced to shutter or have stopped covering the war at all. Western media outlets have pulled their reporters and Russia has closed Internet access to websites of foreign state-run media outlets such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, the BBC and Deutsche Welle.

Kremlin-approved propaganda is now all that many Russians have access to, where they are being told that Russia's barbaric military assault on its sovereign neighbor --- including its civilian population --- is little more than a minor, "special military operation" meant to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine. Civilians are not being harmed, and anyone who says otherwise is reporting "fake news," the Kremlin insists.

Of late, however, as Julia Davis reported yesterday at The Daily Beast, some cracks are beginning to appear, even on Kremlin-approved television, including one of Moscow's most popular evening news programs, whose Putin-friendly host has been sanctioned by the EU and where nightly broadcasts frequently end with clips of monologues by Fox 'News' star Tucker Carlson.

For most Russians, however, there is very little access to independent, outside reporting to counter the official state media narrative. Our guests today, attorney KATE NEISWENDER and former longtime Voice of America employee and shortwave radio enthusiast KIM ANDREW ELLIOTT are part of a small, grassroots effort aiming to revive a Cold War technology in hopes of helping counter the information desert inside of Putin's new Iron Curtain.

Dubbed #ShortwavesForFreedom on social media, the new project has begun raising money to fund re-broadcasts of Voice of America (VOA) programming into Ukraine and Russia via shortwave frequencies. While the BBC World Service announced this week they were reviving their old shortwave broadcasts into the former Soviet Union, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty --- both managed by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) --- have declined to do so, at least so far.

Neiswender, Elliott and a number of other VOA veterans and supporters aim to fill that gap with a crowd-funded effort. The group has already raised enough over just the past week or so to get up and running --- rebroadcasting some of VOA's programming (which is all public domain) --- into Europe via shortwave transmission from Florida station, WRMI Radio Miami International.

They both join us today to explain, among other things: How this effort came together in just over a week's time; how they hope to expand from English-language programming to broadcasts in both Ukrainian and Russian; why they believe VOA (actually, USAGM) has yet to take this step themselves; and how a very small amount of money can go a very long way in this project, as they seek additional broadcasters to help transmit shortwave programming from both the U.S. and Europe.

Does anyone in Russia still even have access to the equipment needed to listen to the broadcasts? "Well, nowadays for sure, fewer people will be listening to shortwave and fewer people have shortwave radios," Elliott explains. "But, when the Internet is cut, squeezed, blocked, and at some point maybe even with lines into the country cut off, radio will be the only way to get in to the country. And then, the people in those countries will have to try to find their old Soviet-era shortwave radios." He believes "that audience can pass the information on to the larger audience in those countries."

Will Russian audiences have any more confidence that what they are hearing from Western state-run outlets like VOA is any more reliable than what their own state-approved outlets are telling them? "VOA and RFE (Radio Free Europe) have a government-imposed, in-the-code-written-by-Congress, can't-get-around-it mandate to be fair," Neiswender argues. She's referring to USAGM's Charter, adopted during the Ford Administration, which one VOA journalist has explained to me, means that, "We're probably the only news organization in the world that is mandated to be fair, objective and unbiased."

Whether VOA and RFE's reports are perceived as such by listeners inside of Russia and Ukraine is another matter, but their broadcasts did serve as an information lifeline to many behind the old Iron Curtain for many decades of the Cold War.

For now, the effort is already working. Elliott, who spent more than 30 years as a broadcaster and audience analyst at VOA tells us that "the signal is getting through to a very large extent, and sometimes with really good reception quality. Direct feedback from the audience, that will take some days and weeks as the word gets around that these transmissions are available. Already, WRMI received a note from a diplomat in Egypt who heard the Russian transmission. It is getting through."

Neiswender says that the project's success is only a matter of raising funds to keep going and expand their reach. The effort is crowdsourced with a fund raiser at Fundrazr.com/RadioWaves. A very small amount of money goes a long way here, she insists. They are already up and broadcasting after raising just over $6,000.

All of the money, "goes directly to the stations. No one is getting a dime from this that is organizing it or running it. Every cent of the money that is coming in is going directly back out to fund these transmissions," she notes.

It's a fascinating conversation about a fascinating project that I believe is well worth your time today, even as these are very strange days indeed.

Finally, we close with one more fascinating story, and a song. The story comes, ironically enough, courtesy of Fox "News", regarding Marina Baronova, the now-former Managing Editor of Russia's state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT). She resigned her post last week in protest of Putin's invasion of Ukraine. She now fears for her life, though not necessarily for the reasons you may assume. And her interview with Fox concludes with this message: "Russians love their children, too."

As it happens, Grammy-winner Sting, last weekend, posted an Instagram video singing his 1985 tune called "Russians" which, he says, he has rarely sung since the end of the Cold War. Now, as you'll hear, it has new relevance. Apparently even for Baronova...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS allows Nat'l Archives to release Trump Jan. 6 records to House; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets a historian's hilarious 'hard no'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2022 6:21pm PT  

Joe Biden is now one year in. Donald Trump is now one year out. Have the media figured out how to properly cover either or both of them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Trump's troubles are getting worse by the day hour. It's been a bad 24 hours for the disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term former President. But that's usually good news for America!

As we literally begin today's program, news breaks that the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the National Archive to turn over hundreds of pages of Trump White House documents to the bipartisan U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

That bad news for Trump (and good news for everyone else) follows last night's bad news for him (and good news for us) out of a New York state courtroom. NY Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating years of apparent bank, insurance and tax fraud by Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump's children for years. She recently subpoenaed Trump and his kids Ivanka and Don Jr. to sit for depositions in her civil probe. (She is also working with the Manhattan D.A.'s long-running criminal probe into related matters.) Trump and the kids sued to quash the subpoena and, late on Tuesday night, James' office filed documents in response, detailing what she describes in the court papers as "significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

We discuss some of that "significant additional evidence" today, along with the additional news that when Eric Trump, back in 2020, failed to quash his own subpoena, he subsequently "then invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours.” That's his right, of course. But back in 2016, while running for President, Trump described pleading the Fifth as "disgraceful". "The mob takes the Fifth," he said at the time. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" We'll see if he, Ivanka and Don Jr., soon join his "disgraceful" son Eric in doing the same, along with the Trump Organization's "disgraceful" Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who's already been criminally charged with fraud in Manhattan after also pleading the Fifth more than 500 times as well during his own deposition with James.

