In today’s breaking news

A friend of mine posted a picture of Walter Cronkite,  to Facebook.  For those too young to know, Walter  Cronkite was the anchorman at CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1980.  He was nicknamed “Uncle Walter.”   Older Americans will remember his sign off line ” And that’s the way it is …” followed by the date.  CBS news was 15 minutes long until 1963 when it was expanded to 30 minutes.  Walter Cronkite would generally read the news accompanied by pictures or videos.    News stories were very short,  because it was just the  facts, not opinion.  We never knew whether Uncle Walter was a Democrat or Republican.  ABC, NBC and CBS simply were our eyes and ears into the world, but would not try to form opinions for us.  They were able to squeeze in sports and weather into the short 30 minutes.

The reason for my friend’s posting was obvious.  Today we have “news shows”  which are more filled with commentary than actual news.  They are targeting certain audiences.  Conservatives like Fox News and One American News (OAN).  MSNBC and CNN generally have commentators critical of Donald Trump, which liberals enjoy.     But there are many examples of outstanding reporting in MSNBC and CNN.  I also watch the BBC which has more of a global focus.   I read the New York Times print edition, and online edition of  Washington Post, New York Times and  Miami-Herald.  Yet to do research, I often just go to Google and hit the News icon.  I consider these newspapers are well worth the money if I really want all the details.   I just found out that General Flynn and I attended the same university but 8 years apart.

I will not differentiate between “Mainstream Media”  and “Alternative News” as Donald Trump seems to do,  They are all multi-million dollar corporations, so they are all mainstream.  They are all contending for national market share, so this distinction is meaningless.   Fox News and OAN are by far the most biased, often leaving out significant parts of the story so they can push a particular point of view.

Yesterday, the top stories were so evident:  (1) A 3 trillion dollar aid stimulus package for Covid-19 was  likely to have problems passing in the Senate (2) Recent events in the continuing saga of General Flynn in Judge Sullivan’s court, and (3)  Whistle blower Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony in Congress.  Each of these 3 stories were given very different levels of importance.  In fact, with the General Flynn story,  the details between

#1 story:   I’ll begin with the 3 trillion dollar Covid-19  stimulus package.   Washington Post gives the facts and the really grim statistic:  “Live updates: House to vote on $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill; U.S. death toll surpasses 85,000.”  The bill was announced 2 days ago, and it will be voted on today (Friday).

Fox News on their website tells you right off that it is a bad package:    PARADE OF ABSURDITIES;  McConnell blasts Dems $3T proposal for stimulus, but makes prediction.   So,  you know Donald Trump opposes it, because Mitch McConnell as the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate opposes it.

#2 story: Next up, is the next chapter in the General Flynn saga, which began in January 2017 with an FBI interview.  As I hope most Americans know, General Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and offered to  cooperate with the Mueller’s Russian probe, and in return would be given a lenient sentence.  Then, once the Russian probe was completed, Flynn got new legal team, and a new strategy evolved  asking the judge to withdraw his guilty plea  and he was actually tricked into making false statements.   Many felt he was doing this in hopes of a Presidential pardon.   The false statement charge meant he could spend either no time in jail or up to six months.  Next.  the Department of Justice under AG Barr decided to drop  the charge against Flynn, but  Judge Sullivan decided on Thursday not to go along.

New York Times was right on the mark with its headline: Judge Appoints Outsider to Take On Justice Dept. in Flynn Case.  A retired judge will also examine whether the former national security adviser committed perjury.  The Times story continues:

The federal judge overseeing the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn appointed a hard-charging former prosecutor and judge on Wednesday to oppose the Justice Department’s effort to drop the case and to explore a perjury charge against Mr. Flynn.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s appointment of the former judge, John Gleeson, was an extraordinary move in a case with acute political overtones. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Mr. Flynn later began fighting the charge and sought to withdraw his guilty plea. Then last week, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop the charge after a long campaign by Mr. Trump and his supporters, prompting accusations that Attorney General William P. Barr had undermined the rule of law and further politicized the department.

Now that’s just good reporting.   It brings us up to date.   The Times goes into more detail about former judge John Gleeson.  They also note that the action of Judge Sullivan’s action has been criticized, as an extreme departure from normal procedures.  So, their story is balanced.

CNN has the Flynn case in its headline news,  but begins with Judge Gleeson and his role in the persecution of  John Gotti (Mafia boss) case,  Reporting in CNN and Washington Post are very similar.

A very different news story is headlined today in Fox’s reporting.  The focus actually has nothing to do with what happen in Judge Sullivan’s court,  but is totally focused on a Donald Trump’s tweet.   Fox News large headline news “Trump wants FBI’s original ‘302’ report on Flynn case, says former adviser ‘persecuted'” .   The 302 report would be an FBI notes taken during the interview in 2016.  The whole Fox News story is not news at all, because the DOJ wants the charge dropped against Flynn because they consider the false statements unimportant to a legitimate FBI investigation.

