Posts Tagged ‘White House’

Court Rules for CNN and Jim Acosta But Trump Has Already Won

November 16, 2018

Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta’s press pass

Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly sided with CNN on Friday morning, ordering the White House to reinstate chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass immediately.

The ruling was an initial victory for CNN in its lawsuit against President Trump and several top aides. The suit alleges that CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated by the suspension of his press pass.
Kelly did not rule on the underlying case on Friday. But he granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order. And he said he believes that CNN and Acosta are likely to prevail in the case overall.
Speaking outside the court, Ted Boutrous, an outside attorney representing CNN, said “this is a great day for the First Amendment and journalism.”
Read the rest:

Courts Will Rule for CNN But Trump Has Already Won

Revoking Acosta’s pass undercut the press, which is a message the president is happy to send.

Message received.  Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

CNN is going to win the First Amendment lawsuit it filed Tuesday against President Donald Trump’s White House for taking away reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass. And the sad truth is that Trump won’t mind at all.

As the president has shown repeatedly, he doesn’t especially care if, after he violates the Constitution, the courts reverse his action. Instead of understanding judicial repudiation as a defeat, Trump sees the whole episode as a victory.

Worse still, taken in this political context, he’s right. The Constitution is working. But Trump has found a way to subvert it anyhow.

Last week, the White House revoked the pass that allowed Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, to work in and around the building unescorted. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the administration had done so because Acosta had placed his hands on an aide when she tried to take a microphone from him during a news conference. Acosta and the president had been clashing over a question about immigration and the midterm campaign.

The law governing the Acosta case, filed in Federal District Court on behalf of the reporter and the network, is relatively straightforward. The president doesn’t have any constitutional obligation to open the White House to the press. He can choose which reporters he would like to meet with privately, and he can prefer certain networks, like Fox News, for his own appearances or for exclusive interviews.

Once the White House has opened itself up to all accredited reporters with press passes, however, the government has created what is in effect a forum for free speech in interaction with the president. It’s black letter law that, in such a “limited-purpose public forum,” the government isn’t allowed to discriminate based on a speaker’s viewpoint.

That’s exactly what’s happened to Acosta. Trump made clear during the news conference that he doesn’t like the reporter, calling him a “rude, terrible person” and “the enemy of the people.” Trump doesn’t like Acosta’s viewpoint, so Acosta was banned from using White House press facilities.

There’s a judicial precedent on this point. In a 1977 case, Sherrill v. Knight, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, whose jurisdiction includes the White House, held that the First Amendment applies to reporters seeking press passes. And it specifically concluded that the White House couldn’t deny a press pass to a reporter without explaining what the criterion was and telling him how he violated that criterion.

At the time, the doctrine of the limited public forum wasn’t fully in place. But the D.C. Circuit opinion effectively foreshadowed the same idea. The court said it was “presented with a situation where the White House has voluntarily decided to establish press facilities for correspondents who need to report therefrom. These press facilities are perceived as being open to all bona fide Washington-based journalists.”

The court explained: “White House press facilities having been made publicly available as a source of information for newsmen, the protection afforded newsgathering under the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press requires that this access not be denied arbitrarily or for less than compelling reasons.”

That’s a pretty clear statement of the law. It applies even though the issue never went to the Supreme Court — because D.C. Circuit precedent is the law in the District of Columbia.

Trump has essentially no credible answer to CNN’s legal claim. About the most White House could do would be to say that Acosta represents a security threat. The problem with this argument isn’t only that, as the video of the encounter clearly shows, Acosta did nothing but hold on to the microphone when the White House intern tried to take away. It’s that Trump himself, in his own words, told Acosta that he was a terrible person — and later warned that other reporters could be excluded next.

An ordinary president, or really any ordinary litigant, wouldn’t be so quick to sink his case with his own words. But Trump doesn’t mind losing in court. His travel ban was repeatedly struck down before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the watered-down third version. Trump’s plan to pull funding from sanctuary cities was blocked by the courts. As far as it is possible to tell, he minded not at all.