And then there's the new guy in the White House, who doesn't seem to be criminal or a liar or a fraudster at all. Today marked the end of Joe Biden's first year in office. It's been a rocky one at times, but also extraordinary successful on a number of legislative and economic issues.

We're joined today by ERIC BOEHLERT, longtime media analyst and publisher of the Press Run newsletter, to discuss media coverage of Biden at the one year mark, and how it compares to coverage of Trump's first --- and subsequent --- years in office.

While Biden's approval numbers have been flagging in recent months --- Gallup pegs his one year average at just under 49% --- they are still above Trump's during his entire Presidency. Nonetheless, we saw little from the media declaring Trump's Presidency was over or a failure at the end of his first year, by way of contrast with what we see from the media now, despite several remarkable successes for Biden over the last 365 days.

"It's very similar to Obama," Boehlert asserts. "If you go back and looked at his first year, first term, 'Oh his coalitions are falling apart!' Lots of doomsday coverage for Obama that turned out to be nonsense." He later adds, "Good luck going back and finding stories about whether the Trump Presidency was failed, 'How does he reset?,'" after his first year. "There was an acceptance that Trump was going to poll in the thirties, and the press just went on from there. In terms of how the coverage differs from Biden and Trump, I think that's the key one there."

Suffice to say, the difference in coverage of each President, as Boehlert details, is stark. And not in a good way. Among the other related issues discussed, above and beyond media coverage of the two Presidents: Has the media come to fully understand, much less appreciate, the unprecedented nature of this tenuous moment for American democracy itself?

"We have two sides," Boehlert explains. "A center-left Democrat doing his best, and we have a Republican Party that wants to destroy free and fair elections in America. So if you're the press, don't play that down the middle. Don't pretend those are similar choices."

"When Trump was inaugurated, the press didn't change how it covered Trump," he observes. "You would read the coverage and think Jeb Bush was President, you would think John McCain was President. You would think this is center-right, normal, traditional....not this madman narcissist. I think with the Biden era, they just want to play this game --- 'His polling is down! We've found some Democrats who are critical of him!' These aren't the times for the norm. The Trump years weren't the time for the norm. And we're not seeing drastic change." And that failure by our corporate media is not a good sign for the nation. Or the planet.

Finally today, it appears that Fox "News" is not satisfied by simply rewriting reality in the present. They are now attempting to rewrite history itself, it seems, as far as who actually killed Abraham Lincoln. Seriously. In the bargain, a Lincoln assassination expert's response to an invitation to appear on Fox Nation (the propaganda streaming service companion to the propaganda cable news channel) to discuss it, is one for the ages!...

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Guest: Jon Schwarz of The Intercept: Also: 'QAnon Shaman' gets 3+ years (while Trump runs free); Gosar censured by House; Biden seeks probe of Big Oil profiteering; Sanders on Defense spending hypocrisy...
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2021 6:18pm PT  

Yes, inflation is real. But the panic around it is, if you will, wildly inflated and horribly misreported by the American corporate media. As Paul Waldman notes at WaPo this afternoon, "Inflation is a genuine problem, but it's hardly spinning out of control. Inflation PANIC, on the other hand, is getting ridiculous." Our guest on today's BradCast made the same argument last week as the media touched off the panic. He joins us to explain and go even further than Waldman. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the so-called 'QAnon Shaman' Jacob Chansley, the guy with face paint and a horned hat who took control of the dais in the U.S. Senate during the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, was sentenced to 41 months in prison on Wednesday. That's more than three and a half years, for a man with mental issues who was not particularly violent while serving as a henchman for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election that day. Meanwhile, the organizers and planners of the assault --- namely Donald Trump himself and a whole bunch of others --- have faced zero accountability, much less jail time for their crimes lighting the fire in the first place.

In more accountability news, Arizona's far-right Republican Rep. Paul Gosar was censured by the U.S. House in response to an animated video he posted to Twitter, appearing to show him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and threatening the same for President Biden. House Republicans refused to reprimand him, so a rare censure vote was held today and Gosar was removed from his House committee assignments in the bargain. He's the second Republican to be removed from committee seats this year, after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) faced a similar punishment for support of violent threats against Democrats prior to being elected and a similar failure by her own caucus to take action in any way. Accountability is always good, but, as with Chansley's punishment, there are some nuances and concerns worth discussing on this point as well today.

And, before we get to our guest, President Biden on Wednesday asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potentially "illegal conduct" by Big Oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron who may be inflating gas prices, even as their profits have risen and the cost of refined fuel has fallen. But the recent spike in prices at the pump has helped fuel economy-wide inflation. That, in turn --- thanks, at least in part, to some really bad reporting by the American corporate media --- has also undercut Biden's approval ratings, and is being used (disingenuously) to try and jeopardize passage of Biden's Build Back Better (BBB) social spending and climate change reconciliation bill.

Unlike the recently signed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the $1.75 trillion BBB is fully paid for with increases on taxes to corporations and the wealthy. And, unlike stimulus bills passed recently under both this President and the previous one, the BBB's spending is spread over the next decade, instead of as a quick jolt to the economic system. Thus, the consensus of economic experts is that it will not cause inflation and its expansion of the economy may, in fact, help ease inflation in several ways, particularly for the working class.

Still, West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is using inflation fears again to try and put the brakes on the BBB package, and the corporate media are certainly helping him. For example, while largely ignoring undeniably positive news about the economy in recent months --- on everything from record job growth to very low unemployment to three months of rising retail sales --- last week, the media offered breathless reports on new inflation numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

You may recall some of the panic when the media informed us that inflation had risen to a record 6.2% in October! If true, a one month 6.2% increase in prices would be a panic. But, in truth, inflation was just 0.9 percent last month. As our guest today points out, "products that cost $10.00 in September now cost a terrifying $10.09." But lost in the panicked coverage was that the 6.2% rise in retail prices was in comparison to what they were a full year ago, in the middle of the worst of the pandemic. They didn't rise "6.2% in October" as many have misleadingly reported.

But all of that also ignores something else that most Americans do not understand about inflation, according to our guest today: It can actually be good for the working class and very very bad for corporations, in particular, for big banks. That may be just one of the reasons why media are so quick to report on inflation numbers as terrible, terrible news for the country.

