Meet Politico’s new maverick publisher, Peter Elon Bezos Yang Musk or whatever

The Washington Post has a long read on the man now in control of American political news site Politico, and it comes with the newsworthy snippet that Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner sent a rather bizarre email to his executive team "weeks" before the November 2020 elections.

"Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?" he asked his team.

That the rich "entrepreneurial"-styled head of an international news company might have still been backing ridiculous clownburger Donald Trump—after transparently corrupt acts and a pandemic response that relied heavily on his clownburger son-in-law poking his nose into things before everyone lost all remaining interest—is not really news. Much of the news you read comes through the filter of right-leaning corporate owners who don't give a particular damn about anything but themselves and their personal cash flows, whether it be the Post's own worker-gouging Bezos or the unmitigated malevolence of the Murdoch clan. It's baked in.

The weirder part is that Döpfner apparently insisted quite boldly he had never sent such a message, right up until the Post showed him their copy of the email in question, after which he claimed he might have sent such a thing as "an ironic, provocative statement in the circle of people that hate Donald Trump."

You know, just to get a rise out of his own executives. As one does, when one wants to be a free-spirited provocateur.

The “I only did that to be an asshole” defense is itself usually a pretty solid one when it comes to any profile of any chief executive who has rapidly risen through the ranks and now stands on the top of the common rabble, and Döpfner might have had a shot at selling the Ironic Asshole Defense had the email not also contained a numbered list of Trump's supposed best accomplishments, aside from the being impeached for corruption and leading a staff of incompetent mostly-crooked buffoons through a campaign of screwing up any part of government any one of them was aware of.

"No American administration in the last 50 years has done more," wrote Döpfner after listing off successes like "defending the free democracies" against Russia(?), pressuring NATO to spend more money(??) and, of course, "tax reforms."

A complete failure to respond to worldwide pandemic disaster didn't make the cut of Döpfner's concerns, and whether or not Trump instituted a policy to intentionally separate refugee children from their parents is not worth mentioning. It just couldn't compete against the powerful success of "tax reforms."

The Post's profile of Döpfner is gawdawful familiar, even to the point of being rote. We're told that Döpfner's politics are hard to pin down, but that he thinks the Post and The New York Times have gone too far left while he is not a fan of conservative media's "alternative facts." He believes there is a nonpartisan path between the two, between "predictable political camps." He is an iconoclast, spending his money on "a collection of female nudes by female artists" rather than the usual yachts. He's not a fan of racism or homophobia, but as his plaudits for Trump's alleged successes show, neither is a dealbreaker.

Oh, and he calls Elon Musk "one of the most inspiring people" he's met, and the man’s son works for the fascism-promoting white-nationalist-boosting Peter Thiel, and it just happens that the two news outlets at the top of the company's German media empire are a hard-right skeevy tabloid and a not-as-hard-right mostly corporatist paper—an arrangement we here in America are already quite familiar with and do not find "hard to pin down" in the slightest.

By the time you're even halfway through, then, the Post story paints a picture of the sort of big-media iconoclast who is utterly rote at this point. Got it. He's a right-leaning new-money self-promoting entrepreneur type who wants to chart a path where rich people get lots of tax cuts, but we maybe don't burn his LGBTQ friends at the stake. He's here to revamp journalism around a version of centrism that thinks Donald Trump was doing a bang-up job when he was scooting around the world dragging his bare ass on the carpets while not giving a particular damn about the crooked parts or the authoritarianism.

We heard this biography when it was about Musk. Or about Thiel. Or when Andrew Yang declared that all this fuss over hard-right fascism and not-fascism was super-super partisan and what the world needed instead was a new party that didn't care about such things and instead cared about whatever Andrew Yang cared about—cryptocurrencies, maybe. We heard it when it was the Starbucks guy who wanted to run for president on the same platform.

This isn't being a maverick. This is the most bog standard of all possible Rich Person Political Stances. This is the utter, magnificent laziness of men at the top of their profession quickly coming to decide that Politics Itself is wrong and that they, uniquely and truly, are the ones who can see through the nonsense and give us a nice, semi-fascist middle ground.

Jeebus Cripes, this is Great Gatsby stuff. New Wealth Fixes The World is what Ayn Rand choked her pages with. This sort of nihilistic I-can't-be-defined-by-your-politics hokum is the essence of every "tax cuts for rich people, marijuana for the poor people" college libertarian rant—and the people in charge of the world love this vapidity. Each of them is convinced they, personally, may have invented it.

We get it. The moment a certain kind of man gains elevated wealth and power, they can't rest until the rest of the world knows that it's because they have the brain to solve all problems, and the answer they come up with every last time is: A middle position! One where both sides agree that I get tax cuts and we compromise down the middle on the fascism and book-burning and whatnot!

I mean ... whatever. The Post is doing us a service in showing us that time after time, the leaders of all the stuff you watch and read are, for the most part, vapid people who rose through the ranks of other vapid people to become the new earls and dukes of vapidity, but there’s not a lot of divergent thinking among any of them. Is there any question that newspapers find people to own newspapers to be the cleverest and most interesting people in the world? Are you surprised when a new network head is feted by the rest of the industry as having a bold new take on things that only looks exactly the same as the previous take to you because you aren't a media visionary?

Eh. Seriously though, to write a letter boosting Donald Trump for overseeing corporate tax cuts in the fall of 2020, with half a million American pandemic dead, a prior impeachment over corruption, and a list of accomplishments that can best be described only as a campaign of international blowhardism: The new head who will be steering Politico into yet another vision of wealth-backing neutrality seems to have spent a lot less time on his political stances than he has on his art collection. Can't all these iconoclasts follow their hearts, building space yachts shaped like naked women or whatever it is animates them without dragging the rest of us into it? Why dip yourself into politics at all? If all you want are tax breaks, sure, whoever develops a new space program gets a tax break. Whoever figures out a way to keep the state of Florida above water when Greenland's ice sheets collapse gets a tax break, and we'll rename Miami to whatever new name you want.

