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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

Trump Stinks. Let me count the ways.

assembled by Pat McNees, updated 4-5-22

What have I missed?

  “The dangerous, destructive charismatic leader polarizes and identifies an outside enemy and pulls his followers together by manipulating their common feelings of victimization.

~Jerrold M. Post, quoted in a December 2019 interview, from his obituary, CIA psychological profiler who labeled Trump ‘dangerous’ dies of covid-19 at 86 (Sydney Trent, Washington Post, 12-5-2020)
Among the Insurrectionists (Luke Mogelson, New Yorker, 1-25-21) The Capitol was breached by Trump supporters who had been declaring, at rally after rally, that they would go to violent lengths to keep the President in power. A chronicle of an attack foretold. Supplemented by A Reporter’s Footage from Inside the Capitol Siege (video, New Yorker, 1-17-21) Luke Mogelson followed Trump supporters as they forced their way into the Senate chamber. His footage won a National Magazine Award.
How Donald Trump Captured the Republican Party (Romesh Ratnesar, NY Times, 2-22-22) A review of INSURGENCY: How Republicans Lost Their Party and Got Everything They Ever Wanted Jeremy W. Peters.“Insurgency” chronicles the astonishingly swift transformation of the Republican Party, from the genteel preserve of pro-business elites to a snarling personality cult that views the Jan. 6 insurrection as an exercise in legitimate political discourse. The outlines of the Republicans’ hard-right turn are by now largely familiar. Watching the reality-television star deliver remarks from the Trump Tower food court to a crowd that allegedly included actors who had been paid $50 to hold signs and cheer, [Steve] Bannon couldn’t contain himself. “That’s Hitler!” Bannon said. And, as Jeremy W. Peters writes in this spirited new history, “he meant it as a compliment.”What distinguishes “Insurgency” is its blend of political acuity and behind-the-scenes intrigue. Much of the book’s opening material revolves around the first national figure to channel the base’s anger: the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin...
The American Abyss (Timothy Snyder, NY Times Magaine, 1-9-2021) A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next.
Maggie Haberman and the never-ending Trump story (Sarah Ellison, Washington Post, 8-25-21) 'She chose to cover him almost by default after joining the Times’s crowded political reporting team in early 2015. She was a new hire, looking for her lane, and Trump wasn’t considered a prime assignment compared to Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio...Haberman covered it all, “this weirdness where he was making an outrageous claim that we had to cover, and then in response to that story, he made another claim that we had to cover. . .” and so on. It was her introduction to the media phenomenon that she would call “chain-reactive Trump.”' Maggie's book about Trump is due out in October 2022.
History Will Judge the Complicit (Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic, July 2020) Why have Republican leaders abandoned their principles in support of an immoral and dangerous president?
How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief (Jane Meyer, New Yorker, 4-20-2020) McConnell 'is the master of the Washington money machine. Nobody has done more than he has to engineer the current campaign-finance system, in which billionaires and corporations have virtually no spending limits, and self-dealing and influence-peddling are commonplace....Wilson considers McConnell, who has been Majority Leader since 2015, a realist who does whatever is necessary to preserve both his own political survival and the Republicans’ edge in the Senate, which now stands at 53–47. “He feels no shame about it,” he said. “McConnell has been the most powerful force normalizing Trump in Washington.”'
The President Is Winning His War on American Institutions (George Packer, The Atlantic, 4-2020) How Trump is destroying the civil service and bending the government to his will. “There’s a lot of people out there who are unwilling to stand up and do the right thing, because they don’t want to be the next Andrew McCabe.”
The Inside Story of Michigan’s Fake Voter Fraud Scandal (Tim Alberta, Politico, 11-24-2020) How a state that was never in doubt became a "national embarrassment" and a symbol of the Republican Party’s fealty to Donald Trump...the death knell of Trump's presidency was sounded by a baby-faced lawyer, looking over his glasses on a grainy Zoom feed on a gloomy Monday afternoon, reading from a statement that reflected a courage and moral clarity that has gone AWOL from his party, pleading with the tens of thousands of people watching online to understand that some lines can never be uncrossed.... Why were Republicans who privately admitted Trump's legitimate defeat publicly alleging massive fraud? Why did it fall to a little-known figure like Van Langevelde to buffer the country from an unprecedented layer of turmoil? Why did the battleground state that dealt Trump his most decisive defeat—by a wide margin—become the epicenter of America's electoral crisis?" As Anita Bartholomew observed on Facebook, "the underlying question about *who* gets to decide (the state legislators or the PA Supreme Court) could also cut out state courts and other officials from any decisions in any prez election from now on." 

