Guest: Matt Gertz on Trump's marginalization of media and their failure to push back; Also: House moves to dismantle health care for millions; What's up with Tillerson?; And an Inauguration Day cover-up...
On today's BradCast, U.S. media failed to report on the rise and dangers of Mussolini and Hitler with the gravity that was warranted in the 20s and 30s. Are they making similar mistakes today with the rise and elevation of Donald Trump to President of the United States? [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Media Matters'Matt Gertz joins me to today to argue Trump's bizarre press conference on Wednesday, his first since the November election (first since last July, actually), revealed more than a dozen "signs of how bad press treatment will be under Trump". At the presser, the day after the release of an unsubstantiateddossier charging personal and financial compromise with Russia, Trump refused questions from either CNN or BuzzFeed News, declaring them both to be "fake news" for breaking various elements of the story. Gertz suggests the way it played out illustrates that the media are both failing to push back against Trump, and are likely underestimating how bad things are likely to get for them (and all of us) once he becomes President.
"This was not something that came out of nowhere," Gertz tells me. "This was clearly the strategy going into the press conference: to attack Buzzfeed, to attack CNN, to tie the two of them together, and to suggest that all of their reporting was illegitimate."
"They're going to go on trying to de-legitimize the media, one by one, piece by piece, to make it impossible for anyone to try to get out critical news analysis about what his administration is doing. This was the first step, and it's going to keep getting worse," he warns. "Trump bragged on the campaign trail that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and could shoot somebody and he wouldn't lose voters. Rhetorically speaking, that's what he basically did to [CNN's] Jim Acosta. He basically took him out in front of the entire press corps, humiliated him, pretty brutality, and other reporters just sort of moved along. They went on and they asked their questions, and they just kept going."
But were CNN and BuzzFeed wrong to report as they did in the first place? And do the media, in general, have only themselves to blame for the spot they're in at this point? Have they learned anything from last Wednesday, much last the past year? And is that Breitbart clown "reporter" Matt Boyle the new "Jeff Gannon"? We discuss all of that and much more during today's conversation.
Also today: The GOP Congress gets one step closer to dismantling health care for millions of Americans; What's up with the cancellation of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson's second day of confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate?; Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as Obama bids farewell and seeks reason on climate change; And a particularly smelly Inauguration Day cover-up is revealed...
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In today’s Washington Post ombudsman column, “Covert Question, Open Controversy,” Deborah Howell says, “Wilson's New York Times op-ed piece, critical of the Bush administration's use of intelligence, set off a chain of events that led to the disclosure of Plame's job.”
But information and testimony revealed during the course of the Libby Trial indicates that it wasn't Wilson's op-ed piece that set the off the chain of events leading to their disclosure of the CIA WMD analyst and her covert network. The Bush administration began its campaign to discredit Valerie Plame/Wilson at least a month prior to the release of her husband's article.
But when Wilson wrote his book, he did not have access to behind-the-scenes discussions about his wife now revealed through the perjury and obstruction trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff. Retaliation there was, in spades, but testimony and documents in the Libby trial demonstrate, unrefuted, that administration discussion of Mrs. Wilson began several weeks before Wilson’s column appeared.
The reasons why are still unclear, and the prosecution was not permitted to delve into ramifications of the leak. But that the administration was already targeting both Wilson and his wife, Valerie --- overseeing a crucial intelligence network monitoring WMD activity in the middle east --- is now beyond question.
So why, beyond Wilson's op-ed, was the Bush Administration previously so intent on discrediting one of its own CIA assets?...
Former-hooker-turned-fake-journalist James "Jeff Gannon" Guckert responded (sort of) to a recent BRAD BLOG article referencing his White House "correspondent" fakery, as filed by our special Libby/CIA Leak Trial correspondent Margie Burns.
We failed to notice the response/obfuscation on his little blog when it was originally published since, frankly, the traffic from "Gannon's" site didn't trigger high enough numbers for us to take note of it in our "incoming traffic" hit-counter.
While we hate to draw any more attention to the silly, disgraced GOP operative, his presence in the White House briefing room --- dropping phony Administration talking points (or perhaps more precisely, Office of the Vice-President) during the early days of the CIA Leak revelations --- deserves notice and further investigation, in our opinion.
Also of note is the subsequent scrubbing of White House website documents referring to "Gannon's" questions at the time. That matter was also recently reported by Burns, and seems to be in apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978.
Anyway, we'll make "Jeff's" day and send him a bit of traffic today by quoting the lead of his blog item, in which he knocks the irony meter off the chart by calling Joe Wilson a "proven liar," and even goes so far as to write (apparently with a straight face): "The search for truth is not a smear campaign, it is the essence of journalism."
The Old Media is breathlessly reporting on the tapes of Scooter Libby's Grand Jury testimony in the Valerie Plame Affair. The reporters/DNC operatives are certain that Libby lied, probably to protect Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, George Bush, et al. The question I still ask is: Lied about what? That loudmouth Joe Wilson's third-rate, desk-jockey analyst wife worked at the CIA? Why lie about that and so what if he did? The only proven liar in the entire saga thus far is JOE WILSON.
