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May 26 2017 1:49 PM

Today in Conservative Media: Yeah, Gianforte Assaulted a Reporter, But Something Something Lauren Duca

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

On his show Thursday night, Tucker Carlson responded to criticism of Montana special election winner Greg Gianforte by arguing that, while Gianforte’s attack on a reporter was unacceptable, leftist political violence is more noteworthy than violence from the right:

[L]et’s not lie to ourselves, or more precisely, don’t let the people in charge lie to us. America does face a threat of political violence. It does not come, by and large from baby boomer evangelicals in Montana. Nor does it come from President Trump, whatever his flaws. The threat today comes from the progressive left and its growing enthusiasm for force as a political tool.

Carlson then segued directly into a segment furthering his evidently still-running feud with Teen Vogue’s Lauren Duca, towards whom he'd "lost control" during an appearance on his show in December. (The issue at the time was Duca tweeting that critics shouldn't let Ivanka Trump "off the hook because she looks like she smells good.")

Duca, Carlson pointed out on Thursday, had tweeted an image of a crashing plane with the caption "Cute pic of Trump getting tired of winning." Carlson interpreted this as Duca "fantasizing about the deaths of her political enemies." "The left has gone insane," he said.

In other news:

The Daily Wire and RedState ran posts about a study from researchers at Brunel University allegedly claiming that physically weaker men are more likely to support liberal or socialist policies. RedState's Teri Christoph:

One need not look further than Silicon Valley to see this phenomenon at play. Take Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, who’s hardly a Tim Tebow-like stud. He is successful in today’s world because his brains, not his biceps, protect him from physically superior men. Like Tim Tebow.

The Washington Free Beacon and the Daily Caller ran posts about Hillary Clinton's coughing during her commencement address at Wellesley on Friday. The Free Beacon's post called her cough "a familiar problem from the campaign trail" while the Daily Caller noted that "she credited her croaky delivery to allergies rather than emotions."

At Heat Street, Jillian Kay Melchior noted that students at the center of Yale's 2015 Halloween costume controversy are graduating with awards. "A new class of social-justice warriors is graduating from Yale—and to celebrate, the university honored two students who led a Halloween witch hunt against administrator Erika Christakis in Fall 2015," she wrote. "Yale has awarded its Nakanishi Prize—given for academic achievement and racial activism—to Alexandra Zina Barlowe and Abdul-Razak Zachariah, graduating seniors who were 'two of Yale's most prominent Christakis critics,' the Wall Street Journal's James Freeman reports."

PJ Media’s Tom Knighton alerted readers to a class called "Abolition of Whiteness" being taught at Hunter College by Gender Studies Professor Jennifer Gaboury. "Gaboury, who is white, doesn't seem to understand that 'abolishing' whiteness is going to involve, you know, genocide," he wrote. "Violence, bigotry, fascism, everything evil you can think of is in style now on college campuses."

May 26 2017 1:43 PM

The Most Money Lines From Hillary Clinton’s Surprisingly Good Wellesley Commencement Speech

Hillary Clinton delivered the commencement address at Wellesley College on Friday. Her speech marked the third time she’s spoken at her alma mater’s commencement and came 48 years after she did so for the first time at her own graduation. The former first lady, U.S. senator, and Democratic presidential nominee never mentioned Donald Trump by name, but the president’s unspoken presence was impossible to miss in remarks that were funny, impassioned, and—fitting the occasion—exceedingly optimistic.

Clinton drew the loudest cheers from the assembled students when she delivered a history lesson on where things stood in the United States back when she addressed her own class at its graduation in 1969, the same year Richard Nixon was sworn in as president. The similarities to the present did not go unnoticed by the crowd:

I stayed up all night with my friends … writing and editing the speech. By the time we gathered in the academic quad, I was exhausted. My hair was a wreck. The mortarboard made it even worse. But I was pretty oblivious to all of that, because what my friends had asked me to do was to talk about our worries, and about our ability and responsibility to do something about them. We didn't trust government, authority figures—or really anyone over 30. In large part, thanks to years of heavy casualties, and dishonest statements about Vietnam, and deep differences over civil rights and poverty here at home, we were asking urgent questions about whether women, people of color, religious minorities, immigrants would ever be treated with dignity and respect. And by the way, we were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice. After firing the person running the investigation into him at the department of justice.