How Reality-TV Fame Handed Trump a $427 Million Lifeline (Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig, The President's Taxes, NY Times, 9-28-2020) Tax records show that “The Apprentice” rescued Donald J. Trump, bringing him new sources of cash and a myth that would propel him to the White House. "Mr. Trump’s genius, it turned out, wasn’t running a company. It was making himself famous — Trump-scale famous — and monetizing that fame."
In 1,316 days, President Trump has made 22,247 false or misleading claims (Washington Post Fact Checker) The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office. A timeline of untruths, along with the facts. See also Trump is averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims a day (Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, The Fact Checker, 10-22-2020)
All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus (Christian Paz, The Atlantic, 11-2-2020) An unfinished compendium of Trump’s overwhelming dishonesty during a national emergency
Trump Administration’s Mishandling of the Coronavirus Response Congresswoman Jackie Speier's timeline. See also AP News Fact Check: Trump's alternate reality on COVID-19 threat
A detailed timeline of all the ways Trump failed to respond to the coronavirus ( Cameron Peters, Vox, 6-8-2020) Shows a president dead set on avoiding responsibility for the pandemic.
How Golf Explains President Trump (YouTube video, Sportswriter Rick Reilly, author of Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump with Bay Area sportswriter Joan Ryan, for Commonwealth Club of California, 6-19-19). Based on his personal experiences and interviews with dozens of golf pros, amateurs, developers, partners, opponents and even caddies who have firsthand experience with Trump on the course, Reilly takes a deep and often hilarious look at how Trump shamelessly cheats at golf, lies about it, sues over it, bullies with it and profits off of it.
An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry (David A. Graham, Adrienne Green, Cullen Murphy, and Parker Richards, The Atlantic, June 2019) His racism and intolerance have always been in evidence; only slowly did he begin to understand how to use them to his advantage. "One of the things Trump learned when he injected himself into the Central Park Five case was that he could get attention for himself because he was a spokesman for a certain type of Archie Bunker New Yorker. I think that’s one of the bonds that he shares with [Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor] Rudy Giuliani: They’re both profoundly guys from that moment in New York when a lot of racial boundaries got drawn."
Trump the Truth: A Timeline of Assaults on Free Expression (Pen America) The Trump the Truth timeline, maintained and updated by PEN America during the first year of the Trump Administration, was used to track important developments during the Trump Administration that posed a threat to undermine free expression and press freedoms (or, from another viewpoint, express his opinion). See also PEN America's Trump the Truth report and timeline (PDF in standard prose format).
PolitiFact's Truth-o-Meter report on Trump. See especially All statements by Trump, rated as true or false or somewhere in between. (36 pages as of 7-25-19)

The President's Taxes: Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance ( Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire, NY Times, 9-27-2020--part of a series) The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due. "Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made." The returns "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, behind the self-made-billionaire image — honed through his star turn on “The Apprentice” — that helped propel him to the White House and that still undergirds the loyalty of many in his base....Indeed, his financial condition when he announced his run for president in 2015 lends some credence to the notion that his long-shot campaign was at least in part a gambit to reanimate the marketability of his name."

18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records (NY Times, 9-27-2020) Times reporters have obtained decades of tax information the president has hidden from public view. Among the key findings of The Times’s investigation: "Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750. He has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes."Read on.
Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled (Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-9-2020) Tax records expose more than $21 million in highly unusual payments from the Las Vegas hotel Donald Trump owns with Phil Ruffin, routed through other Trump companies and paid out in cash. His tax records show that "his 'self-funded' presidential campaign was short on funds, and he was struggling to win over leery Republican donors. His golf courses and the hotel he would soon open in the Old Post Office in Washington were eating away at what cash he had left on hand....And in early 2016, Deutsche Bank, the last big lender still doing business with him, unexpectedly turned down his request for a loan. The funds, Mr. Trump had told his bankers, would help shore up his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland. Some bankers feared the money would instead be diverted to his campaign."
The Swamp That Trump Built (Nicholas Confessore, Karen Yourish, Steve Eder, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, Grace Ashford, Michael LaForgia, Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael Rothfeld and Larry Buchanan, NY Times, 10-10-2020) A businessman-president transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family’s hotels and resorts — and earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration.