That’s because Trump wanted to send a message. In the case of CNN and the rest of the press, the message is that they should be nicer to him. He also wanted to send a message to his supporters that he is tough on the news media, whom he condemns as “enemies of the people.”

Trump has now sent those messages. Headlines down the road that explain his defeat in court and the reinstatement of Acosta will cost him less than he has gained by the messages sent now.

The resulting strange situation is that while the courts are doing their job of protecting the Constitution and blocking the president from violating it, Trump is nevertheless managing to chip away at the freedom of the press — and the rule of law more generally.

Press freedom can be undercut by putting obstacles in the way of basic reporting. That’s what Trump has done with Acosta: interfered with his capacity to report.

In our judicial system, such interference can’t really be punished in an effective way when it’s perpetrated by the government. All courts can do is tell the government that its actions are unlawful, and order the government to act differently. It’s extremely unlikely that a court would impose any damages on the White House or Trump personally, even for willful, knowing violation of the Constitution.

This is a problem for the rule of law because Trump is telling the world he’s happy to violate the First Amendment and then have the courts tell him he can’t. At his inauguration, he swore to faithfully execute the laws and uphold the Constitution. He isn’t.


Winston Churchill’s grandson: Trump ‘pathetic,’ ‘inadequate’ for missing WWI ceremony

November 12, 2018

“Donald Trump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen.”

Related image

The grandson of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, himself a conservative politician, slammed President Trump for missing a ceremony honoring soldiers who died during World War I because it was raining.

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen,” Nicholas Soames tweeted Saturday, using the hashtag “#hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”

Image result for Nicholas Soames, photos

Winston Churchill (Right) and Nicholas Soames

The White House announced Saturday that Trump would not be attending the event at Aisne-Marne American cemetery outside of Paris, while other world leaders — like French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — represented their respective countries. Instead, the U.S. delegation was led by White House chief of staff John Kelly, a former Marine general, and Joint Chiefs chairman Joseph Dunford.

In a new statement Sunday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Marine One, the presidential helicopter, was unable to fly Trump to the cemetery due to “near-zero visibility.”

“A car ride of two and a half hours, each way, would have required closures to substantial portions of the Paris roadways for the President’s motorcade, on short notice,” Sanders said. “President Trump did not want to cause that kind of unexpected disruption to the city and its people.”

Trump, however, did deliver a speech without an umbrella during a rainy Veterans Day ceremony Sunday at Suresnes Cemetery, which is closer to Paris. His speech focused on World War I history and the impact of American troops on the conflict on the centennial anniversary of the war’s end.

This is not the first time Soames has criticized Trump. The longtime Conservative British Member of Parliament last year called Trump a “daft twerp” after the president tweeted about a link between “radical Islamic terror” and a rise in crime in the U.K.

Jim Acosta row: White House shared ‘manipulated’ footage of CNN altercation and here’s the proof

November 9, 2018

White House News Photographers Association: We’re ‘appalled’ that Sanders may have shared ‘manipulated’ video of Acosta exchange

The White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) on Thursday voiced outrage over the possibility that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared a “manipulated” video to justify the Trump administration’s suspension of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials.

Trump, Pelosi talk about getting along - until they don't
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Watch: How CNN reporter Jim Acosta and Prez Trump video circulated by White House was doctored

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“The White House News Photographers Association is appalled to learn that the White House spokesperson may have shared a manipulated video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s interaction with a White House intern during a news conference,” WHNPA President Whitney Shefte said in a statement.

“As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth. It’s deceptive, dangerous and unethical,” she added. “Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our country’s highest office with vast influence over public opinion.”

Shefte’s comments come as the White House faces growing scrutiny over its decision to pull Acosta’s hard press pass. The administration claimed that it suspended Acosta’s credentials for becoming physical with a young female White House intern as he tried to ask President Trump a question.

Sanders doubled down on the administration’s decision late Wednesday night by sharing a video of Acosta’s interaction with the intern. Footage shows Acosta refusing to give up his microphone to the intern and his arm brushing hers in the process.