We'll agree to that if you all stop telling us how your own indifference to the slow dismantling of world democracies amounts, when balanced against new tax policies, to a heretofore unseen and brilliant Third Way. Gawd, just stop already.

No Surprise: New Study Says Cable News More Biased Than 10 Years Ago, Especially After Trump Elected

A new study out is showing what anyone who has been alive for more than five minutes was already well aware of, that cable news networks are biased, and that bias has grown much more pronounced in the last ten years especially after the election of Donald Trump.

The study, just published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” is called, “Measuring Dynamic Media Bias.” The level of network bias was based on guest appearances.

RELATED: Trump Celebrates Defeat Of Rep. Peter Meijer, Who Voted For Impeachment: ‘7 Down, 3 To Go!’

How The Study Was Conducted

Researchers took a look at who came on networks like the Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, as guests for more than 10 hours between January of 2010, and August of 2020. Those guests were rated on a bias scale which was based on their political views.

The bias scale, dubbed “visibility bias” by researchers, showed what has been apparent to most Americans for years. Fox News was more right leaning, and CNN and MSNBC were more left leaning. However, this visibility bias also determined, based on the guest list, that CNN programs like “Anderson Cooper 360,” and “CNN Tonight,” were even more liberal than MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Those conducting the study noticed what they believed to be an interesting detail. While Fox News has always been more conservative than either CNN or MSNBC, at one point during the time period being studied, CNN seemed a tad more conservative than MSNBC. After 2015 though, the researchers say that changed.

While each network catered to either a more conservative or liberal audience, the ideological bent of all three networks became more definitive in 2016.

Yphtach Lelkes is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication, and one of the co-authors of the study. He explained, “For many years, Fox News was to the right of MSNBC and CNN, but they used to track each other. When Fox moved to the right, so did MSNBC and CNN. They all flowed together. After Trump came into office, they responded to events in the news by leaning away from each other and more strongly toward their respective ideologies.”

The Big Disconnect

What is also becoming more pronounced is the disconnect between those who report the news, and the average viewer who is watching them. The Political Insider reported back in June that a Pew Research Center poll found that 65% of journalists believe they are doing a good and accurate job of reporting news. 

That is not what a large portion of the American people think. Only 35% said journalists were actually doing their job the right way. Of the five different areas of journalistic integrity the poll surveyed,  journalists gave their overall performances a thumbs up. The reading, listening, and viewing public on the other hand, gave them a hearty thumbs down.

Back in April, during a Q&A session at a University of Chicago forum entitled, “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy,” CNN’s Brian Stelter was part of a panel to whom students posed questions.

It was college freshmen Christopher Phillips who gave those who heard his question to Stelter, hope for future generations. He addressed Stelter’s implication that Fox News was the sole purveyor of misinformation and listed a series of, what turned out to be false stories, that were pushed by CNN. Phillips then asked the money question.

“All the mistakes of the mainstream media, in particular, seem to magically all go in one direction,” Phillips stated. “Are we expected to believe that this is all just some sort of random coincidence or is there something else behind it?”

RELATED: Gaetz Introduces Bill To Ban IRS From Acquiring Ammunition

Death Of Journalism?

For many viewers of cable news, Professor Lelkes and his colleagues have only verified what they have long know to be true. In fact, they have the date— 2016.

It was then New York media columnist Jim Rutenberg, who stated that when covering then candidate Donald Trump, his fellow journalists were essentially justified in breaking every journalistic rule of objectivity they had been taught. The reason why, because Trump was a Republican, and therefore, the enemy.

Even now, names like Joy Reid, Lester Holt, and Don Lemon have said things such as conservatives and Republicans being a threat to freedom, fairness is overrated, and that, “Republicans are doing something that is very dangerous to our society and we have to acknowledge that.” 

This study may be attempting to blame Donald Trump and the 2016 election for more obvious bias among cable news networks, but average Americans who knew it was there all along are thanking Trump for verifying it.

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Republicans don’t want to talk about their past actions on Ukraine. They should have to

Oh, hey, Republicans don’t think anyone should be talking about how they had Donald Trump’s back when he withheld military aid from Ukraine to extort personal political favors, and Politico is ready to report on just how unimportant Republicans think that was, drawing on quotes from six Republicans and, to rebut, one single Democrat.

Republicans “don’t see a shred of comparison” between Trump’s extortion effort and President Joe Biden not giving exactly the aid Republicans now claim to want the U.S. to send Ukraine, Politico reports. Republicans “are brushing off any suggestion that their frustration with Biden’s pace of Ukraine aid is at odds with their earlier defense of Trump’s posture toward Kyiv.” 

It took three Politico reporters to come up with this, an article that alternates between the reporters’ paraphrasing of Republican dismissals, Republican quotes (sample: “That was the biggest nothing-burger in the world that resulted in an impeachment by the House,” according to Sen. Kevin Cramer), and a few carefully chosen facts about what exactly it is that Republicans are dismissing.

RELATED: Two years ago, they voted against impeachment. Now suddenly they're deeply concerned for Ukraine

But lots of facts didn’t make it into Politico or are mentioned only in passing. The Washington Post reports, for instance, on the dozens of Senate Republicans who are attacking Biden for not sending more aid to Ukraine after they voted against the government funding bill including $13.6 billion in Ukraine aid. That vote and the funding at issue do not make a single appearance in the Politico article about how Republicans don’t think their past defense of Trump withholding support from Ukraine has any relevance to the current situation.