Making Sense (Sam Harris's podcast, 10-30-2020). This link takes you to Harris's fascinating discussion with Andrew Sullivan about why Trump has been so successful despite being a horrible person.
How Trump Became the Pro-Infection Candidate (Dhruv Khullar, New Yorker, 10-23-2020)
The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) Is it a coup or a con? Trump’s bad con continues to show how easy it would be to stage a good one. Then we would call it a coup.
Trump's Clown Coup(Susan B. Glasser, New Yorker, 11-20-2020) We’ve been getting used to painful truths for so long that the awful enormity of the current situation doesn’t hit us in the way it should. The G.O.P. leadership, which has tolerated so many abuses by Trump, is now openly complicit in his worst one yet.

How Trump and His Enablers Are Laying the Groundwork For a Coup d'état (A Pointed View, 11-10-2020) There's an interesting discussion of this on Facebook (launched by Anita Bartholomew's post).
Disappearing Data (HuffPost Report, 10-28-2020) Data is the lifeblood of a functioning government. Over the past four years, the Trump administration has destroyed, disappeared or distorted vast swathes of the information the state needs to protect the vulnerable, safeguard our health, and alert us to emerging crises. This is an accounting of the damage in several areas where data is crucial: The Pandemic, Climate Change, The Vulnerable, Pollution, Science, Food, Conservation, and the Census.
Misinformation about Biden’s health spreads after debate (Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 9-30-2020) TikTok videos and Trump ads with false information got more than 700,000 views and clicks. See also Right-wing voices are dominating Facebook after the first presidential debate (WaPo, 9-30-2020) Many Americans who primarily get news from Facebook are living in a media ecosystem where the winner of the debate is clear: President Trump crushed Joe Biden. But Facebook and Twitter take unusual steps to limit spread of New York Post story (Dwoskin, WaPo, 10-15-2020) "Four years after Russian operatives exploited tech giants’ services during a presidential contest, the companies’ swift and aggressive steps in responding to the unverified story, and their divergent responses, are a real-time case study in their ability to protect the integrity of an election that has been marred by domestic disinformation and misleading accounts. That activity has included misinformation about Biden’s health, the dying wish of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the validity of mail-in ballots — much of it spread by Trump and his supporters."
Trump got a $21 million tax break for saving the forest outside his N.Y. mansion. Now the deal is under investigation. (Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 10-9-2020) Five years ago, Donald Trump promised to preserve more than 150 acres of rolling woodlands in an exclusive swath of New York suburbia prized for its luxury homes and rural tranquility. He wrote off the cost as a business expense and the family calls it "a retreat for the Trump family."
Trump says he's leaving hospital for White House, feels good (Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin, and Aamer Madhani, AP, 10-5-2020) "For more than eight months, Trump's efforts to play down the threat of the virus in hopes of propping up the economy ahead of the election have drawn bipartisan criticism....According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms can be contagious for as many — and should isolate for at least — 10 day. On Sunday afternoon, Trump briefly ventured out of the hospital while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade — an outing that disregarded precautions meant to contain the virus....Less than one month before Election Day, Trump was eager to project strength despite his illness. The still-infectious president surprised supporters who had gathered outside the hospital, riding by Sunday in a black SUV with the windows rolled up. Secret Service agents inside the vehicle could be seen in masks and other protective gear....[Sunday] was the second straight day of obfuscation from a White House already suffering from a credibility crisis. And it raised more doubts about whether the doctors treating the president were sharing accurate, timely information with the American public about the severity of his condition."
‘It’s like every red flag’: Trump-ordered HHS ad blitz raises alarms (Dan Diamond, Politico, 9-25-2020) "The health department is moving quickly on a highly unusual advertising campaign to "defeat despair" about the coronavirus, a $300 million-plus effort that was shaped by a political appointee close to President Donald Trump and executed in part by close allies of the official, using taxpayer funds....[Michael] Caputo, who has no medical or scientific background, claimed in a Facebook video on Sept. 13 that the campaign was "demanded of me by the president of the United States. Personally."...But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns....But 10 current and former health officials told POLITICO that they have concerns about the campaign's scope, goals and even how it has been funded — by pulling money out of health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control that are in the midst of fighting the pandemic, rather than working with lawmakers to set up a brand-new advertising effort with congressional oversight, or drawing on substantial internal resources and expertise in running health-related public service campaigns."
