Day in Brief Transcript 11/8/18

Most of the US woke up today to the news of a massacre that left a dozen dead at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California that was hosting a college country music night. More than 20 were injured.

Imagine. 12 people killed, and it’s barely the worst mass shooting in 11 days, when 11 were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27th. Then think back on how we reacted when 13 were killed in the Columbine High School massacre 19 years ago.

That’s how far we’ve come. Maybe it’s better to think of it as how far we’ve fallen. We now live in a world where the mass killing of a dozen people has become routine, and our government will do nothing about it.

The day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired, much of the debate surrounds whether acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker should recuse himself because of prior comments he made against the Mueller investigation.

This afternoon, breathless reports said it’s unlikely he will. Is anyone seriously surprised? Honestly, are we that clueless? Does anyone really think President Trump would have named someone to that job who would then recuse himself from the Russia investigation? That was the big black mark against Sessions that Trump continually complained about bitterly.

So, Whitaker won’t recuse himself. But that means there will be a cloud over any decision he might make that would handicap Mueller. Trump should tread lightly. Democrats are already contemplating action to protect the special counsel. Tonight, protests in major cities are demanding the protection of the Mueller investigation.

If Trump and Whitaker in any way stop Mueller, they would give the newly-elected Democratic Congress the perfect excuse to try and impeach Trump, which would throw the federal government into even greater chaos than we now face.

Florida is once again proving itself to be as bad as a Third World country when it comes to its election process. Counting of votes in the tight Senate and governor’s races is leading to large changes in the numbers. In the Senate race, Republican Rick Scott was ahead of Democrat Bill Nelson on Election Night by 57,000 votes. That has dwindled to 17,000. It is essential that the count be accurate and that the rightful winner be elected.

However, simply put, this is ridiculous. How, in this day and age, can we not properly and quickly count all these votes? I have to tell you, my experience left me with little confidence in Florida’s system. The voting machine I used kept rejecting my ballot. It may have been because of an almost imperceptible fold in one corner of my ballot. If that caused issues, what else could?

The suspension of a White House credential for CNN’s Jim Acosta perfectly encapsulates the disastrous and divided state of American politics. Most important, it shows what the biggest problem is:  We can’t even agree on what the facts are, in story after story.

Here’s the way I saw it: Acosta began the controversy at a White House news conference by speaking in a way that was rude and patronizing to President Trump. This is a clear departure from historical norms and traditional respect for the office. First problem: Some Trump opponents disagreed and argued that anything is fair game to deal with a president who consistently lies. That said, many anti-Trump folks did agree that Acosta crossed the line with his grandstanding.

Then, Trump arguably overreacted, calling Acosta rude and telling a female White House intern to take away Acosta’s microphone. Acosta, initially resisted, relenting when Trump moved away from the podium apparently threatening to leave the news conference.

When Acosta resisted, he briefly pushed away the aide’s arm. It may have been a reflex, but video shows it happened. However, some people are actually denying he touched her at all. I guess it depends on the definition of the word “touched.”

The White House, often its own worst enemy, proceeded to open the door for confusion with an over-the-top tweet from Sarah Sanders, accusing Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman trying to do her job as a White House intern.” Placing his hands? Give me a break. At most, he pushed her arm away.

 Making it worse, Sanders tweeted a video that makes the moment of contact seem more aggressive than it was in real time.

But, despite the White House’s terrible characterization of the contact and the edited video, how can anyone argue that Acosta didn’t touch the aide?

The irony, of course, is that many of the same people took diametrically-opposed positions in another incident. There, pro-Trump folks defended former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, when he had what was certainly more aggressive contact with reporter Michelle Fields. And many of those who criticized Lewandowski then, support Acosta now.

The hypocrisy is astounding. And you wonder why we can’t agree on anything. Even facts that can be proven with video are not accepted as facts by partisans. It’s hopeless.

In our alternate universes segment, the great divide between conservative and liberal media, in the aftermath of the election, the dishonesty and partisanship among television reporters and anchors was out of control. And forget about demanding accuracy from pundits.

Do we really have to keep hearing reporters on the right proclaiming that things Trump said are true? Or reporters on the left saying he’s lying? It’s important to fact check, but it seems to have become a competition to see who can boost or attack Trump more, as the case may be.

One anchor on the left claimed that aggressive behavior and grandstanding among reporters at the White House isn’t unusual, comparing it to Sam Donaldson during the Reagan days. Sorry. While Sam would holler often to try and get Reagan to hear him in outdoor situations, he was respectful in White House news conferences. He’d ask tough questions, but he would never have disrespected Reagan by scolding him or grandstanding in the way today’s White House reporters do. These days though, reporters are rewarded for grandstanding, so it’ll keep happening.

Civility needs to work both ways.

Another example of shoddy reporting: An anchor on the right at Fox made fun of mistakes in the last NBC/Wall Street Journal poll before the midterms, not bothering to tell you that it showed Democrats ahead by 7 percentage points in a generic ballot. Guess what? Democrats got about 7% more votes than Republicans. So, on the biggest point, it was dead accurate. Not that he’d tell you.

Oh, and he called it the NBC poll, not bothering to mention that it was also the Wall Street Journal’s. Maybe because Fox News and the Journal are both subsidiaries of Rupert Murdoch’s New Corporation?

It never ends.