On that one, Republicans are deploying the “I voted against the thing I say I support because there were also things I opposed in the bill” argument, but as Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said in response, “Inside every piece of legislation are elements that many of us disagree with. Inside that budget that you voted against are all sorts of things that I disagree with. But in the end, in order to govern the country, you have to be able to find a path to compromise.”

Or, as Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz put it, “It’s very simple: If you don’t vote for the thing, you’re not for the thing,” Schatz said. “That is literally our job, to decide whether we are for or against things as a binary question.”

Republicans decided they were against impeaching Donald Trump for withholding military aid to Ukraine to extort personal political favors from Zelenskyy. Quite a few of them decided they were against aid for Ukraine if it involved also funding the rest of the U.S. government. And they’re getting plenty of space in Politico to explain why the first was merited without being challenged on their reasoning or asked about the second.


Trump's Ukraine extortion campaign didn't begin or end with 'I would like you to do us a favor'

Republicans suddenly claim to be the biggest allies of the nation they once denounced as corrupt

Is The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker kidding with this Ukraine aid take? Unfortunately not

The New York Times usually wins the awards for the worst, shallowest political coverage most driven by the imperative of normalizing Republican extremism and attacking Democrats. But Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Ashley Parker has dropped in with a doozy of an entry. She’s taken the serious problem of a brutal war and how the United States can respond without risking a broader and even more devastating war, and making it all about the optics.

It’s appalling that she would write that war-news-as-fashion-analysis sentence,* and it’s worse that this is the sentence she was proud to use to represent her story in the tweet. “Look how clever I am,” that tweet screams. “Aren’t I just at the pinnacle of my profession?” Which, sure, given that her specific profession is the kind of media that caused every other reporter in the White House press briefing room on Wednesday to ask Press Secretary Jen Psaki the exact same question—not because they expected her answer would change, but so their networks would have their own reporters on video asking the same not very interesting question.

RELATED: The price of 'we need to do more' is much higher than most people realize

President Joe Biden’s comments, Parker wrote, “at times took on an almost defensive tone,” a total flipping mystery of an observation in a story blatantly aimed at putting Biden on the defensive. Parker then goes on to offer three-plus paragraphs of concrete actions Biden has taken to support Ukraine and attempt to get Russia to back away from war before writing, “But since the actual war between Russia and Ukraine began three weeks ago, Biden and his European counterparts have articulated no clear end game, and Wednesday’s Biden-Zelensky juxtaposition offered something of a split screen, with the U.S. president and his team trying to explain why the administration was falling short on meeting Zelensky’s stirring request.”

They’re not trying to explain why they’re falling short. They’re explaining why a U.S.-imposed no-fly zone would be a very bad idea—and even many Republicans committed to attacking Biden agree on that point, though many are urging him to send fighter jets, a move Psaki explained would cross the line from providing defensive weapons to sending offensive ones. As Psaki also said, “If we were President Zelenskyy, we would be asking for everything possible as well, and continuing to ask for it.” Zelenskyy is doing what he should be doing as the leader of his country. Biden’s job is to lead this country, and as long as there is any other possible option, that means avoiding war with Russia.

About Republicans, by the way: Parker quotes two of them—Sens. Ben Sasse and Susan Collins—urging the administration to send fighter jets. What she doesn’t do is what should be mandatory every time a Republican who was in office in 2020 is quoted on Ukraine: Describe how they voted on the impeachment of Donald Trump for withholding nearly $400 million of military aid and public shows of support from Ukraine and Zelenskyy while Trump engaged in a pressure campaign aimed at getting Zelenskyy help him harm Biden’s political prospects.

In a reasonable media environment, one does not get to go from defending the withholding of aid to demanding the immediate, not fully considered, provision of an entirely new category of powerful military equipment without facing some serious questions about one’s partisan motives. But as Ashley Parker went all in on showing us with this story, this is not a reasonable media environment.

* To be clear, fashion analysis is an important thing when done well. In this case, it was embarrassingly misplaced. Because it was shallow, unserious fashion analysis, it added to the overall offense of this article.


Trump's Ukraine extortion campaign didn't begin or end with 'I would like you to do us a favor'

The U.S. economy is beating the world, thanks to Joe Biden, but you wouldn't know it from the media

Fascism: Trump vows pardons for Jan. 6 seditionists, calls for nationwide protests if indicted

Republican Party leader and traitor to the nation Donald Trump continues to test new rally waters in anticipation of a repeat presidential bid. On Saturday the delusional narcissist made no particular effort to hide his disgust for the law and for those who would hold him to it, delivering an ugly, unhinged, and unabashedly fascist speech to a crowd of like-minded traitors.

His most newsworthy proclamation was a vow to pardon the seditionists of the January 6 insurrection. "If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly."

"And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons. Because they are being treated so unfairly."

BREAKING: President Trump promises to PARDON Jan. 6 prisoners if he runs and wins in 2024

— RSBN 🇺🇸 (@RSBNetwork) January 30, 2022

It is not immediately clear if the traitor, who gathered and incited a crowd to "march" to the U.S. Capitol on that day and hour as part of a multi-pronged plan for his Republican Party to nullify his presidential election loss while using "emergency" presidential powers to either militarily oversee a "new" election or simply declare himself the legitimate winner, is promising a blanket pardon of all those involved in the violence. He may also be vowing to use presidential pardons to erase legal consequences for only his own inner circle of co-conspirators, just as he used it to immunize those allies when he last had the power to do so.

The intent of the message is clear either way. Trump is allying himself with those that helped him carry out his seditious—and deadly—insurrection, and is dropping promises of "pardons" as encouragement to his allies to keep fighting to block probes into the violence. Stonewall the prosecutions and refuse to cooperate with investigators, the traitorous criminal hints, and he will make your troubles go away again when he is returned to power.