The Coronavirus and the Threat Within the White House ( David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-3-2020) "The best security system and the most solicitous medical officers in the world could not protect Donald Trump from a danger that he insisted on belittling and ignoring....The Centers for Disease Control and other public-health institutions have long said that wearing masks is essential to minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. Trump has been of another opinion, a delusional one."
The Battle Over “The Room Where It Happened” Continues (Authors Guild, 9-24-2020) "On September 15, the Trump Administration continued its campaign against John Bolton and his book The Room Where It Happened by opening a criminal inquiry into whether Bolton had unlawfully disclosed classified information in his bestselling memoir. Ellen Knight, formerly of the National Security Council, expressed concern 'about the politicization -- or even the perceived politicization -- of the prepublication review process. Once authors start perceiving that manuscripts are being reviewed for political considerations, they will lose confidence in the integrity of the process and find ways to publish or release their works without submitting them for review. This could result in unchecked disclosures of sensitive information and the potential for serious damage to our national security.' Ms. Knight’s letter states that the Bolton prepublication review process “entailed an unprecedented amount of interaction between the political appointees in the NSC Legal staff and the career prepublication review staff.”
Twitter’s Trump Fact Check Won’t Solve Much, but at Least It’s Something (Dahlia Lithwick, Future Tense, Slate, 5-27-2020) Twitter took the unprecedented step of attaching warning labels accompanied by links to fact checks to two of the president’s false tweets. The president then went on to threaten that Twitter was “completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” although anyone with a brain quickly pointed out that private companies are not state actors and Trump has no First Amendment claims here.
The First Amendment: what it really means for free speech and why Donald Trump is trampling on it (Eliza Bechtold, The Conversation, 8-5-19) "...there is no First Amendment right to use Twitter or have a Facebook page. As private entities, social media companies are free to adopt policies relating to user content and to remove users who violate such policies without implicating the First Amendment. Moreover, the First Amendment protects the expression of corporations and other associations, as well as individuals. This means that Facebook, Twitter, and others have free speech rights."
Judges toss lawsuit alleging anti-conservative bias on social media (Marc DeAngelis, Engadget, 5-28-2020) In 2018, the nonprofit organization Freedom Watch and a conservative YouTuber named Laura Loomer tried to sue social media companies. They alleged that Twitter, Facebook and Google -- which owns YouTube -- broke antitrust laws and violated their First Amendment rights by conspiring to suppress conservative viewpoints. Their case was dropped last year, but they appealed the decision. According to Bloomberg, a federal appeals court today affirmed the decision to drop the suit, leaving the tech companies in the clear.The plaintiffs say that tech companies conspired to suppress conservative views. See also Freedom Watch and Laura Loomer Lose Lawsuit Against Social Media Platforms (Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy, 5-27-2020) No, said the Court. The plaintiffs' First Amendment claim failed because "the First Amendment 'prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech," because there was no evidence of an anticompetitive behavior by platforms, and because D.C.'s public accommodation statute doesn't apply to online service providers.
The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President (McKay Coppins, The Atlantic, 2-10-2020) How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election. After the 2016 election, much was made of the threats posed to American democracy by foreign disinformation. Stories of Russian troll farms and Macedonian fake-news mills loomed in the national imagination. But while these shadowy outside forces preoccupied politicians and journalists, Trump and his domestic allies were beginning to adopt the same tactics of information warfare that have kept the world's demagogues and strongmen in power.
Literary Group Goes to Court to Stop Donald Trump From Violating the First Amendment (Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter, 10-16-18) The Pen America Center says Trump is using his power to unconstitutionally punish and intimidate The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, the White House press corps and others who cover his administration.
Almost 2,000 former Justice officials condemn department for dropping Flynn case (Rebecca Klar, The Hill, 5-11-2020) 'Nearly 2,000 former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who served under Republican and Democratic administrations condemned the DOJ and Attorney General William Barr on Monday for moving to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The former officials said Barr “once again assaulted the rule of law” and accused the attorney general of using the department “as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests.” ' See also ‘A constant battle of you against the leadership of your country’: Justice Dept. rattled as Flynn fallout reaches FBI (Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, 5-8-2020) 'While the president continued to criticize the FBI’s conduct, multiple federal law enforcement officials interviewed Friday expressed varying degrees of anger, resignation and alarm over the decision by Attorney General William P. Barr to abandon the prosecution of Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. “The attorney general is supposed to be above reproach and apolitical in terms of how the department operates and how he or she as an individual operates, and he’s just completely lost that,” said one veteran Justice Department lawyer who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “He’s Trump’s attorney. He’s not the country’s attorney.” '
Kelly and Pompeo: How A Journalist Masterfully Combated Gaslighting (Stephanie Sarkis, Forbes, 1-25-2020) A brief demo on how to address gaslighters talking over you, spouting misinformation, acting as if they're being bullied, lying to make you look unreasonable, etc.
Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 7-18-16) “The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it. Over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.” “He has no attention span.” “. . .it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”
Defending Rights & Dissent Opposes Trump Executive Order Equating Support for Palestinian Rights with Anti-Semitic Discrimination (Defending Rights & Dissent, 12-11-19) Anti-Semitism is a real threat, but it is a distortion of civil rights to use federal civil rights law to suppress speech in support of Palestinian rights.
Judgment days (Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post, 7-21-18) In a small Alabama town, an evangelical congregation reckons with God, President Trump and the meaning of morality. How can people who purport to disapprove of sinfulness of all kinds vote for a twice-divorced alleged adulterer who has boasted of sexual assault? What was important was not the character of the president but his positions, they said, and one mattered more than all the others. “Abortion,” said Linda, whose eyes teared up when she talked about it. Read that and then read this: Avoiding false judgments in journalism about Trump’s evangelical supporters (Brook Wilensky-Lanford, Nieman Storyboard, 4-11-19) A religion scholar assesses how the Washington Post's Stephanie McCrummen avoids predictable pitfalls in "Judgment Days."
ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City (Jimmy Tobias, The Nation, 3-6-19) Documents reveal that the immigration enforcement agency has been keenly attuned to left-leaning protests in the city. “If [the Department of Homeland Security] is specifically focusing on those who are against the current president, it gets into the realm of what fascist regimes do,” says Jody Kuh, a volunteer organizer with Rise and Resist. “If they are watching us because we are against the current president’s policies, it is more than a little disturbing.”
Inside the Steele Dossier & The Fusion GPS Investigation Of Trump (listen to Terry Gross, Fresh Air, 11-26-19) During the 2016 campaign, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch hired former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to investigate Donald Trump's involvement with Russia. Their book about this topic is Crime in Progress (the inside story of the high-stakes, four-year-long investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia ties—culminating in the Steele dossier, and sparking the Mueller report—from the founders of political opposition research company Fusion GPS) This Washington Post review of the book may help you decide whether to read further.
The Summer of Chaos and God (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 9-5-19) 'A preference for chaos on the far right is connected to God in ways Democrats can barely talk about, much less comprehend, whether it’s the fundamental disconnect around evangelical support for unfettered gun rights or the right’s rejection of environmental protection or immigrants’ rights. But the more morally discordant Trump’s policies and politics are, the more he is seen as fighting for religious rights. This is not a claim that all or even most religious belief is nihilist—it is just a recognition that there is a deeply nihilist strain in some religious quarters, one that dovetails perfectly with the impulse to “blow it all up.”'
Trump Can’t Block Critics From His Twitter Account, Appeals Court Rules (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 7-9-19) "Because Mr. Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled unanimously." "The decision may have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to officials’ accounts in the social-media era."
The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine (Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 10-4-19) How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment. See also the book Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green, as well as the article “Stupid Watergate” Is Worse Than the Original (David Remnick, New Yorker, 10-4-19) "...his corruption is totally as we see it, out front. He doesn’t try to hide it. He doesn’t try to hide the conflicts of interest or the lying. He is not a secretive conspirator. Donald Trump’s behavior echoes Nixon’s in one sense: he and his confederates appear to have been engaged in an effort to undermine the integrity of a Presidential election."
The Difference Between Leaking and Whistle-Blowing in the Trump White House (Masha Gessen, New Yorker, 10-4-19) 'A whistle-blower often speaks out with the aim of halting some wrongdoing, but a leaker’s motives are generally self-serving....We have normalized Trumpism to such an extent that journalists and politicians didn’t know how to think about the Ukraine story until the whistle-blower framed it as an egregious abuse of power....Yet it took two and a half years for someone with significant access to the Administration to go through the process of systematically collecting information and transmitting it through the institutional channels created specifically for the purpose of saying, “This is not normal.”'
What is Trumpcare? (Larry Levitt, news@JAMA, 9-25-19)
Who Are Donald Trump's Supporters? Trump Nation (USA Today Interactives) They’re not clichés. The USA TODAY NETWORK interviewed voters in every state to find out. Read their comments.