“We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass,” Sanders said in a statement on her official Twitter account. “We will not tolerate the inappropriate behavior clearly documented in this video.”

Many journalists and social media users have claimed that the video was doctored, however.

Matt Dornic, CNN’s vice president of communications and digital partnerships, called Sanders “absolutely shameful” and added that she released “actual fake news.”

Others pointed out that the video Sanders released was first shared by InfoWars, the site operated by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Acosta has repeatedly sparred with Trump and members of his administration. On Wednesday, as he tried to ask Trump a question about the migrant caravan, the president called Acosta “a rude, terrible person.”

“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.


The Telegraph

The White House has shared digitally manipulated footage of a CNN reporter’s interaction with an intern, according to an expert consulted by The Telegraph.

The Telegraph spoke to a video verification expert who analysed the footage

The Telegraph asked a video verification expert to analyse the footage, who said it appeared to have been manipulated – you can watch our side-by-side comparison and analysis of the two videos below.  All you have to do is sign in or register to watch it.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, shared C-Span footage of CNN reporter Jim Acosta and a White House intern, accusing him of placing his hands on her and using it as justification to remove Mr Acosta’s press credentials.

The footage of C-Span’s broadcast had earlier appeared…

Read the rest (Paywall):

Demonstrators gather outside White House to protest Sessions’ ouster, shouting “Trump is a dictator.”

November 8, 2018

Image result for Jeff sessions, at justice department, photos

Shouts of “Trump is a dictraitor”

A group of demonstrators gathered outside the White House on Wednesday night to protest Attorney General Jeff Sessions resignation at President Trump’s request.

Footage from local CBS News affiliate, WUSA9, showed protesters spelling out “Protect Mueller” in neon letters in front of the White House late Wednesday evening. Others held signs, which included messages such as, “Trump is a dictator.”

By Justin Wise
The Hill

Demonstrators gather outside White House to protest Sessions' ouster

The protests came just hours after Sessions submitted his formal, resignation at Trump’s request. Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff, would take over as acting attorney general.

Sessions’s dismissal drew swift backlash from Democratic lawmakers, many of whom voiced concerns about what his resignation as the top Justice Department official could mean for special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Whitaker, who has publicly criticized certain elements of the investigation, will now oversee the investigation.

“The Acting Attorney General is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice,” DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement to The Hill.

The move means that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will no longer oversee the federal Russia investigation, which he has supervised since Sessions recused himself early last year, citing his work on Trump’s campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee responded to the news by saying that Mueller’s probe is in “new and immediate peril.” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is set to become the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said that Americans “must have answers immediately” on why Sessions resigned.

Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt,” an expression which Whitaker himself has echoed.

The president on Wednesday said he could fire everybody with ties to the special counsel’s office. He added that he would not take that step because of political reasons.

“I could fire everybody right now, but I don’t want to stop it because politically I don’t like stopping it,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace. It should never have been started, because there is no crime.”

Another demonstration, organized by groups connected with the Nobody Is Above the Law network, is planned to take place on Thursday outside the White House.

“Donald Trump just crossed a red line, violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up,” the group says in a statement on its website.

“We’re mobilizing immediately to demand accountability, because Trump is not above the law.”

Hundreds of groups are planned to protest at 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the group’s website.

The Hill has reached out to the group for comment.



See also:

CNN reporter Jim Acosta loses White House access after clash with Trump

Trump fight with media escalates after White House suspends Jim Acosta

November 8, 2018

“This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American.”

Image result for Jim Acosta, photos

CNN’s Jim Acosta barred after exchange with president at post-midterms press conference White House suspended CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass after the journalist engaged in a heated exchange with Donald Trump

By Mark Wembridge

The White House has suspended the press pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, after the journalist engaged in a heated exchange with Donald Trump, further straining the president’s already tense relations with the media.

Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, said Mr Acosta’s credentials had been revoked “until further notice” after the journalist refused to hand over the microphone during a press conference following the midterm elections.