You can watch the full address above (Clinton's speech starts at around the 51-minute mark), but a few other highlights:

“Chardonnay helped”

I couldn't think of any place I'd rather be this year than right here. You may have heard that things didn't exactly go the way I planned. But you know what? I'm doing OK. I've gotten to spend time with my family, especially my amazing grandchildren. I was going to give the entire commencement speech about them but was talked out of it. Long walks in the woods. Organizing my closets, right? I won't lie: Chardonnay helped a little too.

“A full-fledged assault on truth”

You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Just log on to social media for ten seconds. It will hit you right in the face. People denying science, concocting elaborate, hurtful conspiracies theories about child abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors. Drumming up rampant fear about undocumented immigrants, Muslims, minorities, the poor. Turning neighbor against neighbor and sowing division at a time when we desperately need unity. Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes. Like the size of crowds. And then defending themselves by talking about, quote-unquote, alternative facts.

“An attack of unimaginable cruelty”

Look at the budget that was just proposed in Washington. It is an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and hard working people who need a little help to gain or hang on to a decent middle class life. It grossly underfunds public education, mental health, and efforts even to combat the opioid epidemic. And in reversing our commitment to fight climate change, it puts the future of our nation and our world at risk. And to top it off, it was shrouded in a trillion-dollar mathematical lie. Let's call it what it is. It's a con. They don't even try to hide it. Why does all this matter? It matters because if our leaders lie about the problems we face, we'll never solve them. It matters because it undermines confidence in government as a whole, which in turn breeds more cynicism and anger. But it also matters because our country, like this college, was founded on the principles of the enlightenment. In particular, the belief that people, you and I, possess the capacity for reason and critical thinking. And that free and open debate is the lifeblood of a democracy.

“Don’t let anyone tell you …”

Don't let anyone tell you your voice doesn't matter. In the years to come, there will be trolls galore online and in person, eager to tell you that you don't have anything worthwhile to say or anything meaningful to contribute. They may even call you a nasty woman. Some may take a slightly more sophisticated approach and say your elite education means you are out of teach with real people. In other words, sit down and shut up. Now, in my experience, that’s the last thing you should ever tell a Wellesley graduate.

This isn’t the first time Clinton has taken a post-election swing at Trump. It’s a safe bet it won’t be the last.

May 26 2017 1:20 PM

More Bad News on Civilian Casualties in Iraq and Syria

Several recent reports underline the growing risk to civilians in the U.S.-led war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. On Thursday, the Pentagon released the results of an investigation, finding that more than 100 civilians were killed when the U.S. dropped a bomb on a building in Mosul, Iraq, in March, the largest single incident of civilian deaths since the campaign began in 2014. (Locals have put the number at around 200.) CentCom had initially denied that the strike took place, before announcing the investigation. Officials now say that ISIS had likely placed explosives inside the building, contributing to the deadliness after the bomb was dropped. The battle for Mosul, which has gone on for more than seven months now, has been particularly brutal for civilians, who have often been prevented from leaving by ISIS or advised not to by the Iraqi government.

Meanwhile, a fresh wave of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition reportedly killed dozens of civilians, including children, in Eastern Syria this week. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that “106 people have been killed in Mayadeen since Thursday evening, including IS fighters and 42 children.” Eighty of those were killed in an airstrike on a building that housed the families of ISIS fighters. Syria’s state news agency put the number at 35, and the coalition has not yet responded to the report.

Journalist Samuel Oakford of the monitoring site Airwars also published an investigation in cooperation with Foreign Policy today finding that non-U.S. members of the anti-ISIS coalition have killed at least 80 civilians in Iraq and Syria since the start of the campaign, but that none of those 12 countries will acknowledge responsibility for any of the deaths. Airwars also reported this week that between 283 and 366 civilians likely died from coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in April, the fourth consecutive month that those deaths exceeded those caused by Russian strikes. This has raised questions about whether the Trump administration’s hands-off attitude toward airstrikes has raised the risk for civilians.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights today warned that civilians are increasingly victimized by both the intensified airstrikes, and the retaliatory attacks by ISIS. In once incident, ISIS fighters slit the throats of eight men in a town that had just been bombed, blaming them for giving away coordinates to the coalition. The situation is only likely to worsen as the battle for Mosul grinds on and the campaign against ISIS’s heavily fortified capital in Raqqa ramps up.

May 26 2017 12:30 PM

The Republicans Are the Party of Thugs and Nazis

There are decent Republican people. There are Republican voters and politicians and writers who promote principles of public decency. But there aren't enough of those individuals to have prevented the Republican Party, as a national institution, from becoming one that welcomes and encourages violence and white-supremacist racism.