We're joined today by JON SCHWARZ of The Intercept to explain all of this, as he detailed recently in an article with what he admits is "a little bit of a troll-y headline", "Inflation is Good for You". In fact, as we discuss, he's not entirely "troll-y" on that point. For one, the booming economy has resulted in rising wages (for the first time in years) at almost the same rate as inflation over the past year. He notes at The Intercept: "As prices increased 6.2 percent over the past year, wages for regular people went up 5.8 percent. In other words, inflation barely touched their purchasing power."

The larger point, however, that he explains today is why inflation can be actually be good for workers but not for big corporations like banks: "Household debt in the United States is a gigantic number, difficult to comprehend. It's like $14.5 trillion --- that is mortgages, credit card debt, student debt, it's a whole bunch of things... And when there's inflation of this kind, 6.2%, that is around $850 billion-worth of that debt falling in value. That is a transfer of wealth from creditors, the people who loaned out the money, to borrowers."

Those creditors/lenders "are the richest people in America, and they are losing a lot of money. And they don't like that! People with tons of money do not like losing enormous amounts of it," Schwarz notes. "Inflation is the absolute worst for people who have loaned out a lot of money. It is something that is never discussed, because it is a sort of clear class issue. It makes you realize that, just as a great economy for regular people is not so great for people at the top, it makes you think about what inflation actually does, and who it affects the most."

While he recognizes that "inflation can be real trouble for some people," (and there is some nuance here) the overall effects are often more positive for the working class and not even particularly harmful to those on a fixed income, such as the elderly living on Social Security, which increases each year as its tied to inflation.

There is a lot to discuss on this matter that the corporate media fail to adequately cover (for reasons which we also discuss) while misleading the nation and delighting Republicans and, yes, Joe Manchin, who has fresh (if false) evidence to use in further cutting back on Biden's Build Back Better agenda or even stopping it dead in its tracks.

Finally, as long as we're myth busting today, Congress is preparing to approve the annual National Defense Authorization Act, with nearly as much spending --- for one single year --- as BBB would cost over ten years. Yet, you'll hear almost nothing about how the U.S. can't afford to spend so much money, or that it might lead to inflation, etc. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a thought or two on all of that, with which we close today's program...

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Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47); Also: More on media failure to take the rise of Trump/GOP autocracy with the gravity deserved; Callers...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2021 6:46pm PT  

The good news is that one of the Southern California beaches hit hardest by last week's toxic oil spill reopened today. The bad news comprises the rest of today's BradCast.

The beach at the SoCal town known as Huntington Beach --- in the heart of "Surf City USA" --- was reopened on Monday, after last week's oil spill of anywhere from 25,000 to 144,000 gallons of crude. It leaked from a fractured, 17.5 mile pipeline terminating in Long Beach from a complex of platforms about 5 miles offshore in federal waters. It took anywhere from 10 hours to several days --- we still don't know --- to shut the pipeline down after it cracked, perhaps due to being dragged by a ship anchor along the ocean floor.

But, by the weekend, earlier than expected, there were no longer toxins associated with petroleum at detectable levels in the water off of Huntington Beach, according to officials, even as crews continued to remove tarballs from the sand onshore. That beach, at least for now, has been reopened. Neighboring beaches remain closed to the south, including those at Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The Orange County Oil Spill was just the latest in a long series of disastrous oil spills that have fowled the CA coastline going back decades, and it has renewed calls to ban offshore drilling in the state.

We're joined today by REP. ALAN LOWENTHAL (D-CA), a member of the House Progressive Caucus whose 47th Congressional District includes Long Beach in Orange County and parts of western L.A. County. Last week, appearing at a news conference with Gov. Gavin Newsom in Huntington Beach just after the spill, Lowenthal called for "a plan to not only stop new drilling, but to figure out how do we stop all drilling that's going on in California." The Congressman joins us today to discuss just that. Long story short, but none of it is easy and for many reasons.

"In California, there have not been any new offshore pipelines in forty years, so there is no new technology. It's all old technology, it's all corroding, it's all waiting for the next disaster to occur," he tells me, before we dive into the murky waters of what would be required to end both leasing and drilling permits at the federal level --- in federal waters, 3 or more miles offshore --- as well as in California waters. Here, the Governor argued last week, it's easy to block new leases (the state hasn't issued any in decades), but shutting down existing platforms and pipelines, and replacing those jobs, is far more difficult.

Lowenthal, who has served in the House since 2013, after many years as a CA Assemblyman and then Senator, is calling for a Congressional probe into the OC Spill and fighting to keep language banning new offshore federal drilling leases in the Democrats' Build Back Better Act. But those provisions could be targeted by West Virginia's fossil fuel friendly Senator Joe Manchin, as Democrats battle with Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema to pass Biden's agenda into law. In a best case scenario, the BBB Act would only ban new drilling leases off shore, while permitting existing leases to be developed. Back in the state, on the other hand, a bit more can and should be done, he argues. As we discuss, even the progressive Newsom Administration's oil and gas regulators have approved thousands of new drilling permits on existing leases since the Governor took office in 2019.

"There are two things that California can do," says Lowenthal. "One is to stop the pipelines that come from the federal waters. And the second is not to provide permitting. It's one thing when you say 'no new leases,' but once you already have an existing lease that's developing, there are permits to change the flow, to change the direction and California doesn't have to issue those permits. They can stop it."

There was much more from the Congressman, both enlightening and frustrating at various times. I'll urge you to tune in for the full discussion.

Then, we've been discussing on several recent shows how the media are failing to adequately sound the alarm bells about the terrifying and dangerous rise of rightwing authoritarianism in the U.S., as Trump threatens to run again in 2024 after blatantly trying, but failing, to steal the 2020 election. This time, according to a lengthy and very disturbing monologue from Bill Maher this weekend, he is laying the groundwork to avoid the mistakes he made last time. "He's like a shark that's not gone. Just gone out to sea," Maher warns of the "slow moving coup", before explaining why "we're gonna need a bigger boat," as the GOP is now playing along with his long con. That, as the media begin to repeat many of the very same mistakes they made before his 2016 election.

