Donald Trump's tantrums and partial federal government shutdown continue on today's BradCast, with no end in sight for either of them. [Audio link for today's show follows below.]
On Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Donald Trump of governing "by temper tantrum". The first reference came in Tuesday's Democratic response, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Trump's televised prime-time Oval Office address meant to gain public support for his demand of $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. The money is needed, Trump claims, to respond to what he described during his 9-minute speech as an immigration and humanitarian "crisis". But the address offered no new policies or information and, at times, parroted word-for-word rightwing anti-immigration, pro-wall commentary from Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs' programs on Fox 'News'.
The second reference to a Trump "tantrum" came today after the President reportedly stormed out of a White House negotiation meeting with Congressional Democrats as the partial federal government shutdown over funding for his wall continues in its third week. The cost of that shutdown to some 800,000 federal workers is rapidly intensifying. Paychecks will not be issued this week for many workers who are already facing extraordinary hardship thanks to the shutdown which Trump has threatened to continue for "months or even years" unless Democrats agree to his border wall demand.
But, if nothing new was offered in his Tuesday night prime-time address, why did the television networks agree to clear the time for him to litter our public airwaves with false claims and long-ago debunked propaganda? Particularly since the same networks refused President Obama's request to air his own remarks on actual new immigration policy back in 2014?
We're joined today by Media Matters' Senior Fellow MATT GERTZ who charges that the "networks got played." He describes their capitulation to Trump as "cowardly" with the result being "exactly what we said was going to happen: the President used the time to lie to the public."
"I don't understand why there's such an urgency to just put the President on television when all of the people involved in producing the news know that he's a liar who is going to lie," he tells me. "It's the most predictable thing in American politics right now --- if the President is talking, he's lying."
So why did the networks give up that valuable airtime to allow it to happen? And, were the attempts by media outlets at debunking and fact-checking Trump's false claims during or after the speech actual helpful to the public? We discuss that and the larger challenge for media: "How do you respond to a President who is deliberately deceptive and is constantly trying to make people believe in a reality that is different from the actual one?"
Also today: The 2018 electoral 'blue wave' continues into 2019, as Dems in Virginia win very big (by 40 points!) in the first Special Election of the year. And Donald Trump announces, via misspelled tweet, that he is cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to California, following the worst and most deadly fires in state history. Whether he will follow through with that threat is a separate question, of course, and his absurd explanation as to why he claims to be doing it is, as usual, nonsense...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)