The party's pre-Trump history is obviously not spotless. But 10 and 20 years ago the Republican party was usually forced to marginalize and disavow its openly racist, fascist elements, if only for reasons of political expediency. Not so anymore. Consider:

  • The party has almost universally supported the agenda and personality cult of Donald Trump, who once bragged about grabbing women "by the pussy." Trump has been credibly accused of sexual assault by 14 women and has been accused by six others of entering changing rooms in which he knew that teenage girls would be undressed.
  • One of the president's senior advisers, Steve Bannon, has reportedly endorsed a book about race war—beloved in the neo-Nazi community—which refers to black individuals as "niggers" and "rats." Bannon openly supports white nationalist goals such as reducing the number of Asian American CEOs and was heavily involved in creating the career of white nationalist and Nazi fetishist Milo Yiannopoulos.
  • Trump's son, who was a key part of his campaign, repeatedly conducted campaign outreach to open, unapologetic white supremacists. The president himself conducted an exclusive campaign Q&A with a notorious internet forum rife with white supremacist hate speech.
  • Congressman Steve King, who has repeatedly endorsed white-supremacist talking points and praised European white nationalist parties, was once considered a nuisance by party leaders but has been embraced and promoted by Trump.
  • The Trump administration reportedly recently hired a woman whose most recent job was running an anti-immigration group that was founded by a white supremacist and has long-standing connections to the sewer world of race science.
  • Eyewitnesses from Fox News, of all places, say the newest Republican congressman—Montana's Greg Gianforte—body-slammed and punched a reporter who had approached him to ask a question about the American Health Care Act on Wednesday night. Gianforte was almost immediately charged with assault by a local sheriff who had donated to his campaign. Then, on Thursday, he was elected to Congress, where other Republicans appear ready to welcome him with, at most, the suggestion that he "apologize" for engaging in the spontaneous beating of someone who was trying to ask him a question about public policy.

Are there elected Democrats who express dubious views and commit crimes? Yes! But when those individuals get caught, they resign. They become, for example, "disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner." But the idea of disgrace is no longer a relevant concept in a Republican Party whose leaders and voters collectively condone and encourage violence against women, violence against the press, and the expression of white-supremacist views. That's not hyperbole, or a cheap shot—it's just reality. Happy Memorial Day!

May 26 2017 12:50 AM

Alleged Reporter Assailant Greg Gianforte Is Going to Congress. Good Job, Montana.

Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special election on Thursday, according to projections from multiple news outlets.

The news comes a little more than 24 hours after the former failed gubernatorial candidate allegedly assaulted a reporter for the Gaurdian by body-slamming him in front of witnesses while being recorded by audiotape. Gianforte’s account of the alleged attack—that Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was actually the one who forced both of them to the ground after hounding the candidate with a recording device—was contradicted by multiple eyewitnesses. Those witnesses from a local Fox News team said, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him” and then started punching him. Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault.

With about 78 percent of the vote counted, the billionaire tech CEO was leading by roughly 34,000 votes, or a little more than 7 percent. It’s worth noting that the Election Day vote totals could not likely have changed the outcome of the race, in which two-thirds of the votes were cast early.

If the numbers hold, Democrats might actually consider it an encouraging sign nationally. Gianforte and his affiliated super PACs outspent Democratic opponent and country music performer Rob Quist and his super PAC supporters by about $5 million. Donald Trump won his race against Hillary Clinton this past fall in the state by 20 points, while Ryan Zinke—the Republican whose seat is being filled after he left Congress to become Trump’s Interior Secretary—won his contest by just under 16 points.

So you’re looking at about a +13 point swing for the Democrats from November’s presidential tally, and a nearly +9 point swing from last year’s congressional race. That was not enough for Democrats to take a seat they haven’t won in 20 years, but it is consistent with a recent pattern in this year’s special elections of large swings toward the Democrats. Last month in a deep-red Kansas district, Democrats experienced a 24-point swing. (They still lost the race in an incredibly unfavorable district.)

Meanwhile, Georgia’s 6th—much more favorable territory for Democrats—votes next month in a runoff election. The Democratic candidate in that race leads according to the most recent polling and took the plurality of votes in the first round. Still, at a some point just seeing positive national trends isn't going to be good enough for Democrats and they are actually going to need to put a win on the board. The Georgia runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel will take place on June 20. Close will not cut it for Democrats in that race, if they want to have a real signal that the unpopularity of the Trump administration is actually translating at the polls and that 2018 will put the House of Representatives in play.