But Trump went even farther. Citing the (many) investigations against him for crimes ranging from the previous insurrection to the pressure on Georgia officials to "find" new votes to a lifelong pattern of financial fraud, the fascist leader pushed his fascist supporters to respond to any potential indictment against him by taking to the streets.

"If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protest we have ever had in Washington D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere, because our country and our elections are corrupt. They're corrupt."

After ranting about the prosecutors investigating him, Trump calls the prosecutors racist and says if they do anything illegal, he hopes there are massive protests in DC, New York, and Atlanta

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 30, 2022

It is the hallmark of a fascist leader and his party: The claim that prosecution of his own crimes, or the crimes of his violent supporters, proves only that the whole nation was "corrupt" and needed to be remade. Trump is wedging racist in there because, both in Georgia and in New York, the head investigators of his crimes are Black.

Far from being deterred by the violence of his attempted insurrection, Trump is simultaneously promising to erase the crimes of those who attempted to topple the government on his behalf and pressing his Republican followers to mount even "bigger" street actions to keep his own criminal behind out of a prison cell. The man continues to betray his country in every way it is possible to betray it, and all of it is centered only around himself and his own desires.

In his previous rounds of presidential pardons, Trump pardoned those who committed war crimes; those who treated immigrants with illegal cruelty; those who obstructed investigations on his behalf; those who acted as agents of foreign powers. His pardons were all aimed at neutralizing prosecutions of those who did illegal things in service of racist, xenophobic, or Trump-promoting ends.

The Republican leader's promise to "pardon" those who engaged in violent insurrection on his behalf made barely a ripple on the Sunday shows or among the Republicans still loyal to that insurrection. Trump is overtly thumping for future seditious acts, and the Republican Party, purged of anyone who is not a willing accessory to even violent crimes, has little to say about it.

As gutless as ever, Sen. Lindsey Graham will only allow that it is "inappropriate" to promise pardons for insurrectionists. But only that; he will go no farther, lest he say something too bold and lose favor with the pro-fascist base.

"I think it is inappropriate" -- Lindsey Graham on Trump promising pardons to those convicted of crimes connected to the January 6 attack on Congress (Graham then tries to bothsides it by bringing up Kamala Harris)

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 30, 2022

And as spineless as ever, Sen. Susan Collins—one of the few Republicans who dared vote to impeach Trump after the insurrection, will only allow that she is "very unlikely" to support Trump as future presidential candidate.

Susan Collins won't shut the door on supporting Trump in 2024 even after voting for his conviction following his second impeachment trial

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 30, 2022

So not even orchestrating an attempted coup is sufficient reason to fully and completely rule out support for the plotter? Truly, there may never be another political figure as relentlessly rudderless as this one.

More of the Sunday show debate was spent on allowing the defenders of insurrection to sniff about the alleged impropriety of Biden's promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court than was spent on asking those same Republicans to stand against Trump's visions of mass riots and promised pardons for insurrection.

The Sunday shows are still pointedly neutral when it comes to the choice between peaceful democracy and violence-led fascism. They do not care. Nobody involved cares. They will book the same guests to tell the same lies and support the same crimes from now until the end of the republic, and not a single host will stand against such violence if it means losing interview access to those backing it.

Trump's latest rally speeches are clear-cut attacks on the very fabric of the nation. He insists that elections are "corrupt," leading the entire Republican Party into similar rejections of our democracy's validity. He insists that those who investigate his alleged wrongdoing—up to and including violent insurrection—are "corrupt," and promises to immunize those who ally with them against the institutions that would prosecute them for such crimes.

He is a fascist-minded, mostly-delusional traitor to the republic. All those who cheer for him are the same. Trump himself appears to believe that it would be better to plunge the nation into a new civil war than recognize either the validity of his last election loss or the validity of a new one, and he has nearly all Republican Party officials and lawmakers as allies in the effort.

It is impossibly corrupt, all of it, and historians continue to scream that this is precisely how democracies are toppled. With a lazy, dull-witted press; with a party that emphasizes good corruption over bad prosecution; with a base that does not give a damn about any of it, because they are single-mindedly obsessed over the notion that the nebulous other is oppressing them and for that, must be punished.

There is no way this does not end in a tidal wave of political violence. And that, too, will likely be downplayed by Sunday show hosts looking to book those who would ally with it.

Fascism: House Republican extremists look to support candidates as devoted to Trump as they are

There's a lot to take in on this Washington Post story about House Republican extremists recruiting like-minded conspiracy freaks in order to move their party even farther to the right than it has already gone. On the surface, there's nothing too surprising here: House conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn are helping to boost the would-be careers of other conspiracy cranks in Republican primaries, so as to shove out more moderate Republicans who have beliefs like "presidents should not be allowed to commit crimes" or "overthrowing democracy rather than recognizing a valid election loss might, in the long term, not work out so well."

And the plan, to the extent that anything rattling around in Greene or Cawthorn's head could be called one, is also a tried-and-true one. The "MAGA" clown brigade wants to target insufficiently fascist-minded Republicans in hard-right districts, instead propping up like-minded conspiracy promoters and avid Dear Leader loyalists in places that will always vote Republican no matter who is thrown in front of voters. Greene is herself an example of that; there is absolutely nothing about her that would suggest she ought to be put in any position of power, her QAnon beliefs have been on the extreme end of batshit even compared to the normal batshittery promoted by Trump's own professional conspiracy inventors like Steve Bannon or Rudy Giuliani, her anti-democracy, pro-violence statements should have already gotten her driven out of Congress on grounds of bare decorum, and she is absolutely assured to keep her seat because Republican voters like angry, uninformed, and possibly violent conspiracy cranks.