“We will . . . never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable,” Ms Sanders said, adding that Mr Trump welcomed difficult questions.

Mr Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, later wrote on Twitter that Ms Sanders’ statement was “a lie”, and noted that secret service officers had denied him entry into the White House grounds.

Trump war with media escalates


CNN said the revocation was “in retaliation for [Mr Acosta’s] challenging questions at today’s press conference” and defended his conduct.

“This president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far. They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American. We stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.” Video of the incident shows Mr Acosta attempting to ask a follow-up question to Mr Trump, a day after elections that saw Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives but make gains in the Senate.

When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people

— Donald Trump

The video shows Mr Acosta refusing to return the microphone to a White House intern in a bid to continue his line of questioning, prompting the president to tell the reporter: “That’s enough. Put down the mic.” Mr Trump then called Mr Acosta “a rude, terrible person” and said that “CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them”.

The president then verbally sparred with the next reporter to ask a question, NBC’s Peter Alexander, after the journalist described Mr Acosta as “a diligent reporter”. Mr Trump then said of Mr Alexander: “I am not a big fan of yours, either.”

The president added: “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, said on Twitter of the ban: “Trump @PressSec confirms that White House has suspended the hard pass of a reporter because it doesn’t like the way he does his job. This is something I’ve never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning.”

The White House Correspondents’ Association said it “strongly objects to the Trump administration’s decision to use US secret service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship”.

See also:

President Trump calls media ‘hostile,’ says of CNN reporter Jim Acosta: ‘You are a rude, terrible person’


(Includes video)



White House suspends CNN reporter’s credentials after heated Trump exchange

November 8, 2018

The White House on Wednesday suspended the press pass of a CNN reporter who earlier sparred with Donald Trump at a news conference, in which the US president branded the journalist an “enemy of the people.”

A visibly angry Trump had called reporter Jim Acosta a “rude, terrible person,” after the CNN White House correspondent refused the president’s orders to sit down and give up the microphone during the conference one day after the US midterm vote.

© Mandel Ngan / AFP | US President Donald Trump gets into a heated exchange with CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta at the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018.

“The White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders hours later, referring to Acosta, who then tweeted that he had been denied White House entry.

The heated exchange began after the prominent journalist clung to the microphone and persisted with questions about the president’s views on a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the US border.


Trump said “that’s enough!” and a White House intern unsuccessfully tried to take the microphone from the CNN journalist.

“President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration,” Sanders said in her statement.

“We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable,” she said.

Acosta shot back at the accusation of misconduct, tweeting “this is a lie” — as his network and a number of Washington journalists who had been at the press conference voiced support for him.

“Secretary Sanders lied,” CNN said in a statement, saying the press pass suspension was “done in retaliation for challenging questions.”

Jim Acosta


I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit

Sanders “provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened,” the US cable network said.

“This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”

‘Ongoing attacks’

An association representing the Washington press corps urged the White House to “immediately reverse this weak and misguided action.”

“The White House Correspondents’ Association strongly objects to the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship,” the group said. “Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable.”

It was the latest in a long history of fiery run-ins between the mercurial Republican leader and Acosta.

At the conference Trump, when asked if he had “demonized immigrants” during the midterms campaign, replied: “No, I want them to come into the country. But they have to come in legally.”

Acosta persisted, saying: “They are hundreds of miles away. That is not an invasion.”

View image on Twitter

Philip Crowther


Sarah Sanders is obviously lying. I had this view, the one no video cameras had. I can confirm that @Acosta never laid hands on anyone.

At that point, the president snapped.

“Honestly, I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be higher,” Trump said.

As the reporter continued, Trump declared: “That’s enough, put down the mic” and walked away from his own podium, as if leaving.

The intern attempted to grab the microphone from Acosta, who nevertheless tried to shout out one last question.

Waving his finger, Trump berated him.

“I’ll tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” he said.

When NBC reporter Peter Alexander took the mic for the next question, he defended Acosta as a “diligent reporter” — earning Trump’s ire.