Under Trump, LGBTQ Progress Is Being Reversed in Plain Sight (Kirsten Berg and Moiz Syed, ProPublica, 11-22-19) Donald Trump promised he would fight for LGBTQ people. Instead, his administration has systematically undone recent gains in their rights and protections. Since taking office, Trump’s administration has acted to dismantle federal protections and resources for LGBTQ Americans, particularly those gained under President Barack Obama. Here are 31 examples.
'Times' Journalists Puncture Myth Of Trump As Self-Made Billionaire (Terry Gross interviews investigative reporters Susanne Craig and David Barstow, who say the president received today's equivalent of $413 million from his father's real estate empire, through what appears to be tax fraud. See also Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (Susanne Craig and David Barstow and Russ Buettner, NY Times, 10-2-18) The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through schemes to avoid paying taxes on multimillion dollar gifts in the family.
Mueller report suggests the ‘fake news’ came from Trump, not the news media (Paul Farhi, WaPo, 4-18-19) Mueller's report cites multiple instances in which Trump and White House aides misled or lied to journalists or in public statements as the investigation was unfolding....In fact, according to Mueller’s report, Trump’s first reaction [to news of Mueller's appointment] was anything but calm. According to notes taken by an aide, Trump responded by saying, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f-cked. . . . This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Donald Trump Fact Check (Toronto Star)
When Donald met Scott: a reporter's view of Trump and his White House wonderland (Katharine Murphy, The Guardian, 9-27-19) Australian PM Scott Morrison received a full-blown welcome from the US president. " If he doesn’t understand, the president will say: “Say it.” This means ask the question again, she says."
Why PEN America Is Suing Donald Trump (Jennifer Egan, LitHub, 10-18-18) "Trump's vitriol against reporters has made political journalism a more dangerous practice....President Trump’s frank admiration for authoritarian rulers makes his efforts to hobble a free press here in America all the more alarming. His actions conform to what some call an 'authoritarian playbook' for modern tyrants, in which the curtailing of free speech occurs subtly and gradually through a system of governmental rewards and punishments that encourage cooperation and gradually chill opposing voices."
Hundreds of Newspapers Denounce Trump's Attacks on Media in Coordinated Editorials(James Doubek, NPR, 8-16-18) NPR does not have an editorial board, and did not take part in Thursday's coordinated effort. The project was spearheaded by staff members of the editorial page at the Globe. See
---A Free Press Needs You (Editorial, NY Times, 8-15-18)
--- "Americans may not like the news they see or hear but they should not hold that against those who report it. In short, don’t shoot the messenger." --TriCorner News, LakeVille Journal, 8-15-18)
---Journalists are not the enemy (Boston Globe editorial board, 8-15-18)
---"Self-governance demands that our citizens need to be well-informed and that's what we're here to do. ... Some think we're rude to question and challenge. We know it's our obligation."--The Times of North Little Rock
---"Journalists are used to being insulted. It comes with the job ... But being called an enemy — and not of a politician or cause, but of the whole people of a nation — that's something else entirely."-- Topeka Capital-Journal
EPA Lets AP Reporter Back Into Summit After She Was Shoved Out Of Building (DAvid Bauder, Talking Points Memo, 5-22-18) AP journalist Ellen Knickmeyer and reporters from CNN and E&E News were told they could not attend an invitation-only event, a summit on a class of chemicals present in dangerous amounts in many water systems around the country. Knickmeyer "was earlier barred and shoved out of the building by a security guard." “We understand the importance of an open and free press and we hope the EPA does, too,” CNN said. Scott Pruitt apparently does not.
Trump admin tightens media access for federal scientists: report (Ali Breland, The Hill, 6-21-18) The Trump administration is directing federal scientists in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to get approval from the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The employees said that they believe the new policies were established to control the voices of Interior employees. They believe the move is a part of larger efforts to quell discourse about climate change, which the agency has produced research on."
"It's the law, stupid," and seven other lessons from the EPA's botched media blackout. (Indira Lakshmanan, Poynter, 5-24-18) The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that any advisory group making recommendations to the federal government “shall be open to the public.” Journalists protect their interests if they’re versed in open records and open meetings laws.
Board objects to EPA press office action (National Association of Science Writers, 3-26-18) Inpart: "With the March 20 “press release,” EPA effectively limited its discussion of a major science policy story to a handpicked, partisan outlet. It also encouraged journalists to learn details about this story from a published article, which can never be a basis of responsible news reporting.