May 26 2017 12:19 AM

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Not Randomly Attacking People Is Apparently Not His Gianforte

In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

Montana's suddenly violent special House election appears set to end with victory for Republican and amateur wrestler Greg Gianforte. From what we know so far, though, Gianforte is probably only going to be winning his race by a margin in the high single digits. That's not great for the Republican Party given that it's held this House seat since the '90s in elections that haven't gotten closer than 11 points since 2000. Trump won the state in November, meanwhile, by 20 points. A straight-out Republican loss would have been extremely bad news for the party's 2018 outlook and, by extension, for Trump's chances of paying for his many heinous crimes. Tonight, then, is merely regular bad news. We're not going to raise our percentage likelihood over it, but those scoring at home should consider our 35 percent to be a more solid and robust 35 percent than yesterday.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

May 25 2017 8:19 PM

FBI Russia Investigation Reportedly Now Focusing Inside the White House on Jared Kushner

The FBI investigation into President Trump’s Russia ties has been inching closer to the White House and, on Thursday, according to the Washington Post and NBC News, Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner is now a focus of the ongoing probe. Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, is the first person currently serving in the administration known to be considered a focal point of the FBI inquiry. While former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are both formally considered subjects of the FBI investigation, the level of scrutiny Kushner is under is more preliminary.

The FBI investigation is looking into Russian meddling in the election and potential collusion with Trump and his associates, but it is also looking to see if any financial crimes have been committed. Kushner appears to fall under both categories as a person of interest. Kushner comes from a billion-dollar real estate family and served as a senior adviser, perhaps the president’s closest counselor, on the campaign as well as in the White House. Kushner has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but two meetings in particular have piqued investigators' interest.

In December 2016, in the middle of the Trump transition, Kushner held meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and banker Sergey Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school and now-chairman of the Russian government-owned bank Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanction since July 2014. After the meeting with Kislyak in New York, which Michael Flynn also attended, Kushner dispatched his deputy to meet again with the Russian ambassador. Later in December Flynn spoke to Kislyak over the phone about new Obama-led sanctions on Russia, which led to Flynn later losing his job as national security adviser.

To make matters murkier, last month, the New York Times reported that Kushner omitted those meetings from his top-secret security clearance forms, which require individuals to disclose all meetings with foreign officials over a seven-year period. Along with the Russians, the Times reported that Kushner failed to mention dozens of meetings with other government officials from other countries in the lead up to Trump’s inauguration. Kushner’s attorneys have said it was an oversight and have offered to file an amended form.

“In addition to the December meetings, a former senior intelligence official said FBI agents had been looking closely at earlier exchanges between Trump associates and the Russians dating to the spring of 2016, including one at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington,” according to the Post. Trump, as the presumptive Republican nominee, met with the Russian ambassador in April 2016 at a VIP reception at the Washington, D.C. hotel ahead of speech where Trump promised to improve relations with Russia.

May 25 2017 5:36 PM

Why You Shouldn't View the Montana Race as a Referendum on Bodyslamming Reporters

Regardless of who ultimately wins Montana's special election on Thursday, observers are sure to figure Republican candidate Greg Gianforte's assault of a reporter on election eve into their analysis. Certainly, the incident could well have an impact on late voting. But no one should draw the conclusion that Montana voters shrugged about the alleged bodyslam if Gianforte wins, or assume that Quist wouldn’t have had a prayer without it if Gianforte loses.

As FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten pointed out on Thursday morning, as many as two-thirds of the state's ballots may have already been cast early. It's true that the assault could make a difference on remaining voters, but the important thing is that the race was always going to be close. Internal GOP polls reportedly showed that Gianforte led by only 2 to 4 points in the race's closing days. If those numbers are reflected in the final outcome, that would be a big deal. As Enten wrote:

The state hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since Pat Williams won re-election in 1994, and Zinke won re-election by 16 points in 2016. Indeed, there are 120 other Republican-held House districts that lean more Democratic than Montana. Even a close Gianforte win (say, by 10 points or less) would be consistent with a national environment that heavily favors Democrats. A Gianforte loss would likely set off panic among Republicans and signal to them that being associated with Trump (as Gianforte has tried to be) is toxic. Trump’s approval rating in ruby red Montana is probably under 50 percent, and it's even worse nationally.
If Gianforte wins by only a small margin or loses, it would be consistent with the three previous special election results so far this year. While Republicans haven't lost a race that a House Republican won in 2016, the Democratic candidates have, on average, outperformed expectations by 16 points.