“I’m not a fan of yours either. To be honest. You aren’t the best,” he said.

Looking back at Acosta, who again rose up in his own defense, Trump added: “When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”

In response, CNN said “this president’s ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far,” in a statement.

“They are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American.”



Kanye West’s Quixotic Quest

October 13, 2018

The man who once declared a president and a party had no use for black people is now a pawn in a game dedicated to marginalizing those same people.


Kanye West meets with Donald Trump in the Oval Office. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

It would not be a story if a famous black pop star today—or anyone else for that matter, really—said on camera that Donald Trump doesn’t care about black people. There’d be no controversy. Not only is it evident that the president doesn’t really care about a great number of people, it is eminently fair to ascertain from his policies and comments that the president does not spare thoughts for the interiority of black lives. Such a claim against him would neither be revelatory nor would it be especially damaging for his political prospects. Such is 2018.

What to make of, then, the now-infamous defection of Kanye West, a man at least partially famous because of his racial critique of a sitting president, to the umbrella of Donald Trump? After the two had lunch this week, and West delivered a bizarre monologue in support of Trump, much attention has been paid to the inner workings of West’s own mind. Questions of his mental health, of his magnetic alignment along the same poles of misogyny and narcissism as Trump, and his embrace of a hodgepodge of conservative-ish ideas have been the focus. But those analyses are mostly personal and quasi-psychological, often ignoring the currents of history that have propelled Trump and West to a lunch at the White House. Those currents can provide answers, both to how West arrived at this point, and to why he and the rest of the country have abandoned the black people most in need.


It took an unspeakable tragedy to shake America out of its doldrums. In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina disintegrated the fabric of thousands of lives. It topped the Louisiana levees, and sent walls of water that turned flimsy homes into matchsticks. It sent toxic sludge into vulnerable neighborhoods, and sparked an exodus that has since reshaped the entire demography of the Gulf Coast. And the deadly aftermath of a slow-rolling crisis that saw almost 2,000 people dead revealed the faults in both local and national society. The faces of the dead, those subject to abuses under de facto martial law, and those who were underserved by the disaster response were most often black. And the faces of the law—the capital-L Law—the authorities that’d crammed people into substandard housing, that decried survivors as looters, and that dithered in providing aid, were most often not black.

Read: 10 Years After Katrina, New Orleans Is Far From Healed

It was not easy to talk about exactly what was going on, then. The language of institutional racism and environmental justice were well-developed, but most often relegated just to the margins of public debate; to courtesy appearances at conferences and weekend slots on commentary shows. If black academics and thinkers gained a measure of prominence, the thoughts of those on the margins—say, those born in the projects in New Orleans—were safely ignored in the mainstream. In the eyes of media, decades of a racial Pax Americana had yet to come to a close. Conversations about race were tolerated, so long as they never became more than that.

Then an unlikely provocateur helped upset the balance. At an NBC telethon and benefit concert for Katrina relief on September 2, 2005, a young hip-hop artist, then just two days after the release of his successful sophomore album, stood with actor Mike Myers to make his direct-to-camera appeal. Standing awkwardly, with hands in the pockets of pastel chinos, the man immediately—at least according to Myers’s reaction—went off-script. “I hate the way they portray us in the media,” he began. “If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. If you see a white family, they’re looking for food.” He rambled, he stuttered, clearly overwhelmed in the moment and trying to complete some appeal to an audience, while also publicly working out his own response and responsibility. “Those are my people down there, so anybody out there that wants to do anything to help … with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible,” he continued, still trying to complete the thought. Myers attempted to get back on script, going back to his appeal. But then he was interrupted.

“George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” Kanye West told America.