How can we, in the media, avoid those mistakes and do a better job of informing the nation about the unprecedented assault on democracy itself that we all now face? I really don't know. But we discuss that and open up the phone lines to listeners at the end of today's show to at least begin that critical, much-needed conversation...

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores sacred lands to national monuments; House reveals Trump concealed losses, foreign money, 'preferential treatment' on loans at his failing D.C. hotel...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2021 6:17pm PT  

After five years of underestimating Donald Trump, and nearly a full year since he tried to steal the 2020 election, you'd think the media would "get it" by now. But, according to our guest on today's BradCast, the national press is still under-appreciating and under-reporting the very real threat that Trump and his far-right radicalized Republican Party now represent to democracy itself. And maybe that's on purpose. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But first up, some brighter news. President Biden has now reversed Trump's unprecedented (and likely unlawful) rollback of protected public lands established by his predecessors in three different national monuments. On Friday, Biden restored environmental protections for millions of acres of pristine expanses and sacred tribal lands at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine monument off the coast of New England. Deb Haaland, the nation's first native American Interior Secretary, was justifiably emotional about today's return of protection from mining, drilling and other development for millions of acres of sacred lands and architectural treasures. Biden's rollback of Trump's order, however, left in place a small parcel of acreage newly established as protected public lands by the former President at Bears Ears. So that national monument is now even larger than it was before Trump attempted to sell it off to his investors. Add it to the long list of losses for our loser former President.

And here's another. New documents released by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight on Friday reveal that Trump's company concealed losses of more than $70 million on his D.C. hotel during his four years in office, even while a major part of the business at the Trump International Hotel at the old D.C. post office building came from foreign governments, as well as lobbyists and businesses hoping to curry favor with the disgraced President.  All of that, as Trump attempted to portray the project publicly as a stunning success while the Trump Organization had to quietly pump in more than $24 million dollars to it to cover losses, and as Deutsche Bank, according to the Democratic Committee co-chairs, offered "undisclosed preferential treatment" on a $170 million loan for the project that had been personally guaranteed by Trump. The Trump Organization is now desperate to find a buy to unload the loser project, but there are reportedly few takers as the current, inflated asking price.

While the media failed to adequately sound the alarm about a Trump property just blocks from the White House used as a deposit box for unconstitutional payments to the President from foreign governments, businesses, lobbyists and party faithful during his tenure in the White House, are they doing any better in raising what should be an even louder alarm following the past year of Trump attempting to steal a second term while directing supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol itself to block the Constitutional transfer of power on January 6th?

Our guest today, longtime media analyst ERIC BOEHLERT argues the mainstream corporate media appear to have learned next to nothing. More insidiously, he suggests, they are even "purposely" ignoring what he describes in a PressRun newsletter this week as "the clarion calls of democratic doom." That, despite alarm bells and clear signs that American democracy is facing an unprecedented internal threat from the rise of rightwing authoritarianism. "America isn’t guaranteed a happy ending," he writes, "although most of us grew up with the shared assumption that it was."

"There's a failure of imagination, but I feel like it's a purposeful failure of imagination," among the press, he tells us today, citing what he sees as the media's vested interest in the return of Trump as a candidate and even as President in a second term.  "After the election, long before the insurrection, Trump was doing everything in his power, as we now know more and more" to try and overturn --- yes, to steal --- Joe Biden's election victory. "But in November and December of 2020, Politico called it 'bad sportsmanship.'  There was lots of media coverage on he was 'sulking' in the White House. Basically the media's narrative was 'Just give him some time. He's mad. He's upset he lost. No big deal. He's not going to try to steal the election. The Republican Party would never do that,' etc. And we know how that unfolded."

But, nearly one year and an attempted U.S. Capitol insurrection later, the "purposeful failure of imagination" by the press still persists, he charges. Given all of the many signs of increasing political violence and radicalism from the Right and the Republican Party itself, how should the press be appropriately covering and warning about what appears to be going on in and our nation? How could they --- and we --- be doing a better job of adequately sounding the "fire alarm"?

Boehlert explains, and cites by way of one critical example, the media's fear of "taking sides", even when the two sides are no longer Democratic v. Republican parties, but democracy v. authoritarianism.  "'We can't take sides! If the Republican Party is anti-democracy, we can't be PRO-democracy, because that looks like we're opposing them! So we're just going to recede into the sidelines, and we'll give you updates every time they try to demolish our democracy.'"

"It's just this passive frog in the boiling water, the lack of clarity about authoritarianism in this country. This idea that it can't happen here, we are immune to this, we are immune to fascism, we are immune to authoritarianism. Oh sure, in the last ten years, it's happened in Hungary, it's happened in Poland, it's happened in Turkey. Those aren't us," he snarks. "We've been doing this for 270 years. No matter what Trump and the Republican Party hatch, this country is indestructible, this democracy is indestructible --- which is a complete fantasy."

Tune in for much more.

Finally, after starting off today with some good news for native Americans, we end with a bit more, as the Biden White House becomes the first to officially commemorate Indigenous Peoples' Day this coming Monday, on what is still officially known, barring an act of Congress, as Columbus Day...

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Guest: Kevin Drum of Mother Jones; Also: U.N. warns current pledges to cut emissions not enough to avoid catastrophic warming; Wildfires now threaten world's largest, 3,000 year old trees at Sequoia National Park...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2021 6:27pm PT  

As we discuss on today's BradCast, our current days of political rage and divisiveness, now a very clear and present danger to the survival of American democracy itself, didn't come nowhere. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first today, before we get to our burning country, a few news items on our burning globe. The U.N. warned on Friday that current pledges from the nations of the world to cut emissions will not be enough to stave off cataclysmic global warming by century's end. In California, meanwhile, we're seeing disaster play out already. The majestic, 3,000 year old giant trees of Sequoia National Park may not even make it through the weekend. The world's largest tree, a tourist favorite at the park known as General Sherman, and others like it are now literally being wrapped in tinfoil-like blankets as wildfires rage just about one mile from the historic and beloved grove as of airtime.

Of course, if we can't even get our own country to come together to fight against the clear and present existential threat of climate change, one wonders how hundreds of nations will be able to do so to save the planet. On the other hand, worsening political divisiveness --- and insanity --- in this country plays no small role in our failure to lead the world in that fight for humanity itself.