The risk of such plans is that you can end up promoting cranks so dodgy that they end up doing something that even hard-hard-right voters can't quite stomach, resulting in a steep decline in Republican votes on election day as those voters stay home. Similarly, if your entire operation depends on promoting extremists with extremist views, the odds are high that a few of those newly chosen Republican candidates will end up having, ahem, past "hobbies" that get exposed to voters before election day and which may or may not constitute crimes.

The Republican MAGA brigade has been doing exactly zero vetting, basing support solely on candidate willingness to impeach Joe Biden, overturn the presidential election results, and/or appoint Donald Trump the God-King of the House. In fact, let's just pause right there, for a moment, to contemplate the thought of Marjorie Taylor Greene or Madison Fake Russian Wife Cawthorn and their combined staff attempting to "vet" would-be crackpot allies so as to weed out any that were too sketchy.

Yeah. Yeah, I'm sure it's a top-notch operation. And I'm sure it got even better when the staff sprung for a second Ouija board to go along with the first.

So that's the story. But there's a whole lot of other sketch in the Post's story even taking all that into account, and it's ... concerning? Off-putting? Odd? It's hard to pin down.

For example: "Trump critics warn that a stronger MAGA wing in Congress threatens democracy," says the Post. Really? Really, it's "Trump critics" who are saying that elevating candidates who publicly express demands that elections be overturned based on known-fraudulent propaganda poses a threat to democracy? As opposed to, say, Every Expert Ever? When a political party is making a pledge to overturn elections a core measure of candidate loyalty, do we really need to cite "critics" to assert that elections might be in danger? Huh.

Or this: "Candidates seeking [Trump's] approval meet with him at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where he peppers them with questions that test their MAGA bona fides," says the Post.

Okay, but we know what that looks like. We don't need to guess; we saw it in every Cabinet meeting and on every campaign trail. Candidates meet Trump's "approval" by kissing his ass wholeheartedly and more imaginatively than the last guy to come along, and they lose his "approval" if they say even the slightest thing critical of him, personally. He doesn't give a rat's ass about any other policy or issue. It's just the ass-kissing. Painting those sessions as Trump "peppering" anyone with "tests" of their MAGA loyalty is very odd phrasing.

MAGA is, without question, devotion to Trump. Nothing else applies. There's no other "test." The party is divided into those willing even to end democratic government on Trump's behalf and those that might have second thoughts while doing it. The Post story makes that clear, not needing to cite any experts for their assertion that MAGA looks to "purge the GOP of those not deemed loyal to the former president and his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged."

Greene-supported candidate Rick Slabjaw—sorry, a generic conspiracy crank of certain complexion who goes by the name of "Joe Kent"—"wants to force Republicans into tough votes, starting with articles of impeachment against President Biden and a full congressional inquiry into the 2020 presidential election, which he says was stolen from Trump," reports the Post. And, glory be, the other competitors are also ex-military or ex-athlete types, "telegenic and mostly White male millennials," as the Greene-Cawthorn-Boebert-Jordan-Gaetz wing of the party pin their hopes on thickheaded Aryan faces with telegenic paranoias.

It's the subtext of the story that makes it so off-putting. This is a very, very gentle way for the Post to be alerting the public of plans to further purge Republicanism of anyone unwilling to topple democracy on a bumbling, lying narcissist's behalf. We are talking about the most openly fascist wing of the party, a group obsessed with retaliating against anyone who does not promote known-false hoaxes meant to undermine public faith in our elections. We're talking about the wing of the party unwilling to condemn politically motivated violence, a wing that is continuously flirting with the edges of endorsing such acts themselves.

Here's one of the "MAGA" Republicans currently aiming for Congress: Noah Malgeri.

Republican US House candidate Noah Malgeri called for General Mark Milley to be executed live on C-SPAN.

— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) December 27, 2021

Malgeri has the support of the white nationalism-allied fascist group "Republicans for National Renewal," and the endorsement of neo-Nazi dabbling Rep. Paul Gosar, and has been palling around in Lauren Boebert circles. He's a conspiracy-adjacent, fascism-promoting self-described "nationalist." There's not anything subtle about it.

Can you even talk about House Republican efforts to further radicalize their own party without that subtext? The "candidates" we're talking about are ones who so ally themselves with (1) Trump and (2) nationalist "renewal" that they are publicly demanding we throw away whatever parts of democracy conflict with it.

Five years from now, could this whole article be rewritten under the title How Fascism Happened? Because a group of House Republicans who are fervent conspiracy mongers, who continually tease at the edges of promoting violence, who vow to remove the current president and rewrite history to proclaim that Actually, Dear Leader was victorious all along—that feels like a lot to take in, and considerably more dire than "House MAGA squad seeks to expand" lets on.

We're in the odd place where anyone who knows anything about history or government is shouting at us that this, exactly this, is how democracies fall, but the papers are still trying very, very hard to write the story within the bounds of a normal political tiff. "Trump critics" worry that a party's devotion to malevolent propaganda, a rejection of facts, an insistence on anti-intellectualism that paints even dying in a pandemic as preferable to going along with scheming scientists, and a singleminded devotion to a showboating lifelong buffoon are all core fascist tenets that Republicanism has rewritten itself to accommodate.

Maybe that's because anyone unwilling to accept the new premise that a narcissist who has blamed "fraud" or "cheating" for every loss in his sorry-ass life was "cheated" out of reelection has been declared a "Trump critic."

Republican extremists have been very successful in defining that boundary and getting political reporters to adhere to it. If you are willing to denounce objective facts and declare that reality is now whatever Donald Trump last said it was, you are "MAGA." Everyone else, every other person in America regardless of party, partisanship, or profession, is now only a Trump critic.