Gianforte's attack and the response to it will indeed say much about this particular moment in American—and especially Republican—politics. But, with a large majority of the votes already cast, its significance to the actual final tally should not ultimately be overstated. It would be a shame if this one bizarre incident overshadowed the deeper dynamics behind what could well be a bellwether race.

May 25 2017 5:25 PM

The Bad Countries, According to Donald Trump

Today, Donald Trump reportedly called Germany, a close American ally, “Bad, very bad!” for selling too many cars in the United States. Here are the other countries Donald Trump says are bad.

Bad countries

Germany (“bad, very bad”)

Belgium (hellhole)

Canada (very unfair to our dairy farmers)

Iran

North Korea

ISIS

Formerly bad countries that are now good

Formerly OK country that’s bad now

Syria

Country he calls bad now, but you can tell his heart’s not in it

Russia

The worst country

Mexico

May 25 2017 5:16 PM

Today in Conservative Media: Yeah, Gianforte Assaulted a Reporter, but Rob Quist Has Herpes

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

On his show Thursday, Rush Limbaugh delved into Republican House candidate Greg Gianforte’s assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, which occurred in Montana on Wednesday night:

[L]adies and gentlemen, I must do something. I must join the chorus of people condemning what happened out there. This manly, obviously studly Republican candidate in Montana took the occasion to beat up a pajama-clad journalist, a Pajama Boy journalist out there.
The story is he grabbed his neck and threw the guy to the ground because the journalist was being insolent and disrespectful and whiny and moany and accusatory. And the manly, studly Republican simply didn’t realize that on the big stage you can’t do this kind of stuff and kicked the guy’s ass to the ground. This cannot be accepted. This must be condemned. I wonder how many people in Montana are now gonna vote for the guy, though?

Limbaugh later brought up a story published last week by PJ Media titled “Mont. Dem. Rob Quist Silent on Genital Herpes in Tax Evasion Case,” about a 1994 medical malpractice suit filed by Quist over a gallbladder operation. “When people look into it, they find that he is a typical leftist,” Limbaugh said. “He’s whiny, he likes to sue everybody, and he’s got herpes.”

At RedState, Jay Caruso condemned the defenses of Gianforte’s behavior from conservatives like Laura Ingraham and Brent Bozell. “What happened here is another example of tribal politics getting in the way of reason,” he wrote. “There is never an excuse for a politician to assault a reporter for asking questions.” RedState’s J. Cal Davenport attributed the incident to a “lack of seriousness” in the Republican Party and contemporary politics writ large. “Liberals punch people and set fire to tires in order not to provide a platform to views they don’t like too, so violence as a solution to ideological challenges is largely the order of the day in American politics,” he wrote. “Without a doubt, it is a pervasive problem across the spectrum.”

In other news:

Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review wrote a piece on the false populism of the Trump presidency thus far:

The major legislation on the agenda so far — the health-care and tax bills — is shaping up about how you’d expect in any Republican administration. Action on trade has been underwhelming. Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Ted Cruz, too, said he opposed the deal. (So did Hillary Clinton, for that matter.) Measures being taken against imports of Canadian timber and Chinese steel, both longtime sore spots, are well within the bounds of the policy of past administrations. Trump puts more emphasis on immigration enforcement than his primary-campaign rivals would, but the three positions that made him so distinctive on immigration — the Wall, a Muslim ban, and mass deportation — are proving more difficult to implement than he thought or were left along the wayside during the general election.
In short, the Trump administration hasn’t created a new populist departure in American politics; it hasn’t even — as some of us hoped — nudged Republican policymaking in a more populist direction to better account for the interests of working-class voters. The early months of the Trump administration have proven to be populism’s false start.

And at Breitbart, Ben Kew sounded the alarm about advertisers ditching Sean Hannity following pressure from the “activist left.” “Companies including Cars.com, Peloton, and Leesa Sleep have all given in to pressure to cease advertising on the show over Hannity’s pursuit of now retracted claims made by Fox News that murdered DNC employee Seth Rich had contact with Wikileaks before his death,” he wrote. The piece quotes tweets from Hannity yesterday alleging that George Soros and others were behind attempts to silence him. On Twitter, Hannity reassured viewers that his upcoming absence from the show is a planned holiday:

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