Read: Bush: Kanye Comment a ‘Disgusting’ Moment as President

Time has moved on. America’s first black president was then still in his first year in the U.S. Senate. Ads for the season premiere of the fourth season of Donald Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice, flanked the telethon. Indiana Congressman Mike Pence had just begun his climb to prominence in the House. Congressional cafeterias still served Freedom Fries. Twitter did not exist, Myspace had yet to reach its peak traffic, Facebook was a year-old website that was restricted to college students, and West’s mammoth single Gold Digger, was still on its ascent through American music charts, where it would soon cement him as a crossover star. Polos with sleeves were in. Telethons were still a thing.

The moment seems ever more distant because of what’s become of the artist. This week, West continued a media firestorm with his public support of Trump, as he went to Washington for a high-profile meeting with the president. The artist, who once rapped about conspiracy theories about Ronald Reagan creating crack to stop the Black Panthers, embraced the president, who once called for the death penalty to be brought back to New York to kill five black and Latino men falsely accused of rape. And when asked about the comments that thirteen years ago caused their own firestorm, West fully recanted.

Read: Kanye West’s White House Visit Was a Paean to Male Bonding

“I think we need to care about all people, and I believe that when I went on to NBC, I was very emotional,” West told reporters. “I was programmed to think from a victimized mentality, a welfare mentality.” In that moment, whatever atomic shifts that differentiated 2005 Kanye West from 2018 Kanye West became fleetingly clear enough to capture in words. His unfiltered, uncomfortable outburst had been the product of a “welfare mentality,” his own deficiency rather than that of a world of cruelties. But the person before him, a president who has called for police to brutalize suspects and has called the deaths of thousands of Puerto Rican citizens under his tenure a hoax, is not the enemy, West claims.

What happened between Bush and Trump? In 2005, the year Katrina hit, Gallup polls recorded the highest satisfaction with race relations among African Americans in recent times. Sixty-eight percent of black respondents said that relations between white people and black people were “very good” or “somewhat good.” The same poll showed 49 percent of black respondents felt the same in 2016.

It’s clear that racial divisions in perspective about Hurricane Katrina were major contributors, both to the national outlook and to views of Bush and of the two parties. A Pew Research Center poll from September 2005 found that 71 percent of black people saw in the disaster proof that racism was still a major problem in the country. The opposite was true of white people, where 56 percent of respondents believed the existence of racism was not an important factor. The majority of black people in Gallup polls from that year indicated that the federal response was slow because of the race of the victims, and only a third of black respondents rated Bush’s response in particular as “good” or “very good.”

Given those data, two things are true. The first is that West spoke not just from the outskirts of debate or the fringes of public opinion, but from within the beating heart of black political thought. He wasn’t particularly eloquent or visionary, but just outspoken enough to utter a frustration that was clearly commonly understood, but until then, still unspeakable in polite company. The second truth is that the sentiment behind his utterance was so passe because it revealed the shaky foundation on which the modern age has been built. If the president, a party, and a people could abandon black citizens to their deaths, and if invisible structures that tended to amplify those deaths still remained in place, could the ideas of bipartisanship or compromising democracy ever work?

To say Katrina was an awakening would perhaps be too hard of a sell for a voting bloc that had never had much love for Bush, but the tragic and public reminder of institutional racism and of what reasonably seemed like public antipathy toward black plights played no small part in shaping the country since then. As Melissa Harris-Perry and James Perry wrote in The Nation in 2009, “the Democratic Party found its voice in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.” Bush’s failures, real and perceived, provided a platform for critique against the GOP, and also brought harder systemic racial critiques closer to the orbit of mainstream politics. Those failures also awoke some legacy organizing arms in black communities that had become complacent or rudderless. These were all factors in the election of Obama in 2008, an election that excited West.

Of course, much of the political reorganization in America since Obama’s first election has been a backlash to the very black electoral muscle that got him elected, to Obama’s own connection with the black community, and to the rise of powerful black activist structures such as Black Lives Matter. Trump’s ascension marked the completion of a 50-year process of forging a modern GOP into a party of white men, one dedicated to diminishing welfare, cutting the safety net, and rolling back the Voting Rights Act..