A Hard Left blogger is claiming that I led the "White House attacks on Joe Wilson." That accusation is UNEQUIVOCALLY FALSE.
You'll have to read the rest of his piece to see how Republi-journaloid "Gannon" doesn't actually bother to offer any actual "proof" for his case that Wilson is a "proven liar." But in "Jeff's" imaginary Fox "News"-based world, we suspect that simply saying something out loud --- like "we know for a fact that Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons" or "the insurgency is in its last throes" --- is "proof" enough for him and the other Bush dead-enders still left out there.
Just prior to the 2004 elections, The BRAD BLOG revealed a number of embarrassing White House moments that had been scrubbed --- in violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 --- from their website. Eventually, in the weeks just prior to the election, and after WaPo, AFP and other wire services picked up the story which broke here, they were forced to restore all of that information to the website. (Highlights from that series of reports here.)
Now it looks like they may be at it again.
Two years ago, I posted a piece at another web site on “Go ahead, Jeff,” i.e. Jeff Gannon, actually named James Guckert, at White House press briefings. The White House web site has a search function of sorts, usable given the exact name or phrase as a keyword. My search term in February 2005 was Scott McClellan’s phrase “go ahead, Jeff,” meaning – as Jeff’s sympathetic questions made amply clear – that McClellan was calling on mysterious White-House-press-pass person Guckert/Gannon, whose exact activities in the White House have yet to be clarified. I have tried to phone Mr. Guckert but probably have not gotten through.
The precise dates of those press briefings at which Mr. Gannon/Guckert had been explicitly called on, found at that time, were November 17, 2004; December 10, 13, 17 and 21, 2004; and January 10 and 25, 2005.
Now, belatedly running the same search this morning, I found further briefings with equally revealing questions posed by Mr. Gannon. However, the previous references to Gannon/Guckert appear to have been scrubbed...
It's been three days since Coulter posted a personal email address and phone number of author and actress Lydia Cornell on the front page of her website. The petulant act by the Republican talking head was in apparent retaliation for an article written for BRAD BLOG by Cornell which described her experience in trying to track down a copy of a fundraiser address Coulter had given recently for the Alachua Florida Republican Party in which she called for the repression of free speech by Democrats.
Cornell has received myriad threatening emails and crank callers in the three days since Coulter posted her private information online. She has asked Coulter to remove it and Coulter has so far refused.
In support of Coulter's invasion of Cornell's privacy, Guckert/Gannon, a shill who had worked in the White House for GOPNews.com until his secret background as a prostitute was exposed, attempted to defend the Rightwing polemicist yesterday on his website by claiming:
Funny, these same folks didn't have any problems publishing my phone number, home address, Social Security number and medical records online...
Gannon/Guckert presented no evidence to back up his assertion. His reported presence at the White House more than two dozen times when no press briefings were scheduled --- as described in Secret Service documents obtained by RAW STORY --- has never been explained. Gannon/Guckert had no previous journalistic experience before being granted access as journalist to the White House.
Of course, The BRAD BLOG has never posted any such information, as claimed by Guckert/Gannon, but we checked in today with John Aravosis who was instrumental in uncovering the Guckert/Gannon scandal when it first appeared on his AMERICAblog website. He was the first to post links to Gannon's several military-themed gay escort websites (including MilitaryStud.com and MaleCorps.com) featuring full frontal nude photos which Guckert/Gannon had posted of himself online.
Aravosis, who followed the story as close as anybody, tells The BRAD BLOG that he's unfamiliar with anybody having ever published Gannon/Guckert's phone number, home address or medical records anywhere on line. Though he says that when he was alerted to a commenter at AMERICAblog having posted what appeared to be Gannon/Guckert's Social Security number in the comments section, he removed it immediately.
Aravosis strongly disagreed with Gannon/Guckert's claim. "We never knew where he lived. We still don't!" Aravosis told us. "We never had his phone number. Nobody did as far as I know. All the top journalists that I know of had to contact him by email since he never gave his phone number to anybody!"
"As to his medical records," he continued, "The only records we tried to find was his military records because he said he was a marine...and it turned out he was lying!"
Aravosis draws the difference between his work uncovering a phony journalist in the White House being "outed" by his own online websites featuring his own nude photos with what Coulter has done to Cornell.
"It's kind of creepy," he said, "posting someone's personal phone number. When I saw his Social Security number come up in comments, I deleted it immediately. But Coulter is purposely posting that information herself on her own website. I've never used anybody's home information...that's just creepy."
On her website today, Coulter claims she will be appearing tonight on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor.
As Cornell pointed out in her initial public response to all of this, O'Reilly had slammed the Media Matters watchdog organization when he claimed they "violated privacy" by posting someone's email address online. Though the email address posted was a public email address, O'Reilly characterized those who would do such a thing as "zombies."
Thanks to the posters at Democratic Underground for alerting us to the latest chapter in this shameful saga. A discussion on this, and the continued unanswered questions concerning the Gannon/Guckert story is linked here.