Months after insurrection, America’s political journalists are back in their comfy safe space

It's hard to make the case that the American political press knows how to cover American politics. Time and time again we see stories stuffed into the same structural boxes: Democrats are in disarray; parties differ when describing color of sky; today is the day Donald Golfcheat truly became president. A fascist demand to throw out election results and simply appoint Donald Trump the true winner was both correctly pinned as insurrection and, both before and after its failure, put into its own box so that none of the elected officials who pushed forward fantastical, false claims to justify such demands would require new press treatment going forward—even with the new knowledge that these partisans proved willing to lie to the public, aggressively, in a manner intended to undermine public confidence in democracy itself.

Mere months after the United States passed half a million pandemic deaths due to willful public misinformation by elected officials and the attempted seizure of the U.S. Capitol so that the lawmakers within could be either forced into nullifying an election or executed for their unwillingness to do so, the new political story is “Democratic President In Crisis.” What crisis? Every crisis.

When the Republican president faced impeachment (twice), presided over inexplicable military about-faces endangering allies, instigated new trade wars that caused commodity chaos, demanded relaxations of pandemic warnings based on a belief that health experts were only attempting to damage him politically, lied about the path of a hurricane, lied to investigators about contacts between his campaign and Russian government agents, pushed for the deployment of the U.S. military against political demonstrators, and instigated a still-uncountable number of individual constitutional crises as his staff ran roughshod over congressional powers and executive restrictions while relying on party allies to nullify the attempted checks that would prevent it, it was all a crisis.

So now the new guy's got to be pinned with the crisis label too, and according to the agreed upon standards of journalism, former president Jimmy Carter must be mentioned at least once when doing so. To the headlines! Run, Shadowfax! Show us the meaning of haste!

CNN: Multiple crises at home and abroad provide a reality check for Biden's White House

NBC: Biden battles new crises as honeymoon fades

Fox: Battered Biden under siege as crises confound the White House

And what of this new president's management style? After four years of public belittling of staffers, time set aside in meetings for each participant to flatter Our Leader and compete for his favor, the dismissal of military generals as stupid, the erasure of the State Department and diplomatic corps in favor of transitory declarations via smartphone, and raw contempt for any American citizen who did not vote for him, what balancing character flaws can we highlight in his successor?

New York Times: Beneath Joe Biden’s Folksy Demeanor, a Short Fuse and an Obsession With Details

In that one, we learn that Mr. Biden demands "hours of detail-laden debate" from policy experts before coming to a final decision, and that he has "ire" for those who he believes are either snowing him with acronyms or wasting his time. If Trump's error was a seething contempt for all expertise and an unwillingness to read documents not principally focused around himself, it is possible that the New Guy is similarly unhinged in his desire to consult with "scores of policy experts" before making new policy decisions.

"It is a method of governing that can feel at odds with the urgency of a country still reeling from a pandemic and an economy struggling to recover."

Sure, there you go. Slap a stamp on it, ship it out. New Guy just doesn't feel quite as publicly decisive as Captain Crazythumbs. During the four days it might take New Guy to finalize a policy decision, Old Guy would have already decided five separate times, each decision in direct conflict with the others, and fired off 20 different tweets insulting anyone who objected to any of them.

So then, what are the new crises facing the country? Peculiarly, the ongoing pandemic is not among them. The public has been giving Biden top-tier marks on bringing the pandemic under control as Biden's team oversees drastic ramp-ups in vaccine distribution and the beginning of the pandemic's end begins to appear over the horizon.

One of the Biden Administration "crises" is that vaccinated Americans are now confused as to whether they are still required to wear masks or not. This one is rather easily solved by going to state and local government sites to learn what policies are in place for your own town, or by reading the signs regularly posted on the doors of each place of business informing customers of their current policies, which is precisely what everyone should already have been doing to begin with. This momentary frustration does not seem a good fit for the "crisis" word more often thrown around these days to describe hundreds of thousands of American deaths.

One of the "crises" is a Republican declaration that the southern border is in "crisis" because they say it is. Once justified by the same seasonal surge of border crossings that typically occur during Not Summer in a vast and deadly desert, it is now justified by a handful of Republican lawmakers staring at reeds during Rio Grande small boat tours.

One of the "crises" is that a major fuel pipeline company allowed itself to be breached in a ransomware attack, only to then prove unable to recover its own systems over the span of multiple days. Despite no actual fuel shortage, this caused runs on gas stations nationwide (including in places the pipeline never served to begin with) and several incidents in which patriotic Americans burned their own cars into molten lumps after stuffing their trunks and back seats with filled containers of gasoline so that other patriotic Americans wouldn't buy it first.

As it turns out—and after days of the company evading the question—it was the company’s billing computers that had been brought down in the attack. Pipeline operations were perfectly fine; there was just no way for the company to keep track of who bought their product and now owed them money. One solution, if the closure had extended long enough to seriously jeopardize supplies, might have been an emergency federal order to resume pipeline operations coupled with federal assurance that the government would pay whatever costs the company couldn’t manage to bill their actual customers for.

Unfortunately, that would in all likelihood have ushered in a new era in which fuel traders coordinated with cybercriminals to throw markets into turmoil on purpose, all to profit from the elevated prices the federal government would then pay in order to resolve it. (See: Enron.) It would probably have to have been followed up with a government takeover and restructuring of the "saved" Colonial Pipeline, so that turning off critical pieces of U.S. infrastructure in economy-shaking ways would not become a net profit producer for the company executives overseeing each failure.

