News Sips 1/23: 1st Monday, Press Wars, Angry Ladies, Superbowl Set
Here are the four things you need to know before your coffee gets cold, the January 23, 2017 edition:
The First Monday
Note: We won’t be doing all the “firsts,” but this one is worth covering. The President, Donald Trump, starts his first full work week today. He is set to make a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with leadership of the House and the Senate. The President is also looking to take certain executive actions with regard to the repeal of Obamacare, immigration, and national security.
Mr. Trump’s visit to the Capitol also corresponds with votes in the Senate over his nominees to head key Federal departments and agencies. On Friday, the Senate voted for confirm the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Democrats played a partisan card and refused to confirm the Director of the CIA (effectively meaning that the nation has gone without a CIA Director for three days). However, Representative Mike Pompeo, who is the President’s designee, is set to be confirmed later today (following three-to-six hours of Democrat hand-wringing on the Senate floor). As we’ve noted here before, there’s really nothing that Democrats can do to stop the President’s nominees (if all Republicans vote for them). The most they can do is drag out the process and force “debate” on the nominees (not actually debate, just time to grandstand on particular issues).
Over the weekend, Senators McCain and Graham came out with a joint statement that they would support Mr. Trump’s designee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. This confirmation by the hawkish McCain and Graham signals that Mr. Tillerson will likely be confirmed. Barring some revelations or scandal, it looks like the vast majority of the President’s cabinet appointees will be confirmed. The biggest hurdle, now, is making sure that they get their votes in a timely fashion so they can set about embarking on the paths of reform that Mr. Trump has laid out.
The Media War
Another topic that will be a well of controversy to which we will probably keep coming back over the next years is the antagonistic relationship between the President and his staff with the institutional media. Unlike former Republican Presidents who attempted (and largely failed) to have a good relationship with the press, Mr. Trump and his team have made no qualms about calling out fake reporting when they see it. Moreover, previous Republicans have been “nice guys” and stayed out of calling out the media for misreporting or clear opinion journalism masquerading as news. Mr. Trump has decided that this status quo will no longer be acceptable.
This tension has very little benefit to the press. Despite seeing themselves as guardians of the truth, the reality has become that most institutional media reporting has been colored by opinion. Obviously you needn’t take our word for it. Rather, look up most any reporter at institutional media sources (New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, etc.) on Twitter. First, they all are on Twitter. Second, they all share their personal, biased, thoughts on Twitter. Now, do we say that they are not allowed to have an opinion? Of course they can have a personal opinion. However, when you see the myopic, on-sided, anti-Trump bias of nearly every reporter, you start to realize that the era of “fair coverage” is dead.
Of course, we can, cynically, understand that Mr. Trump benefits from popular disgust with the press. While the breakdown of journalistic standards is lamentable, it also functions as a “boy who cried wolf” situation. Without accusing the Administration of impropriety, it’s obvious that, if everything is called a “scandal,” when there is a real scandal, people will either be so fatigued by the continuous feigned outrage, or so distrustful, that it will fail to gain traction.
Women Protest Trump… for Some Reason
There was a protest against President Trump over the weekend in DC and some cities around the country that was furiously covered by the institutional media (see, above). Frankly, not much ink need be expended to call out the hypocrisy of a group marching for the rights of women that forbade a pro-life women’s group from attending. As we would clearly expect, the protest against Trump had lots of vulgarity and left protest sites littered with garbage. The irony of large scale protests that contend the First Amendment is being trodden upon is the fact that, if they were right, they wouldn’t have been allowed to be so vocal.
The sad reality is that these ladies got coverage because they were controversial and because their ideology matched the ideology of the editors of major news outlets while, annually, the March for Life in DC draws hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to DC with nary a blip of coverage. So, we won’t waste much time here talking about the women’s march. It happened. Liberals yelled and cursed. The world kept spinning.
In two weeks, the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will square off in Houston, Texas for Superbowl 51. This is the ninth time the Patriots have appeared in football’s biggest game (the most appearances of any team—and their seventh since 2001). The halftime show will feature Lady Gaga. According to ESPN.com, the Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, are the slight favorites over the Falcons.
Obviously, there are more things going on in the world, but these should be enough to get your day started.