It’s actually seemed at times that the modern GOP has been built explicitly on a foundation of proving the spirit of West’s notorious quote right. As the GOP has abandoned its ambitions of being a multiracial big-tent party, it’s settled mostly for concern-trolling and antagonizing black citizens, instead of making even token efforts to court their votes. Despite polling data showing overwhelming evidence of black fear about voting-rights violations and voter purges, Republicans have made complicating elections, purging voters, and implementing additional obstacles to the ballot a core part of their policy platform. Despite evidence showing black respondents care deeply about police reform, Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have laid the groundwork for labeling activism in favor of reform dangerous, and have marked black community leaders who rally against police brutality “black identity extremists.” Last year, as white nationalists descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, the president could not be moved to quickly and unequivocally denounce hood-wearing Klansmen and neo-Nazis without also blaming people “on both sides.”

As the GOP as a whole has followed Trump’s concern-trolling, dogwhistling strategy of stoking white anger and black pain, a predictable dynamic in the wider discourse has emerged. Anti-blackness has become more and more acceptable within the bounds of standard conservative debate, rhetoric, and policy. America’s innately center-locating system of public discourse thus makes reflexive denunciation of racism among and on behalf of black people more and more unacceptable in debate. The window moves and the center moves, to the point where it’s no longer even remotely damaging to credibly charge, or even for large swathes of the country to believe, that the president harbors ill will toward certain races of people.

More so than any other single thing, West’s lodestar has been a contrarian sort of controversy. Once, that guiding light aligned with what appear to be a genuine concern for black wellbeing, and controversy could be sought and found in pointing out the ways that white policies failed black people. Now politics have changed. Contrarianism dictates now that the political preferences and concerns of ironclad majorities in black communities are to be ignored.

West’s performance in the White House and his rambling, disjointed, attention-seeking political consciousness are all too complicated to truly understand for sure. Perhaps the burden of foresight has corrupted the seer. Perhaps the venality and vanity West often agonized about in his music finally overwhelmed him. Perhaps two decades of his life have been conducted in a media crucible that can only produce warped and bent people. Perhaps he is in some way, less than well. Perhaps these are all true. But it is clear just how the country has changed in the past 13 years, and why West’s comments have been important bookends for an era. It was once difficult for a viewing public to accept an observation that the country had abandoned black communities. Now that’s just part of the plan. It’s a mundane observation. Kanye West does not do mundane.

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VANN R. NEWKIRK II is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers politics and policy.

Elizabeth Warren says she may run for president

September 30, 2018

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Saturday that she will take a “hard look at running for president” once the midterm elections are over — her most definitive statement yet on a possible bid for the White House.

During a town hall meeting in Holyoke, Mass., Warren was asked if she planned to run.

She answered that winning back Democratic majorities in the House and Senate should be everyone’s immediate focus.

But after the midterms, it would be time, she said, “for women to go to Washington to fix our broken government, and that includes a woman at the top,” according to the Boston Globe.

“After Nov. 6, I will take a hard look at running for president,” she said.

Previously, Warren had brushed aside questions of a presidential run, saying only that she is focused on winning re-election.

Warren is running against GOP state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who co-chaired President Trump’s 2016 campaign in Massachusetts.

White House Drafts Order To Look Into Google, Facebook Practices

September 22, 2018

The White House has drafted an executive order for President Donald Trump’s signature that would instruct federal antitrust and law enforcement agencies to open investigations into the business practices of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and other social media companies.

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The order is in its preliminary stages and hasn’t yet been run past other government agencies, according to a White House official. Bloomberg News obtained a draft of the order.

The document instructs U.S. antitrust authorities to “thoroughly investigate whether any online platform has acted in violation of the antitrust laws.” It instructs other government agencies to recommend within a month after it’s signed actions that could potentially “protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias.”

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The document doesn’t name any specific companies. If signed, the order would represent a significant escalation of Trump’s antipathy toward Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies, whom he has publicly accused of silencing conservative voices and news sources online.

“Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices,” Trump said on Twitter in August. “Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.”