So, if you follow Fox News, you might think important information somehow vanished, and of course, one would want comment from the FBI director, Christopher Wrey or the Department of Justice.  Of course Fox just shoots and asks questions later.

#3 story:  Whistle blower   Dr. Rick Bright, who testified in Congress yesterday on the various treatments for Covid-19, and his claim that there were some attempts to bypass’ a vetting process for hydroxychloroquine.  I would not characterize his manner as a “disgruntled”  but more as a frustrated medical expert in infectious diseases, who had to watch as the top leaders ignored his warnings.

CNN gives the latest headlines “Rick Bright plans to start his new job working on coronavirus treatments and vaccines next week.”   (see link)  Others like the New York Times and Washington Post give excellent summaries of the hearing.

Fox New- I don’t see anything on the Fox News website except a short video: “Trump did everything that Bright said he should do.”

It would be fine if they reported that Trump believes he did everything that Bright said he should do,  but this is just another biased opinion from Fox News.

_______________________________________________________________

Three events happened yesterday.  Each were told differently.  On the whole, I believe Uncle Walter would have liked CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post reporting, rather than the Fox mix of commentary and selected elements of the news to support the commentary.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/14/politics/richard-bright-new-job-hhs/index.html

 

Mueller’s final report

Boy, there has been a ton of speculation.  Trump foes would like to see Mueller show how all these indictments and guilty pleas are connected into one grand conspiracy, making impeachment inevitable.   Trump supports are looking for exoneration of Trump.   I have opined that it seems unlikely that the investigation will end anytime soon.   I particularly like the view presented by Renato Mariotti,  a former federal prosecutor and the host of On Topic podcast, as published in Time Magazine this week (Dec 17 issue):

“As America anxiously awaits special counsel Robert Mueller’s so-called final report and proof of “collusion”, it should be very wary of two truths: Mueller may never write a full “final report”, and any bombshells he reveals are unlikely to outline  a grand conspiracy.  This will not be a failure of the investigation but rather of our own expectations.” 

He goes on to state that federal prosecutors aren’t historians or journalists.   He also points out there can not be a charge of “collusion” with Russian agents by the Trump campaign, because the word has no legal meaning.  He also states, “it is hard to imagine any federal prosecutor would ever charge the extensive conspiracy imagined by Trump’s critics.”   Mariotti’s view is Mueller’s team has already been successful, with a careful, targeted approach.  The American electorate has become become either apathetic or numb (neither words used by Mariotti) as he writes:

At any other time in American history, the President’s lawyer telling a federal judge under oath that the President directed him to commit a crime might have ended that presidency.  Yet that detail has been forgotten amid the daily avalanche of Trump-related news. 

The overload of news, mixed with commentary and outright misinformation, principally from Trump and his legal team,  is the way it will be until the end.   It is getting hard to swallow the idea that Cohen, Manafort, Flynn and now Maria Butina are all lying to get lighter sentences.

The more Trump lashes out at the Mueller investigation, the more certain  there were serious crimes committed by Russian agents, campaign officials,  and others, which may include the Trump Foundation and Trump’s Inaugural Committee.  Most knowledgeable attorneys, like Mariotti,  state that under Department of Justice written opinion, a sitting President can not be charged with crimes.   So, any final report would not contain crimes that Trump could be charged with.

The essay by Mariotti ends with a warning similar to his opening statement:  “… if Mueller finds evidence of narrower crimes and is considered a failure, the failure won’t be on him.  It will be on us, for our own outsize expectations, which just might save Trump’s presidency.”

I believe the report will be simply a summary of concluded successful prosecutions.   It is not coming anytime soon.   If it doesn’t make a strong case for obstruction of justice by Trump, then it would be best for Democrats not to waste their time on this.

In this case,  Trump’s way out of the White House would be through the same way he came in, through the election process.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Comey’s testimony

The manner in which the Senate Intelligence Committee held its hearing was excellent.  I think the really critical point came, as one senator asked in essence, who should we believe?  Comey appeared at first to duck the question, then came back with an excellent reply, that in court, jurists rely on the totality of evidence before making a judgment.   The really critical meeting, now called the Valentine day meeting,  took place with only Comey and Trump present.   Comey says Trump said he hoped the FBI Director could let the Flynn investigation go.   Trump denies this discussion took place.   I believe Comey, just based on  Trump’s history.   But,  with just the two of them talking,  this is not going to be enough for impeachment or a criminal charge of obstruction of justice.   There was no follow-up by Trump to see the investigation of Flynn was stopped.

Now, my prediction.   The special prosecutor will charge Flynn with lying to FBI investigators, and numerous other offenses.  This will follow with a full presidential pardon for General Flynn.

Stay tuned,

Dave