O'Reilly will be hosting zombie, Ann Coulter tonight on Fox "News" at 8pm ET.
At the end of a fun read over at Watching the Watchers on "horrible fiendish cackling harpy" Ann Coulter's latest pile of self-serving venomous horsehit slash apology vis a vis the Gannon/Guckert Scandal, the good (though hard to type) ~A! picks up on a subtle shot that Fox "News" seemed to toss at the Right's favorite new whipping boy, Raw Story.
As ~A! noticed...
Oh, and as an aside, FOX News, is a bunch of assholes again. They wrote a piece about the whole CIA affair, in which they cite RawStory for all their hard work and diligent reporting. They also mentioned Talon ?News', and linked to their site. They did not, however, link to RawStory. Why not, I wonder? Why link to Talon, whose site is actually down while they're on ?hiatus?, and not RawStory, which gave them something to write about in the first place?
Why, ~A!? Because Raw is in the business of reporting news and, of late, they are doing it like no other site on or off the net. You'll note that Fox also took the time to link to faux "news" organization GOPUSA in their article as well. We suppose they'd hate for any of their reader/zombies to start noticing the difference between real news and Fox "News".
While you're watching the Watcher Watchers, you may also want to check out what they've uncovered from Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, whose great offering to history will have been his instructions to his GOP clients to use such words as "Death Tax" instead of "Inheritance/Estate Tax" when hypnotizing their zombies. Well, it worked. And the "Death Tax", along with many other clever turns of lexicographical trickery has made its way into the daily GOP parlance. Yes, language does matter. Especially to zombies.
And as our own aside, by way of reminder, we'll be panelling tomorrow (Sunday) at the Election Reform Teach-in in Santa Monica, with an esteemed group including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and a bunch of other Election Reform All-Stars. If you're local to So-Cal, and the rain has still stopped, come on out and say hey!
We'll be talking, amongst other things, about VR's "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign the creation of which is just one of the too-many reasons we've had less time than usual to blog of late. We've quietly launched the VR DV4D campaign this morning and plan to plan to make quite a bit of noise about it this coming week.
But you, dear BRAD BLOGGERS, have heard about it before just about anybody else! So check it out, and send the bad guys a letter while you're there! You'll be glad you did!
As mentioned in yesterday's only post, there are a number of items that are keeping me from blogging here as usual. The good news is, I'm making good progress, so hope to be back on the blog job soon. The bad news is, I'm still up against it for the moment, so blogging may continue to be slow-ish here for a bit longer.
So feel free to consider this another open thread...but I'll toss in a few of the latest notable Gannon/Guckert items:
WorldNetDaily's CEO and Managing Editor, Joseph Farah, who the previous day had smashed up folks covering the story as "the homosexual press" (over and over again) on his hate-mongering website, seemed to be whistling a different tune yesterday. What's his game? I smell a rat. Trying to make Talon News and "Gannon" himself the story, rather than the possible cover-up that made it all possible? You decide.
NOTE TO MR. FARAH: Your story today on Sen. Durbin's letter was based on one by Raw Story, that "homosexual publication" you mentioned two days before. Why don't you give them credit for that breaking story since your story yesterday criticized Talon News for not being upfront about its coverage?!...And while we're at it, your piece yesterday was called "No Substitute for Real Journalism", but then you ran a column by the repugnant Ann Coulter which ends with the demonstrably fallacious statement, "Gannon didn't write about gays. No 'hypocrisy' is being exposed. Liberals' hateful, frothing-at-the-mouth campaign against Gannon consists solely of their claim that he is gay." Do you stand behind what you re-print on your site? Mr. Farah can be reached via email right here.
It must be actual news now, because Fox "News" Channel is reporting the story. At least on their website.
They're a "real" news organization they say, but after one "reporter" has resigned, the entire thing has gone dark.
Today's BlogCall with John Aravosis (as mentioned in yesterday's post) on all of the above went very well, I believe. The call will be broadcast "live" in its entirety on RadioLeft.com at 6pm ET. It will be archived for posterity thereafter by the good folks of WhiteRoseSociety.org. See BlogCall.org for more info and details on the upcoming call with yours truly and Clint Curtis. (UPDATE: The calls are now archived at The White Rose Society on this page where you can now listen to Thursday's call in .MP3 format.
AND FINALLY...WRITE YOUR SENATORS! As Raw Story reported yesterday, Sen. Durbin is circulating a letter calling for an investigation of the Gannon/Guckert matter. Let your Senator know that you'd like them to sign on to his call for an investigation! Especially if your Senator happens to be Joe Biden who, on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher said there needs to be an investigation, but now he won't sign on to the letter! And he was amongst the few Dem Senators I still liked! Oh, well...
Over. Out. And hopefully back soon...Oh, good luck to Dr. and Mrs. Yang who are being deposed today and tomorrow down in Florida! Anyone wanna go listen in and report back with notes? It's open to the public! Mrs. Yang is on at 9am tomorrow (Friday) morning!