But how did the U.S. arrive at this harrowing political moment? One where more Republicans (75%) than Democrats (46%) believe democracy itself is under attack? Given that Republicans literally attacked the U.S. Capitol, the seat of American democracy, in a violent effort to prevent Congress from carrying out its most solemn, democratic Constitutional duty of certifying a Presidential election just months ago, there is no small irony in the new polling finding that it's those on the Right, even more than the Left, who have somehow been made to believe democracy is under attack.

Where would they get such a seemingly upside-down notion? "With every passing day, it looks less like we have one nation divided by differing political beliefs and more like we have two warring countries battling each other within shared borders," writes author David Rothkopf today in a lengthy, intriguing (and maddening) Twitter thread. "One side represents and seeks to preserve the United States. The other seeks to destroy it."

A fascinating, exhaustive, 6,000-word investigative essay published in this month's Mother Jones magazine on "The Real Source of America's Rising Rage", written by our guest today, longtime blogger KEVIN DRUM of Jabberwocking.com, looks at what the data reveal about the madness of this political moment and how and why we arrived at it.

"I started looking at when did this start? Because that's critical," Drum tells me on today's show. "When did people really start getting so angry? On a whole range of topics, the year 2000 --- give or take a few years --- kept coming up, over and over and over. And the most important way it came up, I thought, was if you take a look at trust in government. We all know that that's been going down --- people trust government less. But if you look at the data, it was pretty flat from about 1980 or so to 2000. And then, starting around 2000 or so, it started going down, down, down to only 20% who now say they have any trust in government, and it stayed there."

"What happened around the year 2000 that could have caused this?," he wondered, as he read through study after study. What happened since that time to cause such a sea change among Americans? Was it the rise and spread of conspiracy theories? Has social media or talk radio sent us over the edge? Or have things really gotten worse in America on the many grievances those on the Right often cite, such as crime, taxes, the economy, inequality, immigration or race?

After spending several years combing through data and theories, Drum finds, while some of those things certainly play a role, none of them are actually the poison that that has brought the nation to the seeming brink of political collapse. He explains how both data and history prove it, and how the real answer has been lying in plain sight for the past twenty years. It's the Fox 'News', stupid!

And, by the way, if Fox is the problem, what might be the solution? We discuss that a bit on today's enlightening program as well...

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Guest: Comedian, activist Lizz Winstead; Also: Good econ news tempered by Delta; Biden extends student debt moratorium; Listener mail...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2021 6:24pm PT  

Over the past two and a half decades, The Daily Show on Comedy Central has arguably helped change the news landscape in America. Whether that's a good or bad thing is a question we discuss on today's BradCast with the show's co-creator and original head writer, as the seminal fake news shows recently turned 25 years old! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But, first up, some quick news headlines on what appears to be a freshly booming economy, as the nation tries to climb out of its pandemic recession. That otherwise good news, unfortunately, is somewhat tempered by uncertainty as the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc, mostly among the unvaccinated. New economic data this week also reveals that states with low vaccination and high infection rates are having a much harder time returning to pre-pandemic economic and job levels.

Also today, the Biden Administration announces one "final" extension of the moratorium on federal student loan payments, through the end of January next year. That, as Congressional Democrats from across the political spectrum, from Chuck Schumer to Elizabeth Warren to Ayanna Pressley, continue to push the President to simply cancel most of the $1.7 trillion dollars in federal student debt that would otherwise be spent by former students on the economy, buying homes, having children, etc.

Then, this past week, Comedy Central's beloved, long-running The Daily Show celebrated its 25th year on basic cable! How did they celebrate? By not being on the air at all, as the show's current host, Trevor Noah, after more than a year broadcasting the temporarily re-dubbed The Daily Social Distancing Show from his New York apartment, is enjoying a much-needed summer vacation until late September.

But that doesn't stop us from celebrating anyway! We're joined today by the always-delightful LIZZ WINSTEAD, co-creator, with Madeleine Smithberg, and former head writer of the satirical "news" show, to discuss its origin story and its broad affect on the national news-scape over the ensuing decades since its 1996 premier, as originally hosted by Craig Kilborn, followed by Jon Stewart, and now Noah.

From the shockingly easy way she and Smithberg were able to get the show on the air back in 1996, to its first bizarre week (before they had a live audience --- which I saw and loved and she hated!), to its various hosts over the years, thoughts on the bevy of stars who broke out from the show but never ended up hosting it, to how it has changed both the audience for news and the theoretically non-fake news outlets themselves, we take a much-needed pause today from another rough week to look back on the awesome satirical damage that Winstead has helped wrought.

"When people want to ask me about those origins," Winstead explains, "I think it's important, because a lot of people don't know that two women created the show, and they don't understand where it came from and how it came to be."

"When we launched, and this is important, there was only CNN," she says, citing how much of the show's early satire was to be aimed at local news and the many so-called "news magazine" that proliferated at the time. "MSNBC launched a couple of weeks after us, and then Fox launched that same year in October. An explosion of 24-hour news and how they had to keep up. And they did it poorly. I guess what I never counted on was that they would be so bad at their job that it would make us have so much to work with, follow the trends, and then throw those trends back in their faces."

"The satire and the fun really comes from not just throwing it back in their faces, but --- also adding to the comedy --- what are the results of all of this? You create a dumber electorate. You create an idiocracy. And we've seen that play out."

If so, it's hardly The Daily's fault. Winstead also responds to the critique, as some have argued, that too many young people ended up getting more of their news from The Daily Show than from real news sources. She rejects that notion, and tells me why.

Winstead, the Minneapolis native, who later went on to serve as Program Director of the now-defunct Air America Radio, where she also served as morning co-host with some lady named Rachel Maddow, also reflects on how topics and field pieces were chosen by The Daily's "correspondents" (a countless number of whom have moved on to their own wildly successful shows and movie careers.)

For so long, Americans were under the notion that we should "just ignore people who are lying, mean, or wrong or dumb," but that's "kind of why we are in this mess" now, she argues. "One of the things that 'Daily Show' tried to do constantly was say, 'Do not underestimate the stupidity of people, and do not underestimate the danger of that stupidity!' I think [the country] did, for years, and we are literally in the space we are now because we thought we could just close our eyes and ignore it, and it would go away."