One of the "crises" is a shortage of sauces at a chicken sandwich franchise. Sort of. At the moment, only scattered Republicans are pinning that one on the new president, hoping to make it stick. Again, it's probably best to nip this one in the bud through swift government takeover. America cannot be without its sauces, and if the U.S. military cannot swiftly get the sauces to the places the sauces need to be, nobody can. That seems the most "decisive" approach, if we are all getting angsty over the post-Trump president not visibly flailing his arms at each new national panic and our politics-watchers need a booster shot of that old strongman charm.

Then there is the ongoing violence between Israeli government forces and the Palestinians under occupation in annexed lands. Escalating violence does count as a genuine crisis. But it is also one in which the major debates are over how the United States should best put diplomatic pressure on each side, the same debates that have gone on for decades as the United States both acts as major guarantor of Israeli defense and, in doing so, allows hard-right Israeli governments to mete out violence that the state could almost certainly not get away with without U.S. protection.

There is no chance of U.S. military intervention here. Fear not, our government will at some point again thunder into the region with new edicts for How Things Must Be Resolved, only to again slink back off after each new attempt at empire-crafting is thwarted by the human beings who actually live there deciding they would rather not abide by the plans we announced for them. However, immediate options in this case are limited to phone calls and sternly worded public statements. It is a crying shame that real estate scion Jared Kushner was not able to bring peace to the region despite being mostly rich and having access to multiple books purchased off of Amazon, but here we are and here we will remain for some time to come. It will indeed be a test of Biden's abilities, exactly as it had tested every president of the modern era.

What we can gather from all these stories lumped together with the urgent language of crisis is that the press has very, very urgently wanted to return to normal themes and narratives, and mere months after the first nonpeaceful transfer of power since the Civil War we are going to have these narratives shoveled into our faces whether we want it or not. Is Joe Biden too surly? Will the spectacular banality of a pipeline company's IT department echo public memories of Carter-era energy crises if we in the press try very hard to mention those two things together? And what of Republican sniping over immigration or—wait, look there! It appears the national debt has emerged from long hibernation, and it has something to say!

During an entire presidency of incompetence, open corruption, brazen public lying, attempted extortions, and mass U.S. deaths, the press worked feverishly to present constitutional crises and history-shaking events within the standardized frames of partisan sniping, political gamesmanship, and questions being asked. Covering the same authoritarian actions here that have long been called out as authoritarian acts elsewhere, the brain of the national press ... broke. Editors could not stomach making the shift, and so demanded it all be sorted into the columns that past events had been sorted into so that nobody could claim they were treating orchestrated propaganda-peddling with any more hostility than the more truthful statements of past administrations and party leaders.

It was absolutely assured that the end of the Trump presidency—for now—would be treated as something of a class reunion for put-upon editors desperate to get back the political coverage that their networks and papers had been designed to produce. What are the polling implications of Latest New Event? How will this affect midterm voters? Can Leader project decisiveness? What gossip can be culled from the White House? Did somebody snap at someone? Oh, do tell.

To some extent it may be harmless—we all are very, very tired, after all, and individual reporters and pundits are likely as relieved as the rest of us to be able to tell stories that, shockingly, do not appear to threaten our constitutional foundations, or are likely to produce new international trade wars, or result in half a million deaths, or that hint that the sitting president and his closest allies are longtime petty criminals whose careers have been pockmarked with the sort of acts that would the less lawyered among us in prison for a decade or two. It is almost calming.

The problem, though, is that we are not in a new era. The lies of the insurrection are not past—they are continuing in places like Arizona and Georgia. Lawmakers who shouted in fear as violent coup-backing rioters broke through nearby windows are right now claiming that the same riots did not happen or were of no particular consequence. Republican leaders are still deciding, even today, how far they can go in sabotaging investigation of how the past administration's actions, and their own public statements, fomented the violence and caused the resulting deaths.

We are not back to normal, and scurrying back to journalism's safe spaces of four years ago for a bit of solace is doing the same disservice as always.

Is the Biden Administration facing "crisis," as we have come to define that term after the last four years of chaos? Aside from the increasingly ignored pandemic, there is no plausible way to claim so. The Biden team has so far been so irritatingly low-profile and workaday that partisan snipers are expressing exasperation at how little fodder they have been given to work with.

Killing half a million people through incompetence, ignoring congressional powers outright to block legislative probes of executive corruption, being recorded in conversation demanding personal political favors before executing governmental functions, engaging in a slew of pardons specifically rewarding allies who were found to have lied to federal law enforcement officials investigating a specific alleged crime undertaken for your own benefit—those are still crises.

Republicans being upset at border crossing numbers, a few days of public confusion after pandemic safety instructions shift into new transitory phases, or even a few days of irrational panic buying at local gas stations? Listen, buddy, we wish those were presidency-defining crises. I would pay double my current taxes to live in a country where those were the biggest new crises I might ever meet up with after walking out the front door.

A good chunk of Florida is going to be underwater in the next few decades, you know. That sounds like a crisis. Elevated temperatures are causing widespread drought, yet again, and fire season in the West is expected to again be horrific. There's a good chance that combinations of heat and humidity will render portions of the American South inhospitable to human life, and long-neglected infrastructure decisions are now ballooning into system failures with deadly results. In the coming year there is a good chance that a newly political Supreme Court will overturn laws that have underpinned governance for the last half century. There is a very good chance that the next election, the very next one, will feature races with official tallies that are simply nullified by hard-right antidemocratic lawmakers who object to the outcome—and that those lawmakers will succeed in their efforts. There is already a long list of truly existential crises to chose from, and many more are waiting in the wings.

Biff Hummerguy filling his backseat with leaking gas containers because he heard that the cryptocoin blockchain was going to NFT the oil pipes may be a hell of a story, but it's not the thing that is going to drive midterm elections. Unless, that is, political journalism itself is vapid enough to demand it.