Social media companies have acknowledged in congressional hearings that their efforts to enforce prohibitions against online harassment have sometimes led to erroneous punishment of political figures on both the left and right, and that once discovered those mistakes have been corrected. They say there is no systematic effort to silence conservative voices.

Stiglitz Calls for Tougher Antitrust Stand to Fight Market Power

The draft order directs that any actions federal agencies take should be “consistent with other laws” — an apparent nod to concerns that it could threaten the traditional independence of U.S. law enforcement or conflict with the First Amendment, which protects political views from government regulation.

“Because of their critical role in American society, it is essential that American citizens are protected from anticompetitive acts by dominant online platforms,” the order says. It adds that consumer harm — a key measure in antitrust investigations– could come “through the exercise of bias.”

The order’s preliminary status is reflected in the text of the draft, which includes a note in red that the first section could be expanded “if necessary, to provide more detail on role of platforms and the importance of competition.”

The possibility of an executive order emerged as Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares for a Sept. 25 briefing by state attorneys general who are already investigating the tech firms’ practices.

The meeting, which will include a representative of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, is intended to help Sessions decide if there’s a federal case to be made against the companies, two people familiar with the matter have said. At least one of the attorneys general participating in the meeting has indicated he seeks to break up the companies.

Growing movements on the right and left argue that companies including Google and Facebook engage in anticompetitive behavior. The companies reject the accusation, arguing they face robust competition and that many of their products are free. Bias has not typically figured in antitrust examinations.

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Jack Dorsey

In July, for instance, Twitter algorithms limited the visibility of some Republicans in profile searches. Jack Dorsey, the company’s chief executive officer, testified before Congress in September that the limits also affected some Democrats as the site tried to enforce policies against threats, hate, harassment or other forms of abusive speech. The moves were reversed.

Pew Research Center survey earlier this year found that 72 percent of Americans, and 85 percent of Republicans, think it’s likely that social media companies intentionally censor political viewpoints that those companies find objectionable.

Even on the right, however, there are misgivings about a Trump administration crackdown on the companies. On Friday, libertarian-leaning groups including FreedomWorks and the American Legislative Exchange Council sent a letter to Sessions expressing “fear” that his “inquiry will be to accomplish through intimidation what the First Amendment bars: interference with editorial judgment.”

Donald Trump Jr. says his father can’t trust everyone around him after the anonymous op-ed

September 11, 2018

Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged in an interview broadcast Tuesday that his father can trust fewer people around him than he would like in the wake of an anonymous op-ed claiming there is a “resistance” within the Trump administration.

“I think there are people in there that he can trust, it’s just — it’s a much smaller group than I would like it to be,” the president’s eldest son said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Asked whom he trusts, Trump Jr. declined to answer but suggested that family members working in the White House remain in the fold. President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are both White House advisers.

By John Wagner
The Washington Post

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Donald Trump Jr. walks off Air Force One in Great Falls, Mont., in July, as he accompanies his father, President Trump, to a political rally. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

“I’m talking outside family. That goes without saying,” Trump Jr. said.

“It would be easier to get things done if you’re able to fully trust everyone around you,” he added. “I think that’s a shame.”

The op-ed, published by the New York Times last week, was written by a senior official in the Trump administration, according to the Times. It depicts a “two-track presidency” in which Trump acts according to his own whims while many of his top aides, in the author’s words, work to thwart his “more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

The piece’s publication has coincided with revelations from a new book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward that depicts a chaotic White House in which some aides have even removed papers from Trump’s desk to prevent him from taking what they believe to be unwarranted actions.

During the ABC interview, Trump Jr. said he believes the op-ed was written by a “low-level person,” and he urged the Justice Department to investigate the author, as his father has suggested.

“This is very low-level person who will throw their name on an op-ed, and basically subvert the vote of the American people who elected my father to do this job,” Trump Jr. said.

Asked whether he thinks any laws were broken, Trump Jr. said: “Listen, I think you’re subverting the will of the people. I mean, to try to control the presidency while not the president. You have millions and millions of Americans who voted for this.”