Please tune in for much more from our conversation, including Winstead's thoughts and concerns on what has become her central focus now, even as she continues her work as a stand-up comedian, to help raise awareness and concern and action for her reproductive rights organization, Abortion Access Front. She founded the non-profit in 2015 and it is now, as she explains, facing the fight of all of our lives...

Finally, in our closing few minutes of the show today, we take the opportunity to respond to some listener mail, including from one listener who has a very good question about my oft-used reference to the importance of "independently verifiable" news and from another listener with some pretty serious "CRITICISM" of The BradCast...

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Guest: Coalition for Good Governance's Marilyn Marks on that and separate challenge to state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2021 7:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With virtually every new voter suppression law adopted by Republicans at the state level since last November's election (there have been about 24 such laws adopted so far, in some 14 states), Democrats and voting rights advocates have been quickly filing lawsuits in opposition. One of those suits --- filed in federal court [PDF] against Georgia's SB202, the one in which I am named as a Plaintiff --- is to have its first major hearing next week. That, as Democrats in the U.S. Senate frantically scramble to get the last Democratic holdout (Joe Manchin) to come on board for federal legislation to counter at least some of the most restrictive elements of the tidal wave of new GOP anti-voting laws at the state level. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While the Jim Crow-style voter suppression of the new restrictions being adopted in Republican-controlled states of late have received a fair amount of attention, the provisions in those measures that would allow GOP state legislatures to take over elections --- and even overturn legitimate results --- have received less attention. Over the weekend, the New York Times highlighted, for example, how in "Georgia, members of at least 10 county election boards...At least five are people of color and most are Democrats" have been removed from their posts in recent weeks, "and they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans."

Georgia is not the only state where this is happening. Similar provisions, targeting election officials and even election results, have also been adopted or introduced in states like Kansas, Arkansas and the critical swing state of Florida. But in Georgia, they go even further to target and/or threaten the media itself for simply reporting on elections!

That's where I come in. I am the named plaintiff representing journalists in the Coalition for Good Governance (CGG) lawsuit challenging Georgia's SB202 in federal court. An emergency Motion for Preliminary Injunction [PDF] has now been filed in regard to the media-related aspects of CGG's complaint, in light of the state's impending local election runoffs scheduled for July 13th.

I'm joined once again today by longtime Election Integrity champion MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of CGG, to discuss why the Press Freedom aspects of her group's broad challenge to the GA law --- far broader than some of the other challenges focused more on the voter suppression aspects only, as filed by the NAACP, the Democratic Party, and Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight, etc. --- have been bumped to a top priority with her filing of an expedited Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

Among the little-reported-on Press Freedoms at stake in SB202, the new law includes a Gag Rule which criminalizes the public, party-appointed monitors and the press’ reporting of absentee mail ballot processing or tabulation problems; A ban on the press Estimating (yes, estimating!) the number of absentee ballots that have been processed during an election tabulation or how many are still to be processed; SB202 even criminalizes photographing voted ballots or the 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems that voters are now forced to use at all Georgia polling places, despite the state's century-long history of routine press photography and videography of election activities inside of polling places on Election Day. (Yes, the photo used above for today's show logo, or even seeing those voters voting, can now result in felony charges in GA!)

All of these, as Marks and I discuss, are extraordinary restrictions on basic Press Freedoms, and our ability --- my ability in this case, as the named plaintiff, representing media --- to report what is going on during Georgia elections to the public. The law actually turns simply seeing one of the state's huge new touchscreen voting systems, while it's being used on Election Day, into a felony. That would apply not only to media inside a polling place, but also to poll workers, poll watchers and even voters simply waiting in line to vote.

"We are asking the court to address some of these issues before that runoff election [on July 13] happens. We are going to ask the judge to rule in favor of the press," says Marks, hoping that some other media outlets may even submit their own Amicus Briefs to the court in support of CGG's lawsuit. "Other members of the press are quite concerned about the fact that traditional photography, that they have been taking for decades, is not going to be permitted in the mail ballot processing locations," she tells me.

"It is mind-blowing," she continues. "I wouldn't be able to tell you [if I saw something wrong while serving as an observer]. All of a sudden, your reporting is going to be silenced. You would not even know that I had anything to tell you. You would just assume that, unlike in times past, that everything is going fine in Georgia."

Marks also breaks a bit of news by explaining that the Republican National Committee has now moved to intercede in this case to help defend GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's position on the bill. Marks says Raffensperger "essentially insisted on these provisions. Although some of the media consider him to be some kind of a saint [because he declined to overturn the November 2020 election amid entreaties from Donald Trump to do so], this is his bill. His attorneys drafted it. He's the one that wants to crack down on any criticism coming from people like you and me, CNN, New York Times, or any other place."

"The RNC has asked to intervene in our case to protect the Secretary of State. However, interestingly, they have said they are not going to oppose us on the Observation Felony, the Gag Rule, the Estimating Ban, the Photography Ban --- so even the Republicans are not going to try to defend four of these five things that we're going after" in the Motion. A hearing is now set on that Motion for Thursday, July 1.

In addition to CGG's lawsuit challenging SB202, the group has another, separate, longstanding challenge to the state's use of 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. That suit was successful in convincing the federal judge hearing it to ban GA's 20-year old Diebold touchscreen systems before last year's elections. Unfortunately, Raffensperger immediately replaced them with new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices made by Dominion Voting Systems, which Marks describes as as bad or worse than the previous systems. That case has just now entered its discovery phase and Marks is confident that the same federal judge is quite concerned that the new systems are as insecure, unverifiable --- and, thus, as unconstitutional --- as the old ones she previously banned. A ruling in that case could affect the use of such machines in dozens of states and counties around the country, including states like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas and even here in Los Angeles County, where voters are now forced to vote on unverifiable touchscreen systems at polling places.

Lastly, Marks describes the exciting forum scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 22), co-sponsored by CGG and another one of our favorite non-partisan good-government watchdog groups, Free Speech for People (FSFP), on the dangers of Ballot Marking Device (BMDs) as used in Georgia and many of those other jurisdictions mentioned above. The forum, called "Today's Electronic Voting Machines: An Examination of the Use and Security of Ballot Marking Devices" is scheduled live and online from Noon to 5pm ET on Tuesday. It features a huge number of guests that have been featured over the years on 'The BradCast', including FSFP's Susan Greenhaulgh; Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo; notorious University of Michigan white-hat hacker, J. Alex Halderman; Research expert Kevin Skoglund; UC Berkley's Philip Stark, inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit protocol; the legendary Finish cyberseucrity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, and many others.