Which, God help us all, isn't exactly an idea the rest of us can easily dismiss.

President Trump Slams Washington Post For Now-Corrected ‘Hoax’ Georgia Election Investigation Story

On Monday, former President Donald Trump responded to The Washington Post making multiple massive corrections to their story that accused Trump of tampering with the Georgia elections, calling the Post’s claims a “hoax.”

The damning quotes from an unnamed “source,” that Washington Post now admits Trump did not make, were used by Democrats in his second impeachment trial.

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Washington Post Admits Damning Quotes Were False

The Washington Post corrected their bombshell story that originally claimed Trump pressured Georgia’s top elections investigator, Frances Watson, to “find the fraud” in his state’s election. 

The Post also claimed that the then-president supposedly told her she would be “a national hero” if she found any discrepancies. 

Actual audio of the call was published last week by The Wall Street Journal, which proved the Trump quotes were false.

The quotes were used against Trump during his second impeachment trial.

Obviously this is a major correction and story. This is no mere typo.

The Washington Post, which cited the quotes to one person who was an anonymous source, corrected their story Monday.

Trump’s statement read, “The Washington Post just issued a correction as to the contents of the incorrectly reported phone call I had with respect to voter fraud in the Great State of Georgia.”

“While I appreciate the Washington Post’s correction, which immediately makes the Georgia Witch Hunt a non-story, the original story was a Hoax, right from the very beginning,” Trump blasted.

Trump Pulls No Punches

The former President also noted that media bias seems to “slant one way.”

Trump added, “You will notice that establishment media errors, omissions, mistakes, and outright lies always slant one way—against me and against Republicans.”

“Meanwhile, stories that hurt Democrats or undermine their narratives are buried, ignored, or delayed until they can do the least harm—for example, after an election is over,” Trump wrote.

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Trump Calls News Outlets ‘Political Entities’

Trump said news coverage of the coronavirus vaccine was part of this bias.

Trump said, “Look no further than the negative coverage of the vaccine that preceded the election and the overdue celebration of the vaccine once the election had concluded.”

“A strong democracy requires a fair and honest press,” he continued. “This latest media travesty underscores that legacy media outlets should be regarded as political entities—not journalistic enterprises.”

Donald Trump then “thanked” the Post for its update to their story.

“In any event, I thank the Washington Post for the correction,” Trump wrote.


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House Republicans overwhelmingly stood behind Trump after he incited white supremacist insurrection

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a historic second time on Jan. 13, and in the process confirmed that even after he incited a white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol building, an overwhelming majority of Republicans see still no problem with Trump’s conduct. While it is technically correct that the 10 Republican votes in favor of impeachment made it “the most bipartisan one in history,” as described by the The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and others, that’s an extremely low bar to clear. In fact, the vote numbers don’t suggest bipartisanship in any meaningful sense, but rather paint a stark portrait of a political party that has almost unanimously aligned itself with white supremacy and the white backlash to BIPOC political ascendancy. As if to drive home the point, GOP representatives even booed Rep. Cori Bush for denouncing white supremacy during the hearings. Rather than rushing to lionize the handful of Republicans who momentarily broke with the party—and did so only after their own sense of safety was threatened—news coverage needs to reflect these realities.

There are 211 Republicans in the House of Representatives, only 10 of them voted in favor of impeachment. That means over 95% watched as insurrectionists broke into the Capitol with Confederate battle flags held high and white supremacist symbols adorning their bodies as they apparently searched the building for government officials to execute, and decided, “This is fine.” Of course, the overwhelmingly white Republican caucus may have correctly surmised that they weren’t the ones in mortal danger on Jan. 6. Rather, Democratic members of Congress—especially women and Black and brown members—represented the primary targets of the mob’s ire, as newly emerging details have revealed.

The same day the impeachment vote was taken, the Boston Globe reported that as Rep. Ayanna Pressley and her staff barricaded themselves in her office to keep safe from the intruders, they discovered all of the panic buttons in the office had been torn out. On Instagram Live the evening before the vote, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that during the attack she “had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die.” Both Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez are part of The Squad, an outspoken group of progressive Black and Latina Democratic representatives elected to the House of Representatives in 2018 and 2020, which also includes Bush and Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Jamaal Bowman. As highly visible avatars of women and BIPOC’s growing political and demographic power, members of The Squad have long been on the receiving end of racist rhetoric and right-wing death threats. The events of Jan. 6 suggest at least some people had designs on carrying those threats out, possibly even with help from members of Congress who graciously offered “reconnaissance tours” to the insurrectionists. 

The attempted coup also posed a significant risk to a great many Black and brown people who aren’t lawmakers. The residents of Washington, D.C. itself—a largely Black city—along with Congressional support staff and Capitol building custodians had to contend with the trauma of being descended upon by a white supremacist mob, and afterward, were left to clean up the mess that same mob left behind. Overly credulous news coverage praising “principled” Republicans not only threatens to miss the racial realities of where most of the party stands, but also the narrowly circumscribed and race-specific extent of its support for the working class.  

With the looming threat of more insurrectionist violence in the coming days, it is of the highest moral and political significance that so many House Republicans condoned and aided the racist incitement that put the republic, fellow Americans, and the lives of their own Congressional colleagues in serious peril. And because the animating impulses behind the Capitol insurrection won’t wane with the dawn of the post-Trump political era, it’s imperative that we in the media don’t close our eyes to what the impeachment vote actually has to tell us about race, politics, and power in the United States.

Ashton Lattimore is the editor-in-chief of Prism. Follow her on Twitter @ashtonlattimore.

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet that centers the people, places and issues currently underreported by our national media. Through our original reporting, analysis, and commentary, we challenge dominant, toxic narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to build a full and accurate record of what’s happening in our democracy. Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.