"When reporters contact the EPA Press Office asking for information regarding the activities of a taxpayer-funded organization, those queries should be answered swiftly by knowledgeable staff. The same holds when journalists request public documents from an agency."
Judge: Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users(Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, 5-13-18).S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users who criticized him and his policies. Her ruling is an extraordinary victory for free speech on the internet and a harsh rebuke to Trump’s effort to prevent his critics from engaging with him online.
The White House's attack on scientists could manipulate public opinion (Lauren Kurtz and Romany Webb, Opinion, The Hill, 2-28-18) "The Trump administration’s FY2019 budget, unveiled last Monday, proposes cuts in essential funding for scientific research and education. Unfortunately, this attack on science is not an isolated incident. Barely a year into President Trump’s term, there have already been 111 attempts by the federal government to censor, misrepresent, or stifle science. Many appear intended to gain support for the administration’s efforts to prop up the fossil fuel industry... At the Department of the Interior (DOI), a website discussing the environmental and other risks of fossil fuel development was changed to emphasize economic benefits [and to argue against human causes of climate change]. A few months later, large swaths of land previously protected from coal mining and oil and gas drilling were opened to development. Shortly after this, DOI’s Bureau of Land Management changed the image on its homepage from a scenic park vista to a pile of coal, presumably to reinforce the message that public lands are for mining."
Words banned at multiple HHS agencies include ‘diversity’ and ‘vulnerable’ (Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, WashPost, 12-10-17) "The Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. The words to avoid: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Participants at HHS were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance. At the CDC, budget analysts were told they could use an alternative phrase instead of “evidence-based” or “science-based” in budget documents. That phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
The CDC analyst said it was clear to participants that they were to avoid those seven words but only in drafting budget documents.
Homeland Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family Separation Protests (Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept, 4-19-19) In the last two years, law enforcement agencies executing the Trump administration’s immigration agenda have cracked down on critics of the president’s policies. Among the targeted: humanitarian volunteers providing food, water, and medical aid to migrants trekking through the desert, and immigration attorneys, journalists, and activists working with, and around, migrant caravans.“This is a chilling revelation, but follows an even scarier trend of constant government surveillance and policing of immigrant communities, and targeting of activists and journalists,” Jesse Franzblau, a senior policy analyst with the National Immigrant Justice Center.
The police threw the book at Trump Protesters in DC but sat and watched White Supremacists terrorize Charlottesville (Sandra Fulton, HuffPost, 8-29-17) "Last week, the Department of Justice altered a sweeping warrant, which sought to collect personal information on every visitor to an anti-Trump website that organized protests on Inauguration Day....The demand seems to be in line with a broader trend within the Trump Administration—a harsh crackdown against any group that disagrees with President Trump. For his part, Trump has categorized these protesters as the “Alt-Left,” a term that doesn’t seem to apply to any easily-defined entity beyond the paranoid imaginings of Trump and his allies." "The administration and law enforcement are using a range of tactics — from electronic surveillance to a growing number of anti-protest laws — to criminalize anyone that organizes in the streets to protest the president and his policies. But how are law enforcement and the administration responding to the very real threats coming from white supremacists like those who marched earlier this month on Charlottesville?'
Leaked FBI Documents Reveal Bureau’s Priorities Under Trump (Ken Klippenstein, The Young Turks, 8-8-19) Under President Trump, the FBI’s official counterterrorism priorities have included “Black Identity Extremists,” “anti-authority” extremists, and “animal rights/environmental extremists,” according to leaked Bureau documents.... When an August 2017 internal FBI report referencing the counterterrorism threat posed by “Black Identity Extremists” was published by Foreign Policy, the FBI became the subject of intense criticism for adopting what critics alleged was a racially loaded term....While the documents depict concerns about violent black extremist attacks, they do not cite a single specific attack — unlike white supremacist attacks, of which several prominent examples are provided....So grave did the Bureau consider the threat of black extremists that from 2019 to 2020, using new designations, it listed the threat at the very top of its counterterrorism priorities — above even terror groups like Al Qaeda."