Much more info and the schedule is available here. You can RSVP to participate in the event right here.

Finally, Democrats are teeing up a test vote on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate for their sweeping election and campaign finance reform bill, the For the People Act, now that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has suggested he may be willing to support a compromise version with the 49 other Senate Democrats who have all already signed on to the original bill as co-sponsors. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked today about President Biden's expectations for that bill and its test vote today, and on the need to reform the filibuster even if Manchin deigns to come aboard. If he does, he would also have to be willing to make changes to the filibuster rule that mandates 60 Senators support such measures, in order to see passage, since no Republicans are expected to support it. But he is not the only Democrat who has opposed long-overdue changes to the filibuster. Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema has also vowed to protect the anti-democratic, Jim Crow-era Senate rule. And now she is being targeted with a huge ad buy for that position, to ratchet up the pressure, by a group of progressives who are running spots in her home state on cable news, as well as during local news and sports programming.

Yes, the fight to save American democracy continues on today's BradCast...because it seems kind of important...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: SCOTUS takes up abortion; Gaetz in trouble; Israel bombs AP's building in Gaza...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2021 6:54pm PT  

As AP reports today, a new lawsuit "against [Georgia's] secretary of state and the members of the State Election Board was filed in federal court in Atlanta by county election board members, individual voters, election volunteers, nonprofit organizations and a journalist." As broken on today's BradCast, that journalist is me. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I am one of the several named plaintiffs in the 200-page suit [PDF] filed in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking to block a number of outrageous and dangerous provisions in the state GOP's new voter-suppression bill. While the measure, SB202 [PDF], adopted by GA Republicans, does a lot of terrible stuff, some of which is well known by now (making it harder to vote by mail, banning absentee drop boxes, blocking the distribution of food or water on long voting lines), much of which will disproportionately suppress minority voters, there are a number of other provisions which are simply jaw-dropping, but have not yet been challenged in the several suits previously filed against the law by a number of civil rights and voting rights groups.

My part in the suit, filed today by the non-partisan, non-profit, indispensable Coalition for Good Governance, revolves around press freedoms which are outrageously and unconstitutionally trampled by SB202. In fact, as discussed on the show today with the Coalition's Executive Director, MARILYN MARKS, no small amount of the detailed reporting we have done here over the years focused on Georgia has now been criminalized by the new statute!

As detailed in the complaint (see the section on "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN" beginning on p. 101), it is now unlawful to report on "mail balloting discrepancies or security concerns that he or The BRAD BLOG or BradCast journalists may personally observe as members of the press"; "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN will be injured because the party appointed observers he has relied on to supply first-hand accounts...are are prohibited under penalty of misdemeanor from reporting their observations" on Georgia elections to me; As Marks explains, photographs that I or others may have taken in a polling place and used on the blog would be illegal; Observers from the media watching the tallying of absentee ballots will be committing a crime just by reporting on how many ballots they are "estimating" or "attempting to estimate" have been counted or are left to be tallied, according to the language of the hastily written SB2020 ("It's a thought crime!," Marks charges. "Literally, it says you cannot 'estimate' or 'attempt to estimate' anything about votes in the ballot processing room for mail ballots!"); Video interviews or photographs taken inside of counting rooms or in polling places in front Georgia's giant, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems could be evidence of a felony(!) under the new law, which poll workers, poll watchers, media observers and even voters could now be charged with under state law!

"On BRAD BLOG," Marks observes, "you frequently post a picture, many a picture of election activity, including people in the mail ballot rooms looking at hand-marked voted ballots. To take a picture of a ballot now is a misdemeanor." Yes, those posted photos would now be evidence of a crime. "You would not be permitted to take a picture of anonymous ballots. We see thousands of pictures, every election, of voted ballots being counted. But for some reason --- I guess we know what reason --- they are criminalizing it."

Yes, the photo used above, as taken from the complaint's numerous examples, of voters voting at Atlanta's State Farm Arena last year in Fulton County, could be used as evidence of a felony by the Reuters photo-journalist, Chris Aluka Berry, who took it.

As the suit notes, "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is already injured by SB202 because the criminalization of constitutionally protected activity has a chilling effect on his exercise of First Amendment rights" and because "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is threatened with injuries arising from SB202’s prior restraints on his First Amendment right of free speech and right of freedom of the press."

We have "reported on Georgia election integrity and election security hundreds of times over the last almost twenty years," the lawsuit accurately explains. Much of that coverage could now constitute a state crime under this horrible, unconstitutional law. "I have a feeling they will find any little tripwire they can about the two of us," Marks tells me. "If you were complimentary toward Georgia, I don't think you'd have any problems."

This BradCast, for example, from June of last year, featuring a Democratic Party post-election adjudication observer (and now co-plaintiff in this suit) Jeanne DuFort --- breaking the news of her discovery that GA's new Dominion tabulation computers were failing to count votes on tens of thousands of ballots --- would have been a crime in several ways, according to the state's new law.

There are other provisions in SB202 of concern as well --- beyond those being challenged in several of the voting rights lawsuits --- as Marks explains in the Coalition's press release today, from the law's "Takeover Provision" that permits bi-partisan County Elections Boards to be removed entirely and replaced by a single partisan, for virtually any reason (even minor infractions by a low-level worker up to four years ago!) to a few items we didn't have time cover on today's show, like the impossible new deadlines for requesting absentee ballots (in cases before a run-off election, the deadline to request such a ballot for it will now end before the original election is even certified to include a run-off!) and more.

As AP highlights in its report today, the suit argues: "Liberty requires at least three essential things — an unfettered right to vote, freedom of speech, and the meaningful separation of powers. This lawsuit is necessary to preserve individual constitutional rights, and constitutional government, against the attacks that SB202 makes on these three pillars of liberty."

Marks elucidates today on "Those three pillars of liberty: the right to vote, the right to free speech, and the right to separation of powers. What's happening here is the first one that they are violating is that separation of powers. That is a key one. Once they grab all of the powers, they close the doors. Yeah, they still have to deal with the pesky press and pesky watchers, but not anymore --- not if they criminalize your reports."

So, yeah. Even as its strange to become a part of a story I've been covering for so long, I am very proud to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit against SB202, which Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State falsely claim "makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat". In truth, Marks told me off air after the show, the opposite is true. "It makes it harder to vote and easier to cheat," she said.

Also today, the GOP's packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court announced it's taking up Mississippi's restriction on abortion rights that was blocked by a lower court. This is not good news for freedom lovers and those who oppose Big Government coming between a woman and her doctor; A former elected Florida official who is a buddy of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to a federal plea deal that requires he tells federal prosecutors all that he knows about Gaetz' alleged sex trafficking of a minor; And in Gaza City over the weekend, Israel outrageously targeted and destroyed a 12-story high-rise building housing AP's office for the past 15 years. It's top floor cameras have been the eyes for the world, witnessing, as the news agency reported this weekend, "24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week."

Those cameras will no longer be there to bear witness to the world. As AP's President noted in a statement describing the attack as "shocking and horrifying" on Saturday, "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

And, in Georgia, if SB202 is allowed to stay in place, the world will know less about what is happening in the Peach State's elections because of it. As in Gaza, I suspect that is the point...

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Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our lonely fight to save what is left of our public airwaves continues, as mainstream media outlets continue to benefit from --- and therefore do not bother to report on --- the march toward full corporate ownership of what were once our prized and protected airwaves. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, the breaking news on that nation's latest school shooting. Today it was in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Next, the vaccination of the nation continues apace, with about 36% of adult Americans now having received at least one shot. This week, many more states will open eligibility to all adults 16 years of age and older in advance of Joe Biden's national date for doing so in all 50 states next Monday (April 19). Here in Los Angeles, all adult residents will be eligible as of Tuesday. We offer a few tips for how to get an appointment quickly. (Specifically, Kaiser-Permanente appears to have tons of available appointments, for members and non-members alike, via their website at KP.org.)

While vaccinations are proceeding at an impressive pace, hitting another 24-hour record of 4.6 million shots on Saturday, the race to outpace the spread of variants continues. While much of the nation is plateauing in case numbers at high levels or even surging slightly upward, a number of states, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest are surging quite steeply. The most disturbing case at the moment, by far, is in Michigan, where its Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been begging the Biden Administration for a vaccine surge in response to a spike that is as bad there as it was last Fall. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the Administration has offered additional vaccinators and test kits, but not additional vaccine as of now. The CDC Director said on Monday that what is needed in MI's case is not more vaccine, but lockdowns. However, one of the reasons the state is in such bad shape now is because Trump-incited rightwingers last year not only rebelled against Whitmer's mandatory lockdowns, but even hatched a plot to kidnap her after Trump tweeted to "Liberate Michigan!"

What happens in Michigan, unfortunately, won't stay in Michigan. Their surge will spread elsewhere unless someone figures out how to get it under control. Similarly, what happens in Georgia will absolutely not stay in Georgia, as Republican lawmakers across the country are continuing to push voter suppression measures akin to the suppressive law adopted by Republicans in the Peach State last month.

The corporate pushback against Georgia's anti-voting law and those in other states continues to grow. Over the weekend, 100 corporate executives held a Zoom meeting to discuss how they planned to respond. On Monday, the first major Hollywood production --- Will Smith's "Emancipation" film --- previously set to film in Georgia, announced they were pulling production from the state due to the new law. Other productions could follow suit, given that Georgia has become a bit of a filmmakers Mecca by offering generous tax breaks to Hollywood production teams.

In addition to the group of corporate execs planning their own actions against anti-democracy laws, a group of some 60 law firms is reportedly teaming up to take action as well. That said, it's pathetic that the citizenry has to rely on corporations to become angry enough that Republicans might pay attention to their concerns --- the same concerns that the GOP ignored when they came from the citizenry itself before Georgia adopted its new law. In today's America, the citizenry don't seem to matter. It's corporate dollars to (or withheld from) Republicans that appears to be our only chance of convincing desperate Republicans to block or rollback these onerous restrictions on access to the ballot box. We're happy to see companies jumping in, but its absurd that we need to rely on them to somehow save "democracy".

Speaking of the need to save democracy, we're then joined by media reform activist SUE WILSON of the Media Action Center. Late last year, she and former Republican FCC official Art Belendiuk joined us on the program to discuss actions they were taking to expose the fact that rightwing media behemoth Sinclair Broadcasting appeared to be blatantly violating FCC ownership rules by taking secret ownership of more than one television station in a number of major markets, using sham front companies to skirt federal scrutiny.

At the same time, as Wilson reports today at BradBlog.com, the FCC has been attempting to change its own media ownership rules to allow for more corporate consolidation by granting major broadcasters the right to own more than one TV station in any given market. The FCC's initial attempt to change the rule preventing companies from controlling all of the public airwaves in major markets was blocked by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in not carrying out proper studies to determine the effects of the rule change on broadcast outlets owned by women and minorities. SCOTUS heard the FCC's appeal in the case on January 19th (Trump's last full day in office). The Court handed down its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project on April 1, overturning the lower court to allow the FCC's new, relaxed ownership rule, even as Justice Kavanaugh, in his opinion for the unanimous Court, conceded that the record evidence relied on by the FCC was "sparse". But, he held on behalf of the Court, the rules in question, now changed by the FCC, "were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals."

As Wilson found, however, the reason the record was so sparse was because the FCC had carried out no studies of its own to determine the adverse effect of consolidation on minority owned business before formalizing their new rules. They relied instead on private organizations to present evidence as to why the consolidation would harm minority broadcasters. But private organizations did not have access to much of the FCC's public information, because the federal agency hasn't collected the information from stations around the country.

It all amounts to what Wilson describes as a Catch-22 that ill-serves the public, and further undermines our public airwaves, handing off even more control to corporate interests, rather than we, the people. "This is the worst decision that nobody knows about," Wilson tells me. And, of course, they don't know about it, because mainstream corporate broadcasters benefits from the rule change, so they haven't bothered to mention much about it to any of their listeners or viewers.

Wilson argues that Congress needs to take action, and asks listeners to contact their members of Congress. "We're finding that Republicans and Democrats are very interested in this [because] this is bad for our whole country."

Finally, we open up the phones for a few quick minutes today, to hear from listeners on both the FCC's latest boondoggle and with more thoughts on vaccination nation...

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