Justice demands 1.3M IP addresses related to Trump resistance site (Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, 8-14-17) "DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day. “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”
Trump Administration Starts Returning Copies of C.I.A. Torture Report to Congress (Mark Mazzetti and Mathew Rosenberg, NY Times, 6-2-17) "The Trump administration has begun returning copies of a voluminous 2014 Senate report about the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program to Congress, complying with the demand of a top Republican senator who has criticized the report for being shoddy and excessively critical of the C.I.A....The committee, which was then run by Democrats, also sent copies of the entire classified report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate the report into their records — a move that would have made it subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That law, which allows citizens, the media and other groups to request access to information held by the federal government, does not apply to congressional records...The full report is not expected to offer evidence of previously undisclosed interrogation techniques, but the interrogation sessions are said to be described in great detail. The report explains the origins of the program and identifies the officials involved, and also offers details on the role of each agency in the secret prison program."
How Can Journalists Protect Themselves During a Trump Administration? (Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic, 11-10-16) The president-elect’s attacks on the press hint at an unfriendly atmosphere for reporters.
Trump Hates the Press? Take a Number. (Jack Shafer, Politico, 2-17-17) "No matter how grievous the sins of the press may be—and as a press critic, let me tell you, they are grievous—a president can’t forever blame everything on “dishonest reporters,” the “mess” the previous president left behind or the dug-in elites. Reckonings tend to take a while to form, as Nixon and Agnew learned. Trump’s will come."
Journalists around the country are joining a Slack channel devoted to FOIA and Trump (Krysten Hare, Poynter, 1-25-17) A few days before President Trump's inauguration, MuckRock opened up a Slack channel to help journalists better cover him and his administration. Sign up here: www.muckrock.com.
How far will President Trump’s media blackout spread? The Sunlight Foundation is trying to find out (Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, 1-25-17)
Hundreds of Newspapers Denounce Trump’s Attacks on Media in Coordinated Editorials (James Doubek, NPR, 8-16-18) Over 300 newspapers published editorials against Trump’s attack on the press. The President responded by calling the media “the opposition party,” and many believe this will only bolster his current platform. Will a united media be enough to reaffirm the First Amendment?
Trump tried to ban top aides from penning tell-all books (Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 8-13-18) After the controversy surrounding the Omarosa Manigault Newman tell-all, the President’s use of non-disclosure/disparagement agreements is facing public criticism. The idea that top government officials could be censored from speaking out against abuse of power is frightening. What happens in a world where important political stories cannot be told?
The Memory Hole 2, run by Russ Kick, and The Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine) save pages that disappear from the Web. Kick's site has been good about saving items deleted by the Trump Administration (including Trump's error-filled Tweets).
Trump shares Twitter accounts linked to conspiracy theory QAnon (Tony Romm and Colby Itkowitz, WaPo, 7-30-19) How QAnon, the bizarre pro-Trump conspiracy theory, took hold in right-wing circles online. (And how Trump tweets its latest claim.)
Unsolicited Advice for the White House Press Corps (Jack Shafer, Fourth Estate, Politico, 2-6-17) And keep up to date on Shafer's Twitter feed.
Poll: Trump More Trusted Than the Media (by Republicans) (Curt Mills, US News, 2-9-17) Views on the press and the administration break down along clear party lines. ""The partisan split on this topic is clear – 89 percent of Republicans find the Trump administration truthful, versus 77 percent of Democrats who find the administration untruthful. Conversely, 69 percent of Democrats find the news media truthful, while a whopping 91 percent of Republicans consider them untruthful. Independents consider both untruthful," according to a poll conducted by Emerson College.
The Private Trump Angst of a Republican Icon (Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, New Yorker, 9-27-2020) James Baker thinks Trump is “nuts,” but he voted for him once—and may soon do so again?
The Invention of Thanksgiving (Philip Deloria, The New Yorker, 11-18-19) Massacres, myths, and the making of the great November holiday--in which white Americans have from the start tended to play a villainous role. 'Today, Wampanoag people debate whether Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning or a chance to contemplate reconciliation. It’s mighty generous of them....“American Indian” is a political identity, not a racial one, constituted by formal, still living treaties with the United States government and a long series of legal decisions. Today, the Trump Administration would like to deny this history, wrongly categorize Indians as a racial group, and disavow ongoing treaty relationships.'
With New Trump Policy, Is the Moon for the Taking? (Ramin Skibba, Undark, 5-30-19) The Trump administration has been vague about what it hopes to accomplish on the moon, but mining may be on the agenda. "Worse yet, the 2024 target date suggests a selfish motive — an attempt by Trump to conjure a dramatic legacy before he leaves office, assuming he is reelected next year. Indeed, recent comments by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine suggest the deadline was chosen with little, if any, consideration of the scientific and